Saturday, September 20, 2008


Featured now is a piece on why Gary Sheffield is a piece of garbage

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Get on the I-71 Express

In a surprise to absolutely nobody, your Wahoo Warriors will have a new AAA affiliate, right down I-71 South in the capital city of Columbus C-Bus, here we come! Good news for all of your lovers of the Red, White, and Blue, you will get to watch the development of future Tribe fixtures Matt Laporta and Wes Hodges. You may get to see a rotation that includes the likes of stud prospects “14 scoreless” Scott Lewis and David Huff (if they don’t make the big club). You may even get to feast your eyes on the making of a future closer in the fire-balling Adam Miller.

We will definitely miss Buffalo, Dunn Tire Park, and the pronunciation of the team nickname the “By-zons.” But its a complete no-brainer for the organization. Now is when the geniuses (ha ha) behind STO should capture the Columbus market and fill all of that empty paid programming and poker-show time with Clippers games and content in step with the Indians games and shows.

Here is another idea for the STO folks: how about a roundtable of local sports bloggers/writers like yours truly and the boys at The Cleveland Fan, which currently provides STO with all of their website content? Sign us up.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Victor Victorious

In a season of frustration and injury, Victor Martinez finally got his moment. Too bad it took until September 16th to do so. Stepping to the plate in the bottom of the 11th inning, Vic the Stick sent the 2,000 0r so fans still remaining at 11:30 home happy, with a three-run, walk-off blast to center off of Twins closer Joe Nathan. It was his second homer of the season and since his return from a three-month stint on the DL.

Amazingly, this was the first game-ending Home Run Nathan has allowed in an astounding 428 appearances (thanks to the PD’s Paul Hoynes for that factoid). Nathan also has owned the Indians for years. He came into the game lifetime against the Tribe 3-0 with 28 saves in 29 chances. As Victor rounded third and headed towards home, he was grinning like a Pacman Jones at a strip club. He slid into his awaiting teammates who piled on him in celebration. Said Martinez after the game “I felt just like a little kid running the bases.”

The Vic crush job put the ending on what was one of the more wild games of the year. The Tribe jumped out 8-1 in the first three innings and chased starter Francisco Liriano, thanks to a three-run slice from Ryan Garko and a solo shot from Asdrubal Cabrera in the second, followed by four more runs in the third capped by an Andy Marte RBI single. You know its not your night when Marte is beating you.

It seemed all good and even with The Zack Attack on the mound, an 8-1 lead seemed safe. That is why the play more than three innings and that is why Zack Jackson is nothing more than a spot starter/long man at best. Before you knew it, it was 8-5 after five. The Attack clearly had nothing left, yet Eric Wedge sent him back out for the sixth. Maybe it was because he was still evaluating the kid, maybe it was that he had no faith in his bullpen. Either way, The Attack gave up back to back singles to start the sixth before giving way to a plethora of Tribe relievers who came from the bullpen with gas cans in tow.

Juan Rincon gave up a two-run single to bring it to 8-7. In the 7th, Brendan Donnelly loaded the bases with one out and was bailed out as Carlos Gomez’s line shot went right at Marte who stepped on third to end the inning. Rafael “The Realtor” Betancourt looked about as good as a salad does to Artie Lange in the 8th. He walked four and gave up two runs before giving way to Moo-Heeks (Eddie Mujica). Raffy left after throwing 33 pitches (painstakingly slow in his delivery), only 13 of which were strikes.

That is when the fireworks began.

Grady Sizemore hit a one out, solo bomb off of the right field foul poll that deflated Twins reliever Everyday Eddie Guardado in the eighth. Then I sat and witnessed one no-name reliever after another on both sides get key outs. Ever heard of Jose Mijares before? Me neither. He pitched a scoreless 10th for Minnesota. Thomas “Nasty” countered with a two K top of the 11th. He was rewarded with the W thanks to the Victor blast.

