Every week that Trot Nixon makes me look bad, I'm going to thank him for it. Trot went 5 for 5 today, and had so many BIG hits that there's no use even mentioning them. Let's just say that the Indians won because of Trot's bad, and Grady's glove, and leave it at that. He's another Indian with an OBP over .400. He's a clubhouse guy. You see how patient the Indians are at the plate this season, and can't deny that Nixon's presence doesn't have something to do with it.
Whenever you turn on the radio or television to watch the Tribe, thank your lucky stars for Tom Hamilton, Mike Hegan, Matt Underwood, Rick Manning, and Jim Donovan. I spent the weekend watching the Orioles telecasts with their TV crew, Gary Thorne and Rick Dempsey. Most of you probably know Gary Thorne from ESPN (he's the announcer who declared that Schilling faked the bloody sock during the World Series). Most of you probably know Rick Dempsey from his many years as a catcher for the Orioles, Dodgers, Yankees, and even a season with the Tribe. Now, let me preface this by saying I have no issues with biased announcing when you are an announcer for your local team, that's partially your job. What I have no patience for is blatant idiocy. Thorne has moments of sounding like he knows what he's doing. Then a ball gets put in play, and it all goes down the toilet. There isn't a fly ball hit by the Orioles that wasn't kept in the park by the wind, or a ground ball single for the opponent that wasn't a seeing eye single, or took a lucky hop. But that was tame compared to Dempsey, who was just blatantly horrible. Here's a list of Dempsey's transgressions: How about having no clue who was who for the Tribe. Tony Mastny, Don Dellucci, Kevin Shoppar, and Ryan Gark all made their debuts this weekend, but my all-time favorite player was Vinnie Martinez. HEY VINNIE! Dempsey also seemed to be a bit fixated with Trot Nixon. Whenever Trotter would come up to bat, Dempsey would say, "I just can't get used to him wearing that uniform," as though Trot was the Cal Ripken of the Red Sox. There was the prediction Dempsey made for Jay Gibbons. He had a feeling that Gibbons was going to hit a double off the wall. Gibbons, mired in a huge slump, popped out to short. I could go on and on, but you get the point. We are lucky to have a solid announce crew here in Cleveland. Of course, my five and two year old could out announce the Orioles team.
Don't be surprised if Grady Sizemore got crossed off of Corey Patterson's Christmas list. If you didn't see the game, you missed one of the reasons why Peter Gammons thinks Sizemore is going to win the MVP this year. The first catch came in the 6th inning, with the bases loaded. He had a good jump, and was laid completely out when he made the catch. It saved at least three runs, and would have closed the score to 8-6. In the 8th inning, Sizemore went after a fly in nearly the same place. This time, Sizemore slid UNDER Trot Nixon, who was coming over from right to make the catch, and made another fantastic catch. Who hit it? That's right, Corey Patterson. We all know about Sizemore's stick, but I dare you to find me a better center fielder.
You have all read here that the Yankees contacted Cleveland about Paul Byrd. You can officially put that to bed when the Yankees announced today that Roger Clemens was coming back with the Yankees. Please feel free to join me in hating the Yankees just a little bit more.
CC Sabathia is a #1 pitcher, there is no doubt about that, but I still have questions. They showed a stat today that was eye opening. It was pitcher under the age of 27 with the most wins. Sabathia was first with 86 wins. Carlos Zambrano is second with 67 wins. That's 20 more wins than Zambrano. Zambrano debuted in August of 2001, while CC debuted in April of the same month. That says a lot about CC. Still, he has shown flashes of struggle in his last three starts. He's won them all, which says a lot. It's been a long time since the Indians have had that starter/stopper, and todays CC-stop opened up my eyes at least. I'm also liking the way that the Indians are playing behind him. I ask you all this. If Zambrano's stats aren't as good as CC's, how much will CC end up making? Raise your hand if you think Sabathia will be playing in Boston or NYC in two years. Yeah, me too.
Cleveland's pen still obviously needs some work. I'm hoping Cleveland can find a team to deal someone like Paul Byrd too to perhaps get that lockdown setup guy, or even another pitcher with closer potential. The two guys that are on my radar right now are Akinori Otsuka from Texas and Jonathan Broxton from the Dodgers. Both can close, and both have been lights out. The problem with Texas is that Gagne gets hurt every other day (thank you Texas, for taking that off our radar), and they won't deal Otsuka without Gagne healthy. The problem with LA is that Broxton is their closer of the future. Still, if either is in contention, and in need of a starter, Cleveland has the weapons to deal. My question? Would either team take Byrd?
Fausto Carmona is back. I ask you all this. If Carmona continues to pitch well with Westbrook out, what happens when Westbrook is ready to come off the dl? Do you send Carmona back with 5+ good starts in a row? Not likely. Do you send down Sowers, or Byrd? Do you make a move this early? I don't know what they'll do, but I'm content with the problem. As I've said before, it's good Shapiro learned from the Hart regime, that you need a staff to go with the hitting.
Cleveland can't win this series, but against a team like Baltimore, they should at least get a split. You don't want to start a long road trip going 1-3 against a team you should beat.
The Next Seven Days:
Monday: At Baltimore 12:35 ET-Fausto Carmona vs. Steve Trachsel
Tuesday: At LA of Anaheim 10:05 ET-Cliff Lee vs. Ervin Santana
Wednesday: At LA of Anaheim 10:05 ET-Paul Byrd vs. Jered Weaver
Thursday: At LA of Anaheim 3:35 ET-Jeremy Sowers vs. Kelvim Escobar
Friday: At Oakland-CC Sabathia vs. TBA
Saturday: At Oakland-Fausto Carmona vs. TBA
Sunday: At Oakland-Cliff Lee vs. TBA
It's a BEAUTIFUL WEEK FOR BASEBALL!