Tagged: Cleveland Indians

The Kid, Cleveland, Detroit, and Storytime

5mfi9rz2Today was a busy day. I was at class and labs from 8a-8p so I didn’t get to watch any games. Now I’m back but I don’t really have the energy for a game. But, thought I would still chime in with some thoughts:

I saw the headline on MLB.com today saying that Griffey was happy with his health. If I could, I would’ve written a post right then saying, "yeah, but it won’t last long." I’m serious about this – I really was. As it happened, Griffey beat me to it – shock of all shocks. Now he’s out with a stiff knee. Same thing every year – injured, back for a few AB’s, back to the DL, etc. Still, nothing beats Juan Gonzalez. Juan came back last year after an extended stint on the DL, only to blow out a tire running to first after his first at bat back in the majors.

Thanks for the comments guys. Bobby – the website http://www.baseballradioshow.com is owned by Kevin and I. The radio show won’t be starting until about late-May. I don’t finish with school until the 10th, and then we still have to buy a little more equipment and the like. However, the website itself should be up and running a little sooner – maybe a few days earlier. The radio show will likely be a lot more interesting than the blog as it will include the two of us basically discussing our views on baseball. We hope to have some ‘big’ guests that we’re working on. We’ve already looked at equipment that will provide high-quality audio and allow us to incorporate phone calls into the show – this is how we plan on hosting guests. Also, we’re looking for anyone willing to contribute material to the site – something like these blogs, but more of an article format. Anyone interested in contributing can fire me an e-mail or just leave a comment.

Had an interesting experience at dinner tonight. I was grabbing a drink when I ran into "TJ." I was wearing my YES Network shirt tonight, and the conversation went something like this:

TJ: Man, you like the Yankees?
Reid: What, you don’t?

It was good. We ended up talking about ball for quite a long time.

Hopefully I’ll be able to watch some games tomorrow. So far, all I’ve got on the table tomorrow is an hour of psych, about an hour of lifting, taxes, studying for a bio exam, calc quiz, and a psych paper. After this, I’ll be heading home Friday afternoon so I may not be able to post much during the weekend. Meanwhile, a couple quick hits:

Cleveland v. Seattle (4-11-06)
Watched the whole Cleveland v. Seattle game last night. This was another mismatch, a la Yankees v. Royals. Lee was on fire. He gave up 4 hits and 1 walk in 6 IP, but struck out 8. He only spent 96 bullets, but you can bet he would’ve gone deeper into the game had he not struck out so many Mariners – they were dying up there. Lee walked the first guy up, then went on to retire the next 14 until Mariner’s catcher Kenji Johjima bounced one off the wall in center. And if you think I watched the whole first 4.2 innings without doing anything else because there was a no-hitter in progress – you’re exactly correct.

Detroit v. Chicago (4-12-06)
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Obviously didn’t have a chance to watch this one, but I have some thoughts anyway. First off, check out the raindrops to your right. Here’s another story from my day. It goes something like this, as Greg and I were walking to Bio at 8am this morning:

Reid: Why are you wearing a Jacket today?
Greg: I dunno man, just felt like wearing one today.
[We step out into the pouring rain you see on your right]
Reid: You knew this was gonna happen, didn’t you!
Greg: Yup!

First off, the Sox haven’t blown out the Tigers once. 3-5, 3-5, 3-4. All close games. I haven’t been able to watch any, and I know the Sox have been cold – but I’m happy with that performance, I guess. It could’ve been a lot worse, anyway. We’ll be hitting them up again tomorrow at 1.05 and I’d like to see a win this time – there’s no better way to lose a bunch of good run than by losing 4 games straight to the defending World Champs at home. Not saying the Sox are as good as advertised, because they’re not, but I’m just saying how it looks. Bad. Especially to the Idiots on Baseball Tonight.

That’s all for now. Keep up the good comments guys. See you tomorrow.

White Sox, Pujols, Barry, and geography

I’ve been hoping to post a lot more in the last few days than I have been. But, alas, I have real responsibilities. However, I did have a chance to watch the Cleveland v. Chicago game yesterday afternoon as I wrote a calculus paper. A calc paper? Those are never good. Here are some thoughts on that game and more.

