Sunday, August 19, 2007

I Invented the “It’s Not You, It’s Me”

Coming to you live from the satellite office in Milwaukee (OK, my father-in-law’s computer room), it’s time for a confession – it’s not you, it’s me.

After attending two games of the Yankees’ series (obviously both losses) and the Tigers’ loss on Monday at the Jake, I loaded up the family truckster and headed west for the annual trek to Milwaukee’s Irish Fest. As I made my way out of town on Wednesday night (whoever said that driving through the night with an infant was a good idea should have their head examined), Carmona dazzled in a victory over the Tigers to split the 2-game set.
So the “jinx” left town and the Tribe thrived.

But here’s where things get weird - on the way to Wisconsin on Wednesday, we passed the I-75 exit off of the Turnpike (which can be taken to get to Detroit) just as Borowski retired the last out of the 9th. Good…great…grand.

Was there something to my location at the time of the end of the game, though?
Continuing west on the Turnpike, we hit Chicago just as the Reds’ Josh Hamilton hit a 2-run HR in Wrigley to beat the Cubs (after a long rain delay). Again, perhaps my mere presence was causing teams to drop like flies as the trip across the Midwest continued.

Those are isolated incidents, you say?
Consider, then, that the day I arrived in Milwaukee is the day that the Brewers lose (again) and the Cubs win to overtake the Brew Crew for 1st place in the NL Central, which is where they remain.

The Indians, meanwhile, seemingly released from whatever awful aura I bring to a ballpark or a city, promptly go to Tampa and take 2 of 3 from the Devil Rays behind (what else) strong starting pitching.

Maybe the Cleveland Sports Paranoia has gotten to me.
Maybe the lack of sleep and overabundance of Guinness (we are here for Irish Fest, after all) has sabotaged my ability to reason rationally.
Or maybe something larger is at play here, something larger than you or me.

Regardless, anyone know a place that I can stay in Detroit for about a month and a half?
I’ll get that out of the way first before I book flights for possible trips to Boston or Anaheim.

And with that, a quick Lazy Lazy:
Paul Hoynes examines how the Carlos Zambrano deal may affect the C.C. negotiations.
To me, between the recent Buehrle deal (4 years/$56M) and Big Z’s deal (5 years/$91.5M), the comparables are there for something to be worked out with Sabathia and the Tribe. As long as C.C. doesn’t come in looking for a guaranteed 6th, 7th, or (gasp) 8th year, the Indians may be able to work something out similar to the framework of the Zambrano deal.

I think it’s pretty apparent that the negotiations with the Hefty Lefty will come down to years, not annual salary. If he’s willing to take fewer years (4 or 5, with a player option) and hit the Free Agent market again when he’s in his early 30’s (as Zambrano’s contract is obviously geared to do), the Indians may be willing to give him money around $18M annually.
Don’t think that guaranteed years are the most important aspect of a starting pitchers’ salary? As much as Phil Rogers regularly comes off as a blowhard, here’s a fantastic read on how starting pitchers and long guaranteed contracts go together like oil and vinegar.

Hoynes also touches on Andy Marte’s future with the team and how Peralta’s role would be affected, Barfield getting benched, and Fernando Cabrera becoming a Free Agent (again, like Stanford, how much did Indians’ fans overvalue F-Cab?).

The Sheldon Ocker Mailbag Extravaganza returns this week and Shelly replies to a well-thought out question on the attendance at Indians games and the way that opposing fans have been able to make quite a bit of noise at the Jake with this wonderful retort – “Dear Bob, who cares?”.
And the ABJ printed it!
You’re a gem, Sheldon.
Keep it up, as you’re making the internet (and not traditional media like newspapers) a destination for more and more fans every day to get their Tribe fix.

Even though Terry Pluto writes about the Browns this morning, I would still encourage ANYONE who hasn’t read his “Dealing” to order it today. I read it in about a day and a half and learned more about the organization and the business of baseball than I had in any book since “Moneyball”.

Andy Call comes through with his nice weekly look around the Bigs. The great thing about Call’s column is that, while none of the stories directly reference the Tribe, all of them have some angle that indirectly has something to do with the goings-on in the Reservation.

Jim Ingraham checks in with much of the same.

Heading home tomorrow, though if anyone knows a spot in Detroit that I can set up shop for the week as the Tribe faces the Tigers for 3, I’m all ears.

