Friday, March 30, 2007
That was the question posed by ESPN's Jayson Stark, who today received his membership card in the Indians' ass licking society.
Well, there just happens to be this interconnected network of computers or "interweb", in which old boxscores from last seasons are archived and one can actually see for themselves how something like this could happen. So, here we go, here's how the Cooperstown Indians went 78-84 last year.
Loss #1- at White Sox 10, Indians 4
CC Sabathia exited this game and entered the disabled list in the third inning of this one. Then the Sox lit up reliever Fernando Cabrera for 6 runs in one inning of work.
Loss #2- Mariners 11, at Indians 9
Paul Byrd gets rocked in 3 2/3 and Danny Graves throws gasoline on the fire after that.
Loss #3- Mariners 9, at Indians 5
Indians up 4-0 at one point in this game. Then bullpen gives up 6 runs in 3 innings and offense does nothing after fifth inning.
Loss #4- at Tigers 5, Indians 1
Kenny Rogers coagulates the Indians offense over 8 innings. Tribe leaves 10 baserunners.
Loss #5- at Tigers 1, Indians 0
An unpleasant visit to the island of Dr. Maroth.
Loss #6- at Orioles 18, Indians 9
Cleveland leads this game 4-1 and then 7-3, but Jake Westbrook is incendiary in ugly loss.
Loss #7- at Orioles 9, Indians 4
O's tag Fausto Carmona in 6 run sixth. Carmona is back in rotation this year until Cliff Lee is healthy or they find something better.
Loss #8- at Royals 11, Indians 5
It's a Byrd! It's a plane! It's a shitty starting pitcher!! Still in the rotation this year too.
Loss #9- at Royals 5, Indians 1
Travis Hafner plays canasta in dugout (DNP-MD in this game) while Indians get shut down by Jeremy Affeldt and Elmer Dessens.
Loss #10- at Red Sox 8, Indians 6
Manny hits 3 run bomb in 8th inning off Guillermo Mota to break tie. How's that bullpen this year? Oh yeah, Roberto Hernandez.
Loss #11- Rangers 7, at Indians 5
Fausto Carmona gives up 3 in the first inning and the Indians never recover. I love that he's back in their rotation now.
Loss #12- Rangers 8, at Indians 4
Indians up 4-1 heading into 7th, then Jake Westbrook conks out and Jason Davis (still card carrying member of Indians pen) makes things worse.
Loss #13- at White Sox 8, Indians 6
Konerko hits 3 run homer off Cliff Lee in 1st inning. Indians manage 1 run in 6 innings against Javy Vazquez. Fundamentally sound 4 error game for Indians.
Loss #14- at A's 12, Indians 4
Jason Johnson gets lit up for 7 runs in 2 innings. Indians score only 4 runs on 14 hits.
Loss #15- at Mariners 4, Indians 1
Eric Wedge gives Pronk another rest from his strenuous job of sitting on his ass all day and swinging a bat 3-6 times, and as a result Indians shut down over 8 innings by Joel Pineiro.
Loss #16- at Royals 4, Indians 3
Indians have bases loaded nobody out in 4th inning and manage only 1 run. KC reliever Mike Wood then holds them scoreless for 4 1/3.
Loss #17- at Royals 10, Indians 7
Jason Johnson implodes in 6th inning with Indians leading 6-4. Dutiful bullpen there to make sure Indians bleed out.
Loss #18- at Royals 10, Indians 8
Jake Westbrook bad, but Indians score 3 in 8th to tie game at 8. Enter Guillermo Mota, who gives up dongs to Aaron Guiel and Angel Berroa. Not sure how you can do that without trying to.
Loss #19- Tigers 5, at Indians 4
Wedge leaves Cliff Lee in too long because he has no bullpen, and Tribe loses game in 3 run Tiger 7th.
Loss #20- Tigers 3, at Indians 0
Tribe backs CC Sabathia's 10 strikeout effort with 3 errors and no runs as Jeremy Bonderman shuts them down.
Loss #21- Tigers 3, at Indians 2
Wedge gets six good innings out of the atrocious Jason Johnson, then decides to press his luck in the 7th. Unfortunately he does not get big bucks nor no whammys and Tigers put up a 3 spot. Six losses in a row for Indians.
Loss #22- Pirates 9, at Indians 6
Jason Johnson's vazhin hangs down like wizard's sleeve.
Loss #23- at Twins 6, Indians 5
Guillermo Mota walks leadoff man in 10th and then it's get em over get em in.
Loss #24- at Tigers 8, Indians 3
Jake Westbrook tires in 6th inning, as Jake Westbrook is wont to do, then Jason Davis gives up bases loaded triple to Curtis Granderson to put game out of reach. If I'm an opposing manager facing Jake Westbrook, I tell my players to make him throw as many pitches as possible, if you do that, he's out of there by the 6th inning and then you have Jason Davis to knock around.
Loss #25- at Tigers 3, Indians 1
I'll take this opportunity to point out that the Indians were 6-13 against the Tigers last year. They are the Tigers' bitches, and it's very hard to finish ahead of the team whose bitches you are in the standings.
Loss #26- White Sox 11, at Indians 0
Jim Thome hits 2 bombs, Cliff Lee lasts only 2 2/3. Six shutout innings for Javy Vazquez. Has anyone noticed that the Indians cannot hit Javier Vazquez? I've noticed that.
Loss #27- Angels 10, at Indians 3
Jason Johnson and Guillermo Mota team up to surrender 9 runs in 6 1/3. It is now June and the Indians are still allowing Jason Johnson and Guillermo Mota to poison their season. Ladies and Gentlemen, YOUR 2005 GM of the year, Mark Shapiro. I'm sure that Roberto Hernandez and Joe Borowski are going to work out awesome this year. Shapiro has such a great eye for free agent pitching talent.
Loss #28- Angels 14, at Indians 2
Sabathia and Tribe depantsed on Sunday Night ESPN.
