Saturday, July 28, 2007

The more things change...

...the more they stay the same.

And with that Kenny Lofton is back for tour of duty #3 with the Indians. I have to I admit I like it. It's a minor move yes, but is give the offense a little more diversity and gives the offense another catalyst it sorely needs with Travis Hafner still in a season long funk. And somehow I doubt Mark Shapiro in finished.

I will give Uncle Eric credit. He has done a great job with tinkering with the line-up to give it some more effectiveness when guys are struggling. Who would have thought Casey Blake would have been effective in the #2 hole for a couple months. No one could have seen Hafner batting anywhere but 3rd and Victor thriving in that very spot. I see Lofton bouncing between the 1, 2 and 9 holes depending on the match-up. I'd like to see Garko at #4 he went ape sh!t filing in for Pronk last year in that spot and make it's what Travis needs. Peralta has looked awful since the All-Star Break but popped 2 dingers yesterday.

After the Boston debacle I was going to write about how the Tribe squandered a perfect opportunity with the Tigers finally struggling after being hot for over a month. It's amazing how a small change can alter your outlook. The Tigers face a very tough opponent in the Angels this weekend while the Indians battle the Twins.

The Twins have been cold and are back to .500 after their loss last night. The Indians have a chance to put the nails in the coffin of the Twins. By doing so that would effectively make the Tigers, Mariners, Yankees and Tribe the only teams standing for the last 2 playoff spots in the AL. If the Indians are to take that next step as a team they need to take advantage of situations and finish teams off. This weekend is an excellent opportunity.

Go for the jugular boys, go for the jugular.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

What We Really Need at the Deadline

As the MLB Trade Deadline approaches, the grumblings of Indians Fans centers around adding either a bat in the outfield or some bullpen help. While I am in favor of both, there are 5 things that I think that if the Indians can do INTERNALLY it will have as much, if not more, impact than adding a new cog for the stretch run.

1. The Return of Jake Westbrook and Cliff Lee
Both of these guys have been completely awful. Really, really awful. Horrendously awful. You need 4 solid starters to make a playoff push. But you can't send a guy out there basically assuming a loss every fifth day either. Right now it seems the Tribe is doing that 2 out of 5 days, not just 1, with the way Jake and Cliff have pitched. If they both can turn it around it will leave Raffy Perez and Jason Stanford in the pen where they seem to be excelling. If these two can simply crank out 6 solid innings a night, which they are capable of, the Indians odds increase dramatically.

2. Delivering in the Clutch
Can we consistently get a clutch hit?!? Please! The good teams find a way to get it done. It doesn't matter how. But you MUST come through with runners in scoring position. Even with the numerous rallies the Indians have staged this season most of the runs have come via the home run or on hits without runners in scoring position. It seems like a nightly occurrence that the Indians leave men in scoring position with less than 2 outs. I am not expecting the Grand Slam Explosion of 2007 just some consistency. Right now there is none.

3. Productive Outs
You can't get a hit every time but you can have productive outs. Like hitting to the right side with a runner on second. Or driving in a run on a ground ball. Possibly laying down a sacrifice bunt. But you know what isn't productive? Striking out. STOP F'N STRIKING OUT SO DAMN MUCH! Especially at high heat above the letters. Dear lord. We waste so many out it is sickening.

4. Baby Steps for the Bullpen
Borowski, check. Betancourt, check. Perez, check. Stanford, check. Mastny, coming around. Jensen Lewis, intriguing. Fultz, on the mend. Even if the add another arm via a trade the Tribe needs one more guy to step up. Betancourt, Perez and Borowski can not pitch every night. Stanford has been solid as the second lefty until Fultz returns. Mastny is beginning to make me happy again. Someone else needs to step up.

5. Will the Real Travis Hafner Please Stand Up
The bat we need most is right in front of us. I have said it from Day 1. Travis Hafner is the straw that stirs the Tribe's offense. No offense to Victor and Grady but when Pronk is on, the runs come pouring down. It is no coincidence that as he has struggled so has the Tribe's offense. When he has shown glimpses of 2006 the offense is completely different.

To me these things are more important than a new addition. I am not against adding someone I just fell that these 5 things will go a long way in the post-season push for the Cleveland Indians. You must clean up you own yard before your neighbor's. Their are still only 1 1/2 games out of first and lead the Wild Card but there's no time to hold back now.