Monday, February 19, 2018

Constraining myself - a schedule

After writing my goodbye to Let’s Go Tribe, I thought that I would immediately start back up in this place, exploring things that interested me but had be shunted to the side in favor of baseball writing. Now the possibilities were endless, the space limitless, and time abundant. You can see those sentiments in the post below. So why was nothing posted here since then?

 Habits are hard to break, but new habits are even harder to form. I spent 12 years formally (and a couple years before that informally) writing about one subject, and it had become a deep and smooth groove. And no, I wouldn’t call it a rut; that word evokes feelings of drudgery, and while at times I felt frustration at the process, at no point did I dread thinking or writing about baseball. In fact, I'd like to continue to do so.

Once I pushed myself into a LGT post, I was able to quickly finish it, as I had all that well-worn experience to draw on. The happenings of the previous three hours may have been new, but there was always a past piece of specific writing to tie to it, no matter how bizarre the events. It was a baseball game that had a beginning, a middle, and an end. There were key plays, key decisions, and key performances that accounted for the outcome. There were larger issues to talk about (the division race, a positional battle, an injury), and there were player and manager reactions to parse. If you stretched things you could bring in non-baseball content, but you couldn't let the non-baseball overwhelm the baseball.

Time was also a useful constraint, as it forced me to quickly grasp the important bits to convey without dithering about perfection. The recaps, which was most of my output at LGT, generally needed to be up less than an hour after the final out, or it wouldn't receive the optimal number of views. At worst it needed to be up by the following morning, and since I needed to sleep, that generally meant I needed to either finish the recap in the couple hours between the end of the game and the end of my waking hours, or to get up early and finish the recap before heading to work. Deadlines tend to focus the mind and the writing, which I count as overall a good habit, though subtlety and polish necessarily had to be left out. There is only a first draft in writing on a short deadline.

Climbing out of that groove to see the expanse of topics surrounding me was both exhilarating and terrifying. The structure that both constrained and comforted me was gone, and in its place was complete freedom, or what I would later learn was really chaotic freedom. I wasn't constrained by something else any longer, but neither was I constrained by myself. I was making grandiose, open-ended plans, but hadn't thought much of the practical steps needed to accomplish them. Perhaps I liked the idea of having freedom rather than using freedom.

To get more specific, over the past couple months I started many different posts, all with broad themes, but never could seem to stay in focus. The paragraphs would dart off in every sort of direction and couldn't be tied neatly together at the end. I was trying to go everywhere at once but ended up going nowhere. And so, while I have plenty of ideas to mine for the future, I didn't have anything I felt comfortable in exposing to the world.

So that's why I'm placing some constraints on myself. I'm going to start out with baseball while making feeble forays into other subjects. My plan is to do one post a week (on Mondays), with baseball posts alternating weekly with other things. Next Monday (February 25th) will be something about the Indians, while the Monday after (March 5th) will be about something else (which is down to a just a couple specific subjects).  I know that most of you came by this place, whether many years ago or in the past several months, because of the Indians, and I still want to write about them. This schedule also gives me an opportunity to write about other subjects as they pop up. The relaxed time frame gives me a deadline but allows enough time to be more contemplative.

I'll be posting links to my posts on my Twitter feed if you want to follow that way, or you can use the RSS feed if you have a feed reader. I would also appreciate any feedback you might give, whether it be on potential Indians subjects or anything else.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Well, I'm back

In the Year of Christ 1571, Michel Montaigne, at the age of 38 on his birthday, the day preceding the Calends of March, already long wearied of the servitude of the law-courts, and of public offices, has retired, with faculties still entire, to the arms of the learned virgins, there to pass in all quiet and security, such length of days as remain to him, of his already more than half-spent years, if so the fates permit him to finish this abode and these sweet ancestral retreats consecrated to his freedom and tranquility and leisure.
                           -Inscription (translated from Latin) above fireplace in Montaigne's study

As anyone who is reading this knows by now, I am no longer writing for Let's Go Tribe. After 12 years of writing on a schedule, I am retiring (as an Internet writer) to this personal blog. I treasure the time I spent at LGT, not the least of which were the people I was able to meet. To be given the opportunity to create a Cleveland Indians community is something that I still marvel at, and that amazement should only grow with the years. But as I noted in my farewell, I had said everything I wanted to say in that format, and didn't want to endlessly repeat myself to the detriment of the site and its visitors.

