Sunday, August 31, 2008

Back to the Bad Old Days

Isn't that just like the 2008 Cleveland Indians? They played with packages just for fun, winning 10 in a row. They got us so excited as if maybe, even though late, they had finally turned the corner? They found themselves a closer to fortify their biggest problem area (by a mile by the way); they started hitting one through nine, they way their leader, The Grinder himself, has always wanted it? Victor Martinez is back from more than two months off.

What else could we have asked for from this lost season?

The worst team in the American League, the lowly Seattle Mariners of course show up for a three game series, and promptly return the Indians to what they really are; a team that cannot score runs to save their lives, and strand runners as if it was it was their job.

How exactly did this happen? Well, first off, we witnessed a seemingly endless string of putting runners on first and second with less than two outs, following up with a tailor-made double play ball. We saw trademark 2008 Tribe luck. In yesterday's extra-inning 4-3 loss. Closer Jensen Lewis allowed a run to put the M's up 3-2 with a men on first and second and one out. A DP ball heade right to second basemen Asdrubal Cabrera. The runner, Adrian Beltre, reached his hand out as to be hit ball the ball intentionally, causing a dead ball. A sure DP should have been ruled by the umps otherwise. With the extra out, backup catcher Jamie Burke single home a second run, to put the Mariners up two.

Naturally, The Indians countered with one in the bottom of the 10th, and lost 4-3.

The same thing occurred today; extra outs killed the Wahoos. The Zack Attack was struggling enough with his command, but a wild fielding error started his trouble in the five run fifth. The Attack's pick off attempt by Martinez at first allowed a run to score, moved runners to second and third with one out. In typical form, Yuniesky Betancourt hit what have would have been an inning-ending DP, but instead got an RBI single out of it, moving the Mariners to a 3-1 lead.

But there was still one more out to get thanks to the bone-headed mistakes by The Attack and Victor. Zack didn't get it. The biggest 2008 Indian killer, Raul Ibanez hit the next pitch right up the middle for an RBI single, and Beltre's two run shot ended Jackson's day for all intents and purposes.

You want more of a C-tease? The Red, White, and Blue rewarded you gladly in the seventh, eighth and ninth. In all three innings, the Tribe loaded the bases. In the seventh, it was Victor popping out with two out. In the eighth, all the boys had to show for a bases loaded, nobody out situation, was a Franky G fielder's choice and subsequent Jose Lopez throwing error scoring two.

The ninth was the ultimate. Down two with the bases loaded yet again and one out. Ryan Garko smacked one that looked like it was going right up the middle to tie the game, but reliever Roy Corcoran reached back and got a bare hand on the ball, deflecting it right to Betancourt at short, who started the game--ender. Just your garden variety 1-6-4-3 inning ending DP.

For the weekend, the Indians left 26 men on base, went 3-29 with RISP, and lost three games by a combined four runs. Wedge put it best after the game: "it seemed like all weekend we were one hit away."

Just when I got all excited again, this weekend blows like a hurricane (no pun intended) and its as if the team forgot everything they did over the past two weeks.


One bright spot has to be the play of Shin-Soo Choo, who like Kelly Shoppach is forcing his way onto the field with his stellar play over the past month. He hit .309, with 4 HR, and 16 RBI in 81 AB's. His projections over a full season you'd take all day; around .275 with 44 doubles, 20 homers and 80 plus RBI.

The more he plays, the less DD does. And that is always considered a plus.


Meanwhile, it seems like as much as I didn't want to have to deal with it, the last month of the season is meaningless. Wedge has been quoted as saying he'd like to go to a six-man rotation with Aaron Laffey joining Fausto Carmona, Cliff Lee, Anthony Reyes, Jeremy Sowers, and the Zack Attack.

Speaking of Cliff Lee, he goes for #20 tomorrow night against the White Sox. It's been said 1000 times, but Cliff is trying to become the first Indian since 1974 to win 20 games. I was -2 at the time. Maybe even more amazing, is that no Indian since 1982 has even started a game with a chance to win 20. The fact that it's Cliff Lee doing this makes even more astounding after the year he had in 2007 and how he was dangled all winter as trade bait.


Imagine if Cliff was this good last season? Would there have been any doubt we'd all be ring holders right now?

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, and if Mesa doesn't shake off Sally (I know its Sandy, but I think he is the most overrated player in Indians history)....If Fernandez doesn't make that error.....If Dave Burba doesn't get hurt in game three of the '99 series with Bosotn.....If Hargrove pinch hits for Jim Poole.....If Cory Snyder and Joe Carter hadn't been on the cover of SI....If Willie Mays doesn't make that catch off the bat of Vic Wertz....

And if my grandmother had balls, she'd be my grandfather....

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ten in a Row Biatch!

First I'd like to quote The Diesel from yesterday's "In the Dugout" show on Detroit's AM-1130 WDFN: "Remember when Shaq rapped to Kobe "tell me how my ass tastes?" We'll I'd like to say to Mr. Illitch, Dave Dombrowski, and the $130 million Detroit Tigers a question; How you likin' fourth place?"

Seriously, our beloved Wahoos, losers of 10 in a row at the end of May, a team that traded its #1 starter (CC Sabathia); lost its #3 starter to Tommy John Surgery after just 5 starts (Jake Westbrook); lost its #3 and #4 hitters for more than three months each (Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez); traded it's third basemen during a career year (Casey Fake); and traded it's #5 starter in the midst of his best stretch of the year (Paul Byrd); have rattled off 10 straight wins while putting themselves just two games below .500. They have jumped 1.5 games ahead of the Motor City Quitties.

