With the Indians and their awful pitching and bullpen last year, it was hard to swallow in the offseason and try to move on to Spring Training. But we did it. And I do think that if this staff gets better with a halfway decent bullpen, we can win the Central.
Yes fans, I did say a few posts ago and I still have a gut feeling that my Tribe has no chance of contending, but then again who is in the Central that really “wow’s” you and makes you think that everyone will be forming a line behind them? The answer is no one. The Twins were favored, but then Nathan went down. Now it’s anyone’s game to take home. This is going to be an interesting year.
Reasons we can contend: We have a good offense. We are young, and have full potential to hit at every position. Yes we will have our team slumps, but together we have a team that has a new hitting coach, that focuses on smooth swings and lives and dies off of working pitchers. I do think that this is an upside to our offense. No more dilly-dallying around. We are getting straight to business and straight to the point.
One of the reasons that we faultered last year was that Grady was injured and missed a good chunk of at bats. This really sunk our ship, and we slumped because of this loss. I think with a healthy Grady, and with Branyan in our lineup, we will be the most feared offensive team in the Central. I think 1 through 9 in our lineup can hit the gaps, and I think that we have the possibility of being in the top 5 in the MAJORS in extra base hits.
Luis Valbuena will be carrying that load by constantly hitting the gaps and circling the bases. I really like this kid, and if he can hit 7 homers and eh have maybe 60 or so RBI’s which he is capable of, I’m happy. Because his gap hitting power will always be there, and he will always score a good 60+ runs for us. I really like our chances in the Central.
We don’t have 5 clear spots etched in stone that are going to contribute on the mound, but when your the Cleveland Indians, if 3 of those guys don’t work, we have about another 5 in line. Just think about it, we have so many average minor league pitchers that we can bring up if our rotation isn’t contributing. It could be alot like “Guess Who” but you never know. We might find the guy that just might fit. Kind of like the Orioles did last year.
We could have a Brad Bergesen awaiting somewhere in the minors. I think the big contributor to this team is going to be their bullpen. If we keep a strong and consistent bullpen, this team will be alot of fun to watch. Just like in ’07 when the team had a ton of walkoff hits, we could do the same this year. We just need our bullpen to put up solid numbers, and we need inherited runners to not score.
I have been saying this the whole time, Tony Sipp is the man that I think might be the best relief pitcher on our team. Last year he hardly let inherited runners score, and he constantly got big outs when he needed. This could be contention time for the Cleveland Indians. We have most of the tools, and we cleaned house. Plus we have such a great ballpark and great fans. This year could be a whole heck of a lot of fun.
The Twins aren’t a team that we need to keep a huge eye out for anymore. Since there best pitcher is gone, they are going to be in panic mode. Yes there offense will still have a strong core, but their pitching will go down the drain. I would compare them to us this year, I don’t think that they will be any better though do to their loss of Nathan. I think if Mauer plays better than he did last year, then the Twins might win the Central over us.
But this speculation is fun. Who knows who could win the central. The Royals have a great pitching staff with a poor offense, while the Tigers have a decent offense with questionable pitching. Every team in the central has at least 3 or 4 flaws in them and could easily win the division. If the Indians want to win it though, they need to come out from the start hard and looking to win the central. The Tribe needs to work the counts, get good pitches, and steal bases.
That is another thing on my list that I forgot to mention. The stolen base part of the Indians game. With Choo, Cabrera, Sizemore, Valbuena, and Brantley able to steal bases, the Indians will definetly get into scoring position more often. We will see more RBI’s by the power hitters for sure this year, due to the reason we will be taking off more so than not. I think that if we swipe a good 80+ bags this year, we will have more productive numbers from guys in the lower spots in the order. And that just juices up the stat line, and the run production.
This year is going to be very lopsided, and we aren’t going to be happy for parts of the season. But I think it’s contention time, and it’s time that we recognize that. We are a contending team with lots of potential and lots of talent. Let’s just hope that no injuries occur, and that we can take a shot at one of the weakest divisions in baseball. I would like to thank the baseball gods…
Young guys are proving they can play – the bullpen is showing it can shut opponents down. I think this team is ready. I give us a good two years to contend. The Indians will be AL Central Champs again, and playoff baseball will be brought back to Cleveland. The thought of it sends chills down my spine – remembering the 07 playoff run.
Every team in their brother in this offseason will be looking for ways to get Matt Laporta and Andy Marte out this next year. They will exploit their weaknesses and go after them. Next year should be a tough year for both and Valbuena so don’t be so sure of powerhouse number’s. Let me show you an example.