The constraints that a modern content portal demands tends to limit the scope of what you can write, both because of regimented schedule and the amount of time that writing stays available to the reader. Even so, those constraints can still allow for great content, and will continue to do so; it is not my intent to denigrate the format of the medium, which is necessary in order for those types of sites to be commercially viable. But now that I no longer have to follow those constraints, I'd like to spend my time exploring formats and subjects that just weren't possible before. That's both exhilarating and terrifying.

I'm not sure where exactly I'm going to go with this place. The blog itself is in major need of renovation, having been kept in its 2005 format until recently. Even now it still needs a lot of work. As for content, I will be writing about the Indians (though in different formats), but that won't be the only thing I'll write about. No, I'm not going to do current [deleted - politics], that's way too boring and annoying, but I have a couple of other subjects in mind. Perhaps I will write a lot of words about Person of Interest, perhaps I delve into books or history or music or video games. Whatever I do, I would like to take advantage of the unlimited space a personal blog allows, and write longer pieces, so that necessarily means the posts won't come frequently. I will let you know when I do post on my Twitter feed, and if you'd like to use the traditional RSS feed, that is also available.

Ugh. Only 394 words if you don't count the opening quote. I need to unlearn a lot of things.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

The Clubhouse Tales

With many apologies to Geoffrey Chaucer

General Prologue.
When April’s gentle rains have pierced the frost
And warmed the piles of snow into lukewarm slush;
When the sun begins to timidly turn the earth
Soft again so that growing things begin their rebirth
(And with it the pricking of every Midwestern heart),
The yearly pilgrimage then some folks desire to start
Towards dormant Fields and Stadiums where
Baseball and spring both fill the gentle air.
A particular shrine renowned through the Land
Of Lake and Crooked River do its folks through streets and highways wend:
To seek their summer heroes is their will,
The ones who may at last salve their ills.

Now in that season it befell one day
At the suburban Motel where I lay,
As I was all prepared for driving out
To Cleveland with a heart devout,
There had come into that place at night
Some twenty-five (or twenty-six if CBA is signed)
Sundry men, baseball players all
Who were staying, downtown being their next port of call.
Tomorrow they would ride for the Field and begin
The game that would start their season.
The rooms were comfortable and spacious,
But humble enough for them to be anonymous,
So for one night I sat among them, talking openly about
The years and games of old, of hits and outs.
I spoke with each about their coming journey
Of hopes of once again playing the October tourney,
But also hints of other things completely unknown
To me, a man who while very much grown
Still could not fathom how much fallow time
Was allotted them, a strange paradigm
Of stress then nothingness
Of very much and then much less
That these athletes were expected to endure.
And so, my interest being piqued, and having imbibed
Enough spirits to speak my mind,
I asked the athletic company of how they overcame
The gulf between game and game.

The leader of the club smiled and, taking me aside
Told me of the secret that kept morale so high,
“We have a running contest in which tales are told
By each player both young and old.
And whoever tells the most interesting tale each day
Gets the first crack at dinner after the game.
Each time the contest conditions changes just a bit;
One day it might be originality, the next it might be wit.
But whatever the rules might be the outcome is the same:
Laughs and smiles, tears and much acclaim.”
I wished aloud that I could hear this for myself one time
To hear the players inventing prose and rhyme.
But I thanked him for his honesty, and then the hour being late,
Headed for my room, for next morn’s meeting was at eight.

While I slept, dark clouds crept over our abode
As it stole to the north over all the main roads
So that by morning the sky was gray – no – black.
It was a still and somber day as I drove to my 8 o’clock.
Then wind began to blow, and curses! Rain started to fall
Deluging the Field with puddles and casting a pall
Over the planned festivities.
Because the crowd was to be great, the ballpark activities
Were postponed until the morrow. This I learned
As I returned from my early sojourn,
My business being completed for the day.
I arrived to a room full of players whose joy had gone astray,
Their faces downcast, having to wait for their anticipated debut
Another 24 hours stuck in this comfortable but confining venue.