Remember those days in April and May where it seemed every game was lost 3-1 or 2-0? They seem like they happened in a different season. Rick Manning on last night's STO telecast pointed out that in the offense was ranked last in the AL through the all-star break, yet in the last 42 games, is averaging over six runs per. Remember when we all said this team had no power? In the three game sweep of the Tigers, the Indians hit nine homers.

Kelly Shoppach has 17! That would be the same number of pizzas as David Ortiz has in 34 less at-bats. Or Ken Griffey Jr has in 142 less at bats. What about Magglio Ordonez having 16 HR's in 173 more AB's tan the Shop Vack? Or Bobby Abreu's 16 dingers in 225 more at-bats? I could go on and on.

More numbers to chew on came in Paul Hoynes' PD game story:

-They've won 16 of 19 to climb from last to third in the AL Central.

-They are 28-16 since trading Sabathia

-It's the closest they've been to .500 since May 21st when they were 22-24

-The 10-game winning streak is the first of it's kind since April of 2002

You can say it's much easier to perform when there is no pressure. You can say that the Indians have caught bad teams on the downslide during this run (Royals, Texas, and Detroit), but 10 straight is impressive, no matter who is on the field against you. Six of these 10 wins were on the road. Zach Attack Jackson started two of these games. David Dellucci was in the lineup for six games, Andy Marte for seven.

Need we say more? We've said this before and we will say it again, where was this in May and June?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Bunch of Quitters

I won't even wait until the end of the game. I am blogging this in the bottom of the third inning. I have watched 13 innings in the last two nights of the Indians and the Tigers; two teams going in opposite directions. While the Tribe plays with spunk, like a team trying to win every game despite their current situation, Jim Leyland's club has licked the stamp. It's mail in time at Comerica Park.

If I am a fan of this team, I am sickened. $130 million pays for this load of crap? The mental and physical errors on a nightly basis are astounding. Once they fell out of contention, the Tigers have completely quit. The at-bats I have witnessed are laughable. Magglio Ordonez, Curtis Granderson, Carlos Guillen, and Gary Sheffield are playing like a bunch of guys planning their offseason tee times in Arizona, yet it is still August. They are first pitch swingling like they have a plane to catch, not working the count, and generally looking disinterested.

Last night it was Zach Attack Jackson on the hill for the Red, White, and Blue, yet the Kitties treated him as if he were Cy Freakin' Young. Jackson is 4A to the core. The book on The Attack is that he struggles with his control. Not that Tiger bats cared; failing to work the count even once, The Attack struck out six and walked ZERO. Then Mr. August Franky G ended things with his solo slice off of the great Gary Glover in the 10th. The Tiger at bats against Jensen Lewis in a 1-2-3 ninth were forgettable.

Move to tonight. Rookie Chris Lambert is making his major league debut for Detroit. After the first two innings, he fell apart. Yes, he did give up back to back jacks to Jamey Carroll (his first of the year) and The Shop Vack (a bomb to the left field seats), but his porous defense let him down and didn't allow him any room for error.

Lambert hit Asdrubal Cabrera. A Roger Dorn "Ole'" from the third baseman Ryan Rayburn started it off, allowing AC to score. Error #1. With two out, Jhonny Peralta's single to left was booted by noted dog Marcus "Home run or nothing" Thames allowing Franky G to score all the way from first. Error #2. Next up was our boy Double D Dellucci, who hit a fly ball to center that was completely misplayed into a double by Granderson, scoring Jhon. I don't care what the box score says, it was Error #3. Carroll finished off Lambert with a bloop job that fell in front of the jogging Mags in right for his second hit and second RBI on the inning.

Six Runs, Five Hits, Two Physical Errors, Two Mental Errors. One team tanking.

If I'm Jim Leyland I'm quitting after this season. He is too old and too wise for this shit. He has tried everything to light a spark under this team and nothing has worked. At the end of the day, they are a bunch of overpaid, old, quitters who have decided to mail it in once times got tough. This was a bad mix from the start.

SIDE NOTE - Benny Francisco just went deeeeeeeep. Two run shot. 8-0 Tribe.

Now GM Dave Dombrowski and owner Mike "Massah" Illitch have been letting things float in the press that they want to cut serious payroll this offseason. Easier said than done boys. Who wants Gary Sheffield at $12 million next year? Or Carlos Guillen at $11 million? What about that three year extension given to Dontrelle Willis in the Spring for $30 million? Dude can't even find the plate anymore and looks like he has Steve Blass Disease. Don't forget about Nate Robertson's three year, $29 million deal signed before the season as well. Seen him lately? That would be in the bullpen as he has been banished thanks to an ERA well over six.

Also not to be overlooked was the complete dumping of their farm system to trade for guys like Edgar Renteria (Jair Jurrjens who would look great in their rotation right now), Willis and Miguel Cabrera (Cameron "OF of the future" Maybin and Andrew Miller, who would also be in the rotation today). The only guys that are even on the scouts radar are RHP Rick Porcello and 1B Jeff Larish, who has been up and down this year. Porcello graduated high school in 2007.

As far as I'm concerned, it couldn't happen to a finer organization. Free, wild spending flat out hasn't worked Mr. I. Terrible chemistry + bad pitching + worse contracts = a recipe for disaster.