Indians v. White Sox – April 5th, 2006: Indians Win, 4-3 in 11 innings
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One series doesn’t tell you jack about a team. But in this game, the Sox had plenty of chances to win and didn’t cash in on any of them. That said, I wasn’t able to watch the game that close so I’m going to limit my comments to things I really know about.
Cliff Lee had a solid outing… sorta. He was cruising until the 6th inning, when, as I recall, he basically let Ben Broussard and Victor Martinez collide while shooting for the same pop-up, hit two batters, and walked another. In other words, the Sox got on base because Lee let them. They ended up scoring two runs that inning, which is the only reason they were even in the game. Lee only had 1K but allowed only 4 hits and a walk, plus the 2 HBP. I think this was a cause of the beginning of the season jitters/not physically ready thing. The rest of the Cleveland bullpen held down the Sox without allowing one run in 5.2IP – in fact, they only allowed 4 hits. Apparently, things aren’t as advertised. Cleveland’s bullpen isn’t terrible, (duh,) and the Sox offense isn’t invincible. Chicago, you had your run, now it’s time to wait again. See the previous post for the Cubs No World Series Thing.

Pedro is gonna get slapped around tonight
Here’s another bold prediction. Pedro isn’t ready to pitch. If it wasn’t Pedro, and it wasn’t at Shea Stadium – which no one seems to notice is a pretty solid pitchers park – there’s no way you start your guy with 7 innings pitched during Spring Training. It helps that it’s also against the Nationals, which are as much of a mess the Devil Rays or Marlins. Pedro is heading down, people. And apparently, they’re finally replacing Shea. Why? From what I’ve heard, you have cement pillars obstructing the sight lines, incoming aircraft, and no reasonable dining options. On the other hand, you have green grass, white lines, and brown dirt. But so does a park.

Pujols v. Lidle
I’m ‘watching’ the Phillies v. Cardinals game right now. I say ‘watching’ because Albion has a bit of an internet bandwidth problem. Seems the word ‘streaming’ is actually more like, ‘slow as molasses.’ If you’ve ever tried watching a baseball game at the speed of .25 frames a second, and really sketchy sound.. that’s kind of what it’s like. Just, try blindfolding yourself and turning on a vacuum cleaner. The only time you can see is when you can peek through the blindfold, and the only time you can hear is when the vacuum is going backwards. It’s no fun. Anyway, back to Pujols. Lidle threw him a breaking ball that pretty much skidded through the dirt before the plate and Pujols took a monster swing. He thought he was gonna take that pitch 500ft out. Pujols missed by about a yard. Anyway, he turns at nods at Lidle, basically telling him "I’m a boy, you’re a man." That said, Pujols can mash better than just about anyone else out there.

Barry in San Francisco
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I switched to the Braves v. Giants game, because it’s on TBS and I want to really watch a game. Well, Bonds steps up to the plate with 1 out and runners on 2nd on 3rd. A couple interesting things then happened. 1) The fans gave him a standing ovation and shouted his praises, even holding up signs telling him they loved him. 2) Bonds ignored them. 3) Bonds received another intentional walk. 4) My roommate said that was dumb, and I responded by saying that even though there was only one out, there were 2 runners on, if someone besides Moises Alou was batting behind Bonds this wouldn’t happen. 5) Moises Alou grounded into a double play.
This is, again, one of those NL West phenomenon-type things. It’s never ok to go from 1 out, 2 runners on with Barry Bonds up to ‘grab my mitt, rookie’ without scoring a run. Give Bonds some protection, please! I might hate the guy, but I’m a baseball fan before everything else.
Noah Lowry just exited the game due to injury. He was replaced by the 43-year-old Jeff Fassero. I hear that people are predicting the Giants to win the NL West. If this is the team that’s supposed to win a division, I’m going to e-mail Bud Selig and tell him why this can’t keep happening. Or, just check it out here. Sorry for getting so upset, but I can’t let this happen again.

Geography lesson
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We added Spain, Nigeria, and Benin to the visitor’s list today. Add that to Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Croatia, UK, Canada, Israel, Honduras, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, France, Germany, South Africa, Uruguay, Germany, Finland, El Salvador, New Zealand, Cote D’ivoire, Ghana, The Netherlands, Panama, Ireland, and Malaysia. That’s 29 countries (counting the US,) and there are 193 countries in the world. That’s 15%. Keep spreading the word! We’ll see some more solid baseball related posts in a couple days. Until then, what’s up with the "Greatest Play of All Time?" Apparently that post has become something of a thing on the internet. Apparently it’s being linked on message boards all over the net, and now there’s some e-mail circulating around with a link in it. Wow. Thanks. It also helps that we’ve added video to that post, so now you can actually see Manny cutting off Johnny. It’s nuts.