In 2007 Asdrubal Cabrera hit .283 with 30 runs in 159 at bats. He wasn’t quite figured out until the next year when he went .259 with 48 runs in 352 at bats. When getting almost double the at bats he did in the first season: his number’s slipped because opposing pitcher’s figured out how to pitch to him over the course of the season. They exploited his weakness’s and made him ground out again and again. Once they figure you out – its awful hard to come back strong.
This year: although Asdrubal is hitting .315 with 16 stolen bases and 67 runs. He has been one of the leader’s on the team and has really shown he can fight at the plate. He learned how to hit the away pitch – and every pitch for that matter, and just lines every thing back where it came from. He has come a long way, and it has finally payed off.
The pitching just isn’t deep enough to contend next year: even if Carrasco dazzles. The fact is – that Laffey should be your one starter, with Masterson at two, Huff at three, Carmona four, and Carrasco five. That means Sowers is out – or could fight Fausto for his job. Carmona hasn’t been controlling his pitches at all: and like Masterson, has really gotten behind hitters. Fausto walks alot of people which is what leads to many runs scoring. In his past ten starts: Carmona has walked more than one batter all but once.
That just shows me the batter’s are starting to work him – and he isn’t able to keep pounding the strike zone consistantly. He hasn’t shown he can keep the Indians in ball games giving up 4 or more runs in 5 of his last 10 games pitched. Where did the dominant Fausto go: where he won 19 games? That Fausto controlled his sinker and was one of the most dominant pitcher’s in the game. Until he finds his mojo – the Indians won’t have the pitching.
In 2011 – I figure that we will have Carlos Santana behind the dish: and nor Wyatt Toregas or Lou Marson will have the job. Santana has an absolute gun behind the plate and is a true hitter. Carlos is hitting .290 with 21 homers and 93 RBI at the AA level. Those are some very good numbers: especially for a young guy like Carlos. I expect next year he will get a promotion: and if he can hit at the AAA level, I think he will be a for sure midseason call-up. What have we got to lose?
Playoff fever back in Cleveland would feel amazing. The 07 ALDS was a memory I will always have. The crowd was going crazy: waving their “Its Tribe Time Now” towels all crazily in the air. You couldn’t hear anything – and no one was going to miss any part of the game for oh: a bathroom break, food, or an Indians team shop.
People in the street were happily playing guitars: and playing hermonica’s all for the joy of playoff baseball. I tell you – we have some of the most true fans over here in Cleveland: we aren’t band wagon at all. We love the Indians and have from day one. Some of Red Sox nation and probably a third of the Yankee’s fans: don’t know anything about them. They just like them cuz they are good. That isn’t what being a fan is like though. Winning all the time: just isn’t fun.
When you are on the brink of elimination – and everyone in the stadium is biting their nails: that is fun. Like when Travis Hafner hits a walk off to win the game in the ALDS – that is fun. But what fun is winning 100 games year after year and winning the division? Then you take the playoffs by storm and win the world series: is it that fun to repeatedly say “We win, we win!” And do you cheer? Or do you try to cheer? Like you don’t have the inner fan: to start shouting and screaming and romp around the house.
The Rays made alot of die hards happy when they made it to the world series: something that no one expected them to do. Now that is baseball – the celebration: fans not giving up on one of the worst teams in baseball, and then celebrating the huge win and the world series birth. In fact: I would be happy just to be a part in the world series.
The last time we were in it, 1997: the dang Marlins got us. They came back on us in game 7 and beat us. My dad was there – he experienced it all. The heart break: the long trip back home: the angst of losing. It sucked, but that is what a true fan is being like: always there rooting your team on.
When playoff baseball comes back – I will treat it like church. I will be attending almost every game: ready to cheer on the Tribe. In 2011 the year I picked: I will be there, ready for the Indians to go to the world series. Jon Adams will be there banging his drum of course.
But we need pitching in order to get there: In my eyes – with the talent coming up we have a potent lineup that I would compare to the Red Sox. We have to make our starting pitching better though – we can’t get to the playoffs without pitcher’s who can go 6 to 7 innings giving us a chance to win every night. Hopefully all the young guys will have it figured out by then and will perform well: but you can’t guaruntee anything. That is why I am not so sure about 2011: “Is the pitching going to be there?”
