Thursday, September 24, 2009

We are a Joke

This is pathetic. It is one thing to lose a lot of games and have a bad season, it is another to get blasted night in and night out by the opposition. The 2009 Cleveland Indians are not even competitive anymore. We grinded. We "never gave in". We tried. Now, it is a punch line. THEY are a punch line. The first place Tigers have come to town the last two nights and outclassed the RWAB with ease. The Indians actually did not see Edwin Jackson or Rick Porcello at their best.. but it doesn't even matter. Same old same old. Half-hearted at-bats by some veterans. Lousy throws to the plate by the AAAA guys that GM Mark Shapiro has given four to five chances to. It is lame. How bad do you have to be to be in last place in this sorry division? Extremely bad. I don't need to give you all the stats and numbers, my boy Paulie C at will do that for you. Bottom line, it smells.

This organization has ZERO clue on how to evaluate young pitchers. ZERO. The trades of Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez so far have both graded out as F and F. That is based on thee most important aspect of the game: Pitching. Are we really supposed to believe that Justin Masterson or Carlos Carrasco are going to be big parts of the 2010 rotation? Neither can get anybody out! Ask the Tigers. Detroit's offense is one of the worst in baseball, yet, they rack around Masterson and tonight they likely will do the same for the second time to Carrasco. The CC Sabathia deal looks promising. Why? Because it is position players that are involved coming back from Milwaukee. I like Mike Brantley and the Gator (Matt LaPorta). I think they both can play. Can they pitch? Shapiro claims nobody forced him to move Lee and Martinez. Sure looks like it doesn't it? I hope Masterson pans out because he has some ability, but will it be as a starter? WE NEED STARTERS!!!

I've seen about enough of Travis Hafner and Jhonny Peralta. Can Pronk one time in his life in a key spot drive in a few runs with a solid shot either in the gap or over a fence? I'm tired of the bases loaded fielders choice and the sac fly. Tired of it. Peralta is in another one of his 0 for 25 slumps. Tired act. At least Jamey Carroll attempts to use all fields consistently.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Gross On All Fronts

I do not enjoy going to see the Tribe play at Comerica Park. Not since Casey Blake departed (irony) have the Indians put up a good and consistent effort against the Tiger$ in that venue. Last night was no different, as the RWAB looked like a walking and talking (or in Jhonny Peralta's case NOT-talking) side-show. 5 errors? It was awful. Peralta's performance is to be expected, if you watch every game like I do. Jhonny is a mystery and certainly his bobble-fest last night was the reason the Tribe lost 4-2. You cannot blame Aaron Laffey, who shook it for a solid 6 and a third innings and pitched pretty well. He was out-done by 20 year old Rick Porcello, whom the Tigers (once again) over-paid for, but is well worth the investment. He is a stud. It is just unfortunate that the moronic fans inside that stadium last night don't really understand or appreciate just how good Porcello is and is going to be.

Back to Peralta. He plays sometimes like he is a first-timer out there. The 4 or 5 knowledgeable Tiger fans in the park were really letting him have it and it almost seemed to affect him. The dude has played in over 800 games in the majors!! 800! Yet at times, he plays like it is his 8th game. And we all knew what was coming in the 9th inning when he stepped to the plate against Fernando Rodney. A 3 error night for Jhonny would not be complete without a patented double-play ball to either third or short. Shockingly, Jhonny did not "roll one over" and hit it to the right side, but rather, grounding a ball to the very underrated Placido Polanco for the 4-6-3 to end the game. Lame. I turned to the folks I was with and told them three minutes earlier what was about to happen. I should have left early to beat the traffic. Jhonny left without talking to reporters. Same difference.

In Peralta's defense, he did not "half-ass" those plays, unlike Kelly Shoppach, who lolly-gagged down to first to backup a play in the 8th and allowed Gerald Laird to reach third on a throwing error. Nice hustle SLOPpach. Talk about lazy. Laird might hit 224, but at least he works his butt off and calls a good game. Shoppach cannot catch, throw, or hit and his effort is on par with his performance.

Finally, I have to call out the fans at Comerica Park. Detroit is a football town and a hockey town and I was told many years ago that once the Tigers got good, that it would be a "Baseball town again". WRONG. This team is in first place and is running away with the AL Central. The division is so horrible, and the Tigers really are not as good as they were in 2006, but, the fans act like they are watching the 1992-2005 edition. Spoiled brats. 3 people in my section asked aloud "who is #60"? They did not know who Wilkin Ramirez was. He is on their team. Apparently Jim Leyland cannot manage, according to these fans, and half of the lineup (their words) "SUCKS". Is the Detroit lineup a great 1-9? No. Heck, marcus Thames batted 5th last night. But give me a break! Oh.. and these fools do not ever sit down and stay in their seat at this stadium. Every inning. Up to get food. Up to get beer. Up to use the bathroom. We finally moved to the top of section 138 to an empty area of the seats so we COULD SEE THE GAME!!!

