Sunday, August 2

Look we scheduled these things so we still have to play them.

If you haven't already I recommend you read Anthony Castrovince's blog post today Sooner or later, it all comes down to money and Paul Cousineau's A Lazy Sunday and The End of an Era. Specifically AC's article pretty much summaries what I was trying to get at in my last post, but in a more professional manner. PC touches on the how he has to explain to his wife the loss of Cliff Lee and Victor Maritnez. Often those closest to us and even ourselves sometimes forget how this is a business, and trying to win is part of that business, but so is making money. Unfortunately having the usual Cleveland sports mindset, especially in baseball I think, we often cling to players we like and can identify with since come the postseason we're not exactly sure what to do with ourselves. So without the continuous hope of contention and the idea that players are moved for competitive reasons, often when we lose Jim Thome, or Omar Vizquel, or Victor Martinez we wonder why. We have a hard time believing people when they tell us in the long term this will make the team better when we're not that kind of city. We don't expect success but we do expect to see Victor behind home plate. That and trying to rationalize this to my dad during our weekly chat is not going to be easy.

OK enough of the past - on to the present. Friday saw the return of Fausto Carmona. Following the 2007 season, Fausto was signed to a long term deal (which we have been horrible at lately: see Hafner, Carmona, Westbrook) thinking that he was the post-CC ace of this team. Well thanks to Cliff Lee I finally got to witness a Cleveland Indians pitcher win 20 games, but unfortunately Carmona has been on a free fall that took him all the way to the Arizona rookie league. But he's back. Previously I talked about how he has been sort of reined in. My fear was that while he may walk fewer batters he would also be less dominating. Logically I should be happy with a guy who can go seven innings. Turning Carmona into more of a pitcher and allowing him to better control his emotions is probably the best we can hope for over the rest of his contract. So what did we get from Carmona Friday? Only 5.0 innings with two earned runs and four walks. OK? Not exactly what I wanted but it's his first day back and on a staff like this two runs in five innings is close to the norm. So what happened next? Well pretty much your usual 13-inning game, involving relief appearances by Jose Veras, Rafael Perez, Tony "I'm just being used in single batter situations these days" Sipp, Joe Smith, a 1.1-inning blown save by Kerry Wood, and then somehow four innings of scoreless relief by Tomo Ohka. Offensively, Asdrubal Cabrera had two hits and three RBI, and Trevor Crowe's three hits and three runs scored was pretty nice, but it was a 13th-inning double by Jhonny Peralta and a single by Jamey Carroll that provided the Indians with the win. Tribe (43-60) win 5-6 in 13.

Saturday's starter for the Indians was Jeremy Sowers, a guy I've been down on for a while. However, on this night, Sowers pitched infuriatingly well. Often I just want him to suck and be released, but I guess I'll just have to wait longer. Sowers' 6.0 innings and two runs represent the high end of what Sowers can be expected do. The real treat was seeing newly-acquired Justin Masterson's Indians debut, where he tossed three scoreless while only surrendering two hits. Unfortunately this was another extra-inning game and the Indians relief corps can't be relied on twice in two evenings, can it? No, I guess not. Jose Veras is probably the only guy on this team who I can clearly question right now. Ohka showed he can provide long relief but Veras can't possibly play into the Indians future. Luckily Veras did me a favor by balking in the winning run, as if to say "Look! Look how bad I am!" Tribe (43-61) lose 4-3.

Today's starter was Carl Pavano. I've written at least three times in this blog that not trading Pavano makes no sense. And it appears that either this was dismissed by the readers of this blog either because they agreed with me or thought me too stupid to correct. It now appears that the Indians will get a Type B free agent compensation pick for Pavano which probably outweighs any return they would have gotten for him on the trade block. Today Carl Pavano showed why he is the ace of this staff. Well because he's the oldest and has the most number of wins over his career, I guess. Anyway, my kidding aside, Pavano cruised - and I mean cruised - today. In the top of the seventh Pavano struck out Carlos Guillen on three pitches, got Ryan Rayburn to fly out after two pitches, and Brandon Inge to fly out on one pitch. Six pitches and three outs. Of course Pavano pitching with an 11-run lead probably didn't hurt. 11 runs, yes 11. Both Grady Sizemore and Cabrera homered with a guy on and two outs. Andy Marte had his first double of the season, which scored Jhonny Peralta and Luis Valbuena. Actually, just assume everyone had a two-run XBH. Pavano finished the day after eight innings, allowing six hits and only one run, which came in the eighth, the only inning in which the Tigers had more than one hit. Jensen Lewis pitched the ninth , striking out two in his return. Carl Pavano won his ninth game, which is more than he had in four years as an overpaid Yankee. Tribe (44-63) win 1-11.

Up next is a three-game set at Progressive Field with the Minnesota Twins. Your pitching matchups:

Game 1: Scott Baker, RHP (8-7, 4.86) vs. David Huff, LHP (5-5, 6.39)
Game 2: Francisco Liriano, LHP (4-10, 5.56) vs. Aaron Laffey, LHP (4-3, 4.08)
Game 3: Nick Blackburn, RHP (8-5, 3.83) vs. Fausto Carmona, RHP (2-6, 7.13)

David Huff isn't exactly a thrilling pitcher, prospect-wise or to watch even. He does, however, represent a solid starter that can't be counted out against anyone. I think of him as the new Jake Westbrook. In game two the Indians face the Minnesota Twins' version of Fausto Carmona: Francisco Liriano. He was shut down before his last scheduled start due to forearm tightness. Despite what I may have said above about him, I still think Fausto can come back to be a decent number two or three pitcher for the Indians. He did OK against Detroit after the first inning and Thursday's game will hopefully be another step in the right direction.

Go Tribe!

(AP Photo/Mark Duncan)


Anonymous said...

I'm not high on Sowers either (how could you be?) but since it seems he usually starts out solid and then just implodes in the middle innings, do any of you think that he could be a decent bullpen pitcher? That way he wouldn't face batters a 2nd and 3rd time through. Just throwing it out there and curious what you guys think.

John said...

I first want to admit that my hatred of Sowers in my posts borders on irrational at times. Now, moving Sowers to the pen has been discussed before, at least in the Indians blogs this year. Next year, thanks to our new crop of pitchers, moving Sowers into the bullpen makes sense.

Andy said...

Losing Grady in 2 years is going to be pretty fun too, I'm sure.

Nick and I wisely went to Saturday night's game instead of one of the wins, meaning that we went to only one of my criteria for a good game to attend:
1) No weather delays
2) Finishes in 9 innings
3) Indians don't lose via balk

Masterson was awesome - other than the run barrage of Sunday, that was easily the highlight of the weekend. Had I paid Nick for the ticket, that would totally have been worth the price of admission.

I think the reason that Pavano hasn't been dealt is this: he isn't very good. He looks OK to us Tribe fans because of how bad the rest of our staff has been, but I can't imagine contenders are lining up to add a guy with an ERA+ of 84 for their pennant chase. Can you imagine Shapiro trying to peddle this guy to the Yankees or Mets?

I think the phrase "solid starter" is vastly overstating Huff's performance to date. His ERA is 6.39 (ERA+ of 71); Sowers, by comparison, is at 91 and you disapprove of his work. As long as Huff keeps pitching ineffectively, counting him out against teams might not be such a bad policy.

John said...

Andy, thanks for keeping me honest. Your right of course and I'm sure Huff and Sowers have roughly the same number of good and bad games. I guess my analysis (if you can call it that) was biased because Sowers has disappointed to much in the past that I can't really expect him to do much else. Huff on the other probably has a few more years of disappointing me ahead of him.