"I wish there were pigmen. You get a few of these pigmen walking around, suddenly I'm looking a whole lot better."

We’re back up and running after a weekend off, and hopefully all of you have steered clear of the swine flu and are ready to talk Tribe.

The swine flu epidemic has everybody up in arms. WTAM radio legend Mark Schwab was worried he might be coming down with a unique mixture of swine flu and bird flu, but I assured him that would only happen when pigs fly.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • Eric Wedge used his pregame session with reporters to discuss the need for the leaders of this clubhouse to step forward. “We’re still coming together as a team,” Wedge said. He reiterated a lot of what he said Saturday night, when he called out his players for their unsatisfactory offensive approach. “We’re not a young team anymore,” Wedge said. “A lot of our guys are right smack dab in the middle of their career. There are some things happening that shouldn’t be happening.”
  • As expected, Asdrubal Cabrera remained in the No. 2 spot of the lineup today, with Mark DeRosa down at No. 7. DeRosa came into this series with the Red Sox batting .195 with a .609 OPS. “I think it helps the team,” he said of the lineup move. “I don’t think it helps me. But I expected it. It didn’t come as a shock. We find ourselves 7-12, you can’t keep running out the same lineup if it’s not producing runs.”
  • Travis Hafner was out of the lineup for the second straight day and the third time in five games. Wedge made it clear it’s not a physical issue with Pronk, who is only expected to play five or six times a week at this juncture anyway. He just wanted to keep Hafner out of the lineup against Tim Wakefield, because knuckleballers can throw a hitter’s swing out of whack. “[Hafner] has worked so hard to find [his swing],” Wedge said. “We don’t want him to lose it.” Pronk is 0-for-9 in his career against Wakefield.
  • If you’re keeping track of Tony Sipp’s visitor’s log, you can add his father and his brother to the list. They made it here in time to catch Tony in action yesterday, as he got two big outs with the bases loaded in the 4-2 victory over the Twins. “That was the worst of the worst,” Sipp said of facing Justin Morneau and Jason Kubel with the bases jammed. “Getting out of that was big. I was glad to help out in a timely situation.”
  • As for the man Sipp has, essentially, replaced as the late-inning lefty (for the time being, anyway), Rafael Perez encouraged Wedge with his scoreless sixth inning in Saturday’s 7-1 loss. “He was a lot better,” Wedge said. “You could tell from the first pitch. His arm looked good, he was keeping the ball down, and he was throwing good sliders.” Perez has been working on the side with pitching coach Carl Willis and bullpen coach Chuck Hernandez.
  • The Indians are 3-0 in games started by Aaron Laffey and 4-12 in their other 16 games. Laffey is one-third of an inning shy of qualifying for the AL ERA title. He would rank sixth with a 2.41 mark.
  • Everybody’s favorite Twitterer, Matt LaPorta, was named the International League player of the week. For the season, LaPorta has a hit in 14 of 16 games and is batting .400 with three doubles, five homers and 13 RBIs. He hit .520 with a .613 on-base percentage for the week.
  • First baseman Matt McBride, a converted catcher, has an 11-game hitting streak at Class A Kinston. He’s hit .432 (19-for-44) with four doubles, three homers and 13 RBIs during the streak.
  • Also at Kinston, third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall (grand slams in back-to-back games and homers in three straight) and right-hander Eric Berger (10 scoreless innings over two starts) were named the Carolina League player and pitcher of the week.
  • The Indians scored 22 runs on April 18. They have scored a total of 22 runs in the seven games since.

~AC

16 Comments

Couple observations…can you throw some answers?

What’s up with Choo’s arm? I’ve seen him make several throws that aren’t even close recently.

If Laffey pitches like he has, they can’t send him back down, can they? It would seem pretty ill-advised.

It’s early still, but I am really starting to wonder about our offseason trades…DeRosa is struggling, Smith is struggling…

Finally, why does Graffanino have such a long leash? Where is Josh Barfield?

