Saturday, June 27, 2009

June 27, 2009: The Night The Season Died

It's official. RWAB GM Mark Shapiro has seen the light and the incoming train at the end of the tunnel and has surrendered. 2009 is now officially in the books as the Indians have just dealt glue-guy and 3B/LF/RF/2B/DH Mark DeRosa to the St Louis Cardinals for reliever Chris Perez and a player to be named later. DeRo gave the Indians three quality months and while he started slow, he was consistent and professional and I tip my cap to him. The Cubs must be freaking out that their boy is now headed to the Arch City instead of Chicago. You knew something was amiss tonight when DeRosa was held out of the lineup and the automatic out, AKA Ben Francisco, was patrolling left field.

Should Shappy have waited a little longer to drive the price up for DeRo? Maybe. But I like Perez. He turns 24 on Wednesday and can really bring the gas. He is big and has a mullet and a wicked slider. The Cards have tried him a couple of times as the closer and he may not be ready yet for that role, but he is the future ninth inning man for this team and lets be honest, Kerry Wood should also be dealt. Here is some video of "Kid Chris".

It is Saturday night and my kids have tired me out, so this is all you get tonight on this manuever. One more thing-- Michael Brantley was taken out of the Clippers/Durham game after two at bats tonight. You have to guess that he is on his way to the 216. Good. And while "Team Grind" is at it-- bring up Matt LaPorta too and send Ryan Garko to the NL for a PTBNL.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My Heart Can't Take Much More

There really isn't a lot to say about last night's win in Pittsburgh. It was basically a microcosm of the entire season and I walked away from the win even more unimpressed with Kerry Wood. Great to see Grady back and it appears, at least for one night, that "The Greatest Player of our Generation" is on track and putting the bat on the ball in a positive way. I know the anti-grind faction is wondering why Dave Huff did not get the ball in the ninth inning? That crew needs to relax. If it was a very meaningful game in September, maybe he is out for the ninth, but Eric Wedge is right, you have to protect young pitchers, especially ones with a history of arm trouble. Huff was fantastic and Wedge went to the one guy in the setup role who had done a nice job in Matt Herges.

I want to address one other issue. Following the game, I was in my car and tuned in to the postgame show on WTAM. The host (I won't give his name because that is what he and his right-wing faction wants) actually said that he started rooting for the Pirates to win in the ninth inning to just complete the deal. Memo to this Rush Limbaugh wanna-be: You are not a real fan, you don't know the game, and you are now where you belong in terms of time-slot. He rooted for the Pirates to win last night? They lost. Just like last November. I guess the host is 0 for 2 now. Palin in 2012! Loser.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Lawrence J. May Just Be Anti-Grind

We all know that the ultimate circus in Northeast Ohio runs ten days a year live and direct from the lakefront. That high-wire act, with clowns and animals and a big top is stationed each and every day, though, in beautiful Berea. It doesn't matter who the ringmaster is: Policy, Clark, Savage, Crennel, and now "Man-Kok", it is a barrel of laughs and fun and its followers line the pockets of the absent and silent owner and those lemmings even dress up like clowns (or dawgs) themselves. As a die-hard fan of the Indians, I have never been one to ever even compare the two franchises because I do not believe that they belong in the same category. Then I read this gem from Paul "I'm Out to End The Grind Era" Hoynes in

When asked if he was considering a change, Larry Dolan said, "I'll talk to you later." When asked if that meant a change was being considered, Dolan said, "I just don't want to lie to you."
Sunday evening, Paul Dolan responded in a text message, "I spoke with my father. He refutes that the conversation with you was in any way a statement on Eric's performance."

My reaction?


What on earth is that Mr. Dolan? Come on brother! As an owner of a big-league franchise, you HAVE to know your cliches! Thank goodness for the young and hipster Paul Dolan for coming to dad's rescue. If anyone has seen Paul D on Les Levine's show, the guy has his act together. Hopefully his conversation with daddy went something like this: "Hey Pop, saw your quotes in Hoynes' piece. Yeah. Uh. I'll do the talking from here on out okay? Last thing we need is you going all Hank Steinbrenner on our manager. Next time, just tell Hoynes that you have no comment or that Mark Shapiro makes those decisions."

I just don't want to lie to you? That is epic. Lying is what sports and media is all about Mr. Dolan! When your counterpart with the Berea Circus says "We are committed to winning", that is a LIE. When Minnesota Timberwolves GM David Kahn says "I have no list yet of coaching candidates", that is a LIE. When the "Lord and Savior" Bernie Kosar's bankruptcy attorney says that his client is a victim, he is LYING! And when your own GM Shapiro says the farm system is "loaded with good-young arms", unfortunately, he is also not telling the whole truth. (If I see Jeremy Sowers make one more start I swear....sorry sorry.. off topic).

