Monday Morning Musings

I don’t claim to know much about much, but I can tell you with great certainty that the absolute worst time to go grocery shopping is on a Sunday evening.

I went to my local Giant Eagle last night and was floored to find they were out of bananas (as well as other various forms of fruits and produce). I can only guess that banana shipments arrive on Monday mornings. At first, I thought I was the only one in the store who was blown away by this development, until I passed a guy who was in the store with a friend and heard him say, with a quiver, “No bananas!? No bananas!?” He sounded like he was about to schedule an appointment with his therapist.

(The best times to go grocery shopping, as I’m sure you know, are Fridays around 5 p.m. and Saturdays in the late morning. Yes, the store is most crowded at these times, but the grazing opportunities for free samples are limitless.)

That’s what’s on my mind. Let’s see what’s on yours…

  • Jeremy Sowers or Aaron Laffey? Who do you prefer? Sowers got the first call-up, but Laffey gets the start tonight and is now in Westbrook’s rotation spot.
  • Is there any realistic scenario in which C.C. repeats as the Cy Young winner, or have those first four starts definitively knocked him out of contention?
  • You are Eric Wedge on Sunday morning, and Grady is out of the lineup. Who is your leadoff hitter and why?
  • Have you ever successfully purchased a banana on a Sunday night?


No Monday mailbag on the site this week, but let’s take a few bonus questions here. If you have a question for the mailbag (next edition runs May 5), send it to And remember to include your first name, last initial and hometown…. 

How long before Ryan Garko moves to the three hole in the lineup? Hafner is just killing us with K’s in that spot, and I’m of the mindset that your No. 3 hitter should be your best hitter, pound for pound. Grady is fine where he is at the No. 1 spot. I think dropping Travis down to five or six, depending on a RHP or LHP, would be ideal. What do you think?

— Adam L., Euclid, Ohio


It might be time, Adam. Really, when was the last time Hafner came up to bat in a clutch situation and you just knew, instinctively, that he would rip the ball to the gap or hit one out? Last April, maybe?


I’m not saying Hafner hasn’t come through in the clutch since then. It’s just that you used to get that feeling of limitless possibility with Pronk at the plate, and that feeling has unfortunately dissipated over the past year. Garko doesn’t have Pronk’s power potential, but he’s been a much more consistent offensive presence this year and much of last.


Perhaps you can help me understand something. The Indians brought Sowers up to pitch in Westbrook’s place (at least that’s what I thought). So who is Laffey replacing? I just don’t understand how they lose one pitcher but call two starters up when they only need one to replace him.

— Kevin W., Lexington, Ohio


When Wedge named Sowers the Saturday starter on Wednesday afternoon, the idea was that Sowers would be taking Westbrook’s spot. But that night’s game got rained out, prompting the need for a Monday spot starter (Fausto was bumped to Thursday and is therefore on short rest today). Laffey got that Monday opportunity, and with Sowers optioned back out and therefore unavailable to the big-league club for 10 days, Laffey holds onto that last starting spot.

My question is about vision testing. Are the players responsible, or does the team test every year? Ted Williams always said it’s hand-eye coordination for hitting.

— Jim D., Sarasota, Fla.


An eye test is part of the physical exam every player – including the Minor Leaguers – is subjected to at the outset of Spring Training.


UPDATE: Master of Self Promotion Jason Stein said I am remiss in not mentioning the iTrac vision training system several Indians players use (and Stein runs). It’s a tennis ball machine, and numbers and colors are printed on the balls, which come in at speeds up to 140 mph. It helps train hitters to read the spin on the ball. 




I couldn’t agree more about your Hafner comment. It use to feel like when ever he came to the plate something was going to happen, now it’s only a big breeze.

I do get that feeling with Victor now. When he came to bat in the 9th with the bases loaded, I knew the Indians had won before he got the hit.

I prefer Laffey, but of course I cannot complain about Sower’s start, other than to say he threw way too many balls. But I should really wait until after tonights game to fully support Laffey… but considering he did better against the Red Sox in the playoffs last year than CC or Fausto, I think he earned the spot.

I was thinking about CC recently and the Cy Young this year, and while I told my brother Cliff Lee can win it this year and then Fausto can have it next year, realisticially I think CC could win it. If you think about it, CC had some rough outings last year, especially right after the All Star break I believe, so as long as he just got all of his bad outings out of the way in the beginning, there is no reason he cannot bounce back.

