Sunday, April 20, 2008

Lazy CCunday (the C's are soft...so far)

As the Indians’ attempt to take the series in the Twin Cities today after, once again, being shut down by a pitcher that they’ve never seen before, let’s take a twirl around a Lazy Sunday:

Ken Rosenthal weighs in on the “What’s Wrong with C.C” conversation with a piece that was written PRIOR to his clunker against the Motor City Kitties on Wednesday. Jon Heyman from SI does the same. With the national media descending on this story and nobody from the big boys (ESPN, SI, Fox, etc) coming up with anything substantial, can they all just say that they don’t know what in the world has happened to the reigning Cy Younger and move on?

On the local C.C. front, Shelden Ocker comes through with another stellar effort of an article, this one on how the Indians should consider making changes to their roster and their handling of Sabathia (after four, admittedly bad, starts) before 40 games are played.
With four starts in the books, he actually wrote these words on the Hefty Lefty:
“Sabathia's past two starts have been so embarrassingly off the charts it's difficult to know where to begin resurrecting his career. If you're thinking Buffalo, forget it. Sabathia cannot be sent to Triple-A without his permission. Nor are Shapiro and Wedge likely to ask him to accept a demotion. Moreover, he is not about to be replaced by one of Buffalo's starters: Jeremy Sowers or Aaron Laffey. That would require moving someone off the roster.“

Then, after batting around all the recycled theories and writing what is shown above (which, to recap, intimates that the Indians should entertain sending the reigning Cy Young Award winner to the minors after four starts…which makes no sense, Ocker asserts, mainly because someone would have to be moved off of the roster) he comes back with this to finish the article that, “as dark as the near future looks for Sabathia, whatever he is doing wrong for whatever reason probably will be only a faded memory in a few weeks.”Another superb piece from Ocker, who comes up with no real hard facts on Sabathia, outlines what the Indians won’t do (for all of the wrong reasons), then concludes that C.C. will be fine.
Yikes.

But back to coherent thought and actual baseball knowledge and insight on C.C., according to the most in-depth analysis that I’ve seen about the Crooked Cap from Beyond the Box Score (if you click only one link today, make sure this is the one), it appears that he HAS been throwing his slider less, resulting in fewer swings-and-misses for the Big Fella. It goes back to what I said after the Oakland start (and backs it up in a way), but C.C. is pitching differently this year and because he hasn’t been able to command his fastball properly, his pitch mix is off and batters are just sitting, waiting on the fastball that they know he’ll throw with two strikes.

A final link on C.C., a terrific piece of satire from woodsmeister over at LGT (who also mans the Pronk Needs You site), who penned a “press release” from Indians fans saying, essentially, that Tribe fans would like to break off contract negotiations themselves so WE, as fans, can focus on baseball.

On to the LHP that has picked up the mantle for C.C., Jayson Stark thinks that C.P. Lee v.2008 may be “for real”. He’s sitting on a 0.40 ERA with a 0.44 WHIP and 20 K to his 2 BB in his three starts; so (after acknowledging that my eulogy for Cliff Lee’s career was premature) yeah, I’ll go with Stark’s conclusion. This early in the season, I’m more than happy to eat crow on Lee, whose numbers had deteriorated in two seasons to the point of wondering if he was still a viable MLB starter. With the command of his fastball back and with him getting ahead of hitters, allowing him to throw his breaking pitches…ahem…C.C., Lee looks to be returning to 2005 form with a level of improvement that boggles the mind.

In case you missed the ESPN broadcast of the Red Sox-Tribe game on Monday, it included some time with Mark Shapiro in the booth with the ESPN broadcast team, including Orel Hershiser and Steve Phillips. His inclusion for the 5th inning included a “Behind Closed Doors” segment that showed what Shapiro’s day consisted of, as well as showing (multiple times) the Indians’ “Big Board”, which lists all 30 MLB rosters, potential FA after this year, and their own organizational depth. Through the magic of DVR and “pause”, I was able to fancy some looks at how they have the potential FA after this year rated in terms of pitchers and infielders. I’ll get more into those as the season goes on, but I will tell you that C.C. still tops the LH starting pitcher list, just ahead of Randy Wolf. Those particular rankings interest me (that is, the potential FA) because it gives some insight as to what players may be on the Indians’ radar for a mid-season acquisition in the rent-a-player variety, but also to see where the starting pitchers not named Carsten Charles slot in, shedding some light on some other possible targets after this year for a rotation without C.C.

Back to Shapiro in the booth though, there was quite an exchange between Shapiro and former Mets’ GM and resident ESPN village idiot Steve Phillips that the brilliant Fire Joe Morgan perfectly breaks down and should make you feel awfully good regarding how decisions are made in the Cleveland Front Office.

Elsewhere, SI’s Jon Heyman says that the Indians are one of the six teams identified by “club executives” who may actually benefit from the rash of injuries in the early season, as the Tribe is a team recognized for having the deep bench necessary to help teams in this age of “more stringent” drug testing. Whether this means that relievers are going to be in short supply as the season wears on or if players are just going to be bothered by nagging injuries throughout the year, it sounds like people outside the organization see the likes of The Ben Francisco Treat, ShopVac, and Laffey as pieces that just don’t exist for many teams and could play a role in the dog days of summer.