The leader of the group, remembering what I had said last night,
Suddenly raised his voice above the somber din
“Fellows, I know the skies won’t let our season begin
On time, and we’ll have to wait just a bit more,
And let’s use this time to not to watch TV and be bored
But tell some tales and raise our spirits so that tomorrow
When we take the field it will be with a joyous glow.
Today’s contest will be judged by this guy here,
(You remember him from last night’s beers),
And whoever tells the most astounding and amusing tale
Will have tonight’s dinner paid for by us all.
If this plan appeals to all of you, speak now
For if it does, let’s begin in one hour!”
To this there was unanimous assent, with none heartier than me,
For what I wished last night to hear one day was now to be.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

When we sorrow most

I envy not in any moods
The captive void of noble rage,
The linnet born within the cage,
That never knew the summer woods:

I envy not the beast that takes
His license in the field of time,
Unfetter'd by the sense of crime,
To whom a conscience never wakes;

Nor, what may count itself as blest,
The heart that never plighted troth,
But stagnates in the field of sloth;
Nor any want-begotten rest.

I hold it true, whate'er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, In Memoriam A.H.H (Canto XXVII)

Although Tennyson wrote this great lyric poem after his close friend Arthur Henry Hallem's sudden death, the famous passage above is more often invoked in the wake of a broken relationship. I think the original context is more moving, for in that case it is not the love that is lost but the loved one.

It is a natural reaction in the wake of bitter disappointment to want to sever all emotional ties so that you'll never have to feel that way again. Nobody wants to feel heartbroken. Nobody wants to feel what we're feeling now, the day after Game 7. But it isn't just the final anguish that we got from this relationship. There were many tiny delights, several moments of elation in our time with the 2016 Indians that are still there, perhaps overshadowed right now, but there nonetheless. There were many good things needed to get to that precipice of sorrow. This wasn't a team that never knew the joys of summer, or spent its time wandering aimlessly through the schedule.

As someone who lived through the final innings of the 1997 World Series, you never truly get over this kind of ending. It's always going to be there, at first a festering sore, and then an eternal scab. The best you can do is to also cherish those fond memories, and remember that before the loss, there was joy.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Closing Time

This is probably the final entry of this blog as it is currently constituted. But don't fret; I'm moving to a new location, and the format shouldn't change much at all.

The new location is at SportsBlogs, a group of blogs headlined by Athletics Nation. My blog will be called "Let's Go Tribe," and the URL is In other words, if you found my blog (and its convoluted address), you should find this new destination easy to remember.

I appreciate all of you for making this blog what it is today, and look forward to making the new iteration even better. I'm going to continue some of my long-dormant projects at LGT, including my 2002 retrospective, prospect profiles, rating the Top 100 Players in Indians History, and a host of other things. And of course, I will still be posting my thoughts on the day-to-day happenings of the Cleveland Indians. I invite you, the readers, to take a more active role in the new blog by creating diaries, or simply commenting on my posts. I've been very impressed with the quality of comments lately, and hopefully that will continue as well, for I feel reader participation is the lifeblood of my blog; without it, I'm just some idiot writing in cyberspace. I will make every effort to respond to comments or e-mail, so if you have any suggestions for future content, be sure to make them known.

See you on the other side!

-Ryan Richards

New Site

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Getting Back Off the Mat

The Indians, in a bizarre game, beat Detroit 9-6 last night. The game featured two instances of starting pitchers self-destructing after a run of pretty good pitching. Fortunately for the Indians, Nate Robertson's implosion resulted in nine runs being scored, which was enough to overcome Sabathia's five-run seventh inning. CC had looked pretty good up to that point, only allowing one run on one hit through six innings. The win was encouraging because it came in the wake of probably the most devastating loss of the season.

Some transactions:

Reinstated 1B Travis Hafner from the Disabled List

Optioned OF Jason Dubois to Buffalo (AAA)

So the Indians, instead of trying out Dubois at the very least against left-handers (note how Coco Crisp and Grady Sizemore do against southpaws), the Indians keep Jeff Liefer around, who has the same defensive ability as Dubois, plays the same positions, and who is five years older than Jason. How exactly does Liefer fit in the lineup, except as a replacement to Casey Blake? I don't get this move; yes, Liefer is out of options, but who's going to claim him now when they could have had him for a song when he was with Buffalo? I wrote when the Gerut-Dubois deal was made that the Indians owe it to themselves to see what Dubois can do. And that hasn't really happened yet. Dubois will probably put up some great numbers for the Bisons in the interim, but that wouldn't be anything unexpected.