5 comments:

t-bone said...

PC, two of my 110 Lawnview roommates are in the Detroit area. Let me put in a few phone calls. Neither are much in terms of Tigers fans, so I think we can make this happen!

Jeff said...

I think this is very interesting reading, found on cleveland.com

Letter from fan to Paul Dolan:

I've been a supporter of the Cleveland Indians since I was a small boy in the early 60's. There have been some good years and many bad ones during that period. Under the Dolan stewardship, we seem to be near the edge of serious competition today. We were at the same juncture in 2005 late in the season. 2006 was a disappointment.

I have not been a supporter of your ownership since the rebuild started at the end of the 01 season. I've been frustrated at the consecutive years of payroll levels (2002 through 2006) and have considered them too low to match division/league competition.

Fans were encouraged last session when core assets were starting to be locked up(Sizemore, Martinez, Peralta, Lee). That encouragement continued into this year when significant investment was made to extend Westbrook and Hafner. The payroll appears tracking to a level commensurate with market size and matching the level of competition within the division.

The biggest concern I have today as a fan has now migrated from your commitment to investment in talent to performance on the field. There appears one apparent flaw that could limit this talent assembled from the success it deserves.

I and many a fan feel Eric Wedge is not performing in his position. His strengths are fostering a good clubhouse environment and building trust and respect from players. His weakness is tactical acumen that simply has not kept up with the demands of the position.

I was encouraged when Mark Shapiro opted to put Eric Wedge's contract status on hold until the end of the year. That clearly sent a message that after 4 years on the job, there were some expectations of performance. Fans like myself were mystified 3 weeks ago when Eric Wedge was awarded a 3 year extention on his current contract. Every fan I talk to asks the same question: What has Eric Wedge accomplished to merit this contact?

Given this years attendance, payroll levels, revenue sharing, and STO growth, I would have to assume it will be another good year for the Dolan family financially. Fans think STO is a great channel that will only get better.

Fans measure success by Won-Loss levels, Playoff appearances, League titles and Championships. I would hope that the ownership of this franchise has some expectation on performance on the field as well as off.

5 years into a rebuild, the core in place locked up, the talent is there and no playoffs for the 6th straight year would indicate there is a performance problem at a higher level that needs to be addressed.

Respectfully

Jeff said...

and THIS IS Paul Dolan's actual response. I may not be the biggest fan of the Dolan family, but you have to respect them for answering a respectful fan's criticism:

Thank you for your thoughtful and considerate appraisal of the Indians. I do not regularly receive emails of this kind. At the risk of quibbling, we feel 2002 was really about tearing down the club ( initially it was still about competing but team performance in May and June mandated the change in direction). Rebuilding really began in 2003 so we believe it was extraordinary we were competing and really should have made the playoffs in 2005. The fact we did not was more a reflection of our relative youth rather than managerial deficiency. 2006 was a major disappointment but our rebound in 2007 confirmed for us Eric is highly capable of extracting the best out of the available talent. I recognize his game managment is regularly subject to critical scrutiny. My first response is to point out most, if not all, managers are regularly the target of this type of criticism. Its part of the game. I will add that whenever I was sufficiently confused by an in game decision that I was compelled to ask about the underlying thinking, I usually learn of some fact I did not know about that changed the situation or I learned of some tactical consideration I had not thought of that changed my thinking about the situation. That does not mean I always agreed with the on field decisions but I do believe most thoughtful, objective fans when presented with all the facts and all the relevant thinking would be far more empathetic to our manager. For what its worth, with our $74mm payroll ( the media rarely gets this right) we forecast losing around $4mm this year. I point this out to highlight the challenges involved in fielding a competitive team in a market which has ranked around 24-25 in MLB attendance and why we might feel good about the job Eric has done. Now if we could just get our bats going again.

rodells said...

Looks like Romeo will beat Wedge to the unemployment lines in October.

Now if we could just get our bats going again.....

Cy Slapnicka said...

It is amazing to me that fans are so impatient that they think this change should happen overnight. look at how long it took to turn the 1990's 100 game losing indians into contenders. In 1991 Belle, Alomar, Baerga, and Thome lost over 100 games.

I do doubt Wedge's decision making sometimes. However, the players ultimately need to perform. I feel that is the crux of the problem. My current problem with the poor performance is the lack of fire.