Indians, Yankees, Tigers, our first poll, and  Video

Cleveland Indians
Cc1014_3 Looks like Sabathia is out for 3-5 weeks. Eric Wedge and Mark Shapiro have got to be smashing their skulls right now. They had it all lined up for a playoff run, and then their ace goes down in the 3rd inning of the first game. Understand what this means – Sabathia misses say, 4 weeks, that’s gonna be about three or four starts because of the way the season starts out. The worst part is that the Tribe have to send out a sub-par spot starter to make up those starts. However, there is an upside to this. Cleveland doesn’t need that fifth starter until April 15th – on that note, Fausta Carmona will be making the start. Funny that, in my Indians Team Overview, I said this of Carmona:

The Indians are working on Fausto Carmona
as well – Carmona is a 22-year-old prospect who allowed just 1 ER and
recorded 8 K’s in 12 IP this spring. He’s set to spend the year in AAA
Buffalo, but I think that if Byrd, Johnson, or Westbrook goes down for
any length of time he may be called up, if he’s having a good year at
AAA. Of course, this isn’t a long term solution because you risk
pitching him too many innings and pulling a Mark Prior on him, but at
least he provides a little bit of insurance.

Apparently Carmona started the year with the major league club, which I didn’t expect because it means you’re relegating him to the relief role – for a 22-year-old, you’re much better off letting him chew up AAA-er’s and build up his arm strength. Oh well. It’ll be good to see Carmona get a few starts in place of Sabathia. By the time Carmona first takes the rubber, Sabathia will only have about 2-3 weeks left, so… maybe things aren’t that bad. We’ll see how Carmona performs, which will be interesting in and of itself.

New York Yankees
T1_pavano_all_1 Are you kidding, Mike Bauman? In this ‘perspective,’ Bauman explains that the Yankees aren’t as great as they were in 1996-2000, because the personalities don’t mesh and the pitching isn’t that great. Whatever. But I’m not gonna bury my head in the sand on this one, he’s almost got a point, even if he’s dead wrong. If you read Mike’s article, you notice that he never really says what the problem is. He falls short of accusing George for spending money on superstar players that don’t mesh. He says the ‘old’ 1996-2000 team had a ton of home-grown talent such as Jeter, Bernie, Jorge, Mo, and Pettitte. However, he never claims that the lack of such a farm system – one that, while he claims is dead, has still produced Cano and Wang (kinda, as he came from Japan.) We can almost take credit for breathing the life into Aaron Small’s career. We saved Shawn Chacon from Moon Field. We brought back Giambi when no one thought he had a chance. We imported Matsui. And who brought back El Duque in 2004? We chased down Jose Contreras as well. We brought Soriano through the farm system, and got A-Rod for him. (And how screwed did Texas get when they ended up basically netting Brad Wilkerson for Alex Rodriguez?) Besides, does it matter if the guy came from the Columbus Clippers or the Texas Rangers? No. Enough is enough. I don’t care. To tell you the truth, if we throw up a 15-spot on the scoreboard, I don’t care if the other team scores 14 runs or if they score 2. It doesn’t matter. Therefore, Bauman’s article is irrelevant. Don’t read it. I’m burying my head in the sand and I don’t care. Then again, the Yankees will still win the division this year, so what do I really need to hide from? Anyone who says you can’t get to the Series without pitching is just hopping on this new bandwagon. I thought Team USA lost the WBC because their bats were cold? Make up your mind, boneheads.

Detroit Tigers
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I made a brief mention during my lame post last night that the Tigers were playing to win yesterday, and it’s true. Anyone who isn’t a true Tiger fan doesn’t have any idea what I’m talking about, but if you observed the team at all last year it makes sense. Last year, they basically went out there hoping they didn’t get their butts’ kicked and trying not to look like fools. This year – yesterday – they went out there to beat the other team. I can’t explain it, but it was evident in their demeanor. It just was. On top of that, Chris Shelton – our up and coming 1B, for those of you who don’t know who I’m talking about – well he’s a righty. His second AB, he just grabs a hold of one from Royal’s starter Scott Elarton and shoots it into left field for a homer. Next AB, he shoots another liner-Home Run into right, again off Elarton. Both of these homers are hugging the foul line the whole way out. That’s range, baby. As I’ve said before, you can’t over-analyze Opening Day for the same reason you can’t analyze spring training. That said, the Tigers are gonna do things this year. Maybe Prescott has no business calling him the "White David Ortiz," but he’s still good. I know he looks scared to death in his picture, but he swings a big stick. Read the Team Overview.

