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Today, March 31st, the snow was on the ground. It looked like winter. Winter, a season where everything appears to be dead, asleep. It was a day of reflection. A day to remember. A day to look back at the life of Bob Feller. We all have our memories of Mr. Feller, some very close, personal. Some very distant, passing. Yet we Cleveland Indians fans are united and very proud people. We cherish our history and pride our conversations with each other and especially Mr. Feller. The knowledge we gained from hearing from Mr. Feller and about Mr. Feller is something that we cherish and we must now pass on from generation to generation. Mr. Feller was and is the face of our franchise. Today, the Indians owner promised Mr. Feller that the Cleveland Indians will carry on.
On April 1st, Opening Day, it will be Spring, we will play on by living and striving to have the winning spirit, the love of God, the love of country, the sacrifice, the youth that Mr. Feller showed every day he lived. In striving to have these qualities, Mr. Feller will never die because his life will be celebrated forevermore and lived on in each kid from the sandlots to the farms to the prospects to the major leaguers. Each person that plays ball shares Bob Feller, shares the dream that the Cleveland Indians strive to live out. Baseball is a game for the family, the community, the state, the nation, the world and should be celebrated whenever and wherever it can be whether it is playing catch with a child or peer or a formal 9 inning game between two teams and cheered by all.
April 1st at Progressive Field, it will be Fausto Carmona vs. Mark Buerhle to kick off the 2011 season, a very special beginning to a very special season. It will be a day to remember a man who threw the only no hitter on Opening Day to date, Bob Feller. I expect tomorrow to be a classic pitching duel, something Mr. Feller would relish between two of the game’s great pitchers.
Whatever the outcome, Cleveland is better thanks to Mr. Feller and the Cleveland Indians. The game that was passed on to me will be passed on to my son and daughter tomorrow and will be the first of one hundred sixty-two and eighty-one at home. It is like this every year. Yet this year I sense will be different for me because it will be cherished more than ever. Thank God for country, thank God for family, thank God for baseball in Cleveland! Mr. Feller would not want it any other way! Amen! Play ball!
Looking ahead and predicting the 2011 season for each team is something many have done over the past few days and weeks on the various networks. I too have an opinion about the upcoming season and I often wonder if I will be even in the ballpark when choosing who I think will win in 2011. Here is what I think will happen in 2011.
Looking at this division without getting too in depth, I see the following. Boston took the life out of the Padres’ franchise (Adrian Gonzalez) and took a chunk out of the Rays’ franchise (Carl Crawford) that help them be successful. They also regained health with many of their established stars returning to the lineup like Pedroia and Youkilis. They strengthened their bullpen. They are the easy pick and favorite pick to win the AL East Division. The team that will surprise this year and be most improved in the AL East is the Baltimore Orioles. It may not show in the standings but the Orioles will be seen as a thorn in the AL East. The attitude of the Orioles is one that improves with Buck Showalter. I enjoy his managerial style and really think the Orioles are on the way out of the basement. I think New York is getting older but still has enough deep pockets to compete for the AL Wildcard. Tampa Bay lost Crawford and all of the cogs to their bullpen last year and yet some people think they will still compete for the division. That would be a surprise to me. Toronto has the right guy in place to manage the franchise in John Farrell. He was one of the bright spots for the Indians as a pitcher in the 1980′s. He was successful as a scouting director for the Tribe in helping the Tribe contend, and a pitching coach for Boston in 2007 that won the World Series that year. With all this personal success, Farrell will find it hard to manage winning his first year. My order is this 1. Boston 2. New York 3 Tampa Bay 4. Baltimore 5. Toronto. Call me crazy, this is how I see it.
For the AL West, Seattle now has Eric Wedge and Carl Willis. Eric will start off slow but will rebuild this club, just not this year. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have Mike Scioscia. He will have this team competing with the addition of Vernon Wells but still will not be able to win this division. The division will be decided by Texas and Oakland. In deciding the winner between the two teams I watched the 1995 World Series. It was painful, I know. Like Texas, Cleveland had the offense and the awesome lineup. Like Oakland, Atlanta had the pitching. Atlanta won the 1995 World Series. Oakland will win the AL West. The loss of Cliff Lee is too much to overcome for Texas. My order is this: 1. Oakland 2. Texas 3. Los Angeles 4. Seattle Crazy, maybe? This is how I see it.