Loss #29- A's 7, at Indians 6
Indians take 6-5 lead in 7th. Scott Sauerbeck starts 8th and before you can say "Breathalyzer" it's 7-6 Oakland.
Loss #30- A's 4, at Indians 1
By the grace of God the Tribe gets 9 decent innings out of Jason Johnson and Fausto Carmona, but they have no answer for Esteban Loaiza.
Loss #31- at White Sox 5, Indians 4
Thome, Konerko, and Dye produce 2 runs to turn a 4-3 Cleveland lead in the 8th inning into a 5-4 Cleveland loss. Those guys don't still play for the White Sox do they? Because they each hit 35+ home runs and had 100+ RBI last year, and from everything I've been reading the White Sox are going to bet terrible this year so they can't possibly still have those guys on the team, right? Cliff Lee walks Thome with one out and then Rafael Betancourt brings the loss home. Indians leave 14 on base.
Loss #32- at White Sox 4, Indians 3
Bob Wickman starts 11th inning with Indians ahead 3-2. Bob Wickman retires nobody who isn't trying to make an out, and walks off with 4-3 loss. I miss Bob Wickman being on the Indians. Seeing him enter a game against the Sox wadd like a guaranteed walkoff victory. I'm sure Joe Borowski will be much better...
Loss #33- at Yankees 1, Indians 0
Loss #34- at Yankees 6, Indians 1
The Indians better hope that Jeremy Sowers is a LOT better than Jason Johnson.
Loss #35- at Brewers 6, Indians 4
CC Sabathia gives up 4 in the first and that’s a wrap. A little-known secret about CC Sabathia is that he is prone to having awful first innings.
Loss #36- at Brewers 3, Indians 2
Wickman walks 2 in ninth inning of 2-1 game and they both score. Meanwhile, I am trying to figure out if the Indians are built more like a fantasy team or a softball team.
Loss #37- at Brewers 6, Indians 3
Since Wickman's not the answer for 9th inning sanity, the Indians stick with Betancourt, who pitched the 8th, in the ninth inning of a 3-3 game. Betancourt puts 2 guys on and gives up a 3 pointer to Carlos Lee. Again, let me emphasize that Joe Borowski and Roberto Hernandez are supposed to be the answer to all this shitty bullpen work.
Loss #38- Cubs 12, at Indians 8
I'd like to know what the thought process was behind keeping Jason Johnson in the rotation this long.
Loss #39- Cubs 9, at Indians 2
9 runs in 2 1/3 for Sabathia. Against the 2006 Cubs. Just once I'd like somebody to mention that this fat man has some really, really bad outings.
Loss #40- Reds 3, at Indians 0
Lizard faced Aaron Harang shuts out the Tribe as they fall 8 games under .500.
Loss #41- Reds 4, at Indians 2
Indians bamboozled by somebody named Elizardo Ramirez a day after being flummoxed by lizard-faced Aaron Harang. 2007 Cy Young Award winner Jeremy Sowers gives up 4 runs in 5 innings. Bring back Jason Johnson.
Loss #42- at Cardinals 5, Indians 4
Indians make 2 errors in ninth inning of game they lead 4-3, and lose. To return to the question asked in loss #35, I'm going to go ahead and say fantasy team. At least defense counts for something in softball.
Loss #43- at Reds 9, Indians 8
You know things are bad when you are losing games to the Reds that you are leading 6-0 in the 8th inning. The bullpen gave up NINE earned runs in the eighth and ninth innings of this game. You know why teams like the Twins are good every year despite not looking good on paper? Because they respect the fact that you need good relief pitching to win. Mark Shapiro does not respect this fact, and the Indians do not win.
Loss #44- Yankees 11, at Indians 3
Paul Byrd lacks the wherewithal to overcome Aaron Boone's 2 errors in 8 run 4th inning.
Loss #45- Yankees 10, at Indians 4
Pretty much just a straight up ass kicking. Pitching and defense both awful (6 earned runs/4 unearned). Cliff Lee horrible, giving up 12 baserunners and 7 runs in 6 innings.
Loss #46- Orioles 7, at Indians 4
7 runs in 3 2/3 for Sowers. If I didn't know better I'd swear Jason Johnson shape-shifted into Jeremy Sowers.
Loss #47- Orioles 5, at Indians 4
Indians erupt for 4 runs in 2nd inning, then do nothing the rest of the game. Bullpen fails to hold 4-3 lead in 7th inning.
Loss #48- at Twins 3, Indians 2
Tribe draws 1 walk against 10 strikeouts, squander rare nice performance by bullpen.
Loss #49- at Twins 6, Indians 2
Ace vs. Ace as Sabathia takes on Santana. Santana 7 innings, 5 hits, 2 runs. Sabathia 8 innings, 13 hits, 6 runs. CC Sabathia is no Johan Santana.
Loss #50- at Twins 5, Indians 2
Somehow the Indians are unable to generate any offense against Carlos Silva. The magical Jeremy Sowers gets raked for 11 hits in 7 innings.
Loss #51- at Angels 10, Indians 5
Westbrook gets torched.
Loss #52- at Angels 7, Indians 5
Angels run away with 5 run fourth inning against Cliff Lee.
Loss #53- Twins 14, at Indians 6
Twins run away with 8th run fourth inning against CC Sabathia. Per Buster Olney, the reason this year's Indians remind him of the 05 World Champion White Sox....starting pitching.
Loss #54- Twins 3, at Indians 1
Indians strike out SEVENTEEN times. Yes, 10 of those were against Francisco Liriano, but 7 of them weren't.
Loss #55- Tigers 9, at Indians 7
Lee has nice 5 run first inning. At this point it's like an automatic loss every time he pitches. Ladies and gentleman, YOUR 2007 Cleveland Indians #2 starter (once he gets off the DL, that is.).
Loss #56- Tigers 4, at Indians 1
Sabathia not up to outdueling pre-dead arm Justin Verlander. Fat man slides to 7-7 on the season. I might be smoking dope but I am pretty sure the Sox had a guy who won 18 games last year against 7 losses. But stupid me, Sabathia is way better than him.
