We’re building for a better tomorrow…today!

It’s often said that you can tell how good a baseball team will be by the quarter mark of the season, or after 40 games have been played. The Cleveland Indians are now 43 games into the season, and I already declared the season over on May 18th, when they were 15-21; as of the time of this writing (Tuesday night), they’re 16-27 (although, on a happier note, they’re winning tonight). (Note: as of Thursday night, they’re 17-28.)

It’s not like the Indians were off to a promising start and the recent six game losing streak killed their hope. But the fact is, the Indians being 15-21 was, all things considered, pretty good, and maybe better than we expected. But after losing their rising star shortstop and established center fielder, the Indians lack experience both on the field and in management.

Sounds like a great time for a quarter season report card, right? Read on, after the jump.

Don’t say “it ain’t so”, you know the time is now

It’s just not their year.

The Indians lost a game to the Rays tonight in 11 innings, but worse and more importantly, they lost their starting shortstop to a broken right left forearm. My guess is, best case, Cabrera comes back around the All-Star Break.

What ended up ending Cabera’s night, week, month and half of the season was kind of a freak play. The Indians had the shift on for Hank Blalock, who hit a ground ball up the middle. As Cabrera, diving from the first base side of second base, and Peralta, diving from the third base side, the two collided. Peralta was shaken up but stayed in the game, while Cabrera had to be carted off the field.

A lot of fans are blaming Peralta for running into Cabrera. The problem is that fans also blame Peralta when he doesn’t dive for the ball. Ever since Aaron Boone left the Indians, Peralta has become the designated scapegoat for the Indians (unless you’re talking to those weirdos who think it was Casey Blake). But let’s look at the facts: over the last three years (since Boone left), Peralta’s numbers are .264/57/258. Granted, those aren’t exactly Pujolsian numbers, but Peralta hasn’t been the real problem, especially when you compare his numbers to Sizemore’s over that same time period: .262/75/245. Peralta hasn’t spent any time on the DL, and he went through a position change last season. Give the guy a break.

Despite that injury the Indians were able to take the lead thanks to some clutch hitting by Jhonny Peralta (see? SEE?), Luis Valbuena and Trevor Crowe. This is all ironic because the three scapegoats in this game are also the three Indians who managed to produce runs. Crowe’s moment came in the 8th, when a 2-out sinking line drive was hit his way in center field. Crowe came in, dove, caught the ball…and then dropped it. The tying run scored, opening the door for extra innings. Can’t really do much about that. While I don’t doubt Sizemore makes that play, there aren’t many starting center fielders besides Sizemore who DO make that play and Crowe made a solid effort, particularly indoors.

After Cabrera left, Luis Valbuena played shortstop the rest of the game. While he’s a defensive wizard at second base, he leaves a lot to be desired at shortstop and his continued play there is only hurting his already fragile confidence. The play of the game came in the eleventh, with the Rays batting in their last at-bat with one out. John Jaso hit a slow chopper to in the hole towards short. Valbuena took an awkward route to the ball, looking initially like he wasn’t hustling but really he just didn’t get a very good jump on it. After gloving it, he double clutched before unloading a seed to first. Jaso was called safe. While he was actually out by a hair, the play was closer than it should have been, closer than it would have been had Cabrera or even Peralta been playing short.

Two batters later, the Rays squeezed home the run when Jamey Wright was able to glove the bunt but chucked it over the head of Marson on a do-or-die play. Game over.

Look, I want the Indians to win just as bad as anyone. And losing hurts. But this isn’t the Indians of 1995. It’s not even the Indians of 2005 or 2007. These guys are learning every game (with the exception of Valbuena at short, I guess) and there’s no question that they’re trying. And there have been some bright spots on this season so far, including the return of Jake Westbrook and Fausto Carmona.

But for the Indians to win this year, everything had to go right. Injuries couldn’t hurt the Indians much (no pun intended), the starting pitching had to be good, the defense had to be lockdown and the offense had to be as good as or better than last year. So far, only the starting pitching has been good. The defense, while making among the fewest errors in the league, have given up more unearned runs than most other teams in the league. And the offense…well, let’s just say that when Russell Branyan teed off for the first time against Kansas City the other night, it was the Indians’ first home run by a first baseman, catcher or left fielder. Between them.