I thought at the time of the trade that DeRosa’s numbers made him a likely candidate to be Dellucci II, and that does seem to be the case. They’d be a better team with Barfield and Valbuena up in place of DeRosa and Graffanino. And LaPorta in place of Francisco, who they should trade.

Has the weekend rendered any information on Cabrera’s ink?

I doubt if anyone realy reads these things, but anyway…Let me ask a few questions.
How does the orginization feel when they write the players paychecks?
Is this a business or a farm team for others?
Where are the coaches? or has baseball fallen to the hugs and kisses attitudes of the days of now, craddeling and pampering and soft words?
We have a few lagitimate ballers…Seizemore, Martinez, Lee…and…and…..and…let me think…wait one more minute…and…and…..well there has to be someone else, just give me a month or so….
Craig

I think the frustrating thing about this team for most of us (and forgive me for speaking for others) is that we clearly have the pieces, yet it seems like only parts show up each day. We get good pitching, our bats take the day off. We get a bunch of runs, our bullpen blows it. We never seem to get on the same page.
And while I’m not even remotely a Wedge hater (I probably defend him too much), this seems like something a manager should be held responsible for.
On a separate note, has using our closer in a non-save situation ever worked out for the Tribe? It seems to be Wedge’s philosophy (even if he was gone by that point today) and it always seems to backfire. I personally think it’s an awful move, as it puts pressure on the offense and wastes your closer if said offense doesn’t score.

@losangelesclevelandfan I agree with you on both your first and second points. There is nothing more frustrating than seeing your starter finally back to his best form and having the team not give him run support. Also, I am definitely a huge Wedge fan–and as such, I think it’s very telling that in the past few days he’s really seemed to speak out more than usual about his own frustrations with the team’s shortcomings.

I agree with pretty much all of you. It’s time for Valbuena and LaPorta to be called up in my opinion. The lineup could use some new blood.

Jason
http://jmays.mlblogs.com

Barfield through last night: .361 BA / 444 slg% – plays IF/OF – yeah, no opportunities up in Cleveland I’m sure…

Yeah, because calling up hot prospects always pays off… for a month that season, then they struggle the next two (See Francisco, Choo).

This ‘success via desperation call-ups’ is starting to catch up with us. I’m willing to give DeRosa a little bit of slack – and I like the move to the bottom of the batting order – but I’d like to see our minor leaguers actually get something out of it. Look at Scott Lewis: 24.1 innings of major league experience, 4 starts, and he deserves to be in the rotation over two guys who’ve been in the rotation over the last two seasons, know what they’re up against? Lewis was a RELIEF PITCHER, not a starter, and the majority of his ‘experience’ was in the Eastern League. Look at Cabrera, Perez & Jensen – they all were lights out in Akron, we call them up, they’re great for a while and then they hit the wall. Maybe a little more time learning how to deal with the adversity instead of just flailing at the major league level might have helped?

Sadly, no one will fire Wedge.
Shapiro and Wedge are thick as thieves and Dolan is absolutely clueless about this organization.
This could go on for an eternity.

Sometimes I wonder what would happen if the intelligent fans that respond to these threads were the group that made the decisions for Dolan… Honesty is refreshing at times, a characteristics that Mr. Vanilla Cliche Machine does not possess. To respond to the comments left by many: djacks, I would imagine that while Scott Lewis may present a better option (currently) than many of our starting pitchers, Laffey isn’t going anywhere and Lewis’ rehab will be significantly extended to keep Laffey here. Deservedly so. isavage, I might give DeRosa a little leeway. He is not Dellucci part deux but most people thought his numbers would decline once he got out of Wrigley. Bern, you and I continue to be the most vocal fans about Josh Barfield. Continually using Tony Graffanino baffles me. He brings nothing to the table. LACF, your comment about the lack of flow and timing is quite astute. I totally agree and it has been an issue with every Wedge team we put out on the field. To me that speaks volumes to his managerial aptitude and leadership capabilities. As for using the closer in the 9th at home during a tie ballgame, it is a move consistently utilized in baseball. When it works, you’re a genius. When it fails, you’re a donkey. Unfortunately for Kerry our offense hasn’t gotten him quality and consistent opportunities to pitch. I sill feel better with him back there than Borowski, Betancourt, Lewis, et. al.