That my friends, is your 2008 Detroit Tigers in a nutshell.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Get Em On...Get Em Over...Get Em In

Looky Looky. Our beloved boys in Red, White, and Blue just went into Arlington and swept the Rangers, thanks to some clutch hitting and actual decent relief work. It was all capped off by a gritty, one run win in last night's finale. Things that we thought we'd see all year, we are finally starting to witness now. Like say, doing the little things to win. Take the top of the ninth for example:

With Raffy Perez and Jensen "2009 closer" Lewis unavailable, Juan Rincon failed at his shot to preserve an eight inning 3-1, allowing two runs, the last coming on a bases loaded walk by noted Indian killer "to see" Ramon Vasquez from Rafael Betancourt. Ryan Garko led off the top of the ninth with a single. He was replaced by pinch runner Andy Gonzalez. Kelly Shoppach layed down a beautiful sacrifice bunt, moving Gonzalez into scoring position. Franklin Gutierrez hit Eddie Guardado's next pitch back up the middle to score Gonzalez and put the Tribe ahead for good 4-3.

Get em on, get em over, get em in.

Betancourt closed it out with a 1-2-3 ninth. Talk about things we haven't seen much of this season. There were so many positives to take from this series in that joke of a stadium in Texas. Saturday night, Jeremy Sowers threw a clunker after being forced to warm up three times due to a one hour-14 minute rain delay, yet the forgotten 4A special, Eddie Mujica, came in and threw two and 1/3rd scoreless relief. Meanwhile, the offense, trailing 7-1, kicked into high gear following Texas's six run fourth with a six run fifth, capped by a three-run pizza from The Shop Vack. Jamey Carroll's pinch hit RBI single in eight won it. Perez, Betancourt, and Lewis pitched three more scoreless innings for the much-maligned Tribe pen. Lewis even K'd the side for his sixth consecutive save.

Gutierrez continued his stellar play with the game-winning single in the ninth last night, as well as a 14 pitch at-bat that resulted in a double which gassed starter Vicente Padilla in the fifth. Ryan Garko, who has been absent most of the season, has 17 RBI in his last 15 games.

The Tribe brass may have struck gold in dealing for starter Anthony Reyes, who has been a rock of consistency since coming over from St. Louis. In his four starts as an Indian, he is averaging six innings, and has an ERA of 2.22. Last night he battled through seven innings, providing a huge lift to the taxed bullpen. Fausto Carmona seems as though he is finding his old groove once again, allowing just two earned runs in his last two starts. Cliff Lee is still being Cliff Lee.

What cannot be overstated is how important having a dependable closer is. Since turning the ball over to Jenny in the ninth, the Tribe is on a 12-3 streak, including the current seven-gamer, which Lewis has saved four. Says Mr. Grind-ball: "Jensen Lewis at the back end of the bullpen has been a key. It allows you to put your bullpen together." With the starters seemingly going 6-7 innings every time out, getting the ball to Perez and then Lewis gives the Tribe a chance to win every night.

Again, something we haven't seen all year.

With Victor Martinez and Travis Hafner (I'm not holding my breath here) on their way back, a .500 record is in sight. As are the third-place, $130 million Detroit Tigers, who are up next for the Wahoos. Most people could care less, but to your friends at DDD, this is a huge series. Two months ago, the Tribe was 10 games behind the Motor City Kitties, and now they sit just 1.5 games back. More Wedge-speak: "This means a great deal to us," Wedge said. "We want to finish with the best record and as high in the standings as we can. It's about pride. It's about competitiveness."

Don't expect a win tonight. The Zach Attack is on the hill for the Tribe and with the game ending at 11:30 EST last night, the boys most likely didn't arrive in Detroit until 3 AM. Armando Gallaraga, he of the 12-4 record and dominance over the Tribe this year (3-0), goes for the Tigers. Smells like a loss. The good news is, DDD's own King Diesel will be in the house tonight, not spending a dime toward's Illitch's pockets. Not to worry though, Jim Leyland is trotting out 4A supreme Chris Lambert Tuesday night against Cliff Lee. Fausto and Justin Verlander wrap up the three game series Wednesday night.


Lastly, MAD PROPS to our fellow blogger over at The Diatribe, Paul Cousineau for the much-deserved credit from The PD's Terry Pluto in his Sunday column about the Tribe minor leaguers. Paul does about the best and most in-depth coverage you will ever want to read. No cookie cutter b.s. Congrats buddy!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Da Franky G Show

Zach Attack Jackson was handed a 3-1 lead and couldn't hold it. He drilled poor Mitch Maier in the face, causing multiple facial fractures. Kelly Shoppach's two home run night looked like it may go all for naught. Then, Royals Manager Trey Hillman, who the night before pitched to Grady Sizemore with a man on, one out, and first base open, lifted Gil Meche after retiring 17 straight. Genius move Trey! I don't care of he had thrown 103 pitches. What are you saving him for?

Shoppach crushed his second homer off of Ramon Ramirez, Shin-Soo Choo walked, and AC bunted him over. Desperate to get an out, he went to closer Joakim Soria for a five-out save. This is a guy who is second in the majors in saves, and came in sporting a 1.48 ERA. (SIDE NOTE - I heard on the Tribe pregame show that he was a Rule 5 draft pick and was scouted by the epitome of 4A former Indians - Luis "Funky Cold" Medina). He walked Grady and then Franklin Gutierrez stepped to the plate. The red-hot Franky G hit an improbable, three-run shot to left field putting the Tribe up for good. Then to close out the game, Franky made a spectacular diving catch in right-field to give Jensen Lewis his fourth straight save.