What a strange night down at the Jake (I still refuse to call it Progressive Field). Interestingly, it was another up and down night for me and my Tigers/Tribe Flemings bet. At 10:45 PM, the Tiger led the Rangers 4-2 heading into the ninth and the Tribe trailed 9-8 in the eighth. I was livid over an easy blown win. The next thing you know, Fernando Rodney was failing to get an out for the Kitties and the Rangers had come back for a 5-4 win and the Tribe ended the night a 12-9 ”victor.”

Now the Tribe is 3.5 games ahead of the Tigers in the race for steaks.

As a wise man once said “ohhhhh loveittttttttttttttt.”

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Who is This Kid? He's the Problem Solver

Tribe-Nation knows all about Adam Miller. Wahoo fan can tell you a lot about David Huff by now. Even a casual RWAB follower knows a tiny bit about Chuck Lofgren or Jeff Stevens; but who out there actually thought we'd see a dominating Scott Lewis here in September? Where did this young lefty come from and is this for real?

For the second straight outing, the soon-to-be 25 year old OSU product pitched a shutout as the Tribe topped the second place Twins 3-1. Lewis once again baffled the opposition by moving the ball all over the place and changing speeds and he rarely topped 87-88 mph on the radar gun. If you watch him pitch, he looks like a more confident Jeremy Sowers and reminds me of Scott Kazmir without the heat and David Wells without the beef. 14 scoreless innings in his first two big league outings and he has not done this against chopped liver. The Twins offense ranks 3rd in baseball in team batting average and the Orioles are ninth.

In January, Baseball America had him rated as the 7th best prospect in the Tribe organization and Tony Lastoria even had him as low as 14th. Right now I'd say you can move him up the list. With Sowers and Aaron Laffey having inconsistent seasons, why not put him in the mix for 2009? Again, health is a concern with this kid. Tribe "Top Men" will only give him one more start and then likely shut him down.

While "The Problem Solver" dazzled us once again, Travis Hafner continues to be a shell of himself. I know I know-- Pronk is just getting his feet wet again in the bigs and is going to need time getting used to playing every other day, but, he is 3 for 17 in his four games back with 4 strikeouts and 0 RBI. Last night, Travis came to the plate in the 8th inning with the bases loaded and nobody out. I sat there and said to myself "Come on Pronk.. hit it hard somewhere" knowing full well he would not. Does that make sense? I was trying to will him to a warning track sac-fly and instead he chopped one weakly to Justin Morneau at first and nearly was doubled up 3-2-4 at first. I just hope in March he is pounding the ball again and ready for the 2009 season because he is vital to the team's success. Hitting 198 against righties is not going to cut the mustard.

Next thing you know he will be opting to kick field goals instead of going for the end zone and we cannot have that.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Kansas City Technique

What the hell, since the Browns and the Buckeyes dominated the local scene with two bad losses, why should the Indians fly under the radar after a completely lost weekend against those heavy-hitting Kansas City Royals.

As bad as the Buckeyes were, the Tribe may have been worse, looking like a bunch of dogs who wanted to be sleeping curled up on the couch, rather than to be out in the rain. Friday night’s tilt looked like the start of a big weekend. The Tribe bats were hotter than Alicia Sacramone, putting a 12 spot on the board in a 12-5 win.

Saturday’s day/night double-dip turned into a 3:35 back to backer where Wedge’s crew fell asleep at the wheel. They gave up a combined 16 runs on 31 hits, thanks to the likes of such stalwarts as Bryan Bullington, Masa “I should have been shut down two months ago” Kobayashi, and the seemingly lost Fausto Carmona, who has been doing his best Cliff Lee 2007 impersonation.

Sunday was no better. Jeremy Sowers, who seemingly pitches every single home Sunday game, lasted only three innings as the Tribe was blasted 13-3. Eddie Mujica, AKA Mr. 4A, got two outs in the fourth, then allowed five straight base-runners and took the loss. Tom “Nasty” Mastny continued his miserable campaign, allowing four runs in an inning to bring his ERA to 12.18. The lone bright spot on Sunday was seeing Fat Sal Fasano get a start behind the dish. Man, I love that fu-manchued fat man.