I feel it is time for Matt LaPorta. After spring training I might have said Michael Brantley but his 15 K in 60 AB with 7 BB has me questioning such an early promotion. While I am a huge Trevor Crowe fan I think he is pressing WAY too much: .192 BA, 9 K, 2 BB, 33 AB. Francisco cannot go anywhere because no one will trade for him and he is out of options. His stat line, like so many others on this team, is disturbing: .212, 14 K, 52 AB. Bring up Matt. Send Trevor down. Give LaPorta the starts in LF. Finally, Kelly Shoppach has shown me that he is a career backup catcher and nothing more. For a guy that is supposed to be a great defender his defense as been declining every year. Give him his 35 starts on Cliff Lee days, and about one other start per week (at most) during the season. It will give him ~60 starts to help keep Martinez and Garko fresh. It is easy to nitpick over the stats of ANY player because the team is so putrid right now offensively. Shoppach: .229, 13 K in 35 AB. Terrible. Garko is a better option daily and I say that as a Ryan hater: .277, 6 K in 47 AB and his at bats are consistently of better quality than Kelly. I say again, we should have traded Kelly while his stock was high. Hindsight as 20/20 I think the club would have pulled the trigger if they knew how well Toregas and Gimenez were to play during the spring.

sorry for the length

• I think the reason we traded for Josh Barfield was only to dump Kevin Kouzmanoff and his back.
• Why wasn’t Ryan pinch hitting for Peralta last night in the ninth? 0-for-what?
• I wouldn’t get rid of Willis – I think he’s a great pitching coach.

Alright fellas, lets get a W tonight… for the love of pete!

While I’m not quite as high on Barfield as some of you (yes, he’s hitting .361 in AAA, but that’s over only 9 games and he has 3 errors already), it really is baffling that we kept Graffaninno (who I was high on in spring training) and sent Josh down. And while I like Crowe, I think taking away ABs from Francisco is preventing him from getting a groove going.
You know who we really miss? I realized this last night: Jamey Carroll. Aside from being productive no matter what position he’s asked to play, Carroll’s a true leader by example. There are games right now when we get Crowe/Francisco, DeRosa, and Graffanino in the line-up, and that hurts.
I’m using 40 games (1/4 of the season) as my watermark for this team. If LaPorta and Sowers are both performing well in Columbus and Scott Lewis is healthy again (as he should be), I see no reason why all three of them shouldn’t get the call, assuming things stand the way they do now.

amseeley- I’m also pretty much on the ‘LaPorta could be our savior’ boat, but I was reminded that if we call him up before another month and a half or so, he’ll gain service time that would make him arbitration-eligible a year earlier. We’ve got to tough it out until then. Not that we shouldn’t be able to; the Indians have one of the most capable lineups in the game on paper…

Jason
Trials and Tribeulations
http://jmays.mlblogs.com

LACF, while I agree with you on the production of certain AAA players expediting their arrival to the big league club, can you really see the organization demoting Anthony Reyes (for Scott Lewis) and another SP for Jeremy Sowers? The former, yes. The latter, no. Lee and Carmona are going nowhere. Neither is Pavano so long as his arm doesn’t fall off. Laffey will continue to be up here so long as he’s healthy IMO. The organization thinks they made a mistake with Scott Lewis over Aaron Laffey. Sowers may be the odd man out for opportunities.

mayz, you make a great point that never occurred to me until I read AC’s story on Ben Francisco. I could see the Indians pulling the same trick that the Rays did with Evan Longoria. If they wait they can delay his eligibility until after 2011. It gives LaPorta more time to develop and the organization can gain a year of service. In that time you’d like to see LaPorta struggle for a time then adapt to the pitchers. Having a guy crank it out in every level does not prepare himself for the struggles of the major league season.

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