Sunday, April 29, 2007

Tribe Mosh Pit--April 29th, 2007

First and Foremost, I would like to send out my sincere condolences to Josh Hancock's family and teammates, the long reliever for the Cardinals who died early Sunday morning. Hancock was driving in the left hand lane on I-40 outside of St. Louis, when he struck a tow-truck, who was helping another car on the side of the road. Hancock wasn't a superstar, but he was an important piece of the Cardinals' bullpen. Last season was his most important as a player, as he set career marks in several categories, including innings, games and strikeouts. He started his career in Boston in 2002, went through Philadelphia and Cincinnati, before becoming a member of the Cardinals, and a World Champion, in 2006. Hancock was 29.

How about the umpires blowing the call on Saturday Night.I couldn't have been the only one that thought, "doesn't that run count?" With that being said, you CANNOT change the call three innings later, even if Trebelhorn noticed it less than an inning later. What SHOULD have happened was a public flogging of the umpires for blowing a call WE all learn in little league. The only thing we missed out on, was Eric Wedge storming out of the dugout like George Brett in the Pine Tar incident. So, the game is under protest. Do you want the Bad?...or the Worst? Worst case scenario? Cleveland loses the protest, and the game. The Bad? Cleveland has to remake a PARTIAL game, to go along with the Seattle series. Still, getting a win out of a loss wouldn't be a bad deal at all.

Fausto Carmona was as efficient today as any Cleveland starter in recent memory. Carmona had a shutout rolling for 8 1/3, when he gave up a ninth inning dinger to Aubrey Huff. He had scuffled a bit in the eighth inning, so you have to respect the decision by Eric Wedge to give him a shot for the complete game shutout after the Tribe packed on 3-runs to their 3-0 lead. How efficient was Carmona? He gave up six hits, two walks (both in the 8th), with one strikeout. Carmona induced 18 ground balls, 16 of which were outs, and only 6 fly balls. He threw 104 pitches, and 72 strikes. That makes three straight solid outings for Carmona, and 2 straight dominating games. He's finally looking like the pitcher we thought he was.

So where does that leave Eric Wedge, with Cliff Lee set to start next Thursday?Thursday is a long ways away, but my best guess is that Wedge has already made the decision to send down Carmona. To further along my hypothesis, I'm betting that Wedge had it all written down beforeFausto's final two outings. Wedge is the kind of guy that sticks to the plan. When asked today about it, Wedge seemed as though he knew what was going to happen, but not committed just yet:

"One way or another, we're going to have a tough decision to make," Wedge said. "We're not going to do anything today, let's put it that way. In a situation like this, we're going to take as long as we can."

So what are the possibilities? Many say deal Paul Byrd to the Yankees. He's pitching well, and the Yanks will pay for him. Sorry, that won't fly. Not yet. We have to hope that Byrd pitches well until July, then you move him then. Cleveland can get a lot for him, but I don't believe now is the time. Of course, with New York in a state of flux right now, you never know. You could move Carmona to the bullpen in long relief, but you can see that he tires right around the 85-90 pitch count mark now. His arm is just getting used to throwing 100 pitches. You cannot make him a long reliever. You could move Sowers to the pen, but he's done nothing to merit that. You could send Carmona down (which is what they are going to do), which is the best option mentioned, but it WILL screw with his head, and we saw what happened when he moved to the closer roll. Carmona is ALREADY thinking about it:

"I'm not even thinking about that," Carmona said through translator Luis Rivera, the team's first-base coach. "I'm not going to waste my energy thinking about things that I can't control."

So what do you do? Do you use a six man rotation, and send down Mastny? Do you rotate Byrd, Sowers and Carmona? It's a tough decision, but if you were to ask me, I'd probably move Byrd to the pen, and spot start him. I know it would KILL the potential for trading him, but when you have a 23 year old pitching as well as Carmona, you don't mess with him now. Of course, a lot can happen in four days.

It was good seeing Jaret Wright today.Every time I see him, I think about his 2-hit gem in game seven against Florida in 1997 (was it that long ago?). If only he had stayed in the game. Still, it was ironic that Cleveland hammered the bookends today in Wright and Guthrie, two former Indian #1's. Three runs against Wright, and three runs against Guthrie. I guess it doesn't pay to pitch against your former team, against another future star. Yeah, I'd say it was a game full of irony alright.

Cliff Lee has a new slider that he's going to start using this week. If the pitch WORKS, it could put Lee over the edge from a pedestrian lefty, to a dominating one. I don't know how smart it is though to come of the IR throwing a pitch you've never really thrown before, but then again, what do I know. I'm a Lee fan, and think that he still could be a top-end starter. Hopefully, this is the pitch that does it.

I'm an optimist, so I tend to see the good in Peralta,when others don't. He had a costly error yesterday, that is for sure. Still, you can't help but see flashes of 2005 in EVERY game these days. His fielding IS better, and at times, downright sparkling. No, he's not going to confuse anyone of Omar Vizquel, but face it folks, he's a once in a lifetime player. What has impressed me, over the past few games, has been his timely hits. He still strikes out too much, but he seems to be turning the corner. Let's just hope that Peralta finds a way to be as patient as his teammates. He's got time. It's not like Cleveland has anyone to push him. Of course, rumor has it that Byrd is available!