You may notice that I don’t have a lot by way of the beat reporters comments here (for the record, Anthony Castrovince of indians.com is better than the rest of them combined) and really haven’t in a while. There is, in fact a reason for that.
Remember how during last year’s playoffs I mentioned that the beat reporters are fed “notes” from the team that usually shows up in the next day’s paper (something that t-bone confirmed from his days in Sports Information)? Well, here’s where you can find every game’s notes for every MLB team via the MLB Press Pass. Each game has about four pages of notes and contains more information than what is filtered into a beat reporter’s column.
You’re welcome.

On the topic of reporters, Jeff Pearlman (the reporter who famously wrote the John Rocker story in SI many years ago) tells a tale from the Locker Room over at Deadspin (not PG). It’s a fascinating look at the relationship between athletes and the reporters paid to cover them, essentially comparing it to different cliques of children in the schoolyard with very little in common and very little interest in one another. Interestingly, a few days after Pearlman wrote about his interaction with “Will the Thrill”, this exchange between Miguel Tejada and an ESPN “journalist” took place, which certainly isn’t going to help said relationship.

Hopefully, Paul Byrd has found a pharmacy in Minnesota that will fill his dentist’s prescription because it would be nice to leave the Land of 10,000 Lakes tied with the Twins, heading into KC, where the Tribe can make up more ground in the Central…slowly, but surely.

9 comments:

C.C. Ya Later said...

I don't know about Byrd’s prescriptions, but this exchange between Lee & Westbrook on Friday night is encouraging.

Hiding The Crisco (Click For Video)

minktrapper said...

c.c. ya, that is hillarious!..I saw that exchange real-time and wondered what they were talking about....

Halifax said...

anyone care to revisit just how pathetic the Indians' offense actually is?

I'm to the point I think Pronk is a has-been.

Halifax said...

Also, anyone notice we're 7-12, which mirrors those other great seasons when Wedge-managed teams got out of the gate slowly then couldn't recover?

One game out of last place and no offensive consistency and winning streaks in sight . . .

boy, we're wasting some awfully good pitching -- again.

Les Savy Ferd said...

I second that last statement. Throw out CCs stats (hard to do as he is 20% of the starts and our ace) and we HAVE to be at least in contention for league leaders in SP ERA, quality starts, etc.

Given the dramatic offensive results when this team is ahead by a comfortable margin (we either score 1-3 runs or 10 or more it seems) I can only assume guys are pressing. and then when we are up by a few that feeling goes away and lo and behold, HRs and consecutive multiple base hits.

I'm still standing by my original belief that this division is the Tigers and Indians to lose, and boy are they sure finding all kinds of ways to do just that.

Halifax said...

Don't count the White Sox out as a fluke. They picked up some offensive punch and a good shortstop in Cabrera (just wish WE had a good shortstop named Cabrera) at the expense of two good starters, and Joe Crede seems healthy at third. My main question was their starting pitching, but their young guys seem to be toeing the line (and the rubber) just fine.

The Indians and Tigers might catch up, but they best be wary of letting the Sox run too far ahead.

The Tigers' age and injuries will be there all season, as will the Tribe's inconsistent offense and shaky defense.

t-bone said...

Paul,
Call me impressed, you manage to have your 8 to 5 normal job, a one-year old, and run not one but TWO blogs? (you write this one too, right?)

http://dumpcaseyblake.blogspot.com/

C.C. Ya Later said...

Les Savy Ferd,

I think you’re on to something. Even with C.C., Cleveland is tied for the league lead in Quality Starts (12) with Chicago.

Also, team ERA drops from 4.47 to 3.38 (which would be second behind Oakland’s 3.36) when Sabathia's stats aren't figured in. It also drops to 2.98 when JoeBo’s stats are removed.

Slow Starts Since 2005

April, 2005 (9-14): 3.74 RS / 4.43 RA

April, 2006 (13-12): 6.32 RS / 5.60 RA

April, 2007 (14 – 8): 5.23 RS / 4.73 RA

April, 2008 (7 – 12): 4.16 RS / 4.73 RA

Of the four years listed, this year’s runs scored per game is second lowest for April behind 2005 and this year’s run allowed per game is second lowest since 2005. Indians finished 93 – 69 in 2005 and averaged 4.88 runs per game and gave up an average of 3.97.

I feel this is reason of optimism.

minktrapper said...

Where the hell is this teams emotion? Would it hurt to see someone throw a temper tantrum once in a while? You know, like maybe breaking a bat over a thigh? And Geeze, the other night Vic threw out a base stealer and I jumped outa my chair and yelled so loud my dog pissed on the floor but Vic had an expression on his face like the one you have when you get up from the dinner table!...mouth off to someone, MF someone or better yet start a good ole bench clearer...and don't worry about any young kids getting the wrong impression...they all have probably switched teams by now anyhow...