This division hits too close to home every year. It is hard to be objective here but I will try. I am always told the Royals have a franchise of prospects that will win and put my Tribe in the cellar. Yet every year, even if barely, they always end up in last place. Will this year change their fortune? The Tigers have Cleveland’s former catcher, Cleveland former shortstop and that former manager and GM from the 1997 Marlins. Detroit is stealing my team’s players and championships from years ago. Are they good enough to win the division? The Twins are the franchise that will not have a bad year but can they repeat once again as a division winner? The White Sox have this Sale going on in their bullpen and gave away their Jenks. I called him their “jinx” and are trying to prove they are not Dunn winning the division in 2011. Without Peavy it will not happen. Pardon my pun but they are screwed without the reemergence of Jake Peavy as an effective starter. Where does that put the Indians? I think keeping them under the radar is great. I always enjoy when no one thinks we will do anything this year. Competition and winning is our goal. The Indians know they live in a city that has a mentality of losing and needs to prove to the fans that it can be the winner in this town again. The pitching will carry this team along with a healthy Sizemore and Santana once again added to the lineup. My order is this 1. Tigers 2. White Sox 3. Twins 4. Indians 5. Royals Call me crazy but this will be like the AL East Division in 2010 with 4 teams at .500 or better. Indians at .500 81 wins for the Tribe. This is how I see it.
The NL East has already been won according to many. Dick Clark, a Philadelphia native would say, check out the rerelease of the Queen classic “We are the Champions” recorded by the five Aces whose names are Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, Hamels and Blanton.Talk about a fab 5. Eat your heart out Beatles! Ace of Base, these aces plan to keep you off base! However, without Utley and Lidge on the Phillies for some time, another team will have a chance to win this division. That team is the Atlanta Braves. This team has a good rotation also and another rookie phenom to add to Jason Heyward in Freddie Freeman. The Marlins are a team I hear no one saying anything about like the 2010 Padres. The Nationals have more news given to them because of stockpiling their Werth. The Mets are trying to regain their worth and wealth so that winning can return there. This is how I see it. 1. Braves 2. Phillies 3. Marlins 4. Nationals 5. Mets
The Giants are the defeding World Champs yet no one talks about them like they do the Phillies even though their starters are still awesome. Their closer, Brian Wilson will start off on the DL. This will hurt. Remember they needed all year to clinch the division. The Diamondbacks are rebuilding and will have a tough tme under Kirk Gibson to win. The LA Dodgers have a lot of pressure to win with a new manager in Don Mattingly. The Padres have lost a lot with the trade of Adrian Gonzalez and Mat Latos on the DL to start the season. The Rockies seem like the only viable threat to the Giants division title defense. My picks are this crazy See if you agree 1. Rockies 2. Giants 3. LA Dodgers 4. Padres 5. Diamondbacks
Everyone seems to like the Brewers in the NL Central due to the additions of Marcum and Greinke from the American League. They also like the Cardinals offense with Pujols and Berkman and Holliday. The pitching took a hit with the loss of Wainwright. The Reds are the defending champs and rightfully so. They earned this honor with their team play on offense, defense and pitching. Can they repeat that? Houston has a problem. The Pirates just want to know what winning is about again and the Cubs have that curse. This is my order. 1. Reds 2. Brewers 3. Cardinals 4. Cubs 5. Pirates 6. Astros
I realize I will look back and see how crazy these picks were but hey its baseball and on Opening Day there are people everywhere that believe their teams are better than they really are.
Anyway I’m off to do some laundry. I have to wash a lot of socks in the coming week. It starts for real tomorrow for the Tribe. Hope to see you down there. I will be tweeting during the game. Follow me on Twitter @mlbtribefan.
To make a team out of Spring training is a blessing. All reports say that the Cleveland Indians are going to announce the players that will make up the bench at the start of the 2011 campaign.
Shelley Duncan and Travis Buck Reserve outfielders
If someone told me to choose the MVP for Spring, I would choose Travis Buck. The man led the team in hits throughout the Spring and was second in runs batted in behind Shin-Soo Choo. Granted, the ball travels better in AZ than in Cleveland but I saw it more for his leadership. Need a hit, need a sacrifice, need a RBI, he would deliver. Travis Buck also provides some major league experience.