Barfield continues to show the Indians that it's not (just) a bat they traded for when they sent K2 to San Diego. Hey made a couple of plays today look easy, that Ronnie Belliard would have missed diving. One was a ground ball up the middle he grabbed and still beat the runner by 5 steps. An inning later, he made another fantastic play the OTHER way. He made it look easy. If you blink hard enough, it looks a lot like Roberto Alomar out there. At the plate, he still looks like my five-year-old most of the time, but it can't get any worse. It will improve, and look at it this way; Kouzmanoff is batting .127 with 1 dinger and 4 RBI. Barfield is batting .155 with 1 homer and 9 RBI. Who has the better stick?

Speaking of decisions, what is Wedge going to do when Marte is ready to play?Do you send down Shin Soo Choo, who shouldn't have been sent down in the first place? Do you keep Choo, and keep Marte at AAA until he gets his groove back (sorry Stella)? It really doesn't make a whole bunch of sense to keep Choo, which would give Cleveland four lefty outfielders (along with Dellucci, Nixon and Sizemore). Of course, mentioning Sizemore is plain silly, but with Dellucci healthy (he isn't going anywhere), and Nixon playing exceedingly well, it's hard to put up a defense, baseball-wise, that Choo needs to stay. He's good, but you just can't keep that many lefty bats. Choo will be heading down, where he'll find a brother-in-arms with Carmona. I would pay money to see what those two would have to do to find a way to talk to each other.

I hated the Nixon signing, I'll admit it.Mainly because of Choo, but also because of his injury-issues. Still, I have no problem with him shoving my opinions down my throat. If Choo never sees Cleveland again this year, THAT'S NOT A BAD THING. If Nixon continues with timely hits, he is a fantastic signing. It's a long season though. It seems to me that Cleveland really has some tradable commodities, especially with the Yankees struggling. Wouldn't that be ironic.

Finally, Cleveland's hitters are third in the AL in strikeouts with 174 (behind Kansas City and Tampa Bay--yeah, I know, scary).. Cleveland is third in the AL in walks with 97 (behind Boston and Chicago). So, does that make Cleveland more selective? Yeah, roll around with that one for awhile.

Is there anyone that believes Cleveland couldn't and shouldn't be playing any better? They can, and will.

Next up...C.C. Sabathia vs. A.J. Burnett on Tuesday in Cleveland. Burnett recently smoked the Yankees with seven shutout innings. Of course, the Yankees aren't the Indians.

No, I'm not really sure what that means either...

It's a beautiful day for baseball...isn't it?

Tribe Mosh Pit–April 29th, 2007

For those of you that visit my site, The POJO Dojo, you’ll know that I dedicated many of my posts to the Cleveland Indians. Each Sunday, I posted on a mish-MOSH of items, and I called it The Sunday Mosh pit (for those that need an explanation of where and why I use the term mosh, well, please read the first two sentences again). I’m not abandoning the Dojo just yet, but I am going to bring the ‘Mosh Pit’ over here, and refocus it on many BIG-TICKET Tribe items, and some other MLB news that may effect the Tribe. So, without further ado, my first edition of the Tribe Report’s ‘Tribe Mosh Pit.’


Saturday, April 28, 2007

A Message to the AL: The Tribe is for Real, AND Improving

We all know the numbers by now:

• A six game winning streak

• A 13-7 record, first in the AL Central

• A series victory in all but the Yankee series

• A 4-2 record against division rival Chicago

• A 2-0 record against division rival Minnesota

I know, I know, it's early, but it is incredibly tantalizing to compare this season to the past few. After 20 games the past three years, Cleveland was already scuffling. April has historically been a difficult month for this version of the Indians. Under Wedge, Cleveland came into the season 38-59 in April. That history makes this 13-7 start something to keep an eye on. An April with a winning record puts them ahead of their past bell curve.

Still, it’s early, and I don’t have to tell ANY Indian fan that it’s a long season.

How REAL is this team?

Offensively, it's safe to say that Cleveland hasn’t come close to tapping their offensive potential. Cleveland is tied for ninth in the AL in batting with an unspectacular .247 (all stats are BEFORE tonight’s victory). Only two Tribe regulars were batting over .300, and it took a 16 for 26 run by Travis Hafner to get him included in the .300 plus range. The majority of the Indians' runs have come from the home run ball. Look, home runs are important, but depending on the big inning isn’t something you want to hang your hat on. With that being said, the offense is still finding ways to win games, and doing all the necessary things TO get the job done. Average is overrated when you are finding ways to get on base.

Cleveland’s offense has a solid .350 OBP to go along with an enigmatic offense that strikes out a lot, but walks more. Tonight, Cleveland was out-hit 8-7, but managed to take 8 walks. If you put 15 men on base, your chances of winning are pretty good. This is a good sign that we are going to see a giant offensive improvement as the season progresses, and the weather warms up the Tribe bats. Cleveland batted .280 last season, and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize they are going to end up around there again this season.

I also can’t express enough how BIG 2-out runs are. The Tribe of the 90’s made a living out of huge 2-out hits. This team seems to have the same sort of drama-inducing sense. Last night, both Josh Barfield and Grady Sizemore’s daggers came with 2-outs. Cleveland does struggle a bit with runners in scoring position at .237, but this will no doubt improve. It has too…or the ball’s going to start to bounce the other way.

Josh Barfield isn’t going to end up hitting .130.

Grady Sizemore isn’t going to end up hitting .270.