Right now I might have to try Jamey Carroll in the leadoff spot. It might sound crazy, but he keeps finding a way to get on base, and there really aren’t that many other people on the team right now who are doing a good enough job at the plate to earn that spot, I believe.

I cannot speak specifically for bananas, but I can say I enjoy late night shopping trips, between midnight and 2 am, assuming your local grocery store is open 24 hours, and if you are alright not getting any free samples.

i agree with all of whats been said by the previous 2 post. every bit of me keeps wanting to hold on to the hopes of hafner. that he’ll come around and fall out of his funk. i dont know what the deal is, how can a player go from what he produced 2 years ago to a much lesser intimidating threat behind the plate. i do agree with the moving him back in the lineup cause until they ban the infield shift and he quits swinging at high fastballs, i dont see much coming from pronk. i hope to be proved wrong.

when it comes to the cy young, at the end of the year i think its all based on the numbers for the most part. so i think if cc can keep producing the way he has the past few games his first few starts will be forgotten, except by those of us who had to experience it.

as much as i didnt think id say it. i might agree with the carroll comment too. he does manage to find his way on base by means of a hit or being hit. and he’s shown that he can steal. so, id be all about him being our leadoff man. but then again, to start him everyday creates a whole new set of issues with the infield. asdrubal starts to be making a slow turn around for the better. he’s one of two guys for cleveland that i feel if he plays up to his ability, he could be something special for us. the other being gutierrez. both i feel have the ability to be something huge for this team. but like alot of other things for indians, dont seems to be clicking yet.

which leads me into the final thought:
i told a buddy the other day that if we were even getting close to hitting the ball the way that i know we potentially could, we’d be winning everything. we’re 3 in the AL in lowest ERA from starting pitching and thats with some rough CC starts. but along with that we’re 13th out of 14th in the AL in team average. i think thats what leaves me with hope for this 08 season instead of saying it, “screw it”. i think we will come around and hit the way we need to do. hopefully sooner than later and that combined with the pitching we have along with westbrook involved in on that, i think we are the toughest team in the AL. that gives me hope.

lord bless the bats.

I’ll take Laffey over Sowers (who I think has some growing up to do still, judging from the permanent pout on his face).
C.C. does have a chance to repeat but I’d watch out for Lee, he seems to have done a 180 after he was moved down last season.
Cabrera or Carroll for a leadoff man.
And never tried to buy a banana on a Sunday evening.
Love your mailbag, Love Love Love your blog!

with cliff, dont you think we need let him face a tough team first. not to take anything away from the athletics/royals or the twins but they’re not what you call some mashers. ill be the first to say that he’s looked real good. but, i want to see it up against a team thats knows for throwing up some runs. ill guess we’ll see.

First of all, before passing judgement, lets see how Laffey pitches tonight. We haven’t seen either pitcher since last season, and watching them both face the Yankees will give us a better idea of who is on top their game right now. Although, for the next start it doesn’t really matter–Sowers won’t be available for eight more days.

Secondly, I think it is definitly plausabile that C.C. repeats as the Cy Young Winner. He will need to continue his turnaround and pitch very well down the stretch. Sabathia’s biggest challenge will be from his own teammates. If Cliff Lee or Fausto Carmona pitch better than he does, C.C. won’t stand a chance.

Thirdly, I liked Dellucci for the leadoff hole, but I would have also considered Casey Blake. Blake led off for the Tribe several times in the last two years [I recall a particular three game set in Minnesota] when Sizemore wasn’t in that hole, and did a pretty decent job setting the table. But Dellucci, especially as he gets hot, was a good choice.

Yes, I’ve bought bananas on a Sunday night, but they we’re never good bananas.

Thanks, Anthony

Can I get some more info on when the tennis ball vision training was implemented? Because I know I heard Hafner raving about it at the beginning of the year last year.. right when he started to lose his ability to pick up the breaking ball, which seems to be the biggest cause for this slump. If you can’t pick up the breaking ball you either swing at and miss thinking its a fastball or you think its a breaking ball when its a fastball thats nearly almost past you. Because of his power and bat speed he has the ability to recover occasionally, but not always. Can this perhaps be part of the problem? It’s a long shot, but I just want to see the Pronk fixed, as I know everyone, including him, does.

Below is the link to a story we did on the vision training system last year. Hafner’s been using it for several years, so I’d hardly say it’s a reason for his decline.

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