How about Lewis's fourth save is the longest streak of consecutive saves for any Indian pitcher this year. Its August 21st!

Back to Gutierrez. I have wanted to see him succeed in the worst way. He is hands down the best defensive outfielder we have had in Cleveland in 20 years. The thought was he would step up big time at the plate in 2008 and take the next step. That hasn't happened. For the season, he still sits at .234, 7 HR, and 31 RBI. However, he is having a great month of August, hitting .346 with three homers, and 10 RBI. His last seven games he is on a .412 tear. This is the kind of stuff we've been expecting to see all year.

Meanwhile, Lewis got the Royals 1-2-3 in the ninth, something rarely seen by a Tribe closer. Cliff Lee goes for #18 today at 12:05...DDD will be in the house for the potential sweep.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Time To End The Experiment

A while back I wrote that I had seen enough. No. Really. I have SEEN ENOUGH! Andy Marte cannot play third base every day for a major league franchise and gosh dang-it, it is time to take a big bite out of this reality burger and spit Marte out into the Tribe trash.

The young third sacker is hitting 187. ONE EIGHTY FREAKING SEVEN! He ranks 269th in the AL in hitting, counting guys that do not qualify in terms of number of at-bats. 269th. Wow. The Braves said sayonara and sent him to the Red Sox and Theo even discarded him to the Wahoos. If Andy could play, wouldn't he still be in the ATL or in Beantown? Now, in his defense, he was behind Larry Jones (Chipper) in Atlanta and Boston has always been chock full of third baseman (Billy Mueller, Kevin Youkilis and Mike Lowell to name a few).

But Andy cannot cut the mustard. If Coach Wayne Hissler told him to rub some dirt on it and get back out there, it wouldn't matter ("Johnny Be Good" trademark). Donnie Murphy and Jason Smith, two dogs with fleas, are hitting for a higher average. Marte has 40 strikeouts and 10 RBI. Heck, Mike Mussina and Jeremy Guthrie, two pitchers, even have a higher BA. Marte hit 224 in July and maybe was finally starting to show a tad bit of promise; but in August he is back being Andy with a 205 BA and no home runs (zero.. point ZERO...).

Time to cut the cord.

Marte does have some value because his glove at third base has been very solid and he is only 24. There is still time. Maybe. Just not here. Move Jhonny Peralta to third base now and let him man the hot corner for September. See how he does. Why not? Andy seems like a nice kid, but let him give it a try someplace else. The Tribe needs better players and he aint better.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Not What We Want To See

Is this photo scary enough for you, Tribe fans? Yesterday afternoon King Diesel emailed me that #1 prospect and the man we are all hoping can save the franchise from more years of punch and judy corner outfielders and first baseman, Matt Laporta, was intentionally thrown at by the Chinese Olympic team during Team USA's 9-1 win. Laporta was alert and awake, but was taken to the hospital and made to stay overnight for precautionary measures after receiving a concussion.

Apparently, Laporta was being thrown at after his home plate collision knocked catcher Wang Wei out of the game. There is a right and a wrong way to retaliate, not that the Chinese National team, who is only playing because they are hosting the games, would know what that is. Funny, their manager, Jim Lefebvre is American, a longtime baseball man, who knows the unwritten rules. Their pitching coach is Steve Ontiveros, another American who played in the Majors in the 80's. These two should be forced to lose their citizenship. Said Lefevbre: "We do not throw to hit people. We do not teach that in China. We don't teach it in the United States. He tried to throw the ball inside and it got away from him."

He shouldn't be selling that bullshit, because nobody is buying it.

Meanwhile, Laporta was put at risk. The first thing I thought of was this is true Cleveland luck. He will probably never be the same again. But evidentally, he is a gamer. Our source in Beijing tells us "He (Laporta) actually wanted to stay in
the game but Davey (Johnson) said no."


In other Tribe news, Travis Hafner debuted in Buffalo last night and had two hits in three at-bats, including a ringing double off the wall in a 5-1 Bisons win. Future rotation member and former #1 pick David Huff continued his fast-track season with the win, striking out eight in five 2/3rds. Josh Barfield continued his rehab, going 0-2 with a sac fly. Bisons fans will get a bigger treat tonight as Victor Martinez joins the Herd and continues his rehab assignment. He is scheduled to play six innings.


Then you have David Dellucci. The man we want to drop like a stone has decided that what is going on in Cleveland for him just isn't good enough. In today's PD, he was quoted as being frustrated by his lack of PT of late.

"It's difficult for any player to be the best they can be when they're sharing time," said Dellucci, who has a year and $4 million remaining on his contract. "Any player that gets to see live pitching consistently is going to be better off. But I understand the process that's going on over here, and I'm pulling for the guys that are in the game when I'm not."

Memo to DD - you should be thankful that your agents were smart enough to convince Mark Shapiro to give you a three-year deal, because that is the only reason you are still here. Now he has the gall to say "oh, I'm not getting in a groove because I don't get regular at-bats." What a a deuche. True, Dellucci has been hitting the ball much better of late (15 for his last 34), but its not like he is sitting out every game. He has been in the lineup no-less than Franklin Gutierrez or Shin-Soo Choo.

Do you hear these two young guys complaining?