Twins and Blue Jays, tonight at 7.15p – Our first poll!
Alright, listen up kids. Watch this game, and then tell me that if ___ _______ stays healthy, he won’t win the Cy Young this year. It’ll be easy for you, because his top competitor is also his opponent, ____ ______. Watch this game, and watch Roy Halladay and Johan Santana carefully. Then ask yourself, who has filthier stuff overall? I’ve kept from voicing my own opinion to avoid skewing the results. Report your answers on the comments, and it’ll be like our little poll. We’ll even throw some formality in it:

2006 AL Cy Young:
– Roy Halladay (TOR)
– Johan Santana (MIN)
– Other, because you don’t know what you’re talking about.

Go ahead, try it. And if I don’t get any comments, you’re all in a bunch of trouble. We’re a team here, people, let’s act like it. And don’t tell me it’s too early to tell, because if you’ve ever seen these guys pitch it isn’t. If you insist, pretend that we’re voting on the Cy Young today, K?

Big News, folks
First, thanks to Bleeding Pinstripes for the plug. Check these guys out, they’re great. Next, brace yourselves.

I’ve found the video of The Greatest Play of All Time. This site gets about 20 hits a day just from people searching ‘Manny Ramirez cuts off Johnny Damon video’, no joke. So here’s the video, everyone. Watch it a few times, at least. By the way, we’ve added South Africa, Uruguay, Germany, and Malaysia to the visitor list. I’ll see you guys tomorrow night.

Some random thoughts before the season…

Wow. We only have about 30 hours to wait before the first pitch of the 2006 season. How amazing is that? Right now I’m watching Red Sox @ Phillies, because I want to know about the Phillies, the game is being played at Citizen’s Bank Park, and it was the only good one that started at 1.05. I’m gonna read Sports Illustrated Baseball Preview after I post this, and then we’ll get more Baseball thoughts. Until then, some website and MLB.com related business.

We’ve added a few countries to our visitor list. New Zealand, Cote D’ivoire, Ghana, The Netherlands, Taiwan, and Panama, I believe. This is adding to our previous visitors from Mexico, Venezuela, Honduras, Korea, El Salvador, France, UK, Canada, Ireland, Dominican Republic, and Croatia. I believe that’s it.

Furthermore… I added my first RSS Feed yesterday. "Bleeding Pinstripes" had the honor. For the last year or so, I’ve been skeptical about this whole RSS thing. About two weeks ago, I switched over to Mozzila’s Firefox from Internet Explorer, and I’m crazy about it. I encourage you to check it out as well.  In any case, Firefox makes it very easy to ‘subscribe’ or whatever you call it, to web pages. If a ‘live feed’ is available, all you have to do is click the little orange button on the right side of the address bar, and it adds it just like a bookmark. When you try to select the website as a bookmark, it shows you the last 10 posts made, so you can check for a new one I guess. I’m still working on understanding the whole idea.

On that note, the new site – baseballradioshow.com – is finally up. I wouldn’t say it’s running… but it’s online.

Furthermore, the new MLB.TV media player seems to be up and running. One question though. Why is there an ad for MLB.TV on the bottom of the player? Unless this has something to do with Spring Training being free, then I’m not sure I understand the reasoning. I mean.. if you go to see a movie at the theaters, you don’t expect to see a trailer for the movie you’re about to watch, do you? I was watching part of yesterday’s Cleveland v. Detroit game when the show went to commercials. Thing is, anyone who watches MLB.TV knows that a lot of times – especially with networks such as NESN, YES, and the like – that ‘commercial’ really means ‘lets listen to the broadcasters without them knowing it.’ But I’ve never heard anything this good:

Roll the opener! Roll the ******* open! Where’s the ****** open! Prep to roll VT23… *******, where’s VT23! Rollin… *******!

How long was that Perez interview? It seemed like an hour… did you get at least 6 minutes? Good.

[Robotic Voice] Speak up or move closer to the microphone please.

[Robotic Voice] The dog you’re about to hear should appear to come from the right loudspeaker only… Woof!

[Homer Simpson] Hurry up and lose so we can get out of here!