Shelley Duncan which some of the media like to nickname a rock star is also another leader on this team. My favorite memory for Shelley came against the Yankees last year. Shelley, a former Yankee, came up to launch a home run and make the score look better than it did. To hit a homer off the bench or get a key hit takes an ability to stay mentally sharp in each and every game. Also, Shelley provides some leadership off the bench.
What about the other guys? For players like Chad Huffman, who is my personal choice, the at bats needed to stay sharp require him to be in the lineup every day. This opportunity will be realized better down in the minors. I think everyone can agree the former Yankee would look nice as an everyday outfielder for the Tribe someday. I think it is great to have some depth in the organization again.
Also Ezequiel Carrera was another good pickup. He will also get more playing time in the minors and continue to develop making our minor leagues deeper. This has been the organization’s goal throughout the rebuilding process. Depth is the key to any great team especially when you do not have the deep pockets to keep free agents as frustrating as that is to us fans.
Adam Everett, reserve infielder
Adam Everett won this job based on experience, the fact that Donald was hurt and Jayson Nix was struggling at the plate. Adam is one that can help to give any of the infielders an off day and can fill in for some innings. Based on the alternatives in camp, I am glad and more confident in seeing Adam Everett’s name there ready to back up the starters. Cord Phelps and Luis Valbuena need more development in the minors. A personal note about Valbuena. I went down to AAA Columbus to see the Clippers. Luis Valbuena led off the game I went to against the Pawtucket Red Sox. He was really hitting the ball well. I said to my wife at the time, “I wonder why he can’t be this consistent up in Cleveland” Consistency is the key, something I think Everett is more ready to give as a reserve infielder.
Lou Marson, backup catcher
Many fans like myself look at the stats for Spring training and see last year’s performance by Lou Marson and wonder why Lou is again on the major league roster instead of my personal choice, Paul Phillips. After all, Marson only had 4 hits in 28 at bats while Phillips had 12 hits in 29 at bats. The word I have read from the reporters close to the organization is “defense.” Lou Marson is here for defense, not offense. He has experience also with our staff from last year. Also, I believe by releasing him or sending him down to the minors now would tell the fans that we gave away our former Cy Young award winner Cliff Lee for Carlos Carrasco, our #2 starter and a permanent minor leaguer in Marson, if he was sent down. The Indians are not ready to call Marson a bust yet.
The Bullpen Reserves
With the Indians, the opportunity to have a staff like the Phillies with 5 former #1 starters on other clubs is never going to happen if we want to compete under the current owners Larry and Paul Dolan. Whether we like it or not as fans, this is the current state of the Indians and the economy. I have learned to be grateful for the ability to still have a Major League Baseball team to cheer. The starting rotation is not going to be spot on every game so it is vital to have a strong bullpen. I really like the pitchers the organization has selected.
Justin Germano is a pitcher I followed when he was with the San Diego Padres. He pitched in 7 games this Spring and never gave up a run. He seems to fit the role we need to clean up the messes that starters may get the team into from time to time. Hopefully we wont see him too often this year. However I am confident he can be that long relief the team wants.
Frank Herrmann was also selected for the bullpen. I really liked what I saw out of this kid this Spring. He kept his ERA down and pitched more innings so far. He is one that can give you a couple innings to help hold and sustain a lead, keep a team in a ballgame to bridge the gap trying to get to Chris Perez for the save or give us a chance to make a comeback like we did in the 1990′s.
Every time I heard this guy was coming into the game, I was confident. He kept his ERA down in all 8 games that he pitched in, shutting down the opposition. His ERA was 1.17, striking out 11 in 7.2 innings pitched. Talk about attacking the strike zone! Way to go, Vinnie!
In conclusion, granted it is early and some of these pitchers and reserve players were chosen due to injuries to other players. I would like to say to all those chosen, make it the goal to prove to the fans and organization that they made the right choice to choose you among the others. Manny Acta said he wanted the best 25 guys out there come Opening Day. I really believe that given the roster at the current time, these are the best 25 guys. Hopefully, this will translate to competing, winning more than losing and proving to the fans that 2007 was not just a lucky acorn found by a blind squirrel. Hopefully this can be a winning organization from top to bottom that begins anew on Friday April 1st, 2011.