Just had to get that off my chest. Still grinding, and supporting our ownership.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Don't Blame The Grinder

Look. Here is the thing. We all know that unless the Indians make some sort of miracle push to an AL Central Title that skipper Eric "Grind Master Flash" Wedge is going to get fired. I think he is a good manager and have defended him time and time again in this space. The Wahoos 29-40 record is disgusting and the performance of the bullpen has smelled even worse. Take Friday's 8-7 loss at Wrigley as your latest example; but somebody please tell me how that game's blood is on Wedge's hands?

Fans do not like Wedge's delivery. Fans always clamor for change when a coach or manager has been around seven years. Fans want a guy who will throw his hat in the dugout or run around the diamond chasing umpires. That is not Wedge. I really don't care what the fans want, because I believe most tribe fans never even knew baseball existed before 1994. I hate to sound like a snob, but where were all of you guys at the old stadium when I was a kid? My dad, brother, and I used to sit in the upper level, section 18, and on most Saturdays at the ballpark, we had the row and half of the section to ourselves. I am now off the tracks here, I apologize. My point is that fans want to replace Wedge, yet none of them have an alternative.

In Detroit, the Tigers just handed Jim Leyland a two year extension. This comes off of a last place season in 2008 and a 5-6 road trip this season with his team just two games ahead of Minnesota for first place in the worst division of all-time. Leyland is still managing this club because they respond to him and he has kept the ship afloat. Sound familiar?

If the Tribe players have quit, I don't see it. If they stopped listening to Wedge or "tuned him out" as Jim Ingraham suggested in the News-Herald, than how come they scored 12 runs the other night against Milwaukee and 7 in the early stages of yesterday's loss to the Cubs? What is Eric supposed to do up 7-2 in the 8th yesterday? Is he supposed to tell the umpires that HE will pitch the eighth instead of Joe Smith or Rafael Perez? (I would not have used Perez in that spot btw). It wasn't Wedge who went out and traded for Smith. The man has tried everything and now has gone to great lengths to even go public with some of his frustration with certain players. Good! Why not? We all see it. You can only use so much lipstick to try and dress up this pig.

I like the fact that this team plays hard day in and day out. I grew up watching some real dog teams and some real dog managers (John McNamara for one). Wedge makes mistakes, but I am sticking with him. I am not "giving in to the fight". Today he has to send Tomo Ohka to the mound at that bandbox in Chicago. I guess we keep grinding and pray.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Buh Buh Buh Benny and the Slumps

Now that sweet Dave Dellucci is gone, and Casey Blake is knocking out solo homers in LA with the Dodgers, it is about time to rename this blog. For the past weeks, we here at Dump Casey Blake/Dump David Delucci have commented on the lame at-bats and feeble plate attempts by the Wahoos opening day left fielder. Ben Francisco is no longer a rookie. He is no longer a 24 year old wet-behind-the-ears young ball player. He spent parts of seven years in the minors and now we are seeing why. Benny is a decent player, and probably a quality fourth outfielder on a contending team, but he should not be playing every day. At 5 for his last 47 and 8 hits in his last 61 at-bats, we here at the Blog of Grind turn our attention away from the Artie Lange/Joe Buck controversy and focus on a new mission-- to "Bench Ben Francisco".

There is no way that Benny should be playing day in and day out. If Eric "Julian Grindel" Wedge can sit Jhonny Peralta for days at a time, why not Ben Francisco? The caveat here is that Grady Sizemore is hurt, so Francisco is his backup in center. I say "So What"? Francisco has not driven a ball to right-center in weeks. He is hitting .131 in June with 13 strikeouts in 14 games and 3 RBI. Ben has 2 extra base-hits in June. His last home run he struck that was not given up by Andy Sonnanstine of the Rays was back on April 28th against Boston. April 28th!!! For some reason, Francisco carves up Sonnanstine. If only there were more arms like his in the AL Central.

Francisco was a bright light in a dark 2008 season. He was given an opportunity to play a lot after the Dellucci/J-Mike platoon was rightfully blown up and he did very well. Francisco can hit a "get-me-over" fastball and it showed last year when he knocked 15 home runs in 121 games. But at second glance, Benny's numbers were not all that earth shattering. He slumped in September and finished at .266 with 54 RBI for the season. Tribe brass hoped that this year, at age 27, he would be a young and cheap everyday player who can hit, run, and bring energy. He is none of that.