Vmart isn’t going to end up hitting .280.

We don’t know WHAT Peralta is going to do, but he WON’T hit .230 this year. He’s hitting the ball hard…and IS a different player this year.

Shin-Soo Choo and Ryan Garko have all found a way into the lineup, and have added a needed spark. Choo probably won’t be around for long, but it’s hard to argue with what he’s been doing. Having interchangeable parts as the year progresses is an added bonus. Especially with injury-prone Trot Nixon (what a start).

Point? This team hasn’t come close to reaching its offensive stride. Sooner or later, this is a team that will score runs in multiple innings to go along with the big inning. Once that happens, there are some AL teams that aren’t going to be all that happy. Realize this. Cleveland is FINDING ways to win. Something tells me we aren’t all that far away from not having to look that hard.

The starting pitching is just warming up. C.C. Sabathia is doing what we expect. He’s a #1 starter. He’s a stopper. In five starts this year, C.C. has given up 3 runs or less in all but one start. He has 35 K’s in 34 innings pitched. More impressively is that he’s only walked 8, and topped out with 3 against Chicago. The key for C.C. is to stay healthy. If he does, this could be a ‘break-the-bank’ year for Sabathia.

Jake Westbrook signed a new multi-year deal (3 years, 33 million). I needed to mention that, because Westbrook has been the complete opposite of Sabathia this year. His ERA stands at 7.96. It came down over a run last night thanks to a low strike zone from the umpire. He hasn’t looked good. Westbrook is to good a pitcher not to turn around. Watch for Jake to turn it around as the weather warms up, and his new contract settles in.

Sowers has been a solid #3 starter for this team. In three of four starts, he’s given up 3 or less runs, and has really done the job expected of him. He doesn’t walk many (we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt for his five walk performance against Chicago), he hasn’t given up the long ball, and aside from getting blown up in the Bronx, has been the 2nd best starter on the staff. There’s no reason to think that Sowers WON’T continue this throughout the seasons. Expect consistency, an occasional blowup, but more good than bad. Isn’t that the definition of a #3 starter?

Byrd has been a mild surprise so far. He goes 6 innings. He avoids HUGE innings. This year, he wins games. Many are calling for Byrd to be dealt once Cliff Lee comes back, and I can’t deny that might not be the smart way to go. I do feel that Byrd is underrated, and as a #4 is extremely effective. Of course, once Lee comes back, if you’d ask me who I’d rather have in the rotation, Byrd or Fausto Carmona, I’d pick Carmona every time. That puts Adam Miller as the first guy called up from Buffalo. I like the sound of that.

Speaking of Fausto, how about this kid? After getting lit up in his first start, he has been highly effective, and improving in every start. Psst…he outdueled Johan Santana. You are looking at a #2 or #3 starter in the making, and I’m happy with the Tribe brass finally just putting him in the rotation. He’ll probably be in Buffalo soon, but I suspect not for long.

Cliff Lee is the kind of pitcher you always expect more of. I remember seeing him dominate in Akron, and you have to think that he can do that in the Majors. The question becomes when. He should be back in the rotation next week, and let’s hope that we get the top end starter he should be. He’s looked good in his rehab starts.

Overall, this rotation has been relatively consistent (Byrd, Carmona and Sowers), sometimes spectacular (CC), and head-scratching (Westbrook). But with Adam Miller rolling in Buffalo, and Cliff Lee joining the club this week, this staff is as good as it has been in the last several years…with plenty of room to improve. Look for a move (Byrd or…surprise, surprise, Westbrook).

The Relief Pitching has been pretty darn good. I know, I saw Fultz and Hernandez do their impression of the local pinball machine last night. But, I also so Rafael Betancourt slam the door shut on the Orioles…followed by Joe Borowski striking out the side in the ninth.

Fernando Cabrera has been electric. His ERA stands at 0, while compiling a 1-0 record, with fifteen K’s in 10 innings pitched. There are already calls to move him to the closer roll. I just want to remind you all what moving around a bullpen can do. Leave him be. We need shut down setup guys.

Jason Davis and Betancourt are proving the Tribe brass right. Many felt that both would “grow up” this year. Davis has been pretty lights out (although walking a bunch), and Betancourt has been as well. These two, with Cabrera, have given the Tribe a solid trio to use in the 7th and 8th innings.

The new signings, Aaron Fultz, Roberto Hernandez and Joe Borowski have had their ups and downs. Fultz, overall, has been very good. The last two games, he’s failed to retire a batter, however, with 2 walks and a run-scoring hit. Hernandez has, for the most part, gotten the job done. Still, he’s not lock down any more. Like last night, he can give up a string of hits. Borowski has nine saves, to go along with his 9.00 ERA. He’s given up a run in 4 of his 10 appearances. Still, he’s only blown one save so far, and aside from getting BLOWN UP against the Yankees, hasn’t been anything we didn’t expect. As advertised, this guy is a lot like Bob Wickman. Take a look at Wickman’s stats this year. No, he’s not blown up like Borowski did against New York, but you’ll notice some striking similarities.

You add to that Mike Miller, who’s on the DL, Tom Mastny, and a slew of kids in Buffalo who have been lights out. Certainly, this is a vast improvement.