Great times last night.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Shame on Wedge

We are now starting to see what we thought we should have seen back when it counted. Young players making an impact, receiving playing time and confidence, and subsequently, some wins. Nobody is a bigger backer of the Grind more than I am, but fingers must be pointed at Eric Wedge today. The Indians once again won another series, and once again are showing that they are not a pathetic doormat in the AL. Is it too little too late? Absolutely. The club is buried behind weak sisters Detroit, Chicago, and Minnesota, and it is a shame because this division is the worst in baseball history and so winnable for any one of the five teams that reside in it. Eric Wedge has a big hand in this and could have done things differently back when it counted.

The Grindpa of the RWAB could have phoned his boy Mark Shapiro earlier this year and told him to recall Matt LaPorta a lot earlier in the season. Wedge also should have played "Gator4God" every single day when he was recalled in early May. Instead, he played sporadically, got rusty at the plate, and sat behind the likes of Ben Francisco and Dave Dellucci. Unacceptable. The kid can hit, we all see it now (5 for 15 with 4 RBI this week), and in watching him in Columbus last weekend, he clearly has "it". Wedge also should have sent his GM a note and told him to send Kelly Shoppach down. It is clear that Wyatt Toregas has paid his dues, and I'd much rather see him behind the plate and at the plate than "Sloppach". Shop stinks and Shappy should have dumped him this off-season when his stock was as high as it will ever get. Not only is "K"elly a strikeout machine, but did you watch him catch on Friday? He cannot catch the ball, which is paramount for any backstop going back to.. uh.. fourth grade! Shoppach is sort of like Ralph Cirella, all or nothing. His hits are loud and big, just very sporadic and rare. These are small moves, but, manuevers that could have given this team a needed jolt back when it counted.

One other GrindMaster flash note: His handling of the young arms in the bullpen in April and May were atrocious. We are now seeing that he was not handed a lot of material, but, the likes of Tony Sipp and Jensen Lewis were not put in good spots. Lewis needs a defined role and Wedge needed to match Sipp up better his first time up with the big club. He overused him early, knowing full-well he had arm and confidence issues in the past. Now Sipp looks like a definite keeper. In defense of Eric, Kerry Wood barfed all over his carseat and Joe Smith and Raffy Perez also stained the sheets when the big lights were on. That is not on Wedge.

Monday, August 17, 2009

My Trip To Columbus

It was time. Time to make a trek down 71 to see how our Columbus Clippers and also check out the new stadium, Huntington Park. With most of the AAA Wahoos already on the big club, my buddy J and I utilized saturday night to both get away from the grind and also hope to see something out of Matt "Gator4God" Laporta and Michael Brantley. Going in, we picked August 15th as the perfect day to drive down, but didn't realize we would miss both Carlos Carrasco and Hector Rondon. Turned out, we missed a lot more than just those 2 players.

So I get down to C-bus and arrive at the ballpark at 6:30 and for some odd reason (to me at least) it is PACKED! People all over the streets, especially in between Nationwide Arena and Huntington Park. I park the car across the street and on a beautiful, but, humid night, I did not realize that this spot was, as The Maestro would say, is "the place to be". J is running late, so I stroll over to the box office to purchase my seats and I see a sign: "Tonight's game is sold out. Standing Room Only". Huh? Sold out? It is minor league baseball! I was floored. Some dude sees that I am stunned and offers me up a couple of $6 lawn tickets. We chatted for a while and he alerted me that weekend games are always like this and I still could not believe it. I guess Columbus is a hot town right now, but still! Plus, the Clippers are not exactly winning a lot of games. Anyways, it is now 6:45 and the guy ends up giving me the lawn seats for free. I had those in my back pocket as a back-up. But I did not drive three hours to sit on some lawn.