Even clueless ESPN analyst Steve Phillips remarked on Monday night that Francisco is spaghetti in the batter's box. He doesn't draw walks, opens up his front side, and mostly lifts weak pop-ups to left and center. How many rallies did this dude kill last night against the Brewers? Enough is enough.

Our solution here at the now renamed "Bench Ben Francisco" is to bench Ben Francisco. The RWAB is still in this race (as laughable as that is) and they are playing better ball as of late. Francisco needs to play against some lefties and pinch-hit. Period. I don't see him as an every day player and once Grady comes back, Francisco has to be the odd man out. Play Mark DeRosa in left and Peralta at third and call it a day. If DeRosa is traded, I want to see Matt LaPorta and Michael Brantley before I see Benny every day. For now, Wedge can play Jamey Carroll in center field some, and Trevor Crowe. We all know that T-Crowe cannot hit either, but at least he battles in his at-bats!

Sorry Benny. We did like your appearance, though, last year on the Jim Rome show.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


I am not going to waste the reader's time with a game recap of last night's debacle. What is the point? We all know that the Wahoos decided to become the "Walk-hoos" again and when you give free passes to the likes of Mike Rivera and Craig Counsell, you are going to lose. Period. End of story. The Tribe bats (other than Jhon Peralta and Ben "Spring Training Willie Mays Hayes" Francisco) were great and scored twelve runs. That should be plenty. It was nice to see Travis Hafner really square the ball up in his last two at-bats and his production is going to be needed. But, my god, the walks! Even the usually reliable strike-throwing Matt Herges got into the act. 261 bases on balls for this group! Worst in the bigs.
If someone has an answer on Rafael Perez I'd love to hear it. This dude is a total mess and it really makes no sense. There are some games that he is lights-out and can come in and destroy a left-handed hitter (David Ortiz earlier this season- three pitch K) and others like last night where he just gets torched. For those who want to send Perez down to Columbus, what is the point? He went down there three weeks ago and was Kenny Banya; he killed! An Eric the Actor ERA of "Zero Point Zero". He was lights out. On Monday night, he claims he wanted to throw a first pitch fastball to Prince Fielder low and away. Yeah. Right. That was a meatball. Even Ben "Pop Up Master" Francisco could have hit it out.

"I was trying to throw it down, and it just took off," Perez said. "I'm not frustrated. I've got to be ready to come back [Tuesday]."

You are not frustrated? Uh Raffy, WE ARE!!! To quote a famous manager in town, don't "give in to it".

I'm hoping to not see Palin, errr, Perez in a game the rest of this series, and I'm also asking for Josh Barfield in center tonight. Why not? If I get Trevor Crowe, I guess I'll be satisfied.

Monday, June 15, 2009

An Almost No-No For The Red-Ass

You have to appreciate Cliff Lee. Some guys will always be number 2 or number 3 pitchers in this game, but not Cliff. The "Ultimate Red-Ass" has stepped it up this season, and as the Tribe's "ACE" he has once again delivered. A masterpiece at Dolan Field last night and a near no-hitter in the RWAB's 3-0 shutout win over the Cards. Lee's ERA is now 2.88 and just think if he had some run support! The dude could probably relax a little bit on the mound, but he really never does. He's kind of a jerk. He pitches angry and he snarles at his teammates on the field, yet, he's the true leader of the staff and I find it refreshing. Cliff was seen staring down Shin Soo-Choo in the eighth inning last night after Yady Molina's lead off double broke up the no-hitter. Hey, Lee thought Choo should have made the play and he's intense and wanted that no-no. If Fausto Carmona had that sort of attitude!

Think about where the Wahoos would be without Cliff. His ERA is below three. Do you know how many other Tribe starters have ERA's below five? None. This guy doesn't just eat innings, he owns them, and we just have to hope and pray he stays here. You cannot expect to contend without arms. Pitching is the name of the game and it is one of two reasons why the Tribe is not dead and buried yet. The other reason is this garbage division. Thank goodness the Detroit Tigers gave Dontrelle Willis that ridiculous contract and feel the need to have to prove he deserves it. The D-Train still pitching every fifth day is a travesty, just like these reports of Krispy Kreme possibly going under.

