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.”

13 Comments

I was watching the Indians – Yankees game on TBS and the announcers there we both pretty sure that the umps blew the call. Who knows! And Pavano? I think there might have a been a Yankees fan or two having a heart attack watching him pitch yesterday.

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

Why didn’t Shapiro address the horrendous strikeout totals? I know that the pitching woes overshadow the strikeouts, but it is a huge problem so far this year. When you have tying runners on second and third with no outs, it is unacceptable to strike out twice.

Is that line about being the best team in baseball in Aug./Sept. the last 4 years true? I am not doubting it, I actually find it quite interesting, I just wish it paid off more. Every team wants to get hot at the right time, but if that stat is true, and we have only made the playoffs once in those four years, then something definitely needs to be fixed in the other four months.

I think the “best team in August/September” is legitimate. 08 – best in baseball i know, 07 – strong year all around and didnt fade, 06 – very poor start but got it going to get above 500, 05 – slow start very good 2nd half to almost make playoffs. I know slow starts are depressing, but in my eyes as long as this team gets itself to about 500 through the first two months, I have all confidence it can pick the pace up down the stretch.

Allegedly having “the best team in baseball the last four years in August and September” does not mean diddly when your team is out of the running after May 15th. Since Wedge has been manager how many times have we made the playoffs (a measurable barometer of success considering how weak our division has historically been)? How many times has his team crumbled, either down the stretch of the regular season or in the playoffs? I am a huge Indians/baseball fan but my patience is wearing thin on this regime of Wedge/Shapiro (yes, I did intentionally put Wedge ahead of Shapiro as I feel Eric has had a negative controlling effect on Mark). I typically go to ~20 games in a season but given the economy I do not think I can justify said expenses. The lineage from the owner (especially), GM and the manager are SO out of touch with the fan base I find it difficult to give them my money while they continue to deflect and ignore some glaring issues. I am not a fair-weather fan at all. Before the season you could have made a case for the Indians to win 95 games just as easily as making one for them to lose 91. Unfortunately, these are the circumstances that revolve around a sports team in a small/mid market. Recently bobwickman brought up a point about Grady Sizemore potentially going to the Yankees after the 2012. While his statement seemed half-truth, half tongue-and-cheek it sparked a counter from lissi who defended Grady and the organization stating that Sizemore wasn’t a sellout AND most importantly that the Indians would pay for him. Consider the latter point. We all felt that about CC Sabathia and he was HOMEGROWN. If we won’t pay our OWN top tier players then who will we find worthy? As if you couldn’t tell I am severely frustrated with our boys’ start and felt the need to vent after a wretched night of work! My apologies for the length.

Well, I’m not ready to panic just yet, as the season is less than 20 games old so far.
HOWEVER: there are just a couple things that are stuck in my craw:
• Why do we always swing for the fences? There never seems to be a game plan that involves getting guys on base and just moving them over with a single or a double. This “Double, HR, or Nothin’” approach doesn’t work with a team that doesn’t trot out a line-up with guys who are always in the line-up or have the confidence of the coaching staff to be left in the game in the latter innings. I’d rather get some runs on the board instead of trying to crawl out of a hole in the 4,5,6 inning every game.
• The lack of ‘passion’ (for lack of a better word) when it came to that call on Sunday. I know, its 2 days later, but no one was visibly upset. So, just take it and hang your head? There were plenty of arguments to make there and no one stepped up on behalf of the team. I didn’t think that was very cool, or the sign of a team who really wanted to win. That being said, I know that’s not why we lost, but who’s to say that we don’t get out of that inning if it was just ruled a double? I mean, if that wasn’t fan interference, then I guess I can come to a game and run out and sucker punch Pedroia when the Sox come to town? (If I were Crowe, and I caught the final out of the inning, I would’ve turned around and pegged that guy in the chest with the ball.)
Sorry, I vented a little too… lets go Tribe. Yea team, whoo hoo!

Amosely- I am actually very worried about Grady going to the Yankees. Very. The thought of him in pinstripes just kills me. From what I heard about the CC thing the Indians were offering a pretty good amount of money just not the years CC wanted or as much as he thought he could get. I have to tell myself that as long as we offer something competitive with the rest of the world that isn’t the Yankees Grady will stay. Personally and maybe I’m biased and wrong I think Grady is a lot more important to the organization than CC and therefore I think they would be willing to do a little more to keep him.
As for our slow start, it seems like things are starting to come together minus the bullpen. The bullpen scares me. How is anyone supposed to play well when no matter what lead you give the bullpen they blow it? (Not Wood or Smith)
bern1025- The picture of Crowe chucking the ball at that guy is hilarious. And also the picture of someone running out and sucker punching Pedroia is pretty good too.

I am calling my shot right now: if Aaron Laffey has another productive outing we will be inundated with information from AC about how great Laffey is (see May 2008) and why he should have made the roster out of spring training. NOWHERE in this article will be the fact that his two pitching performances were against Sidney Ponson and the Kansas City Royals.

I’m all about jumping on the Laffey bandwagon… a good September doesn’t convince me that someone should be in the rotation – regardless what they show in Spring Training.

New tagline for CastroTurf: “Grinding & Separating”… just throwing that out there….

I like it bern. Grinding our way to the cellar IMO. For a quirky stat with some potential upside I will say that in 2002 the Indians started 11-1 only to finish the season at 74-88. Here’s hoping, not panicking, and simply over-analyzing.

First off, Laffey has only had one start so far, obviously, but so what if he does do well tonight. First, he can’t control when he pitches. So you can’t fault a guy for having to face the Royals (The first place Royals, by the way) two times in a row. Second, last time when he faced Ponson, one guy had a quality start, the other didn’t, guess what, Ponson was the guy that did. So, obviously, you also can’t fault a guy for who the opposing pitcher is, but even if you do, it doesn’t matter what that person’s name is, they still had a better start than Laffey did last time.

Between Laffey, S. Lewis and Sowers, I think all three of them have done things to show they deserve a spot on the club, so it’s hard to make an argument why one guy deserves it over the other. As long as they keep competeing against each other, and at least one of them, and hopefully two, can be legitimate major league starters, I will be happy.

It doesn’t really matter how good the Indians may be in August and September if it’s not enough to get us into OCTOBER!! Useless stat. for a Wedge team. His team traditionally starts slow and appears ill prepared to play baseball. They looked as if it were the first week of spring training in the opening series in Texas–pitiful. We were outplayed on every level. The lack of passion is simply a reflection of the management of this team.

I think we have much more pressing matters, Tribe fans, than to worry about 2012.

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