Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Sunday Big³ at the B³: Acta, Talbot and Carmona overcome a putrid offense

With basketball on everyone's mind on the North Coast, let me begin with one hoop thought before kicking off the Big³ I wish everyone wanted the ball as much as Delonte West does. We all know that Delonte has his issues, but when he's on the court, I'm not even sure LeBron wants the ball as much as the tatooed one. When he's on, he really can't be stopped. If he had more size, he would be a star in this league. Now I could get into what I think about Joakim Noah, but how positive would that be?

Let's get going with the Big³.

#3--Fausto Carmona is back, and Mitch Talbot has been icing on the cake. This really isn't all that complicated. Many are still wondering if Carmona is truly back to his 2007 form, and many others are afraid to jinx his return to dominance by saying he actually is. You know the drill. If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then folks, it's a duck. Carmona showcased this yesterday in beating the Oakland A's for his third victory of the season. Carmona went 7 1/3, striking out eight, and walking zero batters. I can't tell you for sure that his slider is as good as it was in 2007. I also can't tell you for sure if he's going to win 19 games. What I can tell you is that he's throwing a bunch of strikes and exuding a confidence that I've never seen from him before, including in 2007. I don't know if it's maturity, or all the work that the Indians management has been putting into the Fausto-reclamation project, or all of the above, but he's quacking a lot like a duck right now. We'll see what's happening a month from now.

As for Mitch Talbot, what exactly did you, faithful reader, expect from Mr. Mitch? Did you expect even one solid start, let a lone a complete game gem, followed by a shut-down performance against the leaders of the central division? I didn't even think the guy would start, so I'd say that the Indians have already gotten their worth out of Talbot. Should he find a way to keep the magic going any more than it has, great. As far as I'm concerned, we should already be thankful for what we've gotten. Anything more is icing.

#2--I can't even begin to discuss how absolutely putrid the Cleveland Indians offense is right now. Lou Marson isn't even close to the Mendoza line. As a matter of fact, there are rumors that the Mendoza line is safe, and that .100 will now be called the Marson line. He's well below that, at .091 right now. LaPorta and Valbuena are both below the Mendoza line (.196 and .186 respectively, in the seventh inning of their current offensive meltdown against Oakland). Jhonny Peralta is doing everything possible to make sure he's worth absolutely nothing at the deadline, by currently batting .137. Grady Sizemore is healthy, which means he doesn't have an excuse for batting .224. I could keep going, but what would be the point.

Supposedly, the offense was going to be a strength, but right now, they are 27th in the league in runs and RBI, last in hits and average, 24th in doubles and OBP, tied for 21st in triples, 26th in homers and 29th in slugging. Ironically enough, the only team that may be worse than the Indians in the majors is Houston. Boy, what a choice for Manny Acta.

Needless to say, I believe we'll see that staff struggle as the season progresses, and the offense pick up steam. Still, there are some bats in the minors that the Indians should, and will be taking a look at in the near future. I really believe it's a matter of weeks before Carlos Santana shows up, and Jose Costanza, Jason Donald, Trevor Crowe and Wes Hodges are all swinging big sticks. Let's see how much the Tribe brass really wants to see how good these kids could be, when we supposedly leave the rebuild phase, and enter the contend phase.

#1--underwhelming Indians are somehow 8-9 (well, soon to be 8-10)! I'm not really sure who to thank for this start, but I suppose one would have to look to the skipper, Manny Acta. While watching the Indians, it's truly difficult to figure out how they have managed to win eight games while playing most of their games on the road, not employing any offense, rolling out some horrible starts (amidst some truly good ones), and with a bullpen as consistent as poorly made, oatmeal.

There have been bright lights here, and Carmona and Talbot certainly lead the way. I'm firmly convinced that Asdrubal Cabrera is to the Indians, what Derek Jeter is to the Yankees. He's a rock on defense, better than advertised on offense, and a true leader of this team. Austin Kearns is a lot like Mitch Talbot on offense. He's playing well, and I believed that his worth was right up there with cheap toilet paper. Instead of melting paper, we've somehow gotten the Kearns that many people were hoping to see during his days as a prospect for Cincinnati. I don't know how long that will last, but ride that train for as many stops as it takes you. Shin Soo Choo is a dominant offensive player, and I'll leave it there. Why he signed with Scott Boras, I'll never know, but at least we have him for a bit of time before Boras makes him rich, and makes Cleveland hate him. David Huff is beginning to look like a top-end pitcher, and not Jeremy Sowers. Jensen Lewis and Joe Smith have been the anchors in the bullpen (not sure how good that is). Justin Masterson hadn't been horrible (until today). The bottom line? There's good to this Indians team. No, nothing really spectacular not named Carmona, but still solid. There's a lot of room to grow, and I do believe that Manny Acta will look around the system for the parts that he needs.

Now, if he'd just get rid of Jhonny Peralta.

The Sunday Drive:

For those wondering where I've been, I've been focusing my past few weeks working at, where I'll be covering the Kinston Indians for Tony Lastoria. My goal is to throw up at least three pieces a week over there, as well as continuing my daily (or close to it) posting here. After a five week break writing at the B3, I'm back full time. We'll see how the year goes, and how this all fits together. I'll begin linking everything that I do there, here, as soon as possible.

The Cavs and LeBron James hammered the hell out of the Chicago Bulls today. Keep talking Joakim Noah...keep talking. This isn't tennis, or the NCAA.

Alright folks, for better or worse, I'm back. Let's Go Tribe!!!