The Indians fielding hasn’t been close to up to par, but better than it looks from the outside looking in. Barfield and Marte have 4 errors apiece, and Peralta has 3. The Tribe as a team have 18 errors, third worst in the AL. With that being said, anyone who saw the game last night, and the play that Barfield made, shows you what kind of defensive player Barfield is. He covers a country-mile, and makes fantastic plays look easy. He’ll get errors on plays many can’t even get too. Marte looks flat out overwhelmed. Truth be told, he’s starting to scare me a whole lot. Thank god we got Kelly Shoppach in that deal. Peralta IS playing better in the field. His three errors are actually in the top third of the AL, and he and Barfield are playing well together. Again, the defense has struggled, but overall, still is improved. Marte will need to be watched.

Overall, you have to grade the Tribe start as an A-. I’d throw them an A+, but this team still isn’t grooving yet. That’s the exciting piece to this start. Anyone who’s seen this team play over the past few years, knows that there is another gear we haven’t seen yet. Still…

I’m pretty happy with the gear we are in now.

Tonight…Sowers against Bedard. Let’s pull for 7.

A Message to the AL: The Tribe is for Real, AND Improving

We all know the numbers by now:

· A six game winning streak

· A 13-7 record, first in the AL Central

· A series victory in all but the Yankee series

· A 4-2 record against division rival Chicago

· A 2-0 record against division rival Minnesota

I know, I know, it’s early, but it is incredibly tantalizing to compare this season to the past few. After 20 games the past three years, Cleveland was already scuffling. April has historically been a difficult month for this version of the Indians. Under Wedge, Cleveland came into the season 38-59 in April. That history makes this 13-7 start something to keep an eye on. An April with a winning record puts them ahead of their past bell curve.


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Westbrook Down, CC Sabathia and Pronk To Go

Westbrook takes a Cleveland Deal--AP-Brian KerseyJake Westbrook signed a 3 year contract extension worth 33 million. 11 million dollars a year for the most consistent Indians pitcher over the past few seasons. Money well spent. Actually, it's not really 11 million dollars a year. Cleveland has front-loaded the deal so that he'll receive some of that money this season. There are certainly benefits to that down the road.

When you compare Westbrook's 11 million a year average to this year's free agent crop of pitchers, and you can't help but think that Cleveland got off with a bargain. Miguel Batista signed a 3 year, 25 million dollar deal with Arizona. Adam Eaton signed a 3 year, 24.5 million dollar deal with Philadelphia. Tom Glavine signed a 1 year, 10.5 million dollar deal. Ted Lilly signed a 4 year, 40 million dollar deal with the Cubs. Greg Maddux signed a 1 year deal for 10 million with San Diego. Jason Marquis signed a 3 year deal with Chicago for 21 million. Gil Meche signed a 5 year, 55 million dollar deal with Kansas City. Mike Mussina signed a 2 year deal with the Yankees for 23 million. Andy Pettitte signed a 1 year deal with the Yankees for 16 million. Jason Schmidt signed a 3 year, 47 million dollar deal with the Dodgers. Jeff Suppan signed a 4 year deal worth 42 million dollars with Milwaukee. And finally, Barry Zito and his 7 year, 128 million dollar deal.

Here's a look at their stats over the past three years:

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You can see he stacks up very well with the folks making a ton more. In most cases, he's better. His ERA is fourth on that list, behind Schmidt, Pettitte and Glavine, who all have less innings pitched, and were all pitching in the NL, a much easier league for a pitcher. He's tied with Maddux for the lead in wins, with 44. He is first in Complete Games of the group listed, with 10. The closest to him is Schmidt, with 7. Everyone else had 5 or less. Westbrook is second on the list in innings, with 625, behind the workhorse Greg Maddux. Only one person on the list has less home runs given up, and that's Batista, who also happens to have nearly half the innings pitched.

You look over those stats, and you literally do a double take. Westbrook would have made a lot more than 11 million a year next season. As a matter of fact, Jake Westbrook would have made THE #1 free agent pitcher next off-season, assuming the Cubs aren't stupid with Carlos Zambrano. I really don't think that it's to far off to think that he COULD have commanded a 4 or 5 year deal, in the neighborhood of 15 million a year.

Cleveland dodged a bullet, and for the first time, we may have a sign that people may stick around for a bit, here in Cleveland.

So the question remains...does this signing mean that CC Sabathia and Pronk are GOING to sign? Or does it mean that one of the two are gonzo.

Those questions are for later...because...

Pronk won't talk contract until the off-season. I totally get his decision. The only reason why Westbrook continued was because it looked good. I think you'll see Cleveland sign Pronk to a big time deal. He will be first on the agenda when the year is over, along with, I'm guessing, a closer. But that's for a later discussion.

Cleveland remains in first place in the AL Central, and has the best record in the American League. Of course, they are 3ish games behind in games played to everyone else, because of their lost series. There has been little time for consistency, and it's early yet, but I like the way their starters look. Sabathia has looked flat out electric. Westbrook has been off, but you wonder if the contract talks have anything to do with it. Sowers has been Sowers. Nothing special, but good enough to win. The surprise here, has been Paul Byrd. He had that no-hitter washed away, and looked good over the weekend. If their starters continue to do well, and the hitting continues to improve...this could be a special year.

6-3 isn't spectacular, but compared to other April's, it's downright exciting.

