Back in the Saddle
That was one the oddest 5-5 stretches I've seen in a while. I'm not going to redundantly going to recap what most of you already know. Instead, I'll go Larry King and start spouting randomness.
Scott Stewart and Jose Jimenez have showed signs of improvement. Yeah, it didn't take much to look better than they did in April, but Stewart is starting to rack up some strikeouts, and Jimenez is starting to get ground balls again. Rick White has pretty much been as advertised; eat up some innings, and has furthermore pitched out of some high-leverage situations. Now if only David Riske could get back on track....
It really pains me to see Omar Vizquel in the field. His arm strength is just plain bad now, and his range has dramatically decreased. With Brandon Phillips rebounding quite well from his abysmal 2003 season, it's probably only a matter of time until he's mentioned as Omar's heir apparent. Ironically, Omar's bat may keep him in the league a couple more years. In the right situation, he'd be a very adequate platoon partner at second base, where his lack of arm strength wouldn't be as much of an issue. But regardless, he's not going to be a starting shortstop after this season is over.
Who knew the offense was going to be as good as the bullpen was bad? Yes, a lot of this production is coming from Ronnie Belliard and Matt Lawton, but Jody Gerut, Victor Martinez, and Travis Hafner are also playing a big part as well. Casey Blake has been, well, Casey Blake, and the only real weak spot in the lineup has been Alex Escobar or Coco Crisp. Ryan Ludwick would look real nice in the lineup right now.
It's time to rekindle my annual "Free Kyle Denney!" campaign. Most baseball fans have one unheralded or virtually unknown baseball player that we really root for, and Denney has been that guy for the last two years. He's essentially the right-handed version of Jason Stanford, except that he was actually drafted. He's been eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for two years now, and although Lino Urdaneta was drafted this year, teams passed on Denney, even though he's been successful his entire minor-league career. Why is that? Well, scouts tend to frown on players who aren't over six foot tall, can't throw 92-93 mph, only has one good pitch, or who don't come from a good program.
Denney was drafted out of Oklahoma in the 26th round in 1999, generally not a good sign for a college player. But Denney has done nothing but post sub-4.00 ERAs at every level since then. He's also been able to "miss bats", he's accumulated 466 strikeouts in 487 pro innings, while only walking 154, very good ratios. His only knock? He's two months away from turning 27, and he's been old at every level. But if you're the Indians, why not use this opportunity to try out Denney while contention is a year away? Stanford finally got his shot, and ironically Stanford's forearm injury could help open the door for Denney as well.
I'm experimenting with trying to integrate the minor league rosters with the blog, just so I can limit the maintenance associated with this site. So please bear with me, and please let me know if you have any suggestions as to how I can improve your surfing experience.