Placed LHP Arthur Rhodes on the Bereavement List

Recalled RHP Fernando Cabrera from Buffalo (AAA)

Rhodes, who is attending to a sickness in his family, will be gone a minimum of three days, which puts even more of a strain on the Indian bullpen, especially the back-end folks. Bob Wickman was not available last night, and Scott Sauerbeck has been used a lot lately. The Indians could have a used a blowout on Friday, but thanks to the five-run seventh inning, the Indians had to use Bob Howry to save the game. Cabrera hasn't been inserted into any high-leverage situation, but he has the stuff to handle a seventh inning assignment right now. Of course Brian Tallet is still in the bullpen, and yes, he hasn't been used yet; that can be looked at as a good thing, because no starter has been taken out early since CC Sabathia's blow-up in Oakland. But like it or not, the Indians will have to use a relatively inexperienced pitcher sooner or later, and Cabrera is the best young relief arm in the system right now.

MLB Suspended RHP Kevin Millwood for five games, RHP David Riske for four games, and Eric Wedge and Robbie Thompson for one game apiece

What really got me is the guy who started the whole mess, Shigetoshi Hasegawa, only received a fine. Obviously the umpire that night believed that Hasegawa threw at Sizemore intentionally, so why does MLB not believe so? Take for example Cliff Lee's suspension last year: he was thrown out of a game for throwing behind Ken Griffey, Jr, and he was suspended for six games (one start). How are the circumstances different here (besides the fact that Hasegawa actually hit Sizemore)? Is it because Grady Sizemore isn't the superstar Griffey was? To me, this smacks of a double standard. Here's what Millwood had to say about it:

"[Hasegawa's] the one that started the whole mess," Millwood said. "If he doesn't get suspended, then it's pretty much a joke."

Millwood, who will make his next start on Thursday in Kansas City, gleaned a message from the discipline dispensed after Cleveland's 10-5 victory.

"I guess it's OK to throw right in the middle of somebody's back when you're getting your [backside] whooped," Millwood said. "But it's not OK to [stick] up for your teammate."


Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Boone's Option Picked Up

Exercised (and restructured) the 2006 Option of 3B Aaron Boone; Added a 2007 Mutual Option

Press Release

I guess you could call this an extension, although Boone probably would have reached the plate appearance threshold where the option would have vested anyway. No dollars have been released, but Mark Shapiro said that Boone gave back a bit for 2006, and the Indians added the mutual option for 2007. Not really an earth-shattering move, but the Indians save some money next season.

If you believe that Boone's level of play is closer to what he's done in June and July than in April and May, then Boone's probably worth the option. If you think he's the player that hit at or under the Mendoza line the first two months of the season, then he isn't. I think the future level of production lies somewhere between the two extremes, probably he's good for a .260/.320/.430 line next year. Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA player projection system pegged Boone's 50 percentile forecast at .263/.322/.429. His defense has been pretty good, probably better than I expected it to be.

Scott Elarton, Again

Boy am I glad when I'm wrong.

Elarton made his second start against the Yankees, and for the second time he pitched as well as you could hope for. His line:

6.0 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 4 SO, 0 BB

I'll take it. But to look long-term, is Elarton, who is eligible for free agency after the season, worth bringing back? After all, the Indians do have a couple pitchers that they could plug into the rotation in 2006.

The standard pitching numbers look pretty good. Elarton has given up 120 hits in 117 innings of work, which is pretty decent. He's struck out 68 hitters this year, which translates to 5.0/9IP. One reason why Elarton has been successful has been his low walk totals: he's only walked 30 this season, which is especially important given his penchant for giving up homers (all the runs scored off him tonight were via the long ball). My view is that you're looking at a guy who has marginal stuff, but can survive if he can spot his offspeed pitches. If he can't throw his curve or change for strikes, then he's in trouble. But you could say that for a lot of successful MLB pitches. What I want to know, then, is if this season's numbers are a product of luck, or whether they are indicative of what Scott could do for the next couple of years. To do that, let's look at some of the numbers I used to evaluate Jake Westbrook's 2004 season.

xFIP ERA: 4.70

This statistic normalizes fielding independent pitching to the pitchers' home park, which is especially useful when considering that we're looking at a flyball pitcher. FIP itself is a statistic used to take out all the externalities (mainly fielding) that can affect a pitcher's regular ERA. In this case Elarton's xFIP ERA is a bit higher than his regular ERA, but not by a large amount. So you can say that Elarton's current ERA is pretty good measure of how he's pitching.