Ambulance Emergency line, do you have an emergency?
Yeah, yeah I need a fambulance. This is Joe, I’m in a mutha*** phone booth…
[Download this here. This story is hilarious – the guy gets attacked by a deer he thought was dead and so he put in his car. Funniest thing I’ve heard in my life.]

Here’s the pitch!… just a bit outside! Here’s the pitch!… oh ****.

Yup, that last one was an S-Bomb. And about the Ambulance call, they replayed this for the next three breaks (and counting) and each time the announcers repeated the guy like little kids. The way I understand it, the Indians just started their own team broadcasting network, similar to NESN and YES. This is called STO. Stow. No idea what it stands for. Super Television Organization? This isn’t the way you want to launch a new network, guys, so clean it up. One area I have to hand it to them in is their shrewd analysis of the Tigers Organization. They noted that the Tigers scored the 11th most runs in the League last year, but it seemed like midway through the season they just quit, and somehow it cost Alan Trammel his job. Uh, welcome to Detroit Baseball. And by the way, any self-respecting Tigers fan knows Alan Trammel was used. Ownership knew they weren’t gonna win squat in the next three years, so they signed a cheap hometown favorite. He got managing experience, and the Tigers got a cheap fix while they rebuilt. And, yes, I know that the difference between the worst Manager in the game and the best is about 1/10 of your worst player’s salary, but trust me, I’m right. The Tigers didn’t sign Trammel to win baseball games.

Back to STO. With all the advertising MLB.com does, how are these the only guys in the world who don’t know about MLB.TV? How? Also, I have a problem with them saying 1st base isn’t as easy as most people think. That’s not true. Far and away, it’s the easiest position on the diamond and physically the least demanding. Open up your glove and make a target for the throw. And don’t say the outfield is easier, because I’ve never seen a 1B whip out a cannon and gun someone doThanks for reading. I’ll post some more baseball thoughts after I read the Baseball Preview in SI.

PS: Check this out now. Welcome to April.

Glanzcrack_2

Mailbag: Cleveland Indians

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Today I got an e-mail from Aaron in Mill Creek, Washington. He wanted to know what I thought about the Indian’s chances this year and for the future, since they’ve only lost Coco Crisp and gained much in the offseason. I decided the Indians are overdue for some coverage, so here we go. Most of you who have read my division/team overviews know that I don’t like making predictions on where teams will end up at the end of the year – I prefer to break down a team’s strength’s and ‘holes,’ because to be honest, predictions are a crapshoot anyway.

Since finishing 93-69 and just 6 games behind the White Sox in 2005, the Indians have re-signed Jhonny Peralta (5 years,) and Grady Sizemore (6 years,) to long term contracts. They’ve acquired Guillermo Mota and signed free agents Paul Byrd and Jason Johnson. Aaron wondered whether these gains, offset only by the loss of Coco Crisp, gave the team a chance to make a run this season. Aaron, you forgot to mention that the Indians let the pitcher with the best ERA in the AL walk away to free agency. He is currently playing for the Rangers. I’ll give everyone a couple seconds to think about who that might be, because it still amazes me that this guy had the lowest ERA of any starting pitcher in the AL and barely anyone knows it.

05millwoodkevin
Alright, times up – it was Kevin Millwood. In any case, maybe people didn’t take note because he went 9-11 last year. How you can start 30 games and have a 2.86 ERA while playing for a team that won 93 games – but only win 9 games yourself – is beyond me. Oh well. On to Coco Crisp. Do you remember before the 2004 season, when the Indians shipped tinder-box Milton Bradley to the Dodgers so they could make room for Coco Crisp on the roster? Think about that for a minute, and it will become clear. If you still need help, think Monopoly and Breakfast. In any case, Coco is an average center fielder (his natural position), and the guy who’s playing in center instead – Grady Sizemore – is younger and more qualified for the job. I agree with Aaron that the loss of Coco Crisp isn’t a huge loss – more so since the Indians acquired a valuable defensive backup catcher in Kelly Shoppach, a quality reliever in Guillermo Mota, and a highly valued 3rd base prospect in Andy Marte. Marte is only 22 now, but he’s an amazing fielder and has great potential at the plate.