Check out the latest Ohio State business at THE Horseshoe, a new POJO Joint Production at the MVN Network.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Indians in Snowland--Hargrove and Selig

Snow Indians  AP-Mark DuncanEverywhere you turned today, the media was whining and moaning about the schedule, and how MLB doesn't have a clue at what they are doing. Well, I absolutely agree that MLB doesn't have a clue about what they are doing. I can't, however, say that I agree that the schedule makers have it all wrong. Of course, looking at the Tribe today might make you think I'm absolutely crazy.

It's cold up north in April. We all know that. How many times have you sat at the Jake, or at the Muni in the olden days, and flat out frozen you butt off during the home opening series? I remember an opening day at Municipal Stadium that was ripe with frozen rain, that my girlfriend made me leave during the delay. I took her home, and made it back in time for the start of the game. It was miserable, and continued to get worse. But you know what? It was opening day. I don't think the smile ever left my face that day. THERE IS NOTHING LIKE OPENING DAY. For us old-time Tribe fans, it used to be the only day we had a shot.

prelude to a storm Gregory Shamus-Getty ImagesNow there's a push to have the cold weather teams without domes start their games in a warm weather city, or a city, like Milwaukee, with a dome. On the outside looking it, this looks like it would be a smart move. Who wants to start their season in the snow? Who wants to SIT in the snow to watch a baseball game?

I DO, THAT'S WHO! I'd be there right now, if I could, freezing my ass off. Why? It's opening day. The thing about today's game is that it's not opening day. For three straight years, we've had to stomach a trip to Chicago. It's bad enough not having a game at home, but to have to travel TO Chicago, a city just as cold, with a team that ranks in the vacinity of your nearest toilet. There's a magic to opening day that ranks somewhere slightly above the FRIDAY after opening day, after three games have already been played, for your opening day.

Leave it to Bud Selig to even PONDER this idea. No, he hasn't made the decision yet, but it sure would be the wrong one, which is right up his alley. The rumored switch in schedule would be to have historically cold weather teams not play at home for the first week of the season, to ensure that they aren't playing in the frozen tundra ( are from Milwaukee. Will ONE WEEK MAKE THAT MUCH OF A DIFFERENCE?). It wouldn't be longer than 1 series, or 1 week.

Now, I've already mentioned how special opening day is, or at least, used to be. During the Selig era, opening day has gotten a little less special. I'm not sure if it has anything to do with anything other than Selig, but the tradition seems to have taken a hit. It doesn't help that the opening game was taken away from Cincinnati. In a league struggling in this NFL market, it needs every traditional aspect that it can get. We'll find that out later this year when MLB loses the Hank Aaron record. Having half the team assured of not having that game EVERY year takes away something from those cities. Like I said, "Hey, let's go see game #7, Cleveland is finally at home," sounds a lot different than, "IT'S A BEAUTIFUL DAY FOR BASEBALL! IT'S OPENING DAY!"

VMart goes down AP-Mark DuncanI also seem to recall somewhere, that most teams do better at home, than on the road. I know this isn't always the case, but I know it's better than 50%. I'll leave the statistical wizards figure it out. I can tell you this, coming home every year after a season starting 6-game road trip doesn't exactly start you off on the right foot. I can't imaging Major League Baseball owners ever agreeing to it.

When it's all said and done, the ONE time we can be thankful for the Yankees and the Red Sox is now. I can't imagine either one of these teams WANTING this to happen. That, combined with the fact that Bud Selig splits his time in the back pockets of both. Still, Bud Selig is about as trend-following as it gets. So many times, without having any foresight for the future, he makes a move that screws the league long term. This would be such a move.

Hey Bud, do you want a suggestion? How about this, and it's complicated so pay attention. START THE SEASON A WEEK LATER! Seriously, do we really need 162 games a year? Does it have to ALL be about money? Couldn't you find a way to start the season a week shorter, shrink the season from 162 games to 156 games, and GET RID OF MOST OF THE INTRA-LEAGUE GAMES! You keep one series a year, or perhaps, a home and home series. Now, you are immediately saying that it's not fair to the teams that don't have a traditional national league rivalry. Yo Bud, here's the deal. THAT'S HOW YOU CREATE RIVALRIES! Personally, I'd like to see intra-league play go away. It serves no purpose other than to carry a bit of uniqueness to seeing a strange team come to your ballpark. Personally, the novelty has worn off. But that's for another day. So Bud, if you really are that concerned about the weather, get rid of the games that happen WHEN IT'S COLD. Start the season later, and get rid of some games.

Wedge giving Hargrove the business, but getting outgamed  AP-Mark DuncanAs I report this, the Cleveland Indian game has been PostPoned due to snow, with the Tribe up 4-0, with 2 outs in the fifth inning. That's when that jackweed Mike Hargrove strolled out on the field at the speed of constipation, and began whining about the weather. Out came Eric Wedge, and the two managers began verbally sparring. Normally, I would applaud this, but it worked to Hargrove's favor. The umpire called a delay, and the game would never resume. The 4-0 lead will forever be wiped out. Remember this one folks, because these are the kinds of games that can change momentum. Hargrove also spent some time trading barbs with the fans. Wonder if there's any harsh feelings lingering for the "Human Snow Delay?" The game is rescheduled as part of a day/night doubleheader tomorrow at 1:05. The bonus? Snow is predicted. Looking forward to counting how many times the fans boo Hargrove. The bad? In a game that doesn't count at all, Victor Martinez left with a strained quad. I blame it on Hargrove, and Selig. They both HAD to have something to do with it. I've never been a Hargrove fan. Now it grows from indifference, to a bit of hate.