Finally, props have to go to Tribe radio man Tom Hamilton. The best in the biz last night did his job and did it well. Hammy elected to tell the fans throughout the night that Cliff Lee did have a no-hitter going, which is the right move. As the radio play-by-play guy, your job is to tell the listeners what they cannot see. There is some stupid unwritten code now among some baseball announcers that they should NOT jinx the pitcher by saying the words "no-hitter". Hogwash. Tommy did the right thing and his description and excitement is still awesome. I'll take Hammy over anybody in the game not named Vin Scully.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Fourth Place Feels So Goood

This team is such a mystery. Playing without its center fielder, shortstop, and starters 3-5, the Tribe continues to grind away and now has escaped out of last place in the worst division MLB has ever seen. The RWAB buck the odds last night and score 8 unanswered to beat the fledgling Royals 8-4. Let us not forget that they really don't have an everyday second baseman, nor do they have a full DH (it is sort of a half of a DH). Its best set-up man is also on the DL. Somehow this club is only seven back and credit must go to the manager and the bullpen, which has really done a nice job the last few weeks. Pitching is still the name of the game and the crew in Chuck Hernandez's 'pen picked up Cliff Lee last night. The "Ultimate Redass" Lee did not get help from the umps last night (Teahan was out on the Choo throw to third.. not even debateable), yet he kept the team in the game long enough for the boys to rally.

A shout-out to Billy Butler of the Royals. Thank you very much for your gifts to us in the 6th inning. Two poor throws allowed the Wahoos to rally for 4 runs and tie the game. KC is now in last place, a half game behind the Tribe, and they have dropped 22 of their last 28.

I don't know what to think of Mark DeRosa. He seems like a very cool dude, who is just a baseball player. Every team needs a DeRosa, a jack-of-all-trades, who is given an assignment by the skipper and usually completes it. He goes granny last night to lift the boys to a win and for the most part, has really been thee most clutch hitter on this squad. "He's had a lot of big hits this year," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "He's done everything we've asked him to do. He's played a lot of different positions and filled different spots in the order. He's a baseball player in every sense of the word." It was truly a "Grind Slam" for DeRo, who has not played well defensively and at times has looked bad at the plate against breaking pitches. But to his credit, he has been pretty consistent and has been a quality addition.

Look, this team has a run differential of just -5. This division is abysmal. I have watched the first three games of Tigers/White Sox this week and it is bad baseball at its finest. Detroit has two stud pitchers in Verlander and Jackson and two huge holes in their rotation. Sound familiar? The Tigers closer walked three batters in a row last night with a three run lead and had to be taken out of the game. This division is still winnable.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


You wanna send Fausto down to the minors? Fine. Who is going to come up then? Uh.. Hello? Bueller? Anyone?

Exactly. Fausto Carmona CANNOT be sent to Columbus to get his act together. If this continues in the coming weeks and Jake Westbrook is ready to roll, then fine. But now is not the time. For god's sakes, Jeremy Sowers pitches tomorrow night at U.S. Cellular Bandbox. Lord have mercy.
Fausto is a mess. Even Rick Manning pointed out today to Al TV that Carmona lacks confidence. He has the stuff and the sink to his fastball is still wicked at times, but he looks like a scared cat on the bump. Today Jason Kubel just mashed two homers off of him and Kubel acted like a bully in third grade taking lunch money. These were two "Crush Grooves". Someone needs to get with Fausto and wake him up. The Indians need him and lets be honest, this divison smells. Bad. For as poorly as the RWAB has played, and for as banged up as they are now, the boys find themselves just 7 back of Detroit! 7 back! What a hilarious notion. Grind.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Ban Francisco

Enough already. I know you are supposed to be patient with young players. I know that many teams have given position players multiple opportunities to prove they are legit in this league (Clete Thomas, Adam Lind, Josh Hamilton, and Melky Cabrera are prime examples). I get all of that. How much longer do we wait for Ben Francisco? Corner outfielders are supposed to help carry your offense, they are supposed to have some power, and strike fear into the opposition. I don't see it with Benny. He seems like a good dude and a guy that works hard and can play all three outfield spots, but other than when Tampa's Andy Sonnanstine is on the mound.. when is this kid going to drive a ball over the fence? Francisco is no kid either, he will be 28 in October.

Last night the Indians lost Asdrubal Cabrera (their second best position player) to a dislocated shoulder. AC got the RWAB going in the first inning with a single off of Tribe killer Kevin Slowey. Here comes Ben, now batting second in Eric "Grind Theft Auto" Wedge's lineup, to promptly hit a hard grounder to second base. The Twins got AC out four to six at second base and he got hurt. As I watched the play unfold I said to myself.. lo and behold Francisco lines a ball into the gap and starts a big rally. Benny is seventh on the Indians in at-bats, yet TENTH in on-base percentage. His slugging percentage has gone down in each of the three years he has donned the chief on his hat. With all of the injuries the Tribe has sustained, it would be nice to see a guy like Benny step up, he hasn't done it. You know how many times in a game this season he has had three or more RBI? 3. That is it! And two of those three games were against Sonnanstine. I mentioned the Tigers' Thomas who has 13 rbi in 20 games, Ben has 20 in 46 games. How much longer do we play this guy everyday?