The 2010 Indians are young and inexperienced and it shows almost nightly. And really, what other options do the Indians have? Sure, there’s Lonnie Chisenhall knocking the cover off at AAA Columbus, but as we’ve seen particularly in the last couple years, AAA success does not translate into major league success. Sure, there’s high-priced or medium-priced veterans, but the Indians are on pace to draw less fans this year than any season in the Jacobs/Progressive Field era. Baseball is a business; something has to pay the bills.

I love baseball enough that despite the karma not falling the Indians’ way this season (I blame the Cavs for that Z trade – karma like that can cross the street), I’ll keep watching. But it’s not their year.

Maybe next year.

Six years gone

Eric Wedge

2009 wasn’t supposed to go like this for the Cleveland Indians. After getting off to a terrible start in 2008, the Indians rallied to finish the year 81-81, with the help of some promising young talent from Buffalo. The 2009 Indians brought back Cy Young winner Cliff Lee, added free agents Mark DeRosa, Kerry Wood and Joe Smith, and were poised to compete in the weak AL Central division.

It didn’t work out that way. Whether it was injuries, ineffectiveness, or just plain bad luck, the 2009 Indians had their worst season in almost 20 years. When you assess a season like this, where do you begin? My review of the 2009 Indians is after the jump.

Allergies

Spring is here! In my world, that means baseball is back, school is almost over (but not winding down) and the flowers are in bloom… which means my eyes are itching like crazy.

I’ve never had really intense allergies that require a perscription or anything like that; it’s more often than not just a minor annoyance for about two weeks while the pollen is really heavy. But seriously, why can’t I have allergies in the winter time? If things have to go bad, I might as well get it all out of the way at one time, right?

  • In computer world, particularly Linux world, the big news of this week is Ubuntu 8.04′s launch on Thursday. I’ve never really liked Ubuntu, as most of you who read this blog know, but it’s nice that it’s able to make Linux so easy for those who want to pose as computer nerds for a while or those who are too cheap to buy a copy of Windows and too lazy to pirate it. One thing Ubuntu has got going for it, however, is a lot of driver support – when I installed 7.10 on my laptop a few months ago, the wireless just worked, there was no fiddling with getting firmware, cutting it up and then wrapping the drivers with NDISWrapper.

    I’m using Fedora 8 (Werewolf…I know, Ubuntu’s codenames are much cooler) on my laptop and on my desktop. I’ll probably keep it on my desktop for a while as part of a dual boot system – Fedora does a great job at doing what it needs to do. On my laptop, however, I like it more and more every time I try it but at this point it still doesn’t quite have the polish that Windows XP has. (For example, for some reason when I move my mouse around in this textarea while editing this blog post, Firefox decides it needs to grab the icon of the Blogger favorites icon and insert the URL into the post. First of all, why would I ever want to do that? And secondly, where do I shut that off?) I like the prospect of using Linux exclusively on my laptop (primarily because instead of having to install bloatware like Dreamweaver and Acrobat Pro I can get much better software that doesn’t use as many resources), but I’m not quite there yet.

  • Today is Earth Day, meaning Google has their obligatory Earth Day logo and everyone else is all “save the Earth!”. Still not sure what the point of Earth Day is – sure, we can all respect the environment today, but tomorrow… I mean, we have to go to work, right?
  • The Indians play the Royals tonight, C.C. Sabathia vs. Gil Meche. Given these two starters’ ERA thus far, this is a pretty unfair matchup. But C.C. has to turn it around sometime, right? There may be no better time than tonight.

    In other Indians news, Jake Westbrook got put on the 15-day DL (I have no idea why, he seemed fine the other night), and Ben Francisco was recalled to the Major Leagues. If I were Eric Wedge, I’d start Francisco tonight and see what he does. The offense needs a spark, particularly in left field.

  • Quote of the Day:
    If life throws you a curveball, take it to right field.

    Rick Manning, color commentator, STO

On a final note, it’s nice to have The Office back, isn’t it? Looking forward to the rest of the season, even though its shorter than it’s supposed to be, because word is that NBC ordered 30 episodes for next fall. Until later, stay well and enjoy the weather!

