It's not too late to infiltrate
It’s an off day. But you could say the Indians have been a little off all year.
Here are four stats that sum up the Tribe’s 2009 season, to this point:
65 2/3 - innings pitched by the starters, an average of less than 5 1/3 per game
44 1/3 - innings pitched by the relievers, an average of more than 3 1/3 per game
6.50 - relief ERA
1 - save situations for Kerry Wood
With numbers like that, it doesn’t matter that the Indians are leading the AL in runs scored per game. If the starters don’t start going deep into games and giving the relievers a fighting chance, the Indians won’t be going anywhere this year.
But it’s early enough for this troublesome trend to get sorted out, and perhaps Carl Pavano’s tremendous outing in the Bronx yesterday will prove to be a major step forward for him and his rotation mates.
In the meantime, general manager Mark Shapiro had a conference call with reporters today to discuss the 4-9 start, and here’s a sampling of his thoughts…
(On yesterday’s replay)
“There was a second feed from the YES Network that was very different from the STO feed. It certainly appeared the ball went over Crowe’s glove and into the stands. I can understand the umpire’s ruling. Most importantly, focusing on that play would be an excuse. We didn’t execute situationally, and our bullpen didn’t execute. That play was influential, but to use that would be an excuse, and that’s not how we play.”
(On possible roster moves)
“We’d consider any move that would make our team better. No one at Columbus has made themselves a clear, better alternative to the guys up here. We need to balance the importance of making us better and understanding there’s some urgency with also understanding the long schedule and respecting what players have done and giving them the opportunity to get on track.”
(On the burden the starters are placing on the ‘pen)
“There’s definitely a correlation between the two. The guys we feel can be dependable relievers for us have had to carry an unfair burden and had to rack up innings and pitches they wouldn’t normally have to rack up. That’s not the only reason we’ve struggled, but that’s been one component of it.”
(On slow April starts)
“It’s certainly something we’re aware of and don’t want. It’s something Eric’s taken a lot of time to try to look at and examine in the past. It’s not something we’re happy about and something we like. But we’ve been the best team in baseball the last four years in August and September.”
(On the longer spring and the adjustment to Arizona negatively impacting the Tribe’s training)
“That’s possible. But there are 13 other teams that train in Arizona, too. I’m not willing to accept that as a blanket excuse for what we’re going through. I think the bigger part of our problem is the first couple times through, our rotation only got six innings a couple times. That was putting a huge burden on our bullpen with no off days. That, along with some bad performances [in the 'pen], has snowballed.”
(On choosing a date to firmly assess the team)
“We’re not locked into any date to make a decision. We’re not going to be passive. We clearly understand the expectations. We’re not resistant to making moves, but we’ve got to feel confident those moves will make us a better team.”
(On the offense)
“We lead the American league in runs scored [per game]. I think we’ve walked too many guys as a pitching staff and given up too many home runs. We had a period where our offense put a little too much pressure on itself [because of the starters' struggles]. But anybody who’s watched us play of late can see this is a team capable of scoring a lot of runs this year. … Clearly [Victor Martinez] are back and having productive years. Everybody else has either contributed at times or contributed consistently since Spring Training. A lot of them haven’t hit their full strides yet.”