I dialed up J and told him the situation and he had one message for me: Go to work. The last time J and I "had to" scalp for tickets was years ago in New York city and I got snookered into buying fake Knicks/Kings seats by some guy in an alley of a train station. I walked across the street from the ballpark and evidently it is okay over there to purchase seats from a scalper. There were cops everywhere, but none of them were looking in the scapers' direction, so I knew we were good. The first guy I talked to had a bunch of tickets in his hand and tried to sell me a pair of reserved seats for $25 each. Yeah right. Plus, these tickets looked like something my four year old would scribble together on a piece of paper. I walked away. Headed down to the corner where I parked the car outside of the left field gate and got two box seats for $15 each. I waited the guy out a little bit, because he asked for $20 each originally. It was now 6:55 and the guy knew he had to get rid of them soon. We were in!

The ballpark is just beautiful. When we walked in, Matt LaPorta was up to bat in the first and we watched him draw a walk from the left field porch. I glanced at the lineup on the big scoreboard, only to see no Brantley, no Jason Donald, no Lou Marson, no Jordan Brown. Ugh. Not exactly what I wanted to see. Good news, though, we sat third row behind the Indy dugout. I felt like I was on the field. We were on top of the action!

So with the scrubs on the field for the Clippers, Indianapolis torched Mike Gosling and crew to the tune of 7-0. LaPorta is a stud. You can just see it in his at-bats. He drew two walks and ripped a single to right center. Wes Hodges is not a major league baseball player. You can just see it in the way he moves at third, and there is something missing with him at the plate. I did like Frank Herrmann. He throws hard and his defense did not help him much at all on Saturday.

All in all, a quality night at the yard. They had a wide variety of t-shirts in the team shop out in left field, which made yours truly very happy. I really like how they label the food areas and the sight lines are fantastic. The right field wall is cool and the bar stool seats they have to the right of it add some intrigue too. There was even a hot dog race as well. I was impressed. With everything but the team.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Please Stay Quiet

''If every four or five years we can have a shot at the World Series and contend for the playoffs at other times, that's as good as it gets for a team in this type of market.''

Paul Dolan. Today.

Please sir. Please. Stop. Talking publicly. Don't. Just don't.

You are a bright guy. But. Stop. Please.

What more needs to be said? Shut up. Stop. Don't feed your fan base rat poison one week and then spit on their family's mac and cheese at the viewing the next. Please don't.

Friday, July 31, 2009

So Sad.. And a Bad Trade Too

I defended the Cliff Lee deal. I cannot defend the Victor Martinez trade. How do you deal your heart and soul and your leader for a pitcher who could not crack the Red Sox rotation and two prospects? Mark Shapiro can give us the "high-ceiling players" quotes until we are blue in the face, but to not acquire Clay Bucholtz or Daniel Bard or Mike Bowden as a part of this trade is unacceptable. I went to bat for Shapiro earlier this week, but I just cannot back him here. Sure, Victor is probably on the decline a little bit, but this trade smells. Shapiro said today that he woke up not thinking he would make a trade; I do not buy that. This one looks like it comes from the top, and a chance to dump more salary both now and in the future. I do like Masterson, and he better pan out.
As far as Victor goes, he is all man. A warrior and a true leader, unlike some of the soft tissue-like stars that remain on this team. Sad day.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Boycott and Benny.. DONE!

It looks like I did not have to wait for Ben Francisco to be benched, he was traded instead. PEACE!!!
The Wahoos continue the house-cleaning today and while I know most of the clueless fan base is posting comments on the internet ripping Mark Shapiro, I commend the ballclub for what it is doing. Here is why:

1. Cliff Lee's trade value will never be higher. He is leaving. You know it and I know it.

2. This organization's gross evaluation of pitching talent over the years has come back to haunt them. It is time to stockpile young arms and see which ones get outs and which ones do not.

3. This season is lost. It has been lost. At least they are admitting their failures and blowing it up to get younger, cheaper, and maybe better. Why pay the likes of Ryan Garko and Kelly Shoppach? Pointless. Get younger, swallow your pride, and also add some fresh blood. 2007 turned out to be a bit fraudulent.. fine.. good.. ok. Move on.

4. Mark Shagrindo is not done. I hope Victor Martinez stays, but isn't obvious that he will not be here after 2010? If Lou Marson and Carlos Santana both pan out, it gives us options.

5. The best players the Indians have? They have been acquired VIA TRADE. AC, Pronk, Choo, Grady, and even Valbuena all were brought in from other organizations. This is an indictment on the team's drafting, but at least they are now admitting to their mistakes and not overpaying for lousy free agents (Berea) and trying to spin it to fans to "be patient" (Berea).

6. The AL Central is god awful. The Tribe can win it next year. Why Not? The first place team right now has lost 7 straight road series with a monster payroll.