Loss #57- Mariners 3, at Indians 1
Westbrook pitches a real nice game against a team that can't hit. When the Mariners hold you to 1 run at home, I don't know what to tell you. As you'll notice, the Indians have totaled 10 runs in their last 4 losses. Anybody who watched the White Sox play from 2001-2004 can probably tell you why.
Loss #58- Mariners 7, at Indians 3
If I want one guy to pitch a big game against the Indians, I want that guy to be Joel Piniero.
Loss #59- at Red Sox 9, Indians 8
Big Papi hits a walkoff 3 run homer, causing ESPN to ejaculate all over themselves. This is the first major disaster of the "Fausto Carmona-Closer" era.
Loss #60- at Red Sox 6, Indians 5
Carmona serves up a game-losing 2 run double to Mark Loretta. Don't worry about this though, the Indians have that closer problem nailed down this year.
Loss #61- at Tigers 7, Indians 6
Bullpen implodes in 8th inning instead of 9th this time. Betancourt puts men on, and Fernando Cabrera gets them off via the home run.
Loss #62- at Tigers 4, Indians 3
Loss #63- at Tigers 1, Indians 0
7 scoreless innings by Sabathia wasted. Wilfredo Ledezma, Jason Grilli, and Pete Walker proves to be unsolvable riddle. It should be noted that the Indians are 27 1/2 games out of first place at this point. I mean, my God.
Loss #64- Angels 5, at Indians 4
Indians get caught napping on a double steal in 8th inning, setting up game winning single off Betancourt.
Loss #65- at Twins 4, Indians 1
Santana dismisses Tribe. If I squint really hard I can almost see Jerry Manuel sitting in the Indians' dugout.
Loss #66- at Twins 7, Indians 2
You may as well just pack up the bats when Carlos Silva has his A-game.
Loss #67- at Devil Rays 6, Indians 5
When you're trotting out 32 year old rookies (Brian Sikorski) to try and close a game for you, something is wrong. Sikorski coughs up a 5-3 lead in the ninth inning.
Loss #68- at Royals 5, Indians 2
Pretty much everyone goes 1 for 4.
Loss #69- Tigers 7, at Indians 1
Lee doesn't give Indians a chance.
Loss #70- at Rangers 5, Indians 2
At this point it's September and the Tribe are rolling out a 4A lineup, so whatever.
Loss #71- at Blue Jays 4, Indians 3
Meh outing from CC and Indians can pretty much only score on solo home runs in this game because they draw only 2 walks against 10 K's.
Loss #72- at Blue Jays 3, Indians 2
Ted Lilly shows why the Cubs paid him 100 trillion dollars.
Loss #73- at White Sox 7, Indians 6
Indians get 3 in the ninth off Jenks, then pull drunk guy out of Bullpen Bar to cough up lead in bottom half.
Loss #74- at White Sox 10, Indians 8
Fausto Carmona starts this game. The Indians scored 7 runs in the 7th inning and were still losing by 2, so that should tell you how he did. Don't forget, he's opening the season as the #5 for YOUR Cleveland Indians.
Loss #75- Royals 5, at Indians 3
Sowers gives up 4 runs in 5 innings. Ladies and Gentlemen. Every starting pitcher the Indians make is exactly the same except for CC Sabathia, just sooo average, they're like the Stepford Rotation.
Loss #76- Royals 6, at Indians 2
I think Westbrook gives up more than 10 hits more times out than not.
Loss #77- Twins 9, at Indians 4
The Indians used NINE pitchers in this game. I imagine if Tony LaRussa were to manage a game drunk it would be something like this.
Loss #78- Twins 4, at Indians 1
There is no known cure for Carlos Silva!!
Loss #79- Twins 6, at Indians 1
I will take this opportunity to mention that new third baseman Andy Marte cannot hit major league pitching at this point in his life. Every boxscore I look at here he's like 0 for 3, 1 for 4 .
Loss #80- at A's 7, Indians 3
Cliff Lee gives another solidly mediocre performance.
Loss #81- at A's 4, Indians 3
Carmona actually pitched 6 really good innings here, but this one's another bullpen loss.
Loss #82- at A's 7, Indians 4
Sabathia gives up 7 runs in 5 1/3. He's now 11-11. If that isn't a bona fide ace I don't know what is.
Loss #83- at Rangers 12, Indians 4
I find this game notable because Nick Masset pitched the final inning, and struck out Grady Sizemore and Casey Blake. I KNOW that Kenny Williams knows this.
Here the Indians catch FIYAH!!! They have their best stretch of the season and win 8 of 9 to close out the year. I will footnote this though, by saying that 4 of those 8 wins came against a D-Rays team that went 3-33 on the road after July 1. Seriously, 3-33, I looked it up.
The Indians did lose one more game though:
Loss #84- at White Sox 2, Indians 1
Both teams had called it quits by this point, and this game was called after 8 innings. Brandon McCarthy struck out 8 in what proved to be his finaly White Sox appearance.
So there you have it. THAT's how the Indians lost 84 games. Their bullpen sucked and their rotation wasn't good enough to mask that. The bullpen still sucks, possibly more so even, and the Indians are still pretending that CC Sabathia is an ace and Cliff Lee and Jake Westbrook are anything more than 4th or 5th starters on a contender. I keep reading stuff like "Oh their Pythagorean run differential says they should have won a lot more games last year".
Well, no, they shouldn't have.
They had plenty of chances to win a lot more games last year, but they couldn't find anyone that could get anyone out in the 7th thru 9th innings, so they didn't. If Sabathia, Lee, Westbrook, and Byrd could have pitched well enough so those games weren't close to being with, maybe it wouldn't have mattered as much. But they kept both teams in the game, and set the Indians up to lose in the late innings. I don't see how any of that's going to change this year.