Now, what are we going to do about those games at the end of October?

Wednesday, April 4, 2007


Homer heroes Grady Sizemore and Andy Marte AP-Brian KerseyWhat will run out first? The Tribe's offensive exposive extravaganza, or the POJO Dojo's complex headlines, combinining Tribe with unique words starting with E?

I hope I have to start getting creative.

The Tribe bats are on fire right now. This is no fluke. In the second inning, Jhonny Peralta rips an RBI triple, followed by Josh Barfield's RBI single, followed by Andy Marte's 2-run smash, to give the Indians a 4-3 lead (Thome hit a 3-run dinger in the first inning). Pssst. Here's a little secret for you. That's the bottom of the order...7-8-9. Pssst. Yeah, they are that good.

In the fourth inning, VMart comes in with an RBI single to make the score 5-3. VMart went 4-4. In the sixth inning, VMart hit an RBI single to make the score 7-6, Chicago. Westbrook had given up another dinger to Iguchi, and a 2-run single by Joe Crede. I'ts good to see his bat hot.

Grady Sizemore hit his 2nd homer in as many games in the seventh, that gave the Tribe the lead for good.

Grady went 2 for 6 with the game winner.

Trotter went 2-5 with 2 doubles and a walk.

Pronk went 1-2 with a double and get this, 4 walks. Now, please understand that 2 of these walks were intentional. Yeah, you read that right. Intentional walks to GET TO VICTOR MARTINEZ. Hang on a second...........


Hafner was intentionally walked in the 4th (VMart RBI single) and the 9th. Let me tell you this folks. If Pronk keeps getting intentionally walked, Cleveland's going to win a bunch of games.

Dellucci went 1-4 with a double.

Peralta and Barfield both went 1-5, and Marte went 1-4. Talk about big hits.

Guess what. Martinez' two RBI came with 2 outs. Sizemore's 2-run dinger came with 2 outs. I don't need to tell you how important that is 2 DAYS IN A ROW DO I. A team that makes clutch hits, is clutch. Another important little tidbit is that Cleveland managed 10 walks today. You put together 2-run RBI, with a patient team at the plate, and you have a whole BUNCH of trouble for other teams.

You also have to like the way the end of the order is shaping up. Peralta, who resembles our favorite Vizquel replacement, Barfield (YES!) and Marte's power could be devastating to the AL. And what about Trotter? Look, I've been a harsh opponant of signing him, and it's only been two games, but dare I say that Trot is the spark right now. If you've seen a game, you know what I mean.

Jason Michaels makes a falling catch to save the game for Joe Borowski AP-Brian KerseyAs good as the hitting was, HOW ABOUT THE EARLY LOOK AT THE BULLPEN? Westbrook obviously struggled. But look what happened after he left. Tom Mastny came in in the sixth inning, and promptly got Iguchi to pop out, and Uribe to ground out. In came Aaron Fultz, who got Podsednik to fly out, ending the inning, led off the seventh by walking Darin Erstad, but got Thome to hit into a fielder's choice. Enter Rafael Betancourt, Who got Konerko to ground out. Walked Jermaine Dye, putting Dye on first, and Thome on second. Then promptly struck out Joe Crede, to end the inning. Enter the old man, Roberto Hernandez. Things started off rough, as AJ Pierzinski led off with a double. Then the old man got Iguchi to pop up a bunt attempt to first base for an out, got Alex Cintron to pop out to Barfield, and Pods again popped out to end the inning.

In the ninth, in came Bob Wickman. Well, it really was Joe Borowski, but man did it feel like Wickman. Borowski walked Erstad to start the inning. Thome was up, and Borowski came up with a HUGE K. I was ready to bet my house on a Thome dinger. Erstad then stole second. Konerko walked. Then Big Joe struck out Jermaine Dye. Up came Joe Crede. I envisioned a bomb to straight-away center. What I got, however was a bomb from Joe Crede to left field. Michaels made the catch, falling to the ground, to end the game.

So in the end, what do we get from the bullpen today? 4 IP, 1 Hit (yeah, I said only 1), 0 runs and 4 walks (in honor of Bob). Aside from the walks, it was utter brilliance. Fultz got the win. Betancourt and Hernandez both got holds. Borowski rolled with his first Indian save.

Defense anyone? Okay, you had to see Jason Michaels' catch to appreciate it. Wedge gets props for this, as Michaels had just entered the game to pinch hit. Barfield had an error today, but it cost the Indians nothing. Heck, even VMart threw out a runner. He was 1 for 3, as Darin Erstad had 2 today.

Overall, another nice game for Cleveland, although Westbrook struggled. The key for Westbrook may have been the weather. It was very typical Chicago weather. 32 degrees, and windy.

What more do I have to say, other than keep it up. Let's hope game one and game two are season long trends!

Eddie Robinson died today, one of the immortal coaches. RIP coach Eddie. What you did for sports is at least the equal to Jackie Robinson. Know Dat.

Bud Selig + DirecTV = Evil

Bud Selig is making 14.5 million dollars a year.

In case you passed out, let me say it again to make sure that you understand what I just said. BUD SELIG IS MAKING 14.5 MILLION DOLLARS A YEAR AS THE COMMISIONER OF BASEBALL. Not a bad gig, especially when you are terrible at it.