Looking at the choices they made
The Fab 5 known as the starting pitchers for the 2011 Cleveland Indians at the onset consist of Fausto Carmona, Carlos Carrasco, Justin Masterson, Josh Tomlin and Mitch Talbot in this order. After listening tonight to Mitch Talbot’s performance, the temptation is to say, “uh, @Mactriber_11, yeah, Mr. Acta, are you sure you want Mitch after today’s 7-4 loss where he gave up a grand slam and 7 runs and 14 hits in 6 innings of work? Shouldn’t we go with David Huff or Jeanmar Gomez instead?” I think the answer Manager Manny Acta or General Manager Chris Antonetti would give and have given is one word, consistency! Looking at the collection of the entire spring, I can see why these 5 pitchers were chosen to represent the Indians every 5 days to begin games. Here are my thoughts.
Thoughts about the starting rotation
The definition of the word ace, according to dictionary.com, that best describes Fausto Carmona is a very skilled person; expert. When looking at the 5 pitchers selected for the rotation, Carmona is the most skilled of the young rotation. In looking over his stats, the stats show his ERA is way up. However, what is encouraging is his strikeouts are up too. The idea of attacking the strike zone is working. For him to be the true ace, attacking the strike zone is what will be needed and is needed.
In 2007, Fausto Carmona showed stats of 11 strikeouts and surrendering 8 walks. this led to a 2007 regular season where he surrendered 61 walks and struck out 137 batters leading to a 19-8 regular season record. In 2011, so far in Spring Training, Fausto has struck out 21 batters and walked only 7 batters. The potential is there to be better than he was in 2007. 19 wins in any year is hard to come across. Now the potential is here for Fausto to be another 20 game winner. If the numbers prove correct, 20 or more wins for Fausto could be accomplished. Talk about an ace! Wow! No matter what actually happens, he is still an ace because of all the starters currently, he does have the most experience, he is the expert on the current staff. Good luck Fausto, be the ACE!
In 16 2/3 innings pitched, young Carlos Carrasco had 6 walks and 14 strikeouts. Remember, however, he missed some time to welcome his newborn daughter into the world. Why a number 2 pitcher? His stats look similar to Jeanmar Gomez. I think Carlos Carrasco was named the #2 starter not based on these stats. Simply put, Manager Manny Acta stated that he wanted to seperate Carmona, the sinkerball pitcher from Masterson, another sinkerball pitcher. Seeing these two pitchers back to back did not seem prudent coming into the start of 2011. On a personal level, I think Carlos, bringing a daughter into the world, requires a great deal of given responsibility. The hope is that Carrasco will grasp this responsibility and transform it to the mound in a #2 role on the staff.
Meet sinkerballer #2. Breaking up Carmona and him on back to back games will help them tremendously and help both he and Fausto in the process. At least, this is the hope as the 2011 season opens. The goal is to get him in the mindset to keep his sinkerball from going flat and up in the strike zone. I think if he keep the ball down and keeps attacking the strike zone along with trusting the defense behind him that he can be effective. We shall see what develops as the season begins.
The most consistent of the 5 pitchers earned him the #4 spot even though he was just named yesterday officially to the rotation. Every time I heard about a start or a workout by Tomlin in Spring Training, nothing but positive reports followed. He was pitching better than Mitch Talbot and this earned him the #4 starter position. He had two starts for the Spring. He only gave up 1 run all Spring on 9 hits in two starts against the offensive powerhouses in Texas and Los Angeles Angels. The rest of the outings impressed the coaches and manager when he was placed in intrasquad or B games and today will be another test to help Tomlin before the season. We shall see what happens.
Based on the facts that Mitch Talbot was struggling to get people out by strikeout and that he was not as effective as Josh Tomlin made him the 5th starter. Acta was impressed with how Talbot was getting his sinkerball over for strikes against Prince Fielder for strikes. He also was impressed with Mitch Talbot getting up to 100 pitches in yesterday’s action.
Two side notes in conversation that Acta brings up. One is former Cleveland Indians player and former AAA pitching coach Charlie Nagy’s old line that stated that when pitching you become the #1 starter and when done, the next day you become the #5 starter. Also each starter will not skip turns as the season starts even if days off or cancelled games occur. It will be nice to see each pitcher handle this and not be skipped over. Hopefully the team will respond well also.
Why not Gomez or Huff
Consistency was telling me that Huff and Gomez were showing the most inconsistency among the starters for the Tribe and needed more development than the top 5 starting pitchers named. Still, they were asked to stay ready in case they were needed by the Tribe.