Nope. And these two are essentially playing for their jobs, while DD can do nothing and sit back and collect his $4 million a year. The only difference between Dellucci and Jason "K-Mike" Michaels is that third year on his contract.


Finally, Terry Pluto put it down perfectly in print today: "it's not happening for Andy Marte." We've been saying it all year; he isn't a major leaguer. He has finally gotten his chance to play every day and he flat out can't hit. The numbers don't lie. Per Pluto: He has been the regular third baseman since the All-Star break and is batting .188 in that span. In 164 at-bats this season, he has only 10 extra-base hits (three home runs) and 10 RBI. On the year, his on-base percentage is .230. In August, he's batting only .190, so it's not like he's figuring it out. Most alarming, the right-handed batter is at .157 vs. right-handed pitchers.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Battling To The End

Take away the three-error, 13 LOB abomination of Saturday, and the Indians went toe to toe with the best team in baseball and came away victorious in the series; capped off by a 4-3 win in Sunday's finale. This was the first series the Angels have lost to an AL team since losing to Tampa May 9-11.

True, the Tribe left nine men on Sunday, but you come to expect that these days when you see a bottom of the order which looked like the Buffalo Bison: Franklin Gutierrez (.231), Andy Gonzalez (.208), Sal Fasano (.314 - I love Fat Sal by the way, but the facts are he has been around more than Pam Anderson), and Asdrubal Cabrera (.222). Just compare the two teams and the Angels have the Tribe beat in every aspect of the game:

Starting Pitching: Who would you rather have, a rotation that boats five guys with 10 wins already including All Stars John Lackey, Joe Saunders, and Ervin Santana or a rotation that has Zach Jackson pitching every fifth day? Angels

Relief Pitching: Lets see, the Angels have the best set up man in the game (Scot Shields), a young fireballer heir apparent to the closer with an ERA of 1.10 (Jose Arredando), a veteran lefty specialist (Darren Oliver), and a closer who will easily break the the single season save record (Francisco Rodriguez). The Tribe has gone through four closers and other than Rafael Perez, has nobody who can consistently get outs. Angels

Lineup: One team has former and current all stars LF (Garrett Anderson), CF (Torii Hunter), RF (Vladimir Guerrero), 1B (Mark Teixiera), and on the bench (Gary Mathews Jr). A speedy third basemen in Chone Figgins, and studs up the middle in Howie Kendrick (.313 BA) and young Erick Aybar. The other has Andy Marte and David Dellucci playing regularly. Angels

Its no contest. Yet, I watched the Tribe scratch and claw and out-do the mighty team of The O.C. Eric Wedge has this undermanned team playing hard every single night. He has decided to go to Jensen Lewis as the closer and so far its worked. Jenny did pull a Jobo today (putting two guys on), but has saved three consecutive tries since Wedge went to him last weekend in Toronto. One of those hits was because of the no-doubles defense (which is so stupid, I get the concept, but why not play regular so BASE RUNNERS don't get aboard?). I like Lewis' grit. You can tell he wants the ball in the ninth. You never got that feeling from Masa or Rafael Betancourt.

Props also to Jeremy Sowers for another solid outing. He has his usual bad start, allowing two runs in the first, but settled down nicely, going six and 2/3, allowing three runs, one of which was unearned thanks to a Fasano passed ball. We ripped him good a few weeks back, but the former first round pick looks like he has a place at the #5 spot in the rotation. It was like old times for Sowers and old Vanderbilt teammate Lewis. "This was just like college," Lewis said. "Jeremy would start and I would finish. I told him during the anthem, 'I'm going to come in and save it for you. But if he doesn't pitch like he did, we don't have the chance to win. He did a great job."

Good to see Raffy Perez bounce back after his last long-overdue shaky outing. He retired all four men he faced, striking out three. Raffy Left needed just 14 pitches, 12 of them were strikes.

I've gotta say no matter how far out this team is, I still love watching them every night. Lets catch those Tigers for third place boys....We will be back tomorrow, an off day, to give you the story of my son's first Tribe game, which he attended Saturday,.

Friday, August 15, 2008

AC's D is the Key

Cliff Lee was a master of dodging trouble on Friday night. He went the distance to pick up his AL-best 17th win in the Tribe's 3-2 win over Disneyland's finest. It was the four double plays and the magnificent glove of Asdrubal Cabrera. AC made two spectacular plays, the first robbing Torii Hunter in the sixth, and then ending the game by going to his right, jumping and throwing out Garret Anderson from short center. The kid also had the game-winning RBI on a bases loaded walk in the seventh.

The Wahoos even managed to get to unhittable Jose Arredando, who came into the game with an 0.92 ERA. He faced four batters and didn't record an out. How Eddie Mujica of him!

We sound like a broken record, but Eric Wedge has to be credited for this team's mini-resurgence. They have played better baseball since the all-star break, and that is without CC Sabathia, Casey Blake, Travis Hafner, Victor Martinez, Jake Westbrook, and any semblance of a bullpen outside of Rafael Perez. Cabrera has come back up from Buffalo humbled and looks like the fresh-faced energy booster of 2007.

A few notes:

-Victor went 0-2 as a DH in his first game of a rehab assignment in Akron tonight. 2B Josh Barfield starts his tomorrow night, also in Akron.