Notes from the weekend:

1. What has exactly happened to Carmona? He became so frustrated with himself after being yanked during Saturday afternoon’s loss that he chucked his hat and glove into the stands. The 19 game winner a tear ago has become a shell of his former self. The injury to his hip cost him seven valuable weeks and his confidence has never seemed to resurface. Last year, opposing hitters couldn’t lay off oh his nasty sinker. This year, the book seems to be out on him, lay off the sinker and sit on the fast ball. Fausto has to get back to his ‘07 form if the Tribe is going to contend in ‘09

2. Cliff Lee won his 22nd game Friday night and coasted into the ninth before he fell into a little trouble and Jenny Lewis had to close it out. Has there ever been a season in Tribe history where a player came in with so much baggage, so much to prove, and came in and just blew the entire league away with his abilities? The man I dubbed “Stiff Lee” in ‘07 have stuck it right to me and all of his other critics and is a lock Cy Young winner in the American League.

3. Not that anyone has noticed, but Shin-Soo Choo has become Tribe most consistent performer, and that includes Grady Sizemore. He ended the weekend hitting .300 with 39 extra base hits and 49 RBI in 273 at bats. Add in his cannon-arm and it makes for an everyday starter in right field you can count on.

4. Watching the Tribe bullpen arms this weekend makes it easy to remember this unti has to be re-built this offseason. As nicely has Jensen Lewis has filled in as the closer in the last 30 games or so, money must be spent on a top flight closer you can count on. Only Rafael Perez has shown any semblence of consistancy all year. Who knows what Masa will come back with next year. Rafael Betancourt’s nightmare season most likely won’t be repeated, but not even he can be counted on. Guys like Juan Rincon, Brendan Donnelly, Mastny, and Mujica? I saw way too much of them this weekend and know these four are not answers for 2009.

5. Bryan Bullington was really the #1 pick in the entire MLB draft in 2002? Really? Seriously? Guess who drafted him? The Pirates. Tells you all you need to know.

6. The Indians smartly did not bring up prized left David Huff to start the game Bullington did. No need to give him a taste yet. Our spies tell us that in the pecking order of Tribe pitching prospects its Huff #1 and then everyone else. Scott Lewis gets his second start tonight against Minnesota. Lets see what he has in store for us.

7. Congrats to Asdrubal Cabrera who was named co- AL Player of the Week. AC hit .455 with eight RBI including three multi-hit games. The kid keeps getting better and better. With Andy Marte falling off the table, it would surprise nobody if Cabrera is moved to his natural position of shortstop with Jhonny Peralta moving to third this offseason.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Scott Freaking Lewis

That was a man-sized Major League Debut if I have ever seen one. Dude absolutely cruised to victory, making it look easy. Zero walks, three hits, and no runs in eight innings? I mean, are you kidding? Is there any end to the depth of starting pitching in the Tribe's system? Lewis is behind guys like David Huff, Adam Miller, and Aaron Laffey in the pecking order, yet he made a serious case for himself tonight with a dominating performance against the Orioles in the 7-1 win.

Speaking of this Orioles, they looked like they had licked the stamp and mailed it in the last two nights. One weak at bat after another, swinging early in the counts, not drawing walks, etc etc. I mean, its not as if they faced Cliff Lee and Fausto Carmona, it was Jeremy Sowers and his 5.97 ERA and Scott Lewis who was making his first career appearance.

Enough about the O's. Tonight is a celebration of the kid from Ohio State. The Tribe's third round pick in the 2004 draft, was mixing speeds all night long and never let Baltimore hitters get comfortable. Shame on Eric Wedge for not letting him make the attempt for the complete game shutout. Lewis threw 96 pitches and was masterful. The Orioles never had two men on in any inning while the kid was dealing. He deserved a chance to finish what he started.

Naturally, Masa The Gas Can Kobayashi came in and immediately gave up three hits and a run. Masa has had no bullets left in his gun for two months. Luckily for The Grinder, the offense did. How about the Shop Vack? Two more pizza's for the best backup catcher in baseball, bringing his season total to 19.

Asdrubal Cabrera continues to prove the demotion to AAA was the smartest move the Tribe brass made all season. He had two more hits and three more RBI's. He was hitting .186 when he returned from his demotion July 18th. Right now, AC is up to .245 and has started the month of September on a 15-28 tear.