Depth is the name for the young Tribe and isn’t it nice to have. Pitchers that can step in and pitch effectively in a moment’s notice. Now we have a sixth and a seventh starter that need more innings to pitch to get better. The goal is to get better. Having depth can only help this team especially when injuries can occur unfortunatly. Huff and Gomez can help make AAA Columbus also better while waiting for their opportunity in the big leagues. I like having depth. Now the goal is to transfer all this potential and promise into wins for the Cleveland Indians for 2011 This 2011 starting rotation is a start. These are my thoughts. What are yours?
Follow me @mlbtribefan on Twitter and/or add comments below. Thanks. I look forward to reading your comments.
“And you will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free”…John 8:32
Everyone has heard a rumor and will hear and read many rumors in their lifetimes. If you are Jensen Lewis and yesterday you read that you were put on waivers by way of the media only to be told its a rumor, it is quite unsettling. After all, in reading Jensen Lewis’s tweets, no one did more for me from a public relations standpoint than Jensen Lewis in helping me feel excited about the Tribe and Opening Day 2011.
Jensen moved out to AZ to get closer to the year round training facility in Goodyear. He was pumped about Spring Training, pitchers and catcher reporting, pitching in games. It is refreshing to see a professional athlete getting excited like a kid on Christmas, wanting to perform, wanting to do well, cheering for the hometown team. So often, we see these athletes as ones just trying to do well enough to get the big contract and shuffle off when the time allows. Jensen wants/wanted to do well with the Indians.
Now Jensen is going to Columbus. This is understandable. He has had a 14.29 ERA in the Spring. However, the way it was communicated and rumored through the media by the Indians causes me concern. Why did Jensen find out through the media release and not told by the Indians days before?
Acta said he wanted to find the best pitchers to help the team. He said that there were no guarantees, no for certains. He wants to find the best five pitchers in no certain order for the rotation and pitchers that can pitch multiple innings for the bullpen and said that everyone on the club knew this going into camp what the expectations and goals were for the team. Someone forgot to remind Lewis. He was acting as though it was a given that he was going to be part of the 2011 Indians from start to finish.
I am confident that the Indians are making the right decision as it stands now. I also believe Jensen Lewis will be back up in Cleveland some time this season. However I think Jensen is learning how often the business and fan side of things do not always mesh. My advice to Jensen is this quote from one of his followers, “If you’re motivated by what other people think, then you’re not in it for the right reasons” Fight on Jensen and prove that you still belong in Major League Baseball and hopefully on the Cleveland Indians. If not, then move on! God has a plan for you.
On 30 Clubs in 30 Days focusing on the Indians organization, the question was posed to Grady asking if he was prepared to leave if dealt at midseason. He stated that he hopes for this not to happen. We have a history as a team, a city, to let our big names go. Some choose to leave, some are let go. I believe Grady is one that should stay the length of his career with the Indians. Here are 3 reasons why.
1. Attitude: Grady is one that has a positive attitude. He does not complain when trades are made, when costs are cut. He tries his best to win and places the team first. He goes all out and does everything to show by example. He wants to be out on the field doing the things needed to win games, making the catches, getting the hits. He doesn’t gloat or boast or make himself out to be the hero. He is one I believe that really truly wants to bring Cleveland that championship. We need leaders like him on the team. When healthy, he deserves the contract. When healthy, no one on our team is better. He plays like he is: positive.
2. Character: I ask myself, would I want this man at my house to be a part of my family is presented with the opportunity? The answer is YES! The man presents himself as a down to earth, young man. Everytime I see him on and off the field, he is one that shows himself to be that type to play catch with the kids, help cook dinner, help wash dishes and never offend anyone. Yes I know private issues became public but he did not leak them. He is a person that I believe wants to stay his entire career. Let it happen, Mr. Dolan!
3. Marketing. No wonder Grady has “grady’s ladies” following him. This young man is one that every father would not mind as a son-in-law, every young woman as a husband, every fan as a role model. He plays the game the right way, unselfishly. His drive, his desire is one I wish all players had. He sacrifices his body and wills the team to victory. I wish all players could play this way. The closest player I see to him is Shin-Soo Choo. When this team is ready to contend again, I want Grady here leading the way. I believe all fans want the same.
