Monday, May 5

Moving On

The Tribe situation may not need to be discussed at this time but just so we're all on the same page, let's review, shall we?

The Indians currently have a record of 14-17 (.452) having dropped their last two games to the Royals of Missouri City, and are 5-5 over their last 10. As of 1936 hours EDT they were 2.5 games back of the AL Central lead and 0.5 games ahead of the only team trailing them in the division, Detroit.

Really the offense is to blame for much of the team's woes. Starting pitching and the bullpen are not without their share of the blame, with Cliff Lee holding as many wins (5) as the rest of the starting six combined; Sabathia (1), Byrd (1), Westbrook (1), Carmona (3), Laffey (0), Sowers (0). But some extent (be it large or huge) of that can be traced back to the offense as well.

So what to do? Well, the Indians front office made at least somewhat of a move today by announcing that they plan to designate for assignment Jason Michaels and call up Ben Francisco from AAA.

“This one transaction is not going to solve all our offensive woes,” Indians GM Mark Shapiro said Monday. “Jason Michaels was certainly not the primary cause. We just feel it’s time for us, where we can, to start to make some small moves that might help. But the answers to our offensive issues lie within."

Surely this single move won't totally reverse the fortunes of the Erie Warriors immediately but something had to be done and this seemed the first obvious first step. Other options included signing Barry Bonds or taking the team behind a shed and. . . I mean "sending them to a nice farm out in the country," but I'm sure those weren't seriously considered after the brainstorming phase.

So, looking forward: what is coming up for the Tribe? They take on the Yankees of New Amsterdam in a three games series in the Bronx. Both the Tuesday and Wednesday games are 7:05 PM starts with Wednesday's being broadcast on ESPN. Thursday's matchup is a 1:05 PM day game, I'm sure I'll have to try to remember to listen to at work. As a quick aside if you go to any MLB team's schedule you may notice a certain man in a hat prominently displayed on the 22nd of May.

Pitching matchups for the forthcoming series:

Game 1: Fausto Carmona, RHP (3-1, 2.60) vs. Andy Pettitte, LHP (3-3, 3.93)
Game 2: Cliff Lee, LHP (5-0, 0.96) vs. Chien-Ming Wang, RHP (6-0, 3.00)
Game 3: Paul Byrd, RHP (1-2, 3.74) vs. Mike Mussina, RHP (4-3, 4.23)

Obviously the Wednesday night ESPN game will be interesting given the records of the two starters. Unfortunately the last time Wang pitched against the Tribe, the robots that replaced our offensive players decided to make Wang look like the second coming of Sandy Koufax or Bob Gibson, take your pick.

This is the start of 13 straight games for the Tribe, with the Indians returning home to face the Blue Jays (4), A's (3), and then off to the Nati for the final three. Here's to hoping this is a turning point for this team, in a good way.

Go Tribe!


Andy said...

Quick run differential stats:

2007: scored 5.01 per game, allowed 4.35.
2008: scoring 4.25 per game, allowing 4.13.

The pitching has actually been better this year than last but the offense is considerably worse. So you're right, the blame for the slow start lies mostly with the offense.

I like Indy as much as the next guy, but that's really unnecessary.

I'll go with Gibson, since both he and Wang are RHP.

JHH said...

Andy, good call on Gibson. I'm not a huge fan of writing about stats, but here's a few I left out.

The starting rotation currently sports a 3.70 ERA, which ranks 4th in the AL. The starters have allowed just 29ER in their last 100.0IP (2.61 ERA) over their last 15G. Lee (0.96) leads the Majors in ERA and Carmona (.2.60) is 6th.

Shapiro said that the starting pitching and parity in the AL Central are the two saving graces (I hate that phrase, especially pluralized) of this team.

Ernest said...

My diminished, realistic expectations for the Tribe offense involve EVERY starter (aside from Victor) drifting up to the level of mediocrity that they usually achieve. Think about it. Garko, Peralta, Blake, Delluci, now Hafner, probably Gutierrez, even Sizemore are pretty much all, over the last few years, .270-.280ish, 15-25ish, 70-80-something guys. Those numbers of course won't dominate any fantasy league, but having a #8 guy putting up the same sort of okay numbers as your #2 guy is acceptable with dominant pitching.

Andy said...

Ernest's sentiment is captured more in-depth in this article