Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Cleveland Indians Quarterly Report Card

The Cleveland Indians finished the first quarter of the MLB season at 21-19 after C. C. Sabathia blanked the Oakland Athletics, 2-0, tossing a complete game, 5 hit, 11 strikeout shutout. The fragile Tribe offense managed only 5 hits of their own but one was a lead-off homer by Grady Sizemore and another was a solo poke by Ryan Garko. It is the first real measuring stick of the season so it's time to hand out first quarter grades to the Erie Warriors.

Eric Wedge - Manager - C
You are only as good as your record and they fact that you are only 21-19 is disappointing. I know you can't hit for or make the offense take a better approach at the plate but you need to find a way to convey that to your team. You did it last year, you need to do it again. You do deserve some credit for not letting the team fall into oblivion with the offense being so poor.

Rafael Betancourt - RP - C-
I know you were thrust into the closer's role and that is not your comfort zone. I didn't expect you to be as dominant as you were in 2007 but an ERA of 6.89 and 21 hits in 15.2 innings is god awful. You're lucky I only gave you a C-.

Joe Borowski - RP - D-
Your performance was awful but that's not why you get a D-. If you are hurt and you know it then sit the F down. The fact you tried to pitch with the condition your arm was in is embarrassing. Jackass. That being said, I hope you heal up and become as asset as the bullpen has been somewhat shaky since your departure. I threw up a little in my mouth after I typed that.

Craig Breslow - RP - Incomplete
I am trying to figure out if you are still on the team. I thought the situational lefty pitched like 1/3 of an inning in 80 games not 2 innings every 2 weeks in a blowout. The starters have been so good you haven't been called upon in the clutch yet.

Paul Byrd - SP - B-
Those first two starts had me freaked out but you rebounded. I hope it's because you are a crafty veteran and not because you got a new prescription from your dentist.

Fausto Carmona - SP - B+
The only reason you are not getting an A is because you are walking 6.47 batters per 9 innings. It's not cold anymore you can use the excuse of you can't grip the balls properly anymore. Yes, I said grip the balls. Grip the balls better.

Jorge Julio - RP - C+
You started off shaky but have settled down. But you only pitch in blow outs and that only counts for so much.

Masa Kobayashi - RP - A
I like the way Uncle Eric has slowly worked you into crunch time. You may end the season as the closer if Borowski is unsteady and Betancourt continues to struggle. 2-0, 1 save, 1.93 ERA and the best number of all... 0 appearances in an Japanese alternative lifestyle films. Outstanding.

Aaron Laffey - SP - B
You should be 3-0 if we could score more than 0 runs in a game. Sorry. Keep pitching like this and we may deal someone else to get us a bat and you into the rotation. Or we may deal you... I prefer the former.

Cliff Lee - SP - A+
7 starts, 6-0, 0.67 ERA, 53.2 IP, 32 hits, 4 ER, 4 BB, 44 K. Words don't do you justice. Neither does 0 runs in a game to cost you 7-0.

Jensen Lewis - RP - B-
You've lowered your ERA from 5.06 to 2.95 in the last 3 weeks. Kudos. You had me worried in April.

Tom Mastny - RP - Incomplete
Thanks for the 2 game cameo. Even better, you pitched like poo and got demoted. Have fun in Buffalo and get your head out of your ass.

Rafael Perez - RP - C
You also have had a good 3 weeks lowering your ERA from 6.52 to 3.78. We need you to return to full 2007 form. Please do.

C. C. Sabathia - SP - B
You get a B because you decided to throw almost a month of BP before reverting back to Cy Young form. Look at all the National Media bashing you were exposed to during that time and you pitch in Cleveland. Imagine how much worse it would be if you worked in say, New York? Cleveland is a very nice place, huh? Hint, hint, nudge, nudge...

Jeremy Sowers - SP - Incomplete
You had a very nice 1 game cameo and have another coming up Friday. Take advantage of it. See my comments about "The Joker" Aaron Laffey above. I have a hunch you may be the one that may be traded.

Jake Westbrook - SP - A-
You were brilliant in the spring and were great once the season started and then you got hurt. Luckily The Joker has picked up where you left off but I am always nervous when a pitcher comes off the DL. Heal up. We need your moxie.

Victor Martinez - CA - B
You are the leader of the team and the heart an soul as well. But the clean up hitter has to have more than 0 home runs. I don't like zeroes when it comes to offense. We need you to pick this offense up mi amigo, badly. You're my favorite player, help a brother out!

Kelly Shoppach - CA - C+
Great back-up catcher. I love how you call a game but you have had some really awful ABs lately. Really, really awful.

Casey Blake - 3B - B-
You lead the team in RBIs and are hitting .223 and bat NINTH! NINTH! I have to give you a B- just because you are the only guy who can hit with RISP. And you're Casey Blake! You're Casey F'N Blake!

Asdrubal Cabrera - 2B/SS - D
If this were all heart, effort and defense you'd get an A. But your O has been so bad it's killing us. You were the spark plug last year and this year you are a rally killer. I am not calling you The As-Man anymore until you start living up to the coolness of the nickname instead of demeaning it. For Christ's sake, you're The As-Man dammit!

Jamey Carroll - IF - B
You can't hit but you're spunky, I like than. That's spunky not sparky. Sparky is Clark W. Grizwold's per name his wife Ellen calls him.