This year we fans celebrate Bob Feller. From Iowa, he still made and kept Cleveland as his home. In this modern day, I truly believe that Grady is like this. If the owner and management allow this to happen, I believe Grady would want to get his 3000th hit here if given the opportunity. We have the gem Cleveland fans that we need in Grady to help Cleveland. Today the journey begins again against the Diamondbacks. I truly am hoping for that comeback for Grady. He is the face of the Indians, a face I want here with the Tribe forever.
The Cleveland Indians had the day off yesterday. It was the only one for them until the end of spring training, 15 days to be exact. Here is an observation.
Masterson needs to be more consistent
The starting rotation seems to be set. Already knowing early that Carmona was the Opening Day starter. Masterson seems ready to be in the rotation. He needs to show consistency for me to be more confident in his abilities. However, I am learning to realize that when a pitcher knows that he is going to be in a rotation, runs will pile up because the pitcher is not so focused on results as they are in just getting their work in. Masterson showed how masterful his potential can be when he struck out 5 Cubs in 3 innings without giving up a hit or run. Yet in this last performance, Masterson gave up 5 runs and 7 hits while striking out 4 batters in 4 innings of work. What is needed for me to show more confidence is for Masterson to show more consistency in his outings. If one outing he looks like the next Cy Young and another he looks like the next Juan Eichelberger, then there is going to be a problem competing all year.
Mitch Talbot needs to show me more of this every time.
In Tuesday’s, 3/15/11′s, game, Mitch Talbot looked much, much smoother. 1 run and 6 hits in 5 innings pitched is a job worthy of a rotation spot. Mitch showed that he belonged in the rotation. Like the other pitchers, I think Mitch pitches better with a chip on his professional shoulder, one that says “you stink, prove to me that you belong here.” With his outings before this one, I believe he was out to show the critics that it is spring training and the goal to be ready for the regular season is still in order for Mitch.
Tomlin is in, Huff is out
This is an official opinion. However based on seeing the outing by Huff 4 runs on 6 hits in 2 2/3 innings pitched had me already believing that David Huff would begin the year in AAA Columbus. Tomlin on the other hand, showed major league consistency 1.13 ERA, no runs on 3 hits in 3 innings pitched told me the 5th starter job is his for the beginning of the season and hopefully throughout the season.
Carrasco is pitching now for others besides himself.
Carlos Carrasco is behind the others since he took some time off to help see his son born into the world. This being said he was fairly impressive getting his work in by giving up 3 runs and 6 hits in a 7-2 loss on Sunday. I believe he will start to get better as we get closer to the season. He was listed as a #4 starter this year.
Bringing it together
For the Indians to begin to turn the page on the 2011 season, the rotation, a question mark for the upcoming year, has to be more consistently stronger. All 5 starters (Carmona, Masterson, Talbot, Tomlin (if chosen) and Carrasco have all given impressive outings in at least 1 of their starts this spring. Three of the pitchers gave this in their last outing We fans need to see them getting better for not just a night or two but in consecutive starts. I believe if each person chosen for the 2011 rotation can show more consistent effort, then the hope and optimism will help the fans embrace this team again.
By the way, it is not for lack of love for the team that some of us fans, including myself do not go to games other than Opening Day. It deals with time and schedule. For me, the ability to go to games is difficult because of the schedule. I work much during most of their games. However I will try my best to go to games when I can on my days off. Finances come into play also. All, in all, however, my family will try everything to put forth more consistency in putting ourselves in the stands. Once again, it is my great hope the players can show more consistency for other more casual fans to come back also.
Thoughts about the Week that was for the Cleveland Indians organization
The Cleveland Indians entered last weekend at 3-3 and was very impressive in their game against Chicago last Saturday in a split squad affair at their home field in Goodyear, AZ before officially losing in Peoria, AZ in the other game. This game would be the last official win for the team the entire week. I know these games don’t count. I have visited Spring Training. The regulars get their work in and often leave before the game is actually over. I get it. Still, for a young team to feel confident, I believe some wins in these meaningless games would build some confidence. For my example, I look at the San Diego Padres of 2010. We all remember how they finished the year, one game from making the playoffs losing in the end to the NL West division rival and World Champion San Francisco Giants. Nobody picked them to be anywhere near contention last year. Yet in these games that “do not matter”, the Padres finished on a 9 game winning streak and near the top of the Cactus League standings last year. Arguably this momentum helped propel the franchise to contend all the way through the regular season. I point that team out because many fans have compared us to that type of team if we are going to compete and one day contend again in the AL Central. Hopefully they can build up some wins as we continue on this coming week.