-Former overrated Tribe manager Mike Hargrove gets inducted into the Indians Hall of Fame tomorrow. He met with the media today and says he is re-energized and wants to manage again, after burning out and quitting on Seattle last season in the middle of a pennant race. Grover is a nice guy, but one of the worst in-game managers I've ever seen. I've got two words: Jim Poole

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Purging Continues - Byrd Flyes to Boston

Almost three full years in a Tribe uniform has come to an end for Paul Byrd. The crafty right-hander was all heart, guts, and guile during his stint with the Indians and was rewarded by being dealt to the Red Sox for a player to be named later or cash. If ever anyone has made themselves into a hot commodity faster than Byrd, I'd like to see it.

After struggling mightily most of the year, the Byrd man completely re-made his season after a talk with Bert Blyleven about a month ago. He hasn't lost since. During that span, he has gone 4-0 in 28 innings pitched, allowing just four earned runs. I was at his last home start where he shut out the Tigers into the eight inning. After walking off the mound for the last time at the Jake, I wrote:

my respect level for the Paul Byrd reached an all time high. When he left with two outs in the 8th, I was one of the 24,000 strong giving him a well deserved standing ovation. In what could have been his final start as a member of Wahoo Nation, the Byrd Man was brilliant, throwing 7 2/3 scoreless innings against the team with the second largest payroll in the game.

Here is the bottom line, now is the time to say goodbye to the Byrd Man. His market value will not get any higher than it is right now. He seems to have righted himself and a pitching-starved contender like the Phillies, or maybe the Diamondbacks who are watching Micah Owings get lit up light a Christmas tree each outing could use a crafty, playoff tested pitcher like Byrd. Lets not forget that while C.C. and Fausto floundered against the Red Sox in the ALCS, Pauly won his start in a pivotal game four. Remember who started, and won the clincher against the Yankees in the Bronx? Paul Byrd.

That is something I will always love Byrd for. During the playoffs, he came up big when our twin 19 game winners couldn't. Both have filthier stuff, but didn't have the mental capacity of old #36.

Take a bow and a victory lap, Pauly. You earned it and you will be missed.

Four Straight - Two Entries for the Price of One!

Sorry we were MIA this weekend, King Diesel took over for a filler while the fam took the truckster for a roadie to Chicago, aka the best summer city in America. While we were gone, the Tribe pitching dominated the sad sack Toronto Blue Jays (prediction - Jays GM J.P. Richardi gets the ax at season's end) to the tune of a three game sweep. The Byrd man won his fourth straight start since talking to Twins broadcaster Bert Blyleven and simultaneously getting national props from ESPN's Scott Van Pelt, who for weeks now has been saying on his radio show that Byrd is the guy contenders should be trading for and he can't understand why this isn't happening.

Back at the Jake last night for the start of a four game set with Baltimore, it was the Tribe bats who carried the evening, putting up a 13 spot while battering around Dennis Sarfate, Rocky Cherry, and Jamie Walker (meanwhile, this clown turned one good season in Detroit into a three-year, $12 million deal. Only Peter Angelos!). Five Indians drove in two runs a piece, including Fat Sal Fasano and Andy Gonzalez of all people. Gonzalez, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Benny Francisco all homered for three of the Tribe's 13 hits. At this point, the goal should be third place and beating the Tigers in the standings, Well, at least it is for me as I'm trying to collect my steak dinner at Fleming's for the second consecutive year from my boy from the D.

While the offense was Adrianna Lima-hot last night, Fausto Carmona's third poor star in his last four almost spoiled a beautiful evening at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario. Opponent's have wisely layed off his devastating sinker and he continues to walk too many guys. Last night it was four in six and 1/3 IP. Couple that with six hits, and Eddie Mujica's gas can, and the 7-3 lead he once had was ghost. Mujica came in with the bases loaded in the seventh and Nick Markakis unloaded them with one swing. Lucky for 4A Eddie, the offense bailed him out.

In Eric Wedge's everlasting search to find anyone who can get outs in the bullpen, newest Indian Brendan Donnelly was handed the ball in the 8th. While he did put two men on, he pitched a scoreless inning. Jenny Lewis closed out the 9th. This means the Indians actually won a game where Rafael Perez actually didn't have to be summoned!

What did we learn last night? Masa Kobayashi is apparently in Wedge's doghouse, not having pitched since the debacle in Tampa last Wednesday. Not coincidentally, this was last time the Tribe lost. We also learned that Andy Marte isn't a major leaguer at the plate. Oh yeah, we knew that already. Only he could manage to look so pathetic and go 0-fer when the rest of the team was battering around Oriole pitching. Fausto Carmona still has a ways to go to get back to where he was last year. If he is going to be our #1 guy, his control problems have to be curbed. Lastly, Jenson Lewis looks comfortable in the ninth. Yes, its only been two games, but he has the stuff and the demeanor for the role.

We will be down at the Jake tonight for Sowers/Olson. Not exactly Maddux/Clemens.

How crazy is it that T and I both penned entries today, but here goes.

Tribe fans this summer will remember the opportunities lost. The countless games where the men that don the Chief on their caps would strand runner after runner and never score. The summer that died early because of injuries and certain young players who failed to prove that they are everyday major league material.

Monday night was a different sort of evening at Dolan Field as the Wahoos pounded Baltimore 13-8 and even blew a lead at the same time. Heck, Eddie "Demon Drop" Mujica served up four runs on four pitches and still got the win! This guy is an absolute mess most of the time and then other times actually commands his pitches pretty well. Regardless, it is nice to see the squad battle night in and night out. Andy Gonzalez, another 4A supreme, hit his first jack as a member of the RWAB.