So, if this is true, this is way more serious than "a tired arm". If it's a blood clot, that's pretty major. They can treat it with blood thinners, but it's definitely something that will be and should be closely monitored.
A hell of a lot of bad-ass news for the Tigers. In a development that confounds all baseball experts, the one team in the Major Leagues who are deemed to have no weaknesses, saw Kenny Rogers, their 43 year old ace who threw over 200 innings in the regular season and playoffs last year, go on the DL with a "tired arm".
Buster Olney was reached at his home and said, "I am shocked. I thought the Tigers were rock solid with this old, old man at the top of their rotation. I never would have imagined that a man old enough to be a grandfather could have a tired arm. Now, if you would have told me Mark Buehrle, a 28 year old guy who is obviously well past his prime and has lost an all important couple of miles of hour off his fastball, was going on the DL, I would have no problem with that. But this is unbelievable. What a tragedy that the Tigers have been blindsided by this injury to their geriatric ace."
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Here are some nuggets of disinformation I got from this:
"One of the big four in the AL Central has to falter. Because of potential cracks in the rotation, don't be surprised if _______"
So, if I were to fill in the blank here, my guess would be this sentence is in reference to the Twins, who have Ramon Ortiz (11-16 5.57 ERA), Sidney Ponson (4-5 6.25 ERA), Carlos Silva (11-15 5.94 ERA), penciled into their starting rotation.
Silly me, it's not the Twins though, it's the White Sox, who instead of having 3 guys who had ERAs in 2006 over 5.50 in their rotation have nobody whose ERA was over 5. THEY are the ones with the rotation problems according to the Sporting News, not the team that is fucking relying on Sidney Ponson to pitch 200 innings for them. OK, that makes perfect sense.
Here's another snippet of wisdom:
"The best third-place team in the majors will come up just short in the pitching department and won't be able to overtake the Twins and Tigers."
This is in reference to the Indians, who are SUCH a good third place team that they finished 12 games out of third place last year.
"A deep rotation, POWER ARMS in the bullpen, and the addition of Gary Sheffield make Detroit the only team in the majors without a weakness."
YES...no weaknesses!!! Like a machine they are!! (A machine that went under .500 the last 3 months of a year , and coughed up a 10 game lead in its division.) I look at them and it's like looking at Ivan Drago or something. Completely unstoppable (except when they are stoppable, like stoppable by an 83-79 team and probably worst league champion ever). And Gary Sheffield!! Ho, ho, what's not to like about getting (a 39 year old clubhouse cancer who is in the midst of a Sammy Sosa/Mark McGwire-esque late career, my body is quitting on me after all the steroids spiral into the abyss??) him?
Seriously, I'm not really big on the whole "media disrepects us" thing that every single team and their fans feels about themselves, but, I'm going to say, the White Sox are being disrespected to the point that the things people are writing about them and the other teams in their division make completely no sense. It's like people are to the point of just making shit up to justify the boner they have for the Indians, Twins, or Tigers.
Oh, and they also pick the PHILLIES to go to the World Series. That's neither here nor there, but I think that is useful background info as far as considering the source goes.
If the Sox aren't reading this bullshit, they should be, because I don't even play for them and it makes me angry. They need to read it and get angry too.
Last night I am watching SportsCenter, and Buster Olney throws in his two cents on the Indians, and bestows this nonsense on me. This isn't verbatim, but I will use quotes nonetheless:
"The Indians remind me a lot of the White Sox in 05, and the Tigers in 06. The reason why is starting pitching. They have CC Sabathia, who was one of the best starters in baseball last year, and Jeremy Sowers, who could be a good starter by the end of the year." End communication.
Okay so the Indians remind you of two teams that went to the World Series the last two years, and you say this because you like their starting pitching. Then you tell me they basically have one good starting pitcher and 3 schmoes you didn't bother to mention, and a fifth starter who might be good by the end of the year. And this reminds you of the 05 Sox and 06 Tigers staffs how????
You know whose rotations remind me of the White Sox and Tigers rotations? THE FUCKING WHITE SOX AND TIGERS....who play in the same division as the Indians.
Christ, I feel like I'm taking crazy pills with this Cleveland circle jerk.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Also, Toby Hall on the other side of town has a torn labrum. Time to bring back Sandy Alomar Jr.
In a non-related story.. Theismann gets booted off the island of Kornheiser, Tirico & Theismann. He will be replaced by "Jaws", Ron Jaworski.
Kerry Wood injures himself getting out of a hot tub, and all I can picture is that beer-tub with an outboard motor attached from Major League. He's in line to be the next Ricky Vaughn, he just needs some 50's style specticles.Check out how fast the pitchers and catchers are this year compared to last year. Aramis Ramirez is hustling also. I think that calls for a restructuring of his new contract.
You may not know this, but baseball players are subjected to standardized testing to quantify their knowledge of the game. Here is Mark Prior's answer to question 3, some simple geometry. No wonder he's having trouble finding the plate.
Since January, we've seen the last hurray of Glendon Rusch. His locker postcard of "Tina Eat" from Napolean Dynomite and Michael Barrett rookie card most likely was destroyed like Sammy's boombox.
Camp is breaking soon.. more to come in the days and months ahead....
In 16 2/3 innings this spring, the 21 year old lefty has given up 17 hits, and only 4 walks against 12 strikeouts.
Meanwhile, certain future Hall of Famer Brandon McCarthy has a 10.45 ERA in 10 1/3 innings with the Rangers this spring, and leads the Rangers staff with 5 home runs allowed. He's also walked or hit 9 batters while striking out 11.
So, at least judging by this spring training, which of course you probably shouldn't judge anything by, the Sox robbed the Rangers blind in this Danks for McCarthy trade.
A caveat on this though, the Sox would like Nick Masset to be better than he's been this spring. 16 baserunners in 9 2/3 innings and a 6.52 ERA is not so good.