Oh the pitching, the horrendous pitching!
On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this past week to see the pitching staff give up a total of 41 runs and have 37 of the runs be earned in the games did not give me great confidence that this staff was ever going to be one to be counted on at all to provide a “winning” record or at least better than last year.
Looking at just the starting rotation competition, we found on Monday, Mitch Talbot, an acquisition from Tampa Bay last year, gave up 9 runs, all earned in 1 and 1/3 innings pitched. Granted there was a wind blowing out. Still, it was not impressive. On Tuesday, the ace of the staff, Fausto Carmona gave up 6 runs, all earned in his 3 innings of work. On Wednesday, the combination of Carlos Carrasco and David Huff combined to give up 6 total runs, all earned in 5 innings of work. From all these runs, I just the Indians were being run out of town altogether. These games were getting uglier and uglier to watch, listen to, and read about. I was almost getting prepared to handle a third major franchise in last place right out of the gate. The way this pitching was performing, it was easy to see us fighting for the basement from the start all the way to the finish of the season. It was hard to see the hope for improvement and the “winning” the Indians were trying to sell us with.
This was almost a no-no!
Thursday I was finally off and able to listen to the game live on MLB.com. I was reeling off the past three games on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and wondering how we would fare against the Cubs. In his last outing on Sunday, Justin Masterson gave up 2 runs both earned in his three innings of work. So I was expecting the trend to continue. The Indians starting rotation candidates mentioned above had 12 strikeouts all together, including Masterson, on Sunday. In Thursday’s game, the starting rotation candidates, Masterson and Jeanmar Gomez combined for eight strikeouts and only one hit allowed in 6 innings. 2/3 of the amount of strikeouts the starters had all week were found in this game. It was amazing how much better the pitching was described to be like in this game on Thursday compared to the efforts shown all week. It was a shame we still lost this contest!
Much better, still no win!
The Indians played much better in a 5-5 tie yesterday. This was a game I had circled the calendar on when looking at the schedule when it first was released as a must win for the Tribe! Well, at least it was a game we must not lose because it was against the Seattle Mariners and former Indians manager, Eric Wedge. The effort was much better as the Indians battled back from being down twice. Also the starting pitcher, Mitch Talbot gave up three runs, two earned in his three innings of work. Asdrubal Cabrera hit a round tripper. All in all, it was a sign that hopefully winning would return to the Indians soon.
Comings and goings
The Indians announced that they were sending eight on the roster to Minor League camp. Included among the people were sent to Minor league camp was Drew Pomeranz, the highly touted prospect. The plan is for him to start in Kinston, the Indians high A affiliate. Right-handed pitchers Corey Kluber and Hector Rondon and infielder Jared Goedert were optioned to AAA Columbus. Left-handed pitchers Nick Hagadone and Kelvin De La Cruz were optioned to AA Akron. Bryce Stowall and Chun Chen were also reassigned to minor league camp. Today also was the first appearence in camp for free agent signee Nick Johnson. No timetable was assigned for him to be ready to join the team. However, he hopes to play in some games by late April. Also former Indian Jason Davis was back in camp just to tryout and show the Indians what he might possibly be able to give the Indians but was not signed to any official contract.
Hopefully, these moves and efforts can get us motivated and building in the right direction for winning again here in Cleveland!
We are now 2 weeks until Spring begins. We are now 26 days until the Cleveland Indians play ball. Michael Brantley has been kept out the lineup for 4 days now including today because of what is reported to be “leg soreness” according to local reports. Yet if Opening Day were today, he said he could go and play. Jason Donald, who injured his hand over the weekend after being hit by Gavin Floyd on Saturday did not take batting practice and remains day to day. I really think the Indians want to make sure these two men are coming north April 1st when games for Opening Day at Progressive Field against the White Sox.
However, one young man I would like to see play is Lonnie Chisenhall. I attended the Indians Town Hall meeting in February and another fan asked Manny Acta about this. Manny wants to see him play at AAA a while before handing him the everyday third base duties. MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian tweeted this in one of his updates. I speculate this to be the case because of what happened to former Indian and current Reds 2nd baseman, Brandon Phillips. In rushing him, I can remember seeing Phillips go back and forth between Cleveland, Ohio and then AAA Buffalo. This helped lead to his release because of his inconsistency.He went to the Reds and well, we know how successful he has been for them. I believe the Indians want to be certain Chisenhall plays at AAA for awhile before bringing him up to the Major League club.
