Showing posts with label santana. Show all posts
Showing posts with label santana. Show all posts

Monday, September 12, 2005

Can You See the Light?

Great moment - Entering the cab at Hopkins Airport on Sunday night around 10:30PM, I ask the cabbie how the Tribe is doing. He utters the three sweetest words I've heard in some time, "We're killing 'em".

Let's recap - the Wahoos beat Johan Santana, knock Carlos Silva out after one inning, and sweep the Twins right out of playoff contention. And, they win in a large way in front of 38,000+ (though as Cy has stated, 20,000 of which have jumped the bandwagon), to show Cleveland what they've been missing all summer (or at least since the All-Star break). What a weekend for the Friends of the Feather.

Perhaps realizing that the OSU loss and the Browns' continued misery has put Cleveland in its normal September Sunday night doldrums, the Indians came to the rescue. First, Grady hits a triple to start the game, then puts on a display, offensively and defensively, that should make the naysayers that say that "the team has no known players" want to learn about this talented bunch. But the people who read this already knew that.

A few things though pondered while out of the Eastern Time Zone:

While tailgating before the Wisconsin-Temple game in Madison (which is without a doubt the craziest college town I've ever been to) on Saturday afternoon, my buddy Krems said that he thought that this Indians pitching staff is the best staff that we've seen in our lifetime. I have to agree. From the rotation, which has been unbelievable, to the bullpen, which "locks it up" in the late innings, I can't remember a time when the Tribe has legitimately been in EVERY single game because of pitching. It may be a stretch, but I'll go back to the days of Feller and Lemon to a time when all 5 guys in the rotation are capable of winning games and keeping the team in the game. This staff has been incredible.

They should show the scene in Wedding Crashers when Vaughn and Wilson are telling each other to "lock it up" every time a reliever comes on.
John Beckwith: You better lock it up.
Jeremy Grey: No, you lock it up!
John Beckwith: You lock it up!
Jeremy Grey: You lock it up!
John Beckwith: You lock it up!
Jeremy Grey: Lock it up!

With a lot of travel time, I thought about the holes for next year (which I promise I will take a break from because WE'RE IN THE PENNANT RACE), which are 2 starters, 3 relievers, a RF and a 1B. Now there are different strategies on how to fill holes in a lineup that is more or less solid.

The two main strategies being adding pieces through FA or adding major league ready pieces from the farm:
The two main success stories of adding pieces through FA would be New York (obviously) and St. Louis/Boston (who normally trade their prospects for established players, then sign those established players to long-term deals). These teams started with a core group of young talent (for example: NY with Jeter, Posada, Rivera, and Williams emerging at the same time in the mid 90's), then add proven major league talent, obviously at a premium. The pros of this process is obviously to acquire players that have experience and a track record. The cons are obviously the costs associated with signing premium FA, and signing older players, who may be more likely to incur injuries. Two obvious busts using this strategy in recent years have been the Orioles (Lopez, Tejada, Palmiero, Sosa) and the Tigers (Ondonez, Rodriguez, Percival), who tried to add players to a depleted roster, attempting to create chemistry using the Fantasy Baseball approach.

The other strategy used has been to continue to build from within once that core group of players is established. Two teams that have used this strategy very effectively have been the A's and the Braves. The A's are more of an extreme case, often trading players at the peak of their trade value (Hudson/Mulder), or allowing a FA to move on (Giambi/Tejada), but they always seem to have another player ready to plug in. Whether it's Bobby Crosby replacing Tejada, or using the arms acquired in trades to replace the studs (Haren came in the Mulder deal), they seem to have mastered the art of knowing where their weaknesses will be two years from now and planning accordingly.
The Braves are a bit of a mix of the strategies, but always have seemed to have that player in the minors ready to contribute (Chipper, Giles, Furcal, Andruw, Estrada, and now Francouer) at the exact position that they need help. In the off chance that the minor leaguer is not ready, they'll add that veteran (Brian Jordan, Julio), but never seem to make that huge splash in FA, relying instead on Leo Mazzone bringing out the best in pitching retreads and Bobby Cox mixing vets and youngsters to win a staggering string of division titles. There are obvious teams that have tried this strategy (for the last 10 years) without any luck (Pirates, Royals), but they haven't had that core group of talent to add to.

Looking at the Tribe with all of these models in mind, I hope that they lean more in the way of the Braves than anything else. Shapiro seems to have players ready in the minors, who seem to be available at spots of most need (Garko at 1B) and a ton of arms to choose from to keep the pitching staff well-stocked. If, by chance, they feel at some point in the future, they feel that they don't have anyone in-house or down the pipeline capable of contributing, add a player. But I don't think it's necessary to add a huge signee to create buzz (just ask the Mariners how Sexson and Beltre have worked out). Rather, they should continue to develop strong prospects and add savvy veterans when needed.