LD%: 20.6%

This is expected given how most of Elarton's outs are recorded. I will say that I believe Elarton has been helped very much by the Indian outfielders, specifically in center and left, and that if a an inferior outfielder is playing behind Elarton, some of those line drives may start to fall in for singles and doubles. Just a word of warning.

One other thing that should shed some light on Elarton: a trend analysis. I've broken down Elarton's perforance by month, noting innings, hits, and walks (the strikeouts seem to have remained constant):

April: 19.0 IP, 27 H, 9 BB
May: 29.1 IP, 33 H, 9 BB
June: 31.0 IP, 29 H, 5 BB
July: 37.2 IP, 31 H, 7 BB

Note that Elarton has gotten better during every month. To my untrained eye, he seems to have more control over his pitches, and more hitters are making "weak outs" than before. In summary, everything looks good, and the Indians should entertain bringing Scott back on a one- or two-year deal if they can't retain Kevin Millwood. If they keep Millwood, Elarton is probably redundant. Notice I haven't mentioned the cost; because I underestimated last season what pitchers would be getting on the free agent market, so rather than by suggesting numbers that might look comical four months from now, I'll say Elarton should be retained with "fourth starter money."

Jim Ingraham has figured out why the Indians are trailing the White Sox by umpteen games:

Despite the fact that they are 10th in the American League in hitting, and have lower slugging and on-base percentages than the Indians, the White Sox are running away with American League's Central Division race.


They play the game the right way. They move base runners, they hit with runners in scoring position, they catch the ball. The Indians do none of that. At least not consistently.

Of course, he failed to mention that the White Sox lead the AL in pitching. And hitting with RISP is not a "fundamental;" it's hitting (and it involves some luck). "Catching the ball" is called fielding; it is not (by my definition) a fundamental. And while the White Sox are second in the league in Defensive Efficiency, the Indians are right behind them.

I've come to believe that "fundamentals" are just a catch phrase sportswriters use to criticize teams that aren't playing "the right way, according to me." If a team like the Indians doesn't bunt all that much, they get criticized because somehow bunting has come to be indicative of a "true team." Nevermind in most cases that giving up an out in order to slightly increase the probability of scoring one run in that inning decreases drastically thel posibility of scoring multiple runs in that inning. ESPN stopped tracking "productive outs" (to my knowledge) this season, and for good reason; there seems to be no correlation between productive outs and scoring runs.

Ingraham, later in the article, admits that a definition of "fundamentals" is very hard to pin down:

Fundamentals are hard to quantify statistically, except for one very obvious statistic: Wins. The teams that win the most tend to be the teams that play the game the right way the most.

Why don't we then concentrate on what we can quantify, then? Baseball does not lack for statistics by which we can evaluate players or teams, which makes relying on a such a subjective concept so silly.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


Reinstated LHP Jason Stanford from the 60-day Disabled List; Optioned him to Akron (AA)

Stanford has made a couple starts (an inning apiece) in Mahoning Valley, but he's a ways away from pitching in the majors. Stanford had Tommy John surgery just about a year ago (7-29-04). He should be in the pitching mix for the Indians next season.

Transferred OF Juan Gonzalez to the 60-day Disabled List (hamstring)

Juan is probably going to miss the rest of the season, barring something miraculous happening.

Optioned IF Brandon Phillips to Buffalo (AAA)

Phillips played sparingly (although you can't blame Wedge, given how well Peralta and Belliard were playing), but the main reason he was up in Cleveland seemed to be Derek Shelton, the team's pitching coach and former minor-league hitting instructor. Phillips is good enough defensively to be on a major-league roster right now, but his swing still has too many holes in it. Getting Phillips to take outside fastballs to right field is probably a major hurdle to clear, from what I've seen.

Recalled IF Ramon Vazquez from Buffalo (AAA)

Because Travis Hafner isn't ready to go yet, the Indians called up a middle infielder, although he probably would have been called up anyway. Vazquez is a left-handed middle infielder, and can hit right-handed pitching (career .715 OPS). I'd expect Belliard and Peralta to get some days off now, especially if Hafner comes back. For now, Jeff Liefer is still with the club, and will probably hit against right-handers until Pronk comes back.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Rafael Palmeiro...

has been suspended by MLB for violating its drug policy.

Somehow I think this will get more attention than the Betancourt suspension...


