Sunday, June 15


I was under the impression that the struggles of a number of Indians who have spent time on the DL this year were caused or exacerbated by injuries they've sustained. Thanks to an astute reader of the Canton Repository, I now know it's the other way around: "injuries" are a clever ploy for the big-ticket Indians to avoid facing the music for poor performance. How silly of me! I know it's a letter to the editor, but it's so emblematic of what's wrong with some baseball fans that I feel the need to trash it and defend my Tribe. Let's go:

It seems every time a high priced Indians player gets in a slump, he comes up with a questionable injury.
We're obviously in for a treat with this opening line - wild generalizations, accusing professional players of faking injuries to avoid answering for lowered performance. Perfect.

In 2007, Hafner went into a batting slump. So all of a sudden, he developed a shoulder injury. Of course, the writers all quickly blamed his slump on the injury. This year, as reported, he was 100%. So now all of a sudden the injury is back. Could it be that the opposing pitchers have found his many weaknesses?
Have you ever tried to hit MLB pitching? I understand it's difficult, and I have to imagine even more so with an injured shoulder. There's a pretty solid chance, I'd say, that the shoulder's been hurt all year and Pronk tried to play through it but simply couldn't. Plus, wasn't it the elbow before and now the shoulder? Maybe he's not the same hitter he once was, but the dude had OPS's of 1.003 and 1.098 in 2005-06, so I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt here. But nice job including the writers in the conspiracy.

Joe Borowski was just fine until he was shelled in two outings. So he came up with a shoulder problem and was quickly placed on the 15-day DL.
And now he's back and in seven appearances has given up a run in only one while posting a WHIP of 1.28. This part seems relevant to me.

Victor Martinez was leading the entire league in hitting
but with very little power and no speed. Could you seriously not tell how much his hamstring was affecting his hitting this year?

then in just over three weeks he dropped over 50 points off his batting average and it now hitting below .300
No sabermetrician, this fellow.

So he was out for a week with a slight injury to his finger. He claimed he was cutting his own finger and got an infection?
I don't remember this at all. He just had elbow surgery - that I remember. And how do you know if the injury was "slight"? It's amazing how loath this guy is to admit that one of the team's most productive hitters might not be at his peak due to injury.

The latest, Fausto Carmona, came after he had two bad outings. He hurt himself covering first base. Again another timely injury that landed an Indians player on the 15 day DL.
Straight-up bullshit. In the two games before the game where he got hurt, Carmona had pitched 16 1/3 innings and given up exactly one run, lowering his ERA to an excellent 2.25. Way to fact-check. Even with the poor start where he hurt his hip, Carmona has a tremendous ERA+ of 137, and we think he invented an injury to hide on the DL?

It's funny how things only happen when a slump occurs.
As you proved conclusively for the case of Carmona. Or Jake Westbrook, who suffered an injury that will keep him out for over a year in the middle of his best season as a pro. Or Travis Hafner, who conveniently got hit in the head by a pitch so as to avoid destroying the entire AL for a full year. Yep, players only ever get hurt when they're not playing well, you've convinced me.

As I stated in my last letter
I wish I had seen it...

now that Paul Byrd has been caught with illegal drugs, he has completely lost his winning ways.

I stated he would not win 10 games, and I don't think he will.
Using wins and losses to evaluate pitchers, are we? Byrd has been very consistent this season after two bad outings to start the year, posting a 3.90 ERA in his last 11 trips to the mound as compared to 4.59 mark he compiled last year. His 15 wins a year ago were a byproduct of OK pitching and superb run support. Your citing of meaningless W-L records won't work on me, boy.

It's interesting that he completely fails to give Byrd any credit for pitching out of his early-season trouble in an article where he basically insinuates that the whole Indians roster fakes injuries as excuses for poor performance. For that matter, what about CC Sabathia? Did he come up with a questionable injury after four bad starts to begin the year? Nope, he went out and posted a 2.09 ERA over his next 10 starts. Ditto for Ryan Garko and some of the other Indians hitters who have made improvements at the plate since the club-wide hitting drought of the early months. Any thoughts on these players?

Mark Shapiro brags about his great farm system. Why not bring some of them up? He should replace Casey Blake, Ryan Garko, and Asdrubal Cabrera.
I've never heard Shapiro brag, ever - most of the talk about the Tribe's minor league depth is from baseball writers, local and national. Why not bring some of them up, you ask? Did you not see 2007? Guttierez, Francisco, Cabrera, Laffey, Lewis, Perez, Garko, Carmona - the Tribe's organizational depth was the #1 reason they won the AL Central and topppled NY in the playoffs. This guy has the opposite condition of the guy in Memento - he can only make new memories and forgets everything that happened before.

The last line is almost comical, considering the players he suggests and the lack of alternatives suggested. Replacing either Blake (exact same OPS+ as last year, 101, plays many positions) or Garko (the club's best hitter in June) makes no sense right now, not to mention, replace them with whom? A while back, they gave some of Garko's AB's to Michael Aubrey and it seems to have spurred him back into productivity. As for Cabrera, yes, he's struggled, and they have tried to replace him with Josh Barfield (injured, probably faking to hide a one-game slump) and Jamey Carroll (getting on base at a .375 clip right now, which is pretty good). This is not the solution to the Tribe's problems.

The Indians have some issues this year, mostly batting production well below predicted levels and poor relief pitching. I'd rank faking injuries for convenience pretty low on that list.

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