Back to Lewis, he was only supposed to be up here making one start in place of the sore-elbowed Anthony Reyes. I for one have got to see more of the young lefty.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Only 3,000 People Or So Cared To Be There

Did you see the crowd tonight in Baltimore? Peter Angelos must be spinning in his grave, the friggin guy isn't even dead yet. He gets what he deserves. I don't care what the attendance will say in the morning, there couldn't have been more than 3,000 people at Camden Yards watching the sad sack Orioles get schooled by Jeremy "Ziggy Sobotka" Sowers, he of the 5.97 ERA. (SIDE NOTE: That is a reference to season two of HBO's The Wire. Sowers and Ziggy - separated at birth)

Just how bad was it for The O's in the 6-1 loss? The Indians got RBI in consecutive innings from Michael Aubrey, David Dellucci, and Andy Marte. That's like getting beaten by a knife in a gun fight. Tonight also marked the return of Pronk. Travis Hafner actually looked good at the plate, getting hits in his first two at bats with solid line drives. He hadn't stung a ball like this once in the first two months while playing through a bulky shoulder.

Another thing - I know I am beating a dead horse and I know he had an RBI triple, but please explain to me why Dellucci got the start in left field and hit second? I mean seriously Wedge, what are you trying to prove here? Why should Benny Francisco and Franky G lose at bats this late in the season to this scrub dog who has no future with the club? The only explanation is they are trying to showcased him for an off season deal. There isn't any other single reason to play him. He is slow, he is old, he is a terrible outfielder with a pop-corn arm, and is hitting .244.

Do I say this every single week? I swear I do. I think the only dumber move in Cleveland sports right now is a certain football coach who elects to kick field goals down 21 points in the fourth quarter rather thank going for it on fourth and three.

Meanwhile, my Tigers/Tribe bet is coming right down to the wire. The Indians were percentage points ahead of Detroit entering tonight. I've got a steak dinner at Fleming's for four riding on this. I figured I'd be battling it out for first place, not third.

Another quick note - Tommy Hamilton said something on the radio tonight that made a ton of sense. The guy who would look great in a Tribe uniform next year is Orioles 2B Brian Roberts. Think about it. Here is the perfect #2 hitter. Great on base percentage guy with speed. He's an allstar caliber player and has a contract that ends after the 2009 season. The Orioles would love to snatch some of the Indians pitching depth and having Roberts in the lineup would settle the infield with Asdrubal Cabrera moving to SS and Jhonny Peralta to third. How does this lineup sound?

CF Grady Sizemore
2B Brian Roberts
C Victor Martinez
3B Jhonny Peralta
DH Travis Hafner
LF Ben Francisco
RF Shin-Soo Choo
1B Ryan Garko
SS Asdrubal Cabrera

Mix in Kelly Shoppach, Franky G, and Jamey Carroll regularly and I think you can contend if Pronk and Victor return to form. Two people I do not want to see in that mix are Dellucci and Marte. I'd say there's a good shot I'm gonna be right. Call me too optimistic, but it's not that crazy of an idea.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Ho-Hum Another Road Kill

While clueless Romeo Crennel kicks field goals down by 21 points in the fourth quarter, the Indians just keep grinding out wins. While the Brownies try to be all sexy with their high powered offense and national tv hype, the Tribe pitches and fields and wins. While Braylon Edwards talks and drops balls, Cliff Lee shuts down the opposition en route to a 21-2 record. While fans search to see if #95 is even near the play EVER, Victor Martinez returns from a major injury to drive in 3 leading the Wahoos to a win over KC. While Sean Rogers and the high priced defensive line fail to touch Tony Romo, the Royals cannot touch the law firm of Perez-Betancourt-Lewis.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Looking Back On the Fake Trade

While we are winding down on the season of disappointments galore, all we can do is look back and scratch our heads with what-ifs. But one thing is for certain, the trade of my favorite whipping boy Casey Blake have excellent early returns. What sparked this way of thinking for me was an article I came across in Tuesday's Los Angeles Times. Columnist TJ Simers wrote a laughable piece saying that Dodgers GM Ned Colletti "the best GM in the baseball," and that he "stole Blake" from the Indians.