We'll revisit how to address the holes after the season, for now let's concentrate on the matter at hand. The Tribe is 82-61 with 19 games to play. If they can go 12-7 (which is VERY doable with their schedule), they finish with a record of 94-68! They have 7 games against KC, which they could go 6-1 in, meaning they could split the other 12 and still finish with 94 wins. Do you think they're going to split the other 12 the way that they're playing? Me neither. 94 wins should put them right in the thick of things for the Wild Card, if not atop it (I'm not addressing the Central until after the first series with the ChiSox).

The Tribe put the nail in the Twins coffin this weekend with the opportunity to do the same to the A's (in the Wild Card at least) early this week.

Coco won the AL Player of the Week with some sickening numbers. Jason Davis and Fausto Carmona were called up from Buffalo, whose playoffs ended on Sunday.

Enjoy Tribetember and The Hunt for October.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Back on Track?

As has been noted in the comments section, it’s been a while since a post (I was waiting for something positive to happen), but after a long weekend in Milwaukee and a day at the Clinic, it is on.

Last night’s game kept me stressed after my bedtime as Wickman (as he always seems to) made it interesting until the very last strike. Wick striking out LeCroy to win the game was like Tiki Barber running over Ronde Barber at the goal line to win the game. Despite the win, the offense still baffles in its inability to get a clutch hit.

Westbrook looked tentative and worked slower than his normal frenetic pace at first, but hit his groove in the 6th and cruised. I hope that it’s a sign of things to come. With C.C. fully operational, the rest of the rotation needs to take his lead and go after it. We’ll see how Millwood looks tonight against the Twins.

Watching the Twins lineup last night got me worried. I think that they’re deeper and have better hitters than the Tribe. Maybe it’s the Tribe’s slow start, or the amazing fact that Mauer is 21 and Morneau is 24, but I’m officially getting worried. Combine that deep lineup with Santana, Radke, J.C. Romero (mini-Johan), and Joe Nathan, and the Indians are really going to have to get hot for a long period of time to turn it around (not to mention the Amazin' Sox).

While in Milwaukee, I hit a Brewers game vs. the Reds. Seeing a game in a domed stadium (the roof was closed) is a weird feeling. You feel like you’re at the IX Center. The sausage race was a pleasure (as usual) and they have PBR on tap (also a pleasure).

Also, while there, I spent one night at a local establishment that was full of plasma TV’s. The NBA Playoffs were on, but at the end of the game, they put on “Back to School” with Rodney Dangerfield on all of the screens (no sound). I glanced over when the better parts of the movie (Kinison, Robert Downey Jr. in full drug stage, Johnny from The Karate Kid as the rival diver) were on, but made sure to catch the final diving meet. As Dangerfield completed his famous dive, I scanned the bar to see if anyone else had just caught the classic moment. Some guy from across the bar saw me and mouthed “Triple Lindy”. I love it. When I mentioned to my brother-in-law the next day that the bar showed “Back to School”, the first thing he said was “Triple Lindy, right?”. Is there anything else like that, where everyone in the world immediately thinks the same thing about some obscure movie?

Saturday, April 16, 2005

The Other Jake in Progress

Lest anyone think that I'm shamelessly plugging the new John Stamos sitcom (which I can sum up in one sentence: Unbelievably hot girls can't resist Stamos' smirk and charm - chaos ensues.),

I am not. I'm referring to Jake Westbrook. At the beginning of the game, it looked like the Twins were swinging early, knowing that Jake puts it over the plate-making pretty solid contact. Then he had his high throw into center, and suddenly started mowing 'em down. He stayed pitch for pitch with Santana (no easy task) and really had his sink going in the middle of the game. It seems that Westbrook really responds well to adversity and buckles down when things get tough. Let's hope that C.C. and Jason Dangerously (Davis), who seem to get very agitated and unglued when things go wrong, use Westbrook's ability to deal as an example to follow.

Watching Grady "Super" Sizemore (say it out loud, while thinking of Extra Value Meals), it makes me hope that Gonzo's hammy stays tweaked. The comparison of Sizemore to Erstad (which I heard when he was coming up) doesn't do justice to the potential completeness of Grady's game that he shows flashes of.

I hope that the Jose Hernandez in the 3 spot experiment has one test case. I know he kills left handed pitching (allegedly), but he whiffed 3 times, and looked bad each time doing it.

As I said in past reports, the Central should be tight all year, which I'm really looking forward to.

Honey Peralta (the J is silent as far as I'm concerned) has looked a lot more comfortable at short in the past few games. To quote the the great 80's poet, "All we need is just a little patience...patience."

Time to watch the Tribe in a rare day Saturday game, something there should be a LOT more of.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Jake in Progress?