Friday, March 23, 2007
Mike Sirotka Freddy Garcia
This from the Philadelphia Inquirer today:
"The Phillies say they don't believe Freddy Garcia was damaged goods when he came over from the White Sox in December. Garcia said that he hoped to be ready by the team's April 2 season opener, but it is difficult to imagine that he will not begin the season on the disabled list."
Noooooo, Freddy wasn't damaged goods. The Sox just had a master plan of replacing somebody 1 1/2 years removed from pitching a complete game victory in the pivotal Game 4 of the ALCS, and 7 scoreless innings to pick up the win in a World Series clinching 1-0 victory (and if that weren't enough also happens to be their popular manager's BFF), for your piece of shit failed prospect Gavin Floyd because they are retards and everyone knows you win championships by being retarded. I don't know why you would have ever suspected something may have been wrong with Freddy Garcia.
You shouldn't bitch and moan when you pay 500 dollars for a brand new Escalade at a police auction, then you get shot full of holes while driving it because Aquavelva the Crack Dealer thinks that you are Lysol the Meth Dealer who has been horning in on his clientele. Know what I'm sayin? You get what you pay for.
Let me preface this by saying 2 things:
1. I'm not sure but it looks to me like Joe Carter is wearing wristbands with a picture of his own face on them. If that is the case, I want a pair of wristbands with my own picture on them like, now.
2. Look at Corey Snyder's arms. Corey Snyder was supposedly a power hitter back in 80s. Here in the future, there are guys on Dancing With the Stars with biceps twice the size Corey Snyder's are in this picture, and I'm talking about the ones who are professional ballroom dancers, not Emmitt Smith. Geez didn't they have gyms 20 years ago?
So, using this Indians 1987 SI cover to segue into the main topic:
Yesterday my SI baseball preview issue comes in the mail..and the first thing I do is flip to the AL Central section. As the pages flip between my carpal tunnel syndrome riddled fingers, I keep thinking to myself, "I bet they fucking picked Cleveland", and then, lo and behold, there it is, SI picks Cleveland to win the AL Central and has them pegged as the 7th best team in baseball.
Which leads me to ask the obvious question of "what are they basing this on"? (The other obvious question being "How can SI think that the best team in the AL Central is only the 7th best in MLB?")
Last year the Indians finished 12 games out, of THIRD PLACE, in the AL Central. By saying that the Indians are the favorite this year despite that fact, SI is telling me that in the offseason the Indians have somehow closed a 19 game gap on the Twins, an 18 game gap on the Tigers, and a 12 game gap on the Sox.
You would think that for a prestigious publication like SI to predict such an unlikely improvement by a team, that team must have made some really bold moves in the offseason, moves that change the entire complexion of the team. Well, let's see how this year's supposed AL Central champion Tribe will differ from last year's sub .500 little Indians.
1. Casey Blake moves from right field to 1st base, where he will platoon with Ryan Garko. Last year Ben Broussard got the majority of the innings at 1st base. The net effect of this is more ABs for Ryan Garko, and none for Broussard, who I think is in Seattle now or something.
Broussard .793 career OPS
Garko .825 OPS in 06, his rookie year
So that's a slight upgrade. But last I checked two of the best hitting first basemen in baseball, Paul Konerko and Justin Morneau, are also in this division, so the Indians aren't making up a double digit gap on 3 teams on the strength of Ryan Garko.
2. Josh Barfield replaces Ronnie Belliard as the second baseman. Belliard had a .757 OPS with the Indians last year, while Barfield was at .741. Defensively they are pretty much the same. So I don't see an improvement here except that Barfield is younger and possibly has more upside, although the flip side of that is at least Belliard is a known quantity.
3. Andy Marte replaces Aaron Boone at 3rd base. Marte is a rookie who struck out in 20% of his appx. 200 plate appearances in his stint in the bigs last year. To me he seems like Joe Crede before Joe Crede got good, which, of course, is bad. In fairness though, Aaron Boone was terrible last year so the Tribe could put me at third base and it would be an upgrade.
4. They've added David Dellucci to platoon with Jason Michaels in left field. So now, by my count, that's two positions you kind of depend on for offensive production that they don't have anybody good enough to play every day in (1st base being the other).
5. Trot Nixon will move into the right field spot formerly occupied by Blake. People who have made their careers hitting in Fenway often go on to great success after leaving the Red Sox, just look at, uh, er, Brian Daubach. So while the 3 teams the Indians have to surpass have Michael Cuddyer (.284/24 HR/109 RBI), Magglio Ordonez (.298/24 HR/104 RBI), and Jermaine Dye (.315/44 HR/120 RBI) in right field, the SI favored Indians have Trot Nixon (.268/8/52). Okay then.
6. Joe Borowski moves into the closer role which was held by Bob Wickman until he was traded midway thru last season. Borowski would have been a Phillie this year instead of an Indian, if only he could have passed his physical, which he couldn't. So, as you can see, this 36 year old with a Kerry Wood-esque injury rap sheet is a super-reliable option at closer, and that's IF he retains the effectiveness he had last year, which is in itself a big if as he was released by the Devil Rays, MLB's last chance saloon, in 2005 before resurrecting his career on last year's real life version of Major League Florida Marlins, something he wouldn't have had the opportunity to do if there wasn't a team in the league like the Marlins who seem hell bent on achieving a 6 figure team payroll, I'm sure this is a run on sentence but that is the beauty of the internet.
7. 24 year old lefty Jeremy Sowers will be in the rotation full time. He was 9-1 with 1.39 ERA in AAA last year, and 7-4 3.57 in 14 starts with the Indians last year. So that's pretty exciting. But before you go thinking he's going to have a Francisco Liriano-like effect on this team, consider that he struck out only 35 batters in 89 innings last season. His best case scenario with stuff like that is that he puts up Mark Buehrle numbers this year, and the Sox already have a Mark Buehrle, so tell me where the advantage is there.
Based on these offseason changes, I am going to draw the conclusion that they aren't closing the wide chasm between them and the top 3 teams in the division based on what they added this offseason.