Asdrubal Cabrera looks like he is coming around. The young shortstop, errrrrrrr, second baseman homered and then doubled in the go-ahead run in the 7th. I like the fact that he hit the ball hard from both sides of the plate and we have to hope and pray that his stint in Buffalo was as short as Artie Lange's trip to a rehab facility. AC is a keeper and will be an important part of this team next season. He has a swagger about him and does not talk much to reporters, which is fine. You cannot have a clubhouse full of the same types of cats. Just ask those Detroit Tiger$, whose mix is about as effective as "The Tonight Show" crew of Leno, Eubanks, and Melendez. Keep grinding Tribe.

One other note, this blog wants to give a shoutout to Tribe beat reporter for, Anthony Castrovince. I like his stuff at Check it out.

Friday, August 8, 2008

New Closer.. I Got Your Number

(Drumroll Please For Our New Closer)

Jenny Lewis.

The Pride of Skyline Chili Town (Cincy) mows em down (sort of) in the ninth tonight in Toronto and the RWAB garner in a 5-2 win over the Jays. Lewis earning his first career save and Anthony Reyes gets his first Tribe W. A solid pitching effort all around, including Raffy Perez. I like that Reyes threw strikes and his fastball has some late movement.

Benny Francisco and Shin Soo-Choo get it done with two out ribeye steaks. Twice for Benny.

Sidenote of the night. Lewis walks the leadoff man in the ninth and the STO crew starts telling the fans that they understand if they go into heart attack mode. I enjoyed it. Not sure if Paul Dolan did.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Bloody, Bloody, Bullpen

If you want to know what the best way to kill a season is, just ask the 2008 Cleveland Indians for the answer. A BAD BULLPEN. Not just a bad bullpen, a historically bad bullpen. And to think back in April, we all thought this was the strength of the team. As bad as some of the bullpen's the Indians have had since the millennium, this has to be hands-down the worst. Today, we may have even reached "The Bullpen from Hell" status, with apologies to charter members Jamie Easterly, Rich Yett, etc etc.

It was such a shame too. We should be talking about Jhonny Peralta's five-hit explosion and how he is as locked in as we've ever seen him. Or how Eric Wedge benched Ryan Garko for not hustling. Or the RWAB's 13 hit attack. Or how Rafael Perez was lights out yet again in his two innings. Nah, instead it's all doom and gloom thanks to Eddie Mujica and and Masa Kobayashi's complete and utter disaster of a ninth inning that cost the Indians a game and a series.

With the Tribe up 7-4 in the ninth and Perez, aka the ONLY Indian reliever capable of getting anyone out, already done after two scoreless innings, Wedge decided to see what Mujica could do. How does, double, double, two-run Pizza sound to start the inning?

Just like that, the three run lead evaporated. Out went Mujica, in came Masa. An infield single in which Masa forgot to step on the bag started his day. A walk came next, and then a three-run homer off the bat of Carlos Pena ended an epic comeback by the Rays and a sickening choke job by the Tribe. The final Rays 10 Indians 7.

Mujica's line: 0 IP, 3 hits, 3 ER

Masa's line: o IP, 2 hits, 1 Walk, 3 ER.

The Rays scored six runs on five hits and a walk while Mujica and Kobayashi failed to record a single solitary out. Yankee and Red Sox fans everywhere are ready to kill these two. When I say the Indians bullpen is historically bad. I'm not joking. They are ranked last in the majors in saves, save percentage, and bullpen ERA. Take Perez out of the mix and imagine how bad it could really be.

Mujica, a four A special, looked terrible when he first came up, and then followed it with a 10 2/3rds scoreless streak. He became "Steady Eddie" for three weeks. That came crashing down in two of his last outings, where he has allowed seven hits and seven earned runs in 2/3rds of an inning. The coward was "nowhere to be found" after today's debacle according to the Plain Dealer.

Masa? He has been a model of inconsistency. He is single-handedly proving that great Japanese relief pitchers aren't translating. Did this guy really save over 200 games in his career before coming over? He is very Paul Shuey-like. One game, he is unhittable. The next, he couldn't get my grandmother out.

Rafael Betancourt, the best set-up man in the majors in 2007 has turned into David Riske. Put him in a tight spot and he wets himself. On Tuesday night, he was in trying to keep the Rays at bay and Evan Longoria crushed one that hasn't landed yet. He like id so much, that he let Cliff Floyd do the same thing two batters later. "The Realtor" is being foreclosed on. He is in love with his fastball and everyone knows it. It's all equaled up to a 6.27 ERA and 11 HR's allowed. Last season, he allowed just four in almost double the innings pitched.

Jenson Lewis went from a guy who looked like the 7th inning bridge to Betancourt and Perez and the heir to the closer job. Now, he is a guy still searching for his velocity who seems to be handling the 5th/6th inning middle relief job just OK.

The rest of the bozos like Juan Rincon (can you say "Steroids" and "finished"), Tom Mastny (I wish the Nasty one was better, but he isn't), Rick Bauer (peace), Craig Breslow (late), Jorge Julio (pair of ones), and Brian Slocum (4A), have ridden the Buffalo shuttle with little to no success. Now word comes that Mastny is out, Brendan Donnelley is in. Matt Ginter has moved out of the rotation and onto the DL, replace by Anthony Reyes.

It's a friggin' disaster, the whole season. But you can't win games without a decent pen. Decent isn't even in the vicinity these days for our boy Wedge and his trusty lieutenant Carl "what chu talkin' bout" Willis.