The commencement

…of the 2008 Major League Baseball season! Yes, I woke up at 6 AM to watch the first few pitches of what I hope will be an outstanding season, and then went back to sleep.

  • The Boston Red Sox are alone on top of the AL East, after a win earlier this morning in Japan against Oakland. Oakland, by all rights, should have won that game. Huston Street, the closer for the Athletics, is a good pitcher and I don’t expect him to blow many more saves this year, but as it happened, the backup right fielder Brandon Moss tied the game in the ninth with a solo homerun, opening the gate for the return of Manny Ramirez to untie the game in the tenth with a two-run double.

    We’ve barely started the 2008 season and already Manny Ramirez has done two things which are completely stupid: 1) on hitting the double, he stood at home plate for a while and watched as his majestic homerun hit the ground before the wall and then realized he should run somewhere, and 2) when asked about being named “Hero of the Game” and getting a check for $10000, said “That’s going to be some gas money. I love it.” This is fourth highest paid player in baseball, he gets paid more than $10000 an inning. Ugh. But at least it brings me to my next point…

  • For every time the Red Sox lose this season, I’m going to donate one dollar to my sister‘s El Salvador fund. I encourage you to do the same, perhaps with a charity closer to you, or maybe in a different amount. It makes rooting against the Red Sox much more fun.
  • From the “ruh-roh” department, Facebook was hacked. I haven’t been on Facebook in a little over six months now (mostly because I’m jealous of Mark Zuckerberg), but I realize I’ve said that Facebook is a much more secure application than Myspace or similar sites. However, that doesn’t mean it’s perfect! It’s common sense that the more features you have in an application, the more vulnerable it is to attack, and I guess that’s what happened with Facebook. Never fear though, apparently the hole was plugged in less than an hour.
  • I generally enjoy following politics but lately it seems like it’s getting more and more depressing. I’m getting tired of the “Obama campaign” and the “Clinton campaign” fighting it out; why can’t “Obama” say something to “Clinton” and vice versa?
  • In happier news, the Indians are only six days away from Opening Day. The weather for Opening Day appears to be getting better, which would be nice. Also, the rotation was finalized yesterday with Cliff Lee getting the 5th spot. I hope Cliff Lee proves me wrong, but for some reason he doesn’t seem like the type of pitcher the Indians need. Also from that article, Aaron Fultz is out, and I can’t say I’ll miss him all that much.

    I caught a little of the game yesterday and a little of the game today: yesterday Jake Westbrook threw six perfect innings against the Braves, and today, last time I checked, Paul Byrd hadn’t allowed an earned run against the vaunted Yankees.

    But for some reason, Andy Marte is still on the big league roster. TRADE HIM! I watched him boot two balls in 4 innings today, and both weren’t especially hard grounders to field. The defense I could forgive if the guy could hit, but I’m not seeing a lot of hope there either. Everyone talks about trying to avoid another “Brandon Phillips”-like trade with Marte, where he would go to a new team and then tear it up. First of all, Brandon Phillips had a decent year with Cincinatti when he was traded (2006) but wasn’t quite as impressive last year. It’s not like we lost a heck of a lot. And secondly, we have two second basemen who I would take over Phillips any day. Same goes for Casey Blake over Andy Marte (and maybe Jhonny Peralta over Andy Marte).

  • Caught Britney Spears’ guest star appearance on How I Met Your Mother last night, and I’ll say this: her role was mercifully small.
  • And now the quote of the day, this time talking to our friend George Costanza:
    I don’t even want to talk about it anymore. What were you thinking? What was going on in your mind? Artistic integrity? Where, where did you come up with that? You’re not artistic and you have no integrity. You know you really need some help. A regular psychiatrist couldn’t even help you. You need to go to like Vienna or something. You know what I mean? You need to get involved at the University level. Like where Freud studied and have all those people looking at you and checking up on you. That’s the kind of help you need. Not the once a week for eighty bucks. No. You need a team. A team of psychiatrists working round the clock thinking about you, having conferences, observing you, like the way they did with the Elephant Man. That’s what I’m talking about because that’s the only way you’re going to get better.

    Jerry, Seinfeld

I think that’s all from within the legendary walls of Case Western Reserve University. Stay well, go Tribe, and boo Red Sox!