So, Option B is that their stars just underperformed last year, or were injured, and with everything back the way it should be this year, the Indians will win the best division in baseball.
OK, let's test that.
Catcher Victor Martinez had an .856 OPS, hit .316, and had 93 RBI. If you're expecting much more than that out of your catcher, you are expecting too much.
Grady Sizemore led the league in runs scored with 134. Can't ask much more than that out of your leadoff hitter.
Travis Hafner hit .308 with 42 HR and 117 RBI.
SS Jhonny Peralta's average fell 35 points from 2005, and he hit half as many home runs. On the flip side, when you swing so hard that you are a shortstop in a shortstop's body and you still strike out 150 times a year, you can in fact tend to run hot and cold like that.
Alright, so really if you don't count Peralta, who is not a proven star anyway, the Indians money players actually played up to potential last year. So you can't say they finished under .500 because of injured or underachieving superstars, because that was clearly not the case.
Hmmm..well then, clearly last year's disastrous season was a result of injuries and poor performances in the starting rotation then, right?
-Ace CC Sabathia's ERA was actually almost a full run LOWER in 06 than in 05, and at 3.22 was the BEST OF HIS CAREER.
-#2 Jake Westbrook lowered his ERA from 05's 4.49 to 4.17, and again pitched 200+ innings.
- Cliff Lee pitched over 200 innings also, and his 4.40 ERA was only .01 higher than his 4.39 career ERA, so you got a pretty much dead on approximation of what he actually is in 06. Oh yeah, and he's starting the season on the DL, so I'm sure he's going to have an awesome year this year because injuries to starting pitchers just heal up so easily and quickly, and they always come back and are just as good as they were before they got hurt. Just look at Mark Prior.
- Paul Byrd was added to the staff for the 06 season because of the fact that he had a game in the playoffs where he pitched OK against the White Sox. In his first season in Cleveland, he was pretty much not good.
His 4.88 ERA was .50 higher than his career ERA, but there is also an old saying that when pitchers get old like Paul Byrd and have missed almost 2 of the last 4 whole seasons in a row due to injury like Paul Byrd has, these things can happen. Byrd, by the way, is still a part of the Indians rotation in 07, and now that Lee is starting the season on the DL, he's their #3 starter. So, the division favorite's #3 starter is Paul Byrd, while teams picked to finish behind them have a guy that went 18-7 last year (Jon Garland), and 17-9 (Justin Verlander) in that same slot (as assigned by Baseball Prospectus.com).
Based on this I see that Cleveland actually got a career best season out of their ace last year, pretty much on-target performances from their 2 and 3, and a disappointing but durable year out of a fading, old #4 starter. This doesn't seem like a prescription for disaster to me.
So, to summarize, here is why I feel SI and anyone else who is peeing their pants over the Indians this season is wrong:
1. Cleveland finished 10+ games behind THREE teams in their division last year.
2. By picking them to win that division this year, you are saying they have, in the last 4 months, improved their team to the point where they will leapfrog three other competitors that they were much, much worse than last year.
3. Possible reasons that could be true:
a. Offseason acquisitions
- No. The Indians are not upgraded at any position with the possible exception of having Jeremy Sowers as their 4th starter for a full season.
b. Return to form of injured or underachieving superstars
- Sorry. Hafner, Sizemore, Martinez, and Sabathia all had great seasons last year and the Indians still sucked.
c. Weird Cub-like calamities in the pitching rotation happened last season that won't happen again this year
- Can't say that's true either. As I already mentioned, Sabathia was great last year, the #2 and #3 pitched pretty much at their exact potential, and the #4 pitched like the aging mediocre pitcher he is. This year, that solid #3 starts the year on the DL, and you've still got Noodle-Arm McGee and his old balls penciled in for 30 starts this year in the 4 slot.
Based on this there is no logical reason to justify saying Cleveland is going to go from finishing 18 games out of first place in 2006, more than 10 games behind 3 other teams, to 0 games out and behind no other teams in 2007. Barring the Minnesota, Detroit, and White Sox team planes all colliding with each other in midair and killing everyone on board there is no way this can happen given the facts behind it.
SI is seemingly basing this pick on the logic that:
A. This team was good in 2005
B. They have pretty much the same players they had in 2005
C. They'll be good in 2007
I'm saying this pick is bullshit based on the logic that:
A. This team sucked in 2006
B. They have pretty much the same players they had in 2006
C. They will suck in 2007
Since my logic is based on more recent data, my logic wins.
I may not know much, but I have seen a lot of bullshit in my day, so I know bullshit when I see it, and the idea that Indians will win the AL Central this year is bullshit.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Meanwhile, the most significant development this week has been that it looks like John Danks will open the season as the much-discussed fifth horseman in the Sox rotation.
Gavin Floyd is making the Freddy Garcia trade look like a potential disaster, but the Brandon McCarthy deal really is looking like a stroke of genius right now. Danks is a big 21 year old left hander who, if things break right, could be the Sox' ace as early as 2009. The other pitcher in the trade, Nick Masset, is expected to be a big contributor in the bullpen this season, and probably will be a rotation member by 2008.
So now that we are up to speed, at let's continue our survey of ourselves, and our competition by looking at what probably will be the starting outfielders for each of the AL Central teams when we open up in a couple of weeks.
LF- SCOTT PODSEDNIK .262 AVG/3 HR/45 RBI/40 SB/.685 OPS
CF- DARRIN ERSTAD .221 AVG/0 HR/5 RBI/1 SB/ .607 OPS
RF- JERMAINE DYE .315 AVG/44 HR/120 RBI/7 SB/ 1.007 OPS
Jermaine Dye just had a frigging insane season last year, and unless he is making a late-career charge towards Cooperstown, there is no way he is putting up numbers like that again this year. Yes, stranger things have happened, but when I look at Jermaine I do not see a giant, wobbling head on top of his shoulders, so I don't think he's been chasing sweet lady HGH, which means he may come back to Earth this year.