However, many Indian fans don’t like this trade because of the chemistry Coco brought to the team. I guess others feel that GM Mark Shapiro was trading away the present for the future, but nothing could be further from the truth, in my opinion. Crisp wasn’t playing in his natural position, and he wasn’t going to as long as Grady Sizemore is in town – which is going to be about 6 years. Power-hitting, quality fielding 3rd basemen are hard to come by, and Andy Marte will develop into one within the next couple years. Some people have even raised the idea of turning Victor Martinez into a 1st baseman and starting Kelly Shoppach at catcher, because he is defensively superior. This is a possibility, but not in the near future. Before I go further, let me say that I was almost done with this piece when my computer decided to restart. So I lost the last half. Oh well, here we go again. This is how the Indians line up on the depth chart for the 2006 Season:

Ohrs10409182001_2
Catcher – Victor Martinez
First Base – Ben Broussard
Second Base – Ronnie Belliard
Third Base – Aaron Boone (for now)
Shortstop – Jhonny Peralta
Right Field – Casey Blake
Center Field – Grady Sizemore
Left Field – Jason Michaels
DH – Travis Hafner

Many of you who have read my team overviews are familiar with the holes analogy. We see another good use for it right here; the Indians don’t have a lot of holes, provided the team plays like they did last year. Red Sox Killer Aaron Boone should be able to produce, as long as he doesn’t get any worse than he was last year. I don’t like Jason Michaels in Left, if only because he’s never played a full season. However, Todd Hollandsworth is there to back up any outfielders that go down, and I’m comfortable with that. The Indians are young, and that’s their greatest asset. V-Mart, Belliard, Peralta, Blake, and Sizemore are only getting better, and I don’t see any of them having huge off years that would ruin the team, (but Martinez always starts slow, so be weary.) Broussard and Hafner may improve a little, but Hafner is already a great DH to begin with. Remember, this lineup finished 93-69 last year. The only major thing offensively that’s changed with the Indians is the departure of Coco Crisp, which is not a big loss to the team offensively – some Indian fans will contend that it is a matter of chemistry, but that debate won’t be settled here. The most important thing to remember is that all the members are generally consistent performers – unlike the Mets, their season isn’t riding on the success of one or two guys.

As for the rotation, I like it and it tends to be fairly solid. C.C. Sabathia is one of my favorite pitchers, and he’ll be the ace again this year. The problem with C.C. is that he has a tendency to get hit around the yard a lot. His typical ERA hovers around 4, but most people forget that C.C. is only 25 years old. This could be the year that he pulls everything together. Apparently, I fell asleep and when I woke up, it became ok to start Jake Westbrook at the Major League level. I’m not gonna bash the guy too much, because frankly he doesn’t deserve it. Ok, maybe 2005 was an off year – I mean, 2004 was his good year, and all the others were just off years. My point is that 2004’s 3.38 ERA looks more like a statistical anomaly than a genuine, quality performance. But who knows, Westbrook is supposed to pull it together any year now, (he’s 28,) and this might be the year. Cliff Lee is next in line. Lee has really figured things out since his rocky full-time debut in 2004, when he had a 5.43 ERA but somehow managed to win 14 games. In 2005, he won 18 games with a 3.79 ERA, and I think he’s for real. Furthermore, I forgive Cliff for pitching his glove into the crowd after he exited a game in 2004, unhappy with his performance. And before you ask why anyone would ever startCc1014_1
Westbrook over Lee… Sabathia, Lee, and Jason Johnson (the #5) are all Lefties. Handedness aside, the rotation might fall to some variation of Sabathia, Lee, Byrd, Westbrook, and Johnson. The veteran of this young staff is Paul Byrd, at number 4. And hold it a minute, I’ll get to Johnson in a second. Byrd has had a good last couple of years. I’m not going to go into the hurricane that’s been his career, but basically it’s stabilized. If he can continue his sub-4.00 ERA ways and stay consistent, he’ll be a great #4. And then there’s Jason Johnson. I saw him start a few too many games for the Tigers last year, and I don’t like him. I’m convinced the guy is a fraud. He’s another one of those players I just don’t care for. I’m not saying he’s a bad guy or anything, his style of play just concerns me. And by style of play, I mean he’s only had two sub-4.50 ERA seasons – for the Orioles in 2001 and 2003, 4.09 and 4.18, respectfully. But, I do understand that guys that can go 200 innings with a 4.50 ERA are a little rarer than we typically think. If Johnson can stay healthy and stable, he’s doing his job as a number 5. Overall, this is a solid rotation if it stays healthy, which it has in the past. Neither Paul Byrd nor Jason Johnson strike out a lot of guys, and therefore the outfield defense which some people worry is a little shaky may be a problem – no one seems to be too sure how  it will perform. Byrd caused some worries earlier in Spring Training when he was roughed up for 7 runs in 1.2 innings and said, "I need to get more zip on my fastball… it feels like I’m pitching underwater." That’s not a good feeling. The Indians are working on Fausto Carmona as well – Carmona is a 22-year-old prospect who allowed just 1 ER and recorded 8 K’s in 12 IP this spring. He’s set to spend the year in AAA Buffalo, but I think that if Byrd, Johnson, or Westbrook goes down for any length of time he may be called up, if he’s having a good year at AAA. Of course, this isn’t a long term solution because you risk pitching him too many innings and pulling a Mark Prior on him, but at least he provides a little bit of insurance.