I did find it amusing that Buster Olney and Steve Phillips spent two hours on Sunday breaking down the trades that weren't made. Although I do have to say I enjoyed watching the Sunday night broadcast sans Joe Morgan, although I know it's only a one week reprieve. Jon Miller and Steve Stone would be a great pairing, but I know it'll never happen. For those unfamiliar with Stone, he used to do Cub games for WGN, and now he's doing ESPN broadcasts, usually for daygames. Hopefully he'll get better assignments in the future, for I think he's the best there is among color analysts.

When Matt Lawton is the biggest name dealt near the trading deadline, you know it's been a boring deadline. Interestingly enough, the Cubs dealt Jody Gerut to the Pirates in exchange for Lawton, forming a sort of three-way deal that's taken place over eight months (VORP in parenthesis):

Cleveland Gets:
LHP Arthur Rhodes (14.3)
OF Jason Dubois (4.4)*

Pittsburgh Gets:
Jody Gerut (2.6)*

Chicago Gets:
Matt Lawton (24.5)

*Combined between Cleveland and Chicago

Given that the Indians have Rhodes under contract for 2006, there's good chance they come out on the winning end of this deal. The opportunity cost remains though, as the Indians essentially replaced Lawton with Casey Blake (he of the -3.8 VORP). I guess it would have been funny if the Indians had dealt Dubois to Pittsburgh for Lawton, closing the cycle once and for all.

The Rangers did not deal Alfonso Soriano (much to Adam's chagrin), Manny Ramirez decided once and for all that he was a Boston "gangster," and the Devil Rays decided to sit on Julio Lugo and Danys Baez rather than get something for them. Hal Lebovitz reported that the Royals had demanded Fausto Carmona for Matt Stairs; if this "offer" is representative of the deliberations last week, then there's no wonder why almost nothing got done. I'm a bit disappointed that the Indians couldn't deal one of their relievers for an outfielder, but given what actually got traded, that disappointment is tempered somewhat.

VORP report as of August 1st (AL rank):

C Victor Martinez: 23.2 (4th)
1B Ben Broussard: 7.5 (13th)
2B Ron Belliard: 16.2 (8th)
3B Aaron Boone: -3.1 (24th)
CF Grady Sizemore: 26.7 (3rd)
DH Travis Hafner: 43.9 (2nd)
LF Coco Crisp: 17.6 (6th)
RF Casy Blake: -3.8 (24th)
SS Jhonny Peralta: 32.3 (5th)

As you can see, the Indians have great offensive numbers up the middle, but are getting little production from traditional offensive positions. Victor Martinez has carried the team since Travis Hafner went on the disabled list, and although Boone's numbers still look horrific, he's hit well in both June (.272/.341/.506) and July (.314/.362/.430). Coco Crisp continues to be a pleasant surprise in left, and Jhonny Peralta is 5th only because he's behind a stellar group of shortstops (and because he sat early in the season). You know the drill on the underachievers.

Next up: the Yankees. The Indians offense has to put the hurt on the Yankee starters, because New York's offense will get their six runs a game.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Friday Night Fights (Sort of)

Alright, no punches were thrown in last night's victory, but give it time; there's two games left in the series.

First of all, Hasegawa hit Grady Sizemore on purpose for no real good reason. Yeah, he just gave up a home run to Jason Dubois on the previous pitch, but come on. The umpire absolutely made the correct call in tossing him, given where the pitch was thrown (right behind Sizemore, so Grady would back into the pitch). The next inning, Millwood stuck up for his teammate by plunking Yunieski Betancourt, the first batter of the next inning. The benches cleared, Millwood and manager Eric Wedge were tossed, but nothing else happend. But David Riske set the stage for future histrionics by hitting Ichiro in the ninth inning; of course he was ejected, and acting manager Robbie Thompson was as well. Stay tuned, for the next two games may get interesting.

Of course, there was a lot of good that happened during the course of the game; the Indians pounded (soon to be ex?) Seattle pitcher Aaron Sele for nine runs. Victor Martinez, who seems to be hitting now like he did a year ago, hit another three-run homer to effectively put the game out of reach. He finished a triple short of the cycle. Grady Sizemore lead off the game with homer to deep center, and ended a double short of the cycle. Jason Dubois, who loves fastballs out on the outer half of the plate, scorched a home run to right center. When Travis Hafner comes back, Jason needs to be playing right field; although there are some holes in his swing (like a lot of power hitters), you'll take the strikeouts if you can get some power out of him.