The other two outfield positions are a disaster area. Darrin Erstad has had a nice spring, but if you're counting on him to be the #1 center fielder (which, judging from the never ending stream of Aaron Rowand rumors, the Sox aren't), that's a problem. Podsednik is in danger of losing his starting job as well if he doesn't produce immediately, as the Sox have a long list of outfield prospects (Josh Fields, Jerry Owens, Ryan Sweeney, and the apparently resurrected Luis Terrerro) itching to take his spot.
LF- RONDELL WHITE .246 AVG/7 HR/38 RBI/1 SB/ .641 OPS
CF- TORII HUNTER .278 AVG/31 HR/98 RBI/12 SB/.839 OPS
RF- MICHAEL CUDDYER .284 AVG/24 HR/109 RBI/6 SB/ .866 OPS
White is a horrible person to have in your starting outfield at this point in his career , but Hunter and Cuddyer more than make up for that. The 28 year old Cuddyer had by far the best season of his career last year, and if it wasn't a fluke, then the Twins have themselves a good right fielder. Hunter (along with Johan Santana) has been the bane of the White Sox' fan's existence during this decade. The good news for us is that he's playing out his option this year, and is as good as gone after this season, maybe even, dare I say, gone to the South Side of Chicago (he's a Chicago native after all)??
LF CRAIG MONROE .255 AVG/28 HR/92 RBI/2 SB/.783 OPS
CF CURTIS GRANDERSON .260 AVG/19 HR/68 RBI/8 SB/.773 OPS
RF MAGGLIO ORDONEZ .298 AVG/24 HR/104 RBI/1 SB/.827 OPS
None of these guys are far above league average for their positions, but they are all solid. Monroe is probably the most dependable offensive producer of the 3, having stepped up his RBI totals from the 70s to the 80s to the 90s in the last 3 seasons. Granderson is a defensive whiz who has overtaken Torii Hunter as the best defensive centerfielder in the division, and Magglio had a nice bounceback year in 06 after combining for 17 home runs total in injury plagued 04 and 05 seasons. Marcus Thames is the 4th outfielder and he can mash, don't forget about him either.
LF DAVID DELLUCCI .292 AVG/13 HR/39 RBI/1 SB/.899 OPS
CF GRADY SIZEMORE .290 AVG/28 HR/76 RBI/22 SB/.908 OPS
RF TROT NIXON .268 AVG/8 HR/52 RBI/0 SB/.642 OPS
I'm really not understanding all the Cleveland love I've been hearing about this spring. I guess all you have to do is horribly underachieve one year to make yourselves the sexy pick to go the World Series the next. I'll tell you this, with their bullpen and suspect rotation, they'll need to be solid at every single position on the field to contend, and I'm not sure David Dellucci and Trot Nixon fit that definition.
LF MARK TEAHEN .290 AVG/18 HR/69 RBI/10 SB/.874 OPS
CF DAVID DEJESUS .295 AVG/8 HR/56 RBI/6 SB/.810 OPS
RF EMIL BROWN .287 AVG/15 HR/81 RBI/6 SB/.815 OPS
Pretty damn solid if you ask me. The Royals have a nice little group of position players, and it's really too bad for them that their pitching rotation is so eternally atrocious, otherwise they'd probably be the best team in the National League, if they played in the National League, which they don't.
1. TIGERS (MONROE, GRANDERSON, ORDONEZ)
2. TWINS (WHITE, HUNTER, CUDDYER)
3. ROYALS (TEAHEN, DEJESUS, BROWN)
4. INDIANS (DELLUCCI, SIZEMORE, NIXON)
5. SOX (PODSEDNIK, ERSTAD, DYE)
Friday, March 9, 2007
I know it's exhibition season, but I don't think it's so much to ask to not have the most losses of any major league team at this point, but here we are.
Gavin Floyd, who was looking like he would be the mystery 5th member of the starting rotation after a strong first start, got shelled for 6 runs in 3 innings yesterday, so now it seems we're back to square one and have no idea who is capable of of not making an Arnie Munoz out themselves in that role.
Meanwhile, our outfield situation and the rapid disintegration of Brian Anderson's career has us once again reportedly trying to get Aaron Rowand back from the Phillies, with a rumored deal including Boone Logan being on the table according to the Sun-Times.
An AL Central injury note, KC's second baseman Mark Grudzielanek is having his knee scoped and may miss a couple of months. This probably means Esteban German will be the Royals Opening Day second baseman instead of third baseman, while Mark Teahen will move back to third base instead of being in left field.
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
If there were any justice in the world, the Sox should make sure all his paychecks arrive on time, up until about 2/3 of the way thru the contract, at which point everything should start getting all fucked up to the point that they actually start deducting money from his checking account, or sending his check to Guatemala or something like that.
Vazquez celebrated his new paper yesterday by getting lit up for the second time in as many spring starts, this time giving up 4 runs in 3 innings on 6 hits in a 6-3 loss to the Rockies.
Tuesday, March 6, 2007
SOX- JOE CREDE .283/30 HR/94 RBI 76 R 0 SB .828 OPS
Crede is going to be a free agent after this season, and assuming he stays healthy this year, is going to get paid a lot of money in his next contract. I'm here to tell you it should be the Sox paying it to him. Teams struggle for decades to find an anchor at third base, then throw all kinds of money at lazy ass losers like Aramis Ramirez when they find someone who is halfway decent. Crede is a great fielder, a constantly improving hitter, and someone who seems to rise to the occasion at the biggest possible moments. If he played for the Yankees the way he did for the White Sox, he'd have to deal with Derek Jeter type fellating from the media. I know the Sox have another third baseman in the pipeline in Josh Fields, but I'd much rather see Crede at third and Fields in left for the next five years than Fields at third and who knows what in left field.
TWINS- NICK PUNTO .290/1/45 73 R 17 SB .725 OPS
If the Twins win 90+ games again with this piece of shit lineup and Sidney Ponson in their rotation, so help me God, I will set myself on fire.