I can’t answer yes. The pitching was there in 07. Although Sabathia sucked in the postseason: he still won the Cy Young, and really led the Indians to the playoffs. Fausto Carmona was a stud: having won 19 games and really showing he could pitch. Paul Byrd had a good 15 wins adding on to the Indians 96-66 record. They have to be complete: and I believe this team can do it.
So reserve your playoff tickets for 2011 Cleveland, make sure you grab them quick: they are selling fast. Make sure we come out with new towels and signs too – we can’t have the old “Its Tribe Time Now” rally towels anymore. Jon Adams: bang away as loud as we can – and we will be yelling with you. Let’s go Tribe – its our turn to win!
“Here is the 3-2 pitch, Marte swings, and a long drive,.. deep center field. And it’s gone to souvenier city! The Indians take the lead off of Andy Marte’s two run home run!”
They did it. I don’t know how? But they did it. They came back from being down a run down to their last strike. Incredible! Andy Marte won it for the Tribe?! Yes, Andy Marte. The same one who is on an 8 game hitting streak. What?! I salute you Andy, ‘cuz you have finally learned,… for now, how to hit at the big league level. Shocking isn’t it, that when you are patient, you get your pitch and hit it into the gap? Shocking. Andy has it figured out for now. And hopefully can keep a-rolling for the Tribe.
It didn’t start with Andy though. Matt Laporta, the other maniac rookie, came up in the ninth and battled Jim Johnson in an eight pitch at bat, where Laporta finally got his pitch and lined it up the middle. Wow, has he learned how to hit! He is just a machine, pumping out hit after hit.
The two young guys, hit like veterans and won the game for the Indians. Not the first time we have seen that! Luis Valbuena has been hot. Asdrubal Cabrera has been seeing the ball great! Shin-Soo Choo also had 2 doubles in yesterday’s game, and has been really staying on the ball and taking it to left field. The Indians are starting to hit. They are starting to play as a team, and are really starting to open eyes!
“The two at-bats there in the ninth inning were obviously huge for us,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “Both were long at-bats, tough at-bats against a guy out there throwing the ball pretty good.”
“The guy’s got great stuff,” LaPorta said. “I knew that going into the at-bat, and I just wanted to put up a good at-bat for the ballclub. I just kept fighting, and I got the better end of it that time. I really just tried to bear down.”
Oh yeah, Aaron Laffey pitched a great game. I guess no one knows that because they were so happy about the Indians coming back and beating the Orioles. I will have you know, Aaron Laffey is why the Indians won the game. He went 5 2/3 innings, giving up 2 ER on 5 hits. I would give him a big pat on the back if I were Eric Wedge, because he consistantly goes out there and gives the Indians a chance to win. He locates well, and really throws his pitch to get hitters out.
The Indians won? I still can’t believe it!! Random thought: How many losses has the Orioles bullpen given up?
What a great game overall. To talk about the game here is Ted’s Take:
Could you hear the whiffs on tv? There were so many, I can’t even count them. Zach Greinke set a Royals record for most strikeouts in a single game. Great job Zach we salute you! Great game pitch, and way to shut down the offense.
For the offense, it’s alright to have a bad game, we won three outta four, what’d ya expect 7 or 8?
They had that one game where they just couldn’t get the bat on the ball, and Zach Greinke didn’t help at all. It all started in the first when he struckout Carroll and Choo to start it. And it never stopped there. Greinke (15 strikeouts) is the new record holder as a Royal. Great thing for Zach, not for the Indians. It sucks to be on the wrong side of history, but at least your in it. And look at this year, we set some history against the Yankees, sorry Bombers fans.
Remember how we had that 22 run outburst? The Yankees were on the wrong side of history…
A loss is a loss though, and shows up that way on your record, (which this year I don’t even pay attention to.) We aren’t in any race, I don’t care win or lose but I just am hoping to see our starters next year doing something productive. Like Valbuena, he is hitting the ball great, and Pronk is seeing the ball well, and hitting it to opposite, when is the last time you saw him doing that?
Well, at least we didn’t get shut out last night…
Andy Marte went yard (1) for the first time this year. Congrats Andy, they couldn’t hold you in the park this time! And Matt Laporta, jeez this guy is a machine, hit another double (5). Can this guy find the gaps or what? I am really investing in Laporta, he is a great player and is going to turn out to be a big fit in Cleveland in a year or two, you just watch!
Justin Masterson, oh Justin,.. pitched okay. He couldn’t find the strike zone, and definitely couldn’t keep the ball low enough to where the Royals hitters couldn’t hit it. He took the loss, (4-5 4.47) going 6 strong (?) giving up 4 earned on 7 hits. He actually limited some damage, so it could’ve been worse.