The trading deadline is approaching (Sunday at 4pm), and there's some talk that Mark Shapiro might deal either Bob Wickman or Kevin Millwood for some offensive help. Now I'd deal Wickman before Millwood, but I understand that Kevin at this point has a lot more value. With the proposed three-way deal involving Manny Ramirez held up, I'd look to see if I could get Mike Cameron or Aubrey Huff. Obviously the Devil Rays would want prospects (and are supposedly asking the moon and the stars), but the Mets might be interested in Wickman or some other bullpen arm. The Rangers might be a possible destination as well; Kevin Mench would be a great fit. And the Marlins might move Juan Encarnacion. I don't think there's going to be a lot of classic veteren-for-prospect deals this year because of all the teams that are still in races. However, I think you might see a lot of veteren-for-veteren deals where two clubs might trade strengths for weaknesses.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Karma....and Casey Blake

I guess this is karma coming back on Wickman (and me) because of all those saves he almost blew, but it was an awful time to receive it. Again, there's a lot of season left, but with virtually everyone in the AL still in the race, merely keeping pace with the peloton isn't good enough. What makes the loss even more frustrating is that the Indians collected 14 hits, and had but 4 runs to show for it. Whether it's due to the lack of getting hits at the right time or just plain idiotic baserunning, wasting opportunities just grates on me. But if you look at the stats, Oakland left just as many runners on base (11), and had as many hits (14). That's baseball, I guess.

Let me once and for all enunciate my thoughts on Casey Blake, which dovetails with a bit of my philosophy. Blake is disliked right now not because of who he is, but how he's being used. I think if Blake was a platoon partner for Ben Broussard or played in the outfield once a week and still hit .223/.296/.388, some people would complain, but it wouldn't cause much of a kerfluffle. It's because he's trotted out to right field every day, and his offensive struggles are there in front of you every day that it begins to gnaw at your insides. And I don't care where he's hitting in the order, because it really doesn't matter all too much, but I do care that he's in the lineup to begin with. A parallel is the animosity towards Matt Lawton during his stint with the Indians; it wasn't Matt Lawton per se, it was the fact that the Indians gave him a huge contract after trading for him. Heck, at this point I'd take Lawton's cement-shoed range in right field right now, because he's still a pretty decent hitter. But I guess that's besides the point right now. It wasn't that the Indians should have kept Matt Lawton, it's that they replaced him (essentially) with Casey Blake.

And it goes a bit farther than just saying the Indians made a bad move signing Blake to a two-year deal last winter, because there are instances where a team made the absolute correct decision and the player bombs despite everything. No, the Indians signed Blake to a two-year deal, knowing they'd be moving him to outfield, knowing that even at 2004 levels he'd be an average right fielder, knowing that he was 31 and didn't have much of a track record. The good news is that Blake can play the outfield, and he probably can make out a career as a fourth outfielder/utility man. The bad news is that he's not hitting enough to be a backup catcher right now, and as a result, the Indians have a gigantic hole in the outfield. I'm just glad Grady Sizemore has played as well as he has this season; if not, the outfield would have been Coco Crisp, Jody Gerut (assuming they wouldn't have traded him), and ????.

How do you make the best of this situation? Well, I think you go to Jason Dubois, tell him that he's the right fielder, and see what happens. Or Jeff Liefer. Or Ernie Young. Or Andy Abad. Whoever they decide to pick. Obviously besides possibly Dubois, none of these guys are much of a long-term solution, but they don't need to be. All you want is a .250/.350/.450 line for two months.

I guess my point is that good organizations get the most out of the players they have, and they find the right roles for them. For two years, the Indians did exactly that with Casey Blake, a minor-league free agent who gave them two good years at third base. Then they gave him a two-year deal to play right field, effectively canceling out the great return they received in 2003 and 2004. Hopefully he serves as a warning, so whenever the next Casey Blake appears, they know what to do with him.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


Placed 1B/DH Travis Hafner on the 15-day Disabled List (post-concussion symptoms)

Thanks a lot, Buerhle. Hafner has been hitting on the side, but unfortunately whenever he starts running or exercising, he gets dizzy. So after nine days of hoping the dizzyness would go away, the Indians had to DL him on Tuesday or lose the retroactive option. If the dizzy spells go away, Pronk would be eligible to come back when the Indians return home.

