Tuesday, October 7

Too much here to relegate to a comment

Instead of writing my own season recap, I'm going to lazily comment on the various things JHH wrote about the Tribe's 2008 campaign. Later, I think we're going to recap some of the best moments of the year.

To recap the predictions: I was sorta right about CC, wrong about Hafner, right about Francisco, right about Marte, almost impossibly wrong about Lee, and not too good on the Central. I did pick the lowest Tribe win total of our group and thus came closest to their actual mark of 81, which is a pretty lousy thing to be proud of.

If Cliff Lee doesn't win the Cy Young Award, they should just stop having it because it's a farce. Again, I don't base this on his win total: I base it on him having pitched better than everyone else in the league.

Shoppach was outstanding. A 123 OPS+ is huge production out of the catcher spot - hell, 100 is good for a backstop. Of his 92 hits, 48 (!) went for extra bases. This reminds me of a game where the broadcasters were praising Ichiro Suzuki because he had some string of like his last 50 hits all being singles, which is the total opposite of good.

Garko's OPS went from a horrible .668 in the first half to a good-enough-for-1B .865 in the 2nd half. He also was more productive in RBI situations all year long than in non-RBI situations.

Cabrera was terrific in the second half - what a recovery! If he can OPS+ anything above 100 and play shortstop like he does, sign me up. Hard to imagine why the Mariners' GM got fired...

My sources have Peralta at OPS+ of 108 for the year, making JHH's split hard-to-understand (though correct), but either way he had above-average production for the year and helped spark the team's second-half offensive turnaround. He struggled near the end, making this season's numbers pale compared to his 2005 breakthrough, but if he has this same year in 2009, I'll be cool with it.

Everyone seems to be in favor of Peralta moving to 3B, but I think the question first must be answered: can he play 3B? Winter ball will hopefully resolve this.

Gutierrez may have his greatest value as a trading chip. He plays good defense and picked up his bat the second half of the year, but he's the odd man out in the Francisco-Sizemore-Choo outfield scheduled for next season. Choo was excellent this year, especially over the last two months. JHH points out that his 2nd-half OPS+ was 170; Albert Pujols' was 190 all year. It's hard to conceptualize just how good that guy is. Anyone who puts Ryan Howard (or, really, anyone) above him in the NL MVP ballot should be shot, or maybe just disenfranchised.

Sizemore was outstanding again, no surprises there. He probably garnered more attention for his play this year than in seasons past, but look at his last four years of OPS+: 123, 132, 122, 128. Remarkable consistency. JHH makes a good point to all those clamoring for Sizemore to move down in the lineup, which is: who's going to bat first then? Until you find someone who can replace Grady's on-base percentage, he stays.

The Tribe set the MLB record for most HBP in one season this year. Congratulations! Ouch!

Cutting bait with Dellucci should be one of Shapiro's first offseason moves. Just get it over with. "Have the courage to say something!" (Ron Burgundy)

The starting staff this year was:
Good: Lee, most of Sabathia's starts, that one stretch where Byrd was shutting people down, early Carmona, Westbrook before he went down (people overlook this injury - Jake was looking strong), and a surprisingly good Anthony Reyes

Bad: The big pile of rubble that was pretty much everything else. How we got to .500 with such inconsistent pitching baffles me.

Just like in 2006, the bullpen killed the season as much as anything, though the team wasn't scoring runs early on. We were something like 14 of 30 in saves before Lewis took over the job, which is almost inconceivably bad. Even a 70% save rate gets us close to the playoffs. Terrible.

As for the Isaac firing: it was handled badly, but not necessarily a bad personnel move. The Shelton comparison doesn't work at all, considering that the Tribe placed 6th in the AL in runs scored even though some games featured both David Dellucci AND Andy Marte in the lineup.

The 2008 Indians weren't a bad team; they were a team for which things simply didn't come together. The bullpen woes, injuries, and early hitting struggles put them in an early hole and they just couldn't come all the way back. Again, it's instructive to compare them to the California Angels. The Tribe's 3rd-order winning should have given them 84 wins, and likewise with the Angels. Read that again. Yet the Indians finished 3rd, seven games out, while the Angels won their division by 21 games. That's even sillier than the divergent paths the NFL's Browns and Giants have taken since their 10-6 regular seasons in 2007. Never underestimate the power of both luck and circumstance in sports, especially baseball - that's part of the magic of baseball, things that makes it a fun game but that can ultimately make it frustrating as well. Let's hope 2009 is one of those fun years.


JHH said...

Peralta's split OPS+ is calculated as

sOPS+ - OPS+ of this split relative to the major league OPS for this split: 100*((split OBP/ML avg. OBP of split) + (split SLG/ML avg. SLG of split) - 1)

Hence the tendency to not jive with the final OPS+ I guess.

Anonymous said...

yes the first move this off-season gm mark shapiro should make is to cut bait with david de-douche-bag, but the question is, will he??? they still owe de-douche-bag about $4 million and shappy will be hard-pressed to get the dolan discount gang to eat that much salary. for whatever reason, wedge likes him for his "veteran presence" and i'm sure there is some belief (flawed as it may be) that the tribe may have missed the veteran presence of trot "the rot" nixon this year as being part of their problem for underperforming this season. i'm still of the belief that players motivate themselves, but the real bottom line responsibility for it should rest first and foremost with the manager and it has always been obvious to me that wedge just isn't a dynamic motivator. if you ask me, the tribe could solve that problem simply by canning wedge & hiring former tribe player, former royals manager & current yankees hitting coach tony pena. we can only hope.