For those of you that live in a hole, Bud Selig engineered a deal with DirecTV last month that would give the satellite programmer exclusive rights to Major League's Extra Innings package. Not only that, but DirecTV would have an exclusivity agreement to carry the brand new MLB Network, that will begin programming in 2009, with the caveat that they will OWN 20% of the Network to MLB's 80%. In other words, big money for the satellite provider.

In doing so, Cable and DirecTV's direct competition, Dish Network would be left in the dark. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the hundred's of thousands of fans that have received the Extra Inning's Package via one of the other services.

Before going any further, let's look at the thought process involved in making this move.

Bud Selig's thinking: I know how to maximize the baseball dollar! DirecTV comes to me with a 7-year, $700,000,000 deal, and we'll be just like football! We'll launch our MLB Service on DirecTV, then ultimately, be able to sell it to cable and Dish Network to include it in one of their special packages. Therefore, baseball and dish network will make a killing! Oh, and those that whine and moan about it HAVE to purchase the online service, which is $20 a month. Yeah, this is perfect!

Notice there was no concern about the fans.

I know what some of you are thinking. I'LL JUST GET THE LOCAL PACKAGE OF SPORTS PROGRAMMING CABLE AND DISH NETWORK OFFER. Hold the phone people. Baseball created an out of market rule years ago to help maximize their Extra Innings Package. This deal means that if you live outside a certain baseball market, you cannot receive the local telecast. Let me give you an example. Say you live in Erie, Pennsylvania, and have Sports Time Ohio in your cable package. You'll notice that as soon as the Indians' starts, you are blacked out. Why? Even though you are 90 miles away from Cleveland, and over 100 miles away from Pittsburgh, you are NOT in the local market, and therefore, can't receive the telecast. Not only that, but you can't receive tapes of telecasts. You know, when Sports Time Ohio plays repeats of great games in Tribe History, the blackout ALSO commences. Let's say, you decide to get a bit subversive, and get the dish network multi-sports package, thinking that's the $5.99 way around it. Read the above. Yeah, you get every sports package from every sports station around the country. Guess what. Blackout. You have to purchase the Extra Innings package.

Now you know your options if you live outside a market.

Wonderful isn't it!

I know, you want to use the internet to LISTEN to the game of your choice on the local radio station. Yeah, you guessed it. Blackout. You have to purchase THAT service through MLB as well.

Well, Mr. Selig, as always, didn't foresee the backlash that this would cause to the general public. After signing the deal, he realized his mistake when Congress and every media outlet began hammering the hell out of him and MLB.

Wait a second? Doesn't the NFL do the same thing? Yes. Here's the difference. The NFL did it from THE START! Nobody ever purchased one thing or another to GET the NFL network and NFL Season ticket. I know for a fact, that people have purchased cable or the Dish Network as a means to an end to get Extra Innings, since it's been an offering for the past three years at least. Now, there are literally hundreds of thousands of people that may be out of luck because they are tied to multi-year deals with either cable or DN. Wonderful.

Selig and MLB decided that they would allow both cable and Dish Network to match DirecTV's offer of 7 years and 700 million. It's believed both immediately said they WOULD match. Are you hearing this? This package could have been worth 7 years and 2.4 billion dollars to MLB. Yeah, I know, I checked the ratings as well. I can't believe it either. The catch? Both Cable and Dish Network wanted the same 20% take in the MLB Network. DirecTV, the final say in the matter, of course said no. MLB of course, said no, and the discussion continued.

Realize this. MLB is negotiating as we speak with cable for sure, and we all think, with Dish Network to get the Extra Innings package onto their networks. If MLB and the two other programming networks agree, the final say goes to DirecTV.

What do I believe? This is the OUT for MLB to tell the other two networks to go to hell, and come out being able to say, "We offered them an opportunity, and they screwed up."

As a matter of fact, most people are starting to say that.

THOSE would be the people I like to call sheep.

Sorry folks, but it's a joke. What Selig wants to happen is DirecTV to maintain as the exclusive holder of all that's baseball. Supply and Demand. There will be NO deal whatsoever, because he knows that DirecTV will never sign on the line onto THEIR COMPETITORS. UNLESS 2 things happen:

1. Congress really does drop the hammer on baseball (hard to do with football's season ticket package, even though it's obvious that the reasons I outline exist)

2. Dish Network and Cable come up with a ridiculous agreement, that now only allows MLB and DirecTV exlusive ownership (can you imagine Dish Network PAYING DirecTV for programming? I don't know about you, but this doesn't sound like good business to me), but comes with a money figure that dwarfs DirecTV's.

I don't see it happening.

Then I think about Bud Selig and his 14.5 million dollars a year.

And I just want to puke.

Monday, April 2, 2007



Grady Sizemore went 2 for 4 with a lead-off homerun (the first since JULIO FRANCO in 1988), scored 3 runs, and knocked in 1.

Trot Nixon went 3 for 4, with hits in his first three at bats, scored 3 runs, before being taken out in the 8th inning for Jason Michaels.

Pronk went 2 for 5, with 3 runs, knocking in 1.

VMart went 2 for 4 with 3 RBI.

Barfield standing on third-AP-M Spencer GreenFor those scoring at home, the top four Tribe batsmen went a combined 9 for 16, with 9 runs and 5 RBI. Cleveland will win a lot of games doing HALF of that.