TIGERS- BRANDON INGE .253/27/83 83 R 7 SB .776 OPS
He looks like he's about 12 years old in his MLB mug shot, but he can play. He's turned into a good hitter, and a surprisingly good third baseman considering he broke in as a catcher.
INDIANS- ANDY MARTE- .226/5/23 20 R 0 SB .707 OPS
Baseball Prospectus had him ranked the #1 prospect in all of baseball not too long ago, and he's still just that, a prospect. He didn't set the world on fire in 50 games in the bigs last year. When his skull fully hardens and he's a veteran, he'll probably put up Brandon Inge type numbers.
ROYALS- ESTEBAN GERMAN .326/3/34 44 R 7 SB .880 OPS
German had the best 279 at bats of his life last year. He took over as the Royals full time third baseman in September, and hit 10 doubles in one month, which is a lot. Nobody expects him to hit .320 over a full season, but there's no reason to believe he can't be decent.
1. CREDE SOX
2. INGE DET
3. MARTE CLE
4. GERMAN KC
5. PUNTO MIN
Monday, March 5, 2007
These comments resulted in much harumphing and gasping about how Ozzie could say such things about one of his ex-players (never mind that he has said far worse about guys like Magglio Ordonez, who did a lot more for the Sox than McCarthy ever would have).
Meanwhile, I kept thinking that everyone was missing the point that the guy who should really be concerned about what Ozzie said was Brian Anderson, who, after all, still plays for Ozzie, while McCarthy does not. In my mind, in the span of that one radio show Anderson went from potential starting center fielder, to the state of living career death that Sean Tracey has been in since he failed to play his role in Ozzie's lover's spat with Vicente Padilla last summer.
So this got the weekend started on a bad note, and it didn't get much better when the Sox fell to 0-4 in Cactus League play after a 10-3 drubbing by the D-Backs, which saw Opening Day starter Jose Contreras allow 7 baserunners and 2 runs in 2 innings.
Saturday and Sunday brought happier news, though. First, Gavin Floyd made his first spring appearance, and held Arizona to 1 run in 3 innings in a 6-5 Sox win. Not lights out, but not bad compared to how everyone else has pitched this spring. Then on Sunday, Jon Garland rebounded from a horrible first spring outing to throw 3 shutout innings, and the Sox hit 5 home runs, including 2 by Jermaine Dye, in a 13-2 rout of the Cubs. Also encouraging in this game were the 4 innings of shutout relief by John Danks, Gio Gonzalez, David Aardvark, and Andrew Sisco.
McCarthy made his Rangers debut on Sunday. He whiffed 4 Royals in 2 innings. Probably because he was drunk and it gave him magic powers.
Friday, March 2, 2007
Meanwhile, 3 of the competitors for the much coveted 5th starter spot saw action yesterday:
- Charlie Haeger pitched a scoreless 3rd and 4th inning against the Rockies.
- Lance Broadway, who has a name that should be used by a pro wrestler with a gay tap dancer gimmick, walked 3 in 2 1/3 innings and gave up a solo home run.
- Gio Gonazlez pitched the 8th inning against the Diamondbacks and struck out 2 Arizona scrubs.
So at this point, I've got Haeger in the lead for that spot.
Thursday, March 1, 2007
JUAN URIBE- SOX- .235 AVG/21 HR/71 RBI/ 53 R 1 SB/ .698 OPS
Uribe had an on base percentage of .257 last year. 257 is an unacceptable on base percentage for anyone who is not a pitcher or a bat boy. That and he was accused of shooting someone in the DR this winter. Yet, we as Sox fans continue to obsess over who our fifth starter will be, oblivious to the fact we have a terrible excuse for a shortstop.
JASON BARTLETT- MIN- .309/2/32/ 44 R 10 SB/ .760 OPS
The Twins had so much faith in Bartlett that instead of making him their Opening Day shortstop last year they went with the God-awful 35 year old Juan Castro. Then they found themselves 10 games under .500 in June, decided to throw in the towel on the season and give Bartlett and other not-quite prospects like him enough rope to hang themselves and play them everyday, and went 70-5 the rest of the way to win the AL Central. The Twins have what the French call Le Horseshoe Up Le Derrierre.
CARLOS GUILLEN- DET- .320/19/85/ 100 R 20 SB/ .920 OPS
He had an MVP type season last year, but has been injury prone and drinky throughout his career. He lost about a year and a half of his career to a bout with tuberculosis. This year, I predict whooping cough.
JHONNY PERALTA- CLE- .257/13/68/ 84 R 0 SB/ .708 OPS
Who wouldn't want a shortstop who strikes out 150 times a season? I think "Jhonny Peralta" is Dominican for "Jose Valentin".
ANGEL BERROA- KC- .234/9/54/ 45 R 3 SB/ .592 OPS
Can't hit, can't field. He once was AL Rookie of the Year. Kind of like how Cuba Gooding Jr. once won an Oscar, then went on to star in Boat Trip.
1. GUILLEN- DET
2. PERALTA- CLE
3. BARTLETT- MIN
4. URIBE- SOX
5. BERROA- KC
- Mark Buehrle started and gave up 4 runs on 6 hits in 2 innings. This caused me to go into my pantry and look at the Wheaties box from 2005 that has Buehrle on it. At the rate he is going, Buehrle has a better chance of starring in a movie about the life of Count Chocula than being on another Wheaties box in his lifetime.
- Jon Garland followed and picked up his teammate by taking the focus off of Buehrle, pitching twice as badly. Garland gave up 7 runs on 8 hits in two innings.
- Our next performer on this American Idol-esque parade of suck was Bobby Jenks, who walked a batter and then exited with shoulder tightness.
- Mike MacDougal replaced Jenks, with the way things were going for Sox pitchers on this day I kept waiting for him to have a stroke on the mound, but thankfully that did not happen.
The Sox lost 12-4. John Danks made his first appearance in a Sox uniform, and gave up 1 run in 2 innings.