The bullpen is a little bit shaky still, but it simply wasn’t the priority to be fixed during the off-season. Right now, the only reliable guy is one Rafael Betancourt, who still claims he wasn’t juiced up. But this guy is good. I actually drafted him last year because if Wickman goes down – not unlikely – he’s #2. Guillermo Mota, who was acquired when Coco Crisp departed, should be good, but there’s no telling for sure.
Ever since Mota was shipped to the Marlins in 2004 with Paul Lo Duca, he’s been a mess. His 2005 season was a total loss, but it did produce Todd Jones as a closer (again), and he’s in Detroit now. Relief pitchers aren’t something you want to bet on because they can be so fickle from year to year, but I think Mota can pull something out of his bag and get back to a serviceable condition this year. The car crash that is Danny Graves has also arrived at the Jake, and apparently won itself a roster spot. If Graves thinks Wickman’s gonna go down this year, and Eric Wedge will panic and hand him the closer spot, he needs to drop back down to planet Earth. Maybe, maybe, if the rest of the bullpen is assassinated he’ll have a shot. Do you remember when the Indians were on their bus to the Kansas City airport near the close of the 2004 Season, when all of the sudden reliever Kyle Denney was shot? The best part of this was that Denney was wearing a white cheerleader’s outfit as part of a hazing ritual, and the high white boots he was wearing may have saved him from further injury. Can you imagine how that must have gone?

"Skip, I’ve been shot!"
"Shut up Denney, you haven’t been shot."
"No, he’s serious! Reliever down! Reliever down!"

Too much. In any case, If Graves and Mota pull it together, you’ve got a decent bullpen. But any team who signs Danny Graves is grabbing at straws, and Mark Shapiro knows it. Bob Wickman, who saved 45 games last year, is fine if he stays healthy. I was at an Indians v. Tigers came last year, and I chanced into Bob Wickman by the dugout – I think it was just after we had gotten into the park. We asked Wickman if he could sign, and he said sure. He came on over, and then he dropped the bomb.

Do you care where I sign? Want it in the sweet spot?

Anyone (above the age of 15) who has ever gotten a player’s autograph know’s that this is just Wickman_1
absurd. Most of the time, the players will ignore your attempts to speak to them. You’ll say,
‘thanks,’ and they’ll give you a standard ‘no problem’ without looking up or making eye contact. Wickman looked me straight in the eye and treated Kevin and I respectfully, because he knew we’re the reason he has a salary. I’m not saying players who don’t do this are bad guys – I understand that a lot of fans are obnoxious, and the players don’t have time for everyone, etc – but anyone who takes time out like Bob Wickman gets an A+. Remember the Andres Torres Story? Additionally, anyone who has attended an Indian’s game has probably seen the old
T-Shirt lady. I won’t go into it now, but… screeching at players like
you’re their mother is not the way to go. In any case, the 37-year-old Wickman had one of his best years last year, dropping his ERA to a solid 2.47. Again, if he stays healthy he’s perfect – if not, start looking for a replacement. But Wickman is a good guy.

That said, I’m going to remind you that I like to break down teams and let you decide where they’ll end the year at. But, if I had to take a guess – and I think the AL Central is one of the easier divisions to predict, although everyone else will disagree with me – we’ll go Indians, White Sox, Tigers, Twins, Royals. The Indians and Sox may swap; the Tigers and Twins may swap. (Check out the Tiger’s Overview.) Again, there’s no way to know for sure. But the Indians have put together a great club recently and stand a good chance of running away with the division. Aaron, I hope I answered your question. Any other e-mails are welcome and I’ll do my best to address them and use your ideas.

Thanks for reading.