Ryan Garko - 1B - C-
You came out like gangbusters and now you are mired in the first prolonged slump you have had in quite some time. We need you to figure it out and be an RBI machine. Two homers in the last two games is a nice start.

Andy Marte - 3B - Incomplete
What are you doing here? I thought you were supposed to get some quality PT so we can see what you can do? Do you have pictures of Mark Shapiro or Uncle Eric with a donkey or something because I can not figure out why you are here.

Jhonny Peralta - SS - D
I'll keep it simple. You are not a great defender for a SS. Because of this you need to hit. You are swinging at high heat and breaking stuff away, not good, Jhonny. Not good.

David Dellucci - OF - B
You're David F'N Dellucci and I have to give you a B because at least you get hits. They may not always be productive but some of them are and it helps. The Looch is hitting .245 and I gave hit a B. I want to punch myself in the face.

Ben Francisco - OF - Incomplete
You here now, thankfully, and have been a bit of a catalyst. I wish they'd play you a little bit more so we can see how you handle the day to day grind.

Franklin Gutierrez - OF - C-
You are sick on D but the league has adjusted to you at the plate. We badly need you to adjust back.

Grady Sizemore - OF - A-
You are the only one who has been alive all year. You lead the team with 7 homeruns from the lead off spot. That tells you the state of the offense. You are well on your way to Gold Glove number 2. The only reason you got a A- is that you are still striking out too much (but are improving) and are only hitting .179 versus lefties. To be elite that has to improve.

Jason Tyner - OF - Incomplete
And you are... And you're hear to see... About what... Have a seat he'll be with you in a moment.

Travis Hafner - DH - F
You unfairly get blamed for all the Indians offensive woes. No one is hitting and the runs have been hard to come by. But the fact is, the Indians were a semi-offensive juggernaut from 2004-2006 when you were dialed in. If you just come within 75% of that production, good lord, with this pitching staff I can only imagine what the Tribe would be capable of. But you are the DH and are hitting .218 with 3 homers and 18 RBI. Your OBP is .316 and you're slugging only .346. You are only hitting .190 at home. Your at-bats are painful to watch. You look lost. Balls you used to crush are whiffed at, weakly grounded to the infield or lightly popped up. I don't know what is wrong with you but you are the keystone. With you as the catalyst this offense runs smooth. We've seen how it runs when you are dormant. Help up Pronk, you're our only hope..

It's Tribe Time Now. Believeland.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Indians Squander Away 4 Game Sweep

When you play a double header and both your starting pitchers go 9 strong innings without giving up a run and you turn an unassisted triple play, you should win both games, unless you are the 2008 Cleveland Indians. The Indians got gems from Fausto Carmona in the afternoon affair and Cliff Lee in the nightcap but only managed a 3-0 win for Carmona and rewarded Lee with a no decision and a 3-0 loss for his effort.

Lee went 9 shutout innings giving up 7 hits and 2 walks but it was all for naught. The Indians wasted a number of amazing defensive plays including two in the 9th inning with Victor Martinez's snare of a liner and Franklin Gutierrez's diving catch to end the inning. The Tribe also wasted Asdrubal Cabrera turning the 14th unassisted triple play in major league history as he snared a Lyle Overbay laser beam in the 5th inning.

The offense continues to kill the club as the Indians managed only 3 hits in 10 innings of the second game and had no one reach base after Victor Martinez led off the fourth inning with a single. After that 19 Indians went to the plate and 19 Indians made an out. Travis Hafner hit a bloop double down the left field line in the 10th to end the string but that was as big of a threat as the Indians mounted in Game 2.

We also got to see that when the Cleveland Indians closer comes into a game with the game tied, even if his name isn't Joe Borowski, bad things happen. After Lee's 9 dazzling innings, Rafael Betancourt came on for the 10th an promptly gave up two singles. After a sacrifice bunt, intentional walk, sacrifice fly and another single it was 3-0 Toronto and all hopes of an Indians' sweep were dashed. Betancourt now sports a 6.89 ERA and has yielded 21 hits in 15 2/3 innings on the campaign.

The Tribe notched a 3-0 win in the afternoon contest when David Dellucci delivered a clutch 2-out single in the 6th for a 1-0 lead and Asdrubal Cabrera drilled a 2-run HR in the 7th for a 3-0 lead. Fausto Carmona's 4 walks were the only blemish on the 5 hit complete game shut-out he tossed. But it still was a grind as the Indians managed 5 hits in the afternoon affair despite the victory.

The Indians got above .500 for the first time April 3, when they were 2-1, by winning Game 1 but promptly failed to stay there for more than 4 hours later with the loss in the nightcap. They now sit at 19-19, still muddled in the middle of the AL Central pack, unable to get over the proverbial hump that is .500.

They have won 2 series in a row, against the Yankees and Blue Jays, both solid AL East foes. They continue to look a little better with each recent contest, but the fact that the offense seems to disappear with the best pitching performances is maddening to all Cleveland Indians fans. The Oakland A's come in for a 3 game set before a 6 game road trip to Cincinnati and Chicago (AL). Let's win a couple more series and get the offense back on track before we come back to The P for Memorial Day Weekend.

It's Tribe Time Now. Believeland.