I argue that he is ready. Chisenhall is showing me consistency where other players just are not producing. I think Lonnie Chisehall can be a viable conteded on this club from day 1. His performance is awe-inspiring. Chisenhall in 7 games is 7-15 2 doubles, 2 homers 4 RBI with a .556 batting avg. I think he has heart and wants to be that great third baseman that has eluded Cleveland since Casey Blake was traded.
To the Indians front office’s credit, this is Spring Training and I think if Chisenhall were to come up to the major league team at this time, he probably would be a bench player. Acta wants Lonnie to receive everyday at bats and not be bench bound or be forced to fill a role when Jason Donald or Jayson Nix who were with the club last year are scheduled to be ready to go.
I think however, in a town where potential high prospects are needed to help hype up and makethis team better faster, the pressure comes from us fans for them to be “saviors” and push the team for more success. For those who want “@theChizKid” up here in Cleveland like myself, I guess the best thing to do is be patient and try to travel down to Columbus which is only 2 hours away. If he is successful there, it will be sooner, not later that Progressive Field will be home to the top prospect. Meanwhile as with all the “kids” we will just have to trust that the front office knows what they are doing with Lonnie.
There have been two key topics for the Indians going into Spring Training for 2011. First, who is going to be our everyday third baseman? Secondly, who is going to be the fifth starter? For every game played, these two questions seem to be the focus of the media and the fans as they try to put a pulse for how the Cleveland Indians can improve their chances at winning again. By winning, of course, it is .500 or better.
They split the teams up and played what is called in Spring Training a split-squad affair. One lineup was made for a game in Goodyear, AZ against the visiting White Sox. The other lineup was made for the game in Peoria, AZ against the Seattle Mariners. What made these matchups intriguing for me was that it was the first encounter against both Ozzie Guillen, manager for the White Sox and Eric Wedge, now manager of the Seattle Mariners.
My focus today was on the two positions listed above: third base and the starting pitcher. So was everyone else based on what I was reading on Twitter. Every media feed I was getting had attention directed toward the White Sox. I never did get a read on the Mariners game. It was almost an afterthought and not really focused on at all, at least not as much as the game with Chicago. Still I was able to catch updates on Indians.com.
For the third baseman position, what caused alarm was when Jason Donald, arguably the front runner to land the everyday third baseman job was struck on the hand in the second inning of yesterday afternoon’s game. There was a concern about whether or not it was broken and this caused many local and national sources to tweet with concern about Jason Donald’s hand being broken. Donald did not have an official at bat before leaving the game. Luckily the X-Rays came back negative and he is day to day. This being said, I almost sensed people panicking cross Twitter wondering what would the Tribe do if Mr. Donald could not play for any period of time.
First Jack Hannahan could fill the role. He went 1-3 today in the game in Seattle. He’s batting .364 and is seen as a utility player just trying to find a place on the field to play. Second is Jayson Nix. However most of his practice time has taken place at second base. Finally is the young highly touted prospect Lonnie Chisenhall. In hearing manager Manny Acta at a town hall audience, he asked fans not to read into reports about Chisenhall , one of the top prospects for the Indians, automatically be given the third baseman title. I think they want him to get a solid year in AAA and perhaps be one of the September call-ups later in the season. With these people having their role be defined, I now see why there is so much concern about Jason Donald. Hopefully, he will be okay.
The pitching lines made it more clear who had a leg up for the starting rotation. Against Chicago, David Huff, who was trying to put a 2-11 record behind him in 2010 pitched 3 innings of shutout ball, only giving up 2 hits and having two strikeouts and surrendering no walks. On the other hand, against Seattle, Jeanmar Gomez, another candidate for the starting rotation pitched 2 1/3 innings giving up 4 runs, all earned and 4 hits with 1 walk and no strikeouts. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that Huff has helped his cause for being in the starting rotation out of the gate in 2011.
This afternoon’s action will be in Scottsdale at the brand new complex, Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, shared by the Diamondbacks and our opponent for today, the Colorado Rockies. I will be interested to hear and/or read reaction to this complex which I have heard much about. I also hope more answers are made clearer concerning the team going forward at third base or the pitching mound. Good luck Tribe and get well, Jason.