Hey, our pitcher’s actually have been giving up big innings, but have kept going on and deep into the ballgame not letting anymore runs score.
So there are some positives. But the offense needs to get rolling. They aren’t going to face any ‘Zach Greinke’ in Luke Hochevar (6-6). So they should go out, and knock him outta the ballgame as quick as possible. Let’s be on the right side of history today. Not the wrong side of it,…
Luis Valbuena, again, decided the game for the Cleveland Indians. In the eighth inning of Monday nights game he hit a three run homer to put the Indians on top of the Royals, 7-5.
“I’m not going to try to do that every night,” Valbuena said through an interpreter. “I’m just trying to make good contact.” Well, Valbuena is good at making contact, and hitting the ball far when doing so. He hit a walk off homer Saturday night, to give the Indians the win.
“I’ve been working hard in BP,” Valbuena said. “I’m lucky enough that I’m getting good pitches that I can turn on and drive the ball.”
Valbuena has been stroking the ball as of late. He has really been seeing it well, and has gotten alot of pitches to hit. The only thing I noticed that needs work, is that when he gets into hitters counts, he tends to give some at bats away. In yesterday’s game, Valbuena was in a 3-0 count, and swung at an outside pitch. That isn’t a pitch he should be swinging at! The next pitch was high and outside. Another pitch he should just lay off and take ball four. He ended up walking, but that is just what I noticed.
Oh yeah, did you know Travis Hafner had 4 RBI?
Ole’ Travis hit a three run dinger in the fourth, giving the Indians the 3-0 lead. His fourth RBI came in the sixth inning off of Gil Meche. Travis got a pitch to his liking, and went with it hitting it in the left center field gap and scored Shin-Soo Choo who tripled.
When was the last time you saw Pronk do that? Jeremy Sowers had a great game for the Indians, going 7 strong, giving up 5 ER. I noticed, that he kept his stamina the whole game, and just let the Royals score big in one inning (the fifth) and came back and pitched well after that. Good game Jeremy! Way to keep your head in it and way to keep pounding the strike zone.
“Working through seven innings gives you more opportunities for your teammates to pick you up,” Sowers said. And that is totally true. It also gives you more chances to possibly mess up though. With Sowers fastball topping out at 90 MPH he has to live on the corners, and have good location. What I have noticed is that he tends to pound the strike zone with his cutter, fastball and change up regardless of how hard he throws.
I admire that! When a pitcher shows me that he isn’t scared, I will take him any day.
Fausto Carmona is like a box of chocolates, “you never know whatcha’ gonna get?” Yesterday, we got the good Fausto. He went 7 strong, giving up 1 earned run on 5 hits. He got 8 strike outs to go along with a great outing. Now what just made Fausto so great?
He had such great command. It was just always low in the strike zone, and he got alot of groundouts fromt the Seattle hitters. He just kept it where he wanted it, and didn’t try to be fine with it. He let the pitch do the work, and got the job done giving the Indians the win. Great game all around.
The offense was great in the sixth, scoring four times. Jhonny Peralta had a great game going 2-4 with a HR and 2 RBI. He is really seeing the ball well, and hitting it where it is pitched. I haven’t seen Jhonny go with a curveball low and away and smack it into right field for awhile. If you wanna see the box score, click here. And if you wanna have an ongoing twitter conversation with me, click here. Matt Laporta had another double yesterday, his 4th, and continues to hit the gaps. Wow, can this guy hit any more doubles? He is also seeing the ball very well, along with Luis Valbuena who went 2-4 with 1 R and an RBI.
Tony Sipp came on in relief and got the job done, setting the M’s down 1, 2, 3 in his inning of work. He had a K and looked very good once again. I am telling you guys, this guy can pitch. Since when have you seen a relief pitcher that comes in throwing 92 MPH, 93 MPH and just attacks the hitters? Well now you have. He just keeps getting better and better each time he goes out and pitches.
Chris Perez, next years’ hopeful closer came on in the ninth and delivered a scoreless inning, after giving up a hit and striking out two. Perez has really delivered as of late, and looks like he is settling into the closer role. That has got to get Eric Wedge and Cleveland excited about next year.
I really like the way Luis Valbuena and Asdrubal Cabrera work the middle infield, they communicate greatly, and they both know each others’ talent level, so they play the game great together. I like when they turn double plays because they are so smooth fielding, and throwing the ball, and both have quick hands. I hope they stay in the middle infield for next year!