Jhonny Peralta went 2 for 3 with 1 run and 3 RBI, and Josh Barfield went 1 for 5, but had an inning-breaker triple in the first with 2 outs that scored 2 runs.

Overall, Cleveland scored 6 runs with two outs. Listen folks, it's only the first game of the year, and often you get your hopes up or down too much based on one game. I'm not, but will say this. You win games when you score runs with 2 outs. Ask the Tribe of the 90's.

Jose Contreras left the game in the second inning, having pitched only 1 total inning (he didn't retire a batter in the 2nd), gave up 7 hits, 8 runs (7 earned), to the tune of a 63 ERA. Yeah, those numbers weren't great for Jose. Boy do they make me laugh though.

CC and VMart having a laugh with 2 on and 1 out in the 6th inning.  He would get the next two out.  AP-Nam Y. HuhTHE PITCHING

CC Sabathia didn't have the good stuff today. He led off the game giving up a double to Pablo Ozuna, and a home run to Darin Erstad. From that point on though, He was pretty good. He got out of the second with only a single. Paul Konerko hit a shot to left in the third. CC then got through the next 8 batters (one double play) by giving up only 1 hit.

In the sixth, with one out, he walked Konerko, gave up a single to Jermaine Dye, and a weak, infield single to Joe Crede. With one out, CC gave us a clue that this really may be his year. He forced Tadahito Iguchi to pop out, and struck out AJ Pierzinski. He came to pitch when it counted most. The bottom line here is that CC should have come in rusty after having to leave his last spring training start when he got nailed with the line drive. He was, but found it as he went on. When it counted the most, CC was up to the task. Nicely done.

Rafael Bettancourt came in in the seventh, and mowed them down with one strikeout.

Roberto Hernandez came in in the eighth, and struck Jim Thome out facing his first batter as an Indian, and went three up and three down.

Then came a pause when Joe Borowski came in for his first bit of work. Alex Cintron led off with a single, followed by Brian Anderson's (no, not that one) double. Bowrowski than gave up two sac flys, and mowed down Rob Mackowiak.

Don't make a thing about Borowski. We all know what it's like for a closer coming into a game with nothing on the line. It's different.


Not a whole lot. It's a microcausm of what we all know. Cleveland has a bunch of offense. Cleveland has good starters. Cleveland has some talented relievers, with a bunch of questionmarks.

But psssst. We hammered the hell out of the White Sox. Does it GET much better than that?

Welcome back Tribe, we all missed you.

And to the White Sox? Get used to this.

Tribe Baseball: The Smell of Summer

Sizemore after his leadoff homer--AP--M. Spencer Green"Well, beat the drum and hold the phone - the sun came out today!
We’re born again, there’s new grass on the field.
A-roundin’ third, and headed for home, it’s a brown-eyed handsome man;
Anyone can understand the way I feel."

John Fogerty's centerfield sums up what every Indians fan is thinking right now. Could this be the year? Is a whole generation of fans going to get what no Indians' fan has seen since 1948? Or is this just another step towards the big dance?

I don't know the answer to that, and unlike my bold NBA prediction for the Cavs, I've decided to stay quiet on where I think the Tribe will end up this year, but I sure like the message that Cleveland sent out in the first three innings:

Here follows a short description of Jose Contreras getting his ass handed to him:

Grady Sizemore led of the season with a home run. Trot Nixon followed with a single. Travis Hafner followed with another single. Trot made it to third. VMart followed with another single, scoring Nixon. Pronk to 2nd. Casey Blake hit into a fielder's choice, but Pronk made it to third. Dellucci K'ed. Then the fun started. Jhonny Peralta singled, scoring Hafner, and getting Blake over to third. Then newly acquired Josh Barfield tripled, scoring both Blake and Peralta. Marte popped out to end the inning.

What an inning, and what a start to the season. It didn't end there. CC did struggle initially, giving up a double and a dinger and a single before getting out of the inning after giving up 2 runs. Then came more thunder from the offense.

Grady Sizemore walked. Trotter doubled (sorry about anything I said Trot) and Grady went to third. Pronk legged out an infield single, scoring Sizemore, and Trotter scored on a throwing error. Contreras was gone. VMart flied out, but Casey Blake doubled, moving Pronk to third. Dellucci was walked intentionally, to get to Peralta, and allow for the double play potential.

Last year, Peralta hits into a double play.

This year, Peralta singles, scoring Hafner and Blake, and moving Dellucci to 2nd. This year, Peralta is back to normal.

Finally, Barfield hit INTO that double play, to end the inning.

After a quick bottom of the inning, the Tribe started off with two quick outs. Then came Trotter, who singled to go 3-3 in three innings as an official member of the Indians. Hafner followed up with another single, and then VMart rifled one to deep center, a double, and Hafner and Trotter both scored. Blake struck out to end the third.

So in case you weren't keeping score at home, Cleveland is up 11-2 in the top of the fourth. After three innings, the only Indians not to have a hit are David Dellucci and Andy Marte. After three innings, the only Indians not to be on base is Marte.

I'm not going to sit here and give you another play by play. I'll let better blogs to that, but I will say it's a great start.

Of course...there's still six innings to play, and we still have to see our bullpen.

Who cares.


My synopsis of the Indians will be coming later this week, as well as an update on the game 1 destruction of the White Sox.


Let's Go Tribe!