Lastly, off subject - props to Wedge for benching Garko for a lack of hustle after his first at bat. These guys are still playing hard for "King Grinder" and he did the right thing with the Garko incident. Garko even agrees: "I made a big mistake right there," said Garko. "It's the first time it's happened and it will be the last."

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Give Wedge The Nod

I have my kids all week so heavy-duty Tribe viewing is on the back burner. However, I did catch the final four innings of the RWAB's 5-2 win over the Rays and I think it is time to give our skipper some "dap". Eric Wedge played a hunch and kept Rafael Perez in the game to pitch the 9th and it worked. Raffy-left had his good tight slider working last night and he baffled Tampa Bay hitters in the 8th and 9th innings for his second save of the season. Wedge let him go and too many times does not get the credit for a move like this.

"He was so efficient in the eighth, that I sent him out for the ninth with the lefties coming up," Wedge said. Even our main dog Dave Dellucci helping the cause with a 2 run bomb to right that excited the heck out of my son who nearly woke up his sister with his screaming downstairs.

Eric Wedge has kept this ship afloat. The Indians have been a gigantic downer this season and last place is still last place. You are what your record is... 49-62 is 49-62 and it is unacceptable. But.. BUT, the Tribe manager has done a very good job this season. These guys "grind" every single day. Most of the time the at-bats are battles and some of the younger players have improved (not many.. but some) and I do not think it is Wedge's fault that his entire bullpen collapsed on him and guys went in the tank. Last night Wedge managed to win and could have easily given Masa Kobayashi the ball in the ninth for a closer's role tryout again. I respect that.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Lets Talk Shop

Honestly, is there anyone hotter than Kelly Shoppach right now? Last night's back-breaking two out, two run homer off of Kevin Slowey was a thing of beauty on several levels. Slowey has been the Twins best pitcher of late, coming off a complete game shutout in his last start. If you saw the homer, the pitch was spotted well, low and away, but Shop went with it and took it over the baggie in right, putting the Tribe on top for good 3-1 on their way to a 5-1 win. Coming into the game, The Shop-Vac was hitting .389 since the all-star break, good for fifth in the AL. He has four pizzas in his last five games, and his batting average now sits at a healthy .277 (through Saturday), up 27 points July 21st.

The natural talk these days is that with the Tribe getting little to no production from their bevy of first base options (Ryan Garko, AAA Michael Aubrey and Jordan Brown who hot for little power)and Casey Blake now gone to the left coast, Victor Martinez could be headed to first with Shoppach becoming the regular catcher in 2009. There is no doubt that Shop is forcing the hand of the Indians brass. He clearly is an everyday major league catcher. If you look at the position throughout MLB, you find me 10 better catchers than Kelly Shoppach right now. Here's a quick list of guys in the conversation:

Yankees - Jorge Posada and Pudge The Cancer - Yes, they are both better players, but long-term, you'd rather have the younger Shop than two guys who are at the end of their careers.

Red Sox - Jason Varitek - I don't care what Red Sox Nation says about the impact of Varitek in the clubhouse, they'd take Shop over Tek right now 100% for 2009.

White Sox - AJ Pierzynski - Having a career year. Probably has the edge over Shop on experience. He's a veteran, but not old.

Twins - Joe Mauer - Next.

Braves - Brian McCann - An offensive young stud.

Cubs - Geovanny Soto - A Rookie All-star. Age 25, hitting .275, 17 HR, 60 RBI. But who's to say Shop couldn't do the same if he were an everyday catcher in that Cubs lineup?

Pirates - Ryan Doumit - Like Shop, finally getting his first taste of everyday action. Showing his raw-power. He and Shop may be a wash.

Dodgers - Russell Martin - Like with Mauer, No contest here.

So what do the Indians do in 2009 at the catching position? A lot of it falls on what else happens in the offseason. There is no doubt that wholesale changes must be made. There are huge holes at 1B, 3B, and at least one corner OF spot. But if you can get a guy like an Adam Dunn for left field, there is no reason for Shoppach to be catching four-five games a week, with Victor at first, also serving as a two-game a week guy behind the dish.

Some will say Vic the Stick loses value as a first basemen, which is a statement of merit. He goes from being a top three player at his position (Catcher) to Casey Kotchman, high average, not enough power guy, at his new position (1B). But does that matter if Victor is back to his pre-injury form as the most clutch hitter the Indians have? A guy who will hit over .300 and drive in 100 runs?

Just some thoughts...The beauty of this is that Kelly Shoppach is forcing his way onto the field with his play. Something Mark Shapiro and his crew only wished they could see from guys like Shin-Soo Choo, Andy Marte, Ryan Garko, and Franklin Gutierrez this season.

The Rest of it....

Here is the rest of our appearance on More Sports and Les Levine...Sorry for the ghetto production.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Here is Part One

You will have to pardon the video/audio on these clips. I know it's kinda g-h-e-t-t-o. But the people at the production compnay were no help and I had to fend for myself. So this is the best I could do. Fast forward about 40 seconds to start. Enjoy part 1:

Just a Taste

For some reason, I still haven't been able to get get my hands completely on the segments in file form to put them up on youtube. The only thing I have is two large files (which cannot be condensed, or at least I haven't figured out how to do so), and the last 2 minutes of the show, which I put up. I'm hoping to get the rest today, but here is a little snippet of the show from Wednesday night with yours truly and Paul Cousineau from The Diatribe.