Purchased the Contract of 1B/OF Jeff Liefer and Recalled him to Cleveland

Liefer is one of Buffalo's several good AAAA players. A plus for the Indians is that he can play in the outfield some, so I'm hoping against hope that Casey Blake is out of the lineup at least a couple times on the road trip. Liefer's line in Buffalo: 321 AB, .321/.388/.595, 27 2B, 19 HR. Keep in mind that Liefer is 30, lest you entertain any ideas about him. He'll probably be DFAd when Hafner returns.

Optioned RHP Fernando Cabrera to Buffalo (AAA)

Recalled LHP Brian Tallet from Buffalo (AAA)

This happened because of CC Sabathia's meltdown on Monday; the Indians used both of their longmen, and needed some insurance for Tuesday. It turns out that Jake Westbrook spun a gem; of course, Tallet hasn't had much luck at all as far as getting into games is concerned. His next major-league appearance, whenever that happens, will be his first since undergoing Tommy John surgery in August of 2003.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

GM for a Day

I have to admit I go from thinking the Indians should be sellers to buyers from day to day. But the trade (non-waiver) deadline is upcoming, and Mark Shapiro has a major decision to make. He has to not only make decisions based on the players involved, he has to consider the PR implications as well, like it or not; if the Indians deal Kevin Millwood or Bob Wickman for guys the average Joe doesn't know, then the team will take a PR hit. Of course, the team could be absolutely correct in making that move, but that's the way professional sports seems to be heading. If the Indians land a "name" player for the rest of the season, more fans might start to believe in what the Indians are doing; of course, in doing so, they might have to give up a Brad Snyder or a Jake Dittler in order to do so, which would tick off the die-hards, who would bring up Richie Sexson and Brian Giles. Or they could just stand pat, which would anger a whole other class of fans.

Here's what I would do if I were GM of the Indians for a day:

(1) Deal Bob Wickman if you can shore up an area of weakness. Since there aren't that many true sellers out there, see if you can trade Wickman to another buyer for a player that can fill a need. Baltimore could be a possibility, as would Florida, Texas (if they still think they're in it), or Boston. Since Bob doesn't know if he's going to pitch next year, there's no guarantee that you'd get draft pick compensation, so you might as well deal him now. Wickman for Juan Encarnacion plus a prospect would seem a nice fit, but I'm sure there's other possible deals out there. Bob Howry would probably move up to closer, and David Riske could take his place as primary set-up man. Once Matt Miller comes back, you'd have a bullpen of:


(2) Keep Kevin Millwood unless you get blown away. Millwood's been the best pitcher on the staff, and although you figure he's not going to be back, he's going to fetch some compensation via the draft. Keep in mind that Jim Thome's departure to Philadelphia netted the Indians Brad Snyder and Adam Miller, so you can get some pretty good prospects if you draft right. But if a team that loses out on AJ Burnett offers you a great package of players, you jump on it. Possibilities include Texas, both New York teams, Baltimore, and the Cubs. Again, deal Millwood only if someone makes you an offer you can't refuse.

(3) Get Adam Dunn. I don't care if he hits left-handed. I don't care if he strikes out a lot. The guy is one of the best hitters in baseball, and he's 25 years old. And you can have him under your control through 2007. The Reds are paying Ken Griffey, Jr a lot of money, and Dunn is probably going to get $7M+ in arbitration, so I would think he's the outfielder the Reds would deal. He isn't going to come cheap; the Indians would probably have to give up at least two of their better pitching prospects or a major-league pitcher to get him. But if you park him in right field and hit him fifth in the order behind Hafner and Martinez, he consolidates your offense.

(4) Deal Jose Hernandez if you can get a decent return. He can be replaced by either Ryan Garko or Jason Dubois. Again, you deal from your strength in order to shore up an area of weakness.

It is possible for a team to be a buyer and a seller at the same time. In this year's market, it looks like the only way to fix a hole is to do both; there are a lot of teams still in contention, and the teams that are out it don't have much that the Indians would want. I do admit that making the above deals is more difficult than I make it seem, but creativity in deals seems to be one way to make both trading parties happy.

I invite you to play GM for a day: what would you do (within reason) between now and the deadline? Oh, please use the comments on the left (Blogger); I'm phasing out HaloScan over the next two weeks.