Or really?

How do you consider it a theft when you gave up a future star catcher who at age 22, was the MVP of the Class A California League without even playing the last month of the season? Don't miss these numbers in his combined Inland/Kinston season:

.329 BA, 20 HR's, 112 RBI, 39 doubles, 89 walks, in 455 At-bats.

Don't forget a rocket arm behind the plate to boot. He instantly became a top-five prospect in the Indians system and should start next year as the everyday catcher in Akron. I can guarantee you will see him in Cleveland at some point in the next couple of years. It's been known that the Dodgers have talked about moving Catcher Russell Martin back to third base in the future, and now they are left without that stud catcher to do so.

Reliever Jon Meloan in the meantime was on the fast-track to the majors, before Colletti and his people tried to make him into a starter. When that failed, they dealt him to the Tribe, who smartly, put him back in the pen. This was a kid who according to Dodger blog Fire Ned Colletti Now on July 11 "has dominated at pretty much every level he's been at," and "Meloan's ceiling as a reliever is an elite setup man that has the toughness to work out of any situation."

Since coming over, he was working in the late innings in Buffalo (may they rest in peace). He has received a September call-up to the big club and will definitely be in the mix for a spot in 2009.

Not a bad little haul for a guy who was a free agent at the end of the year and the Dodgers may never see again after this fall. How can Simers judge this trade as such a success without knowing if this team can win, let alone even make it to October baseball? True, he is also talking about the Manny acquisition, a deal which can be considered a steal, but to lump these two together is poor journalism and shows a lack of research. Are Fake's numbers all that great? .277, 8, and 20 in 141 AB's. Solid yes, spectacular, no.

By the same token, me calling the trade a winner for the Indians this early is playing right into the same hypocrisy that Simers has fallen into. For all I know, Santana never makes it big and Meloan turns out to be 4A. That said, you can look at Shapiro's move as the right one.

It has given the Tribe brass an opportunity to play Andy Marte every day at third base without anyone impeding his progress. He has proven that he isn't the future, so now in the offseason, Shappy, Chris Antonetti, and company can evaluate the market and see if the want to move Jhonny Peralta to third, or acquire a quick fix until prospect Wes Hodges is ready. Hodges won AA Eastern League's 2008 Rookie of the year, hitting .285 with 16 HR's, and 91 RBI.

It also gives them another option for the beleaguered pen, which you have to believe will be in a state of flux next season. Other than Raffy Perez, Rafael Betancourt, and Jenson Lewis, nobody else is even close to assuring themselves a roster spot.

Lastly, the trade got Casey Blake out of my hair once and for all....unless the bring him back in '09. My worst nightmare.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Cliff's Rollin on 20s.. With the Top Back

How does this happen? One year ago at this time, the Indians were giving Clifford Lee a courtesy recall from Buffalo knowing full well he was not going to help them down the stretch. Today, this all-man lefty is a 20 game winner and he took a bite out of the White Sox last night, chewed them up and spit them out and taunted them too. Lee goes the distance on a complete game five-hit shutout; the Tribe wins 5-0 and in the process Lee just about wraps up the AL Cy Young Award. 20-2!!! Wow!!

Cliff threw two pitches all night long last night and the first place Shysox could not touch his fastball or breaking ball. Mild-mannered all season long, we saw a very intense and even nasty side to Kristen's hubby last night as he stared down AJ Pierzynski (stunner) and even barked at the Chicago dugout after DDT'ing them. I was listening on the radio and would have liked to have heard a mention of this sidebar. Regardless, good for Cliff. When you win 20 and become the first Indian since Gaylord the Cheater in 1974 to do it-- go ahead and talk junk.

Quick note: I heard Mark Shapiro on the air during the game with H and H and he said some very interesting things. The team will try and get a closer and an infielder this off-season for sure, and he also made it a point to really tell the listeners that he liked Choo and especially Franky G a lot. Take that for what it is worth. My opinion? Franky didn't hit for us last year during the playoffs or when it mattered this year.