Excellent comments on the last couple of posts, if you haven't clicked on them - please do. While in attendance to Wednesday's game (there were less than 10K there), many things struck me about Jacobs Field and how it has evolved over the course of the last 10 years + 3 games.

-the scoreboard layout was changed this year, making it much easier to read. However, they are a little slow on getting what each player has done in previous at-bats onto the screen because of all of the graphics. While I can always peek over the shoulder of the guy who always sits in front of me who keeps score, I'd rather just have the information readily available.

-Chief Wahoo is no longer a part of Jacobs Field...anywhere. Why is it that the Tribe doesn't embrace their nickname and use it for clever marketing ideas, rather than shunning it like the plague. Are they that afraid of offending that tiny, tiny part of the population who takes offense to the name?

-the new Batters-Eye Bar in Center is brilliant, but they didn't go far enough. It is a great addition to the Market Pavilion (which has very good and cheap, relatively speaking, food) and now the area leading down to center field, next to the Tribe bullpen has tables and seats set up. This area should have been fully cultivated, with the area with tables having TV's and places to buy beer there. Advertise that it's open early and late, make food and beers available for discounted prices before the game and make it a party atmosphere. Name it "The Reservation" and have those girls behind those big tubs selling to the crowd that you want in there, the pre-game Panini's crowd. Have a big machine that sends up smoke signals when the Indians are threatening, make them correspond with John Adams banging on the drum. Make port-a-potties out there that look like teepees. Go all the way! I'm tired of these decent ideas down there being half-baked and not fulfilling their potential. There's a segment of the fanbase that would embrace that atmosphere, love the proximity to the bullpen and center and make that the "place to be" for a game.

-please, get rid of Slider!?! My hate for him grows and his profile seems to grow from year to year. Why can't the Indians have MoonDog (who's not quite as annoying) and the Cavs, oh I don't know, actually have a Cavalier for a mascot?

-I swear that I could get 5 guys together and bring back that party atmosphere at the Jake, while not turning off the segment of the population that the Indians seem so afraid to offend.

On to the actual games - last night, the bats woke up (particularly Pronk and the Stick) to save the team from Elarton and a sweep. I agree with the comment on Alex Cora, I think that the further that the season goes on, the more and more he's going to factor into the future. We'll see if the hitters can figure out Santana tonight and if Jake's sinker is actually sinking.

More to come on steroids in an upcoming post. I have some thoughts on this that may surprise. As a teaser, I've got two words, "Ripped Fuel".

Thursday, April 14, 2005

The Curse of the One Run Game

Another one run loss to the White Sox last night, which makes me wonder who our competition is going to be in the Central this year. The Twins seemed to be the sexy pick going into the season, and they continue to look strong. If injuries mount up for them (Silva, Morneau, Mauer) though, they may be forced to lean a little too heavily on players not quite ready for prime time. The White Sox are an interesting team. At the beginning of the season, I thought that the small ball philosophy that had been adopted wouldn't play itself out, this year at least. But they've gotten solid starting pitching and have squeezed out close games. If their starters hold up, they may be right in the thick of things all year, as well. Finally, the Tigers seem to think that they have as good of a chance as anybody. Dmitri Young said that the Central is a 2 team race, the Tigers and the Tribe. Dmitri might be alone in that corner of thought. I heard Gardenhire on the radio today say that, "everyone says the Central is weak, but we've got some of the best trash-talkers out there." Then, C.C.'s comment hits the wire that he hates the Twins.

Bottom line is that if all of these teams stay in contention, it could be a war of attrition - but also very fun to watch. I think that someone will emerge as a true "rival", complete with bad blood, beanballs, and a full blown Wedge meltdown. The Central hasn't really had that in a while as the Tribe used to run away with the division, followed by the Twins' recent success. I would welcome a rivalry that both teams are equally into. Let's be honest, despite Tribe fans' feelings, no Yankee sees Jacobs Field as enemy territory. My guess is on the Twins, but never underestimate that rat, A.J. Pierzynski.

In other news, Pronk signed a 3 year deal worth $7 million, with a club option for a 4th year. This, like the Martinez signing, is a great move for the Indians, who lock up another player (hopefully) on the upswing of his career for what could turn out to be a true bargain by the end of the contract. As Sheldon Ocker wrote in Sunday's ABJ though, the real test of the Dolan's willingness to spend will come with the Sabathia negotiations. All media outlets are reporting that Shapiro will wait to make sure that C.C. is fully healed and effective before moving forward. I've also heard that Johan Santana's contract will be the model for what C.C. will get. Maybe, if you take a couple million off of each year. Keep in mind that Santana handily won the Cy Young last year and was untouchable in the second half. If C.C. pulls that out of his crooked hat, give him all the money he wants. Until then, proceed with some restraint.

More thoughts on the 2005 changes to the Jake in the next DiaTribe.