Mama always told me not to look into the sights of the sun
Mother’s Day has come at the right time for the Indians. Because right now, they’re playing like a club only a mother could love.
Last night’s loss sunk the Indians to 11-20. Their .355 winning percentage is the worst in all of baseball. Yes, even worse than that of the Nationals, who have won three in a row.
The Indians haven’t won three in a row this season. They’ve won two in a row exactly once, on April 15-16.
This is the worst start under manager Eric Wedge since his first season in 2003, when a team that included such Hall of Famers as Ben Broussard, Shane Spencer, Jack Cressend and Ricardo Rodriguez started out 9-22.
So what did the Indians do? They held a 40-minute, players-only meeting last night. This is what teams do when they’ve exhausted every other option. They have meetings.
There is no season-saving trade on the horizon. There is no prospect looming at Triple-A Columbus who can simultaneously help the back end of the rotation, the bullpen, the defense and the offense with runners in scoring position. In the coming days, Luis Vizcaino will join the club (more on that below), possibly at the expense of Masa Kobayashi, and Jamey Carroll will come back, possibly at the expense of David Dellucci (both of those “expenses” are merely guesses on my part, for the record).
But until the Indians have a leadoff hitter batting better than .227, until they have a healthy, productive designated hitter, until they have guys who can get outs in the seventh and eighth innings, until they stop showing a propensity to tighten up in the late innings – both at the plate and in the field – this is your team. These are your 2009 Indians.
Those things might happen, and that seven-game deficit in the AL Central standings might be overcome. But for now, this is a team only a mother could love.
EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…
- Vizcaino told me he will be with the big-league club tomorrow. He threw a simulated session against Tribe hitters this morning, and Wedge spoke with him afterward. I’d expect an official move either Monday or Tuesday, depending on whether or not the Indians want to rest Vizcaino for a day after Sunday’s activity. But either way, it appears he’s on board.
- So who goes? It might be time to say “sayonara” to Masa Kobayashi and his 8.38 ERA. The Indians signed Kobayashi to a two-year, $6 million contract, and he’s given them about two months of effectiveness, at the beginning of the ’08 season. He can be optioned to Columbus if he gives consent, or he can be released outright.
- Kobayashi isn’t the only option, just the most obvious. I wouldn’t put it past the Tribe to option Jensen Lewis down to Columbus to get him straightened out, or to option Tony Sipp to give him a more calculated workload. Remember that the Indians have to be careful with Sipp’s arm after the Tommy John surgery he had in ’07. They could also cut ties with Matt Herges, though he hasn’t had much of an audition to this point.
- RHP Joe Smith said his shoulder was feeling better this morning, and he’s hoping to starting playing catch on Monday.
- When it comes to last night’s meeting, Victor Martinez said it was not a case of one or two leaders doing all the talking. “Everybody participated,” he said. The fact that it lasted about 40 minutes backs up that account.
- According to Elias, the last time the Tigers recorded back-to-back shutouts in Cleveland was July 3-4 in ’08. That’s 1908. When Teddy Roosevelt was president.
- The last time the Tribe was shut out in back-to-back games was July 21-22, 2004, against the White Sox.
- The Indians have not scored in their last 19 innings, dating back to the eighth inning Thursday night in Boston.
- The Tigers have not swept a three-game series in Cleveland since May 2006.
- The Indians are 0-6 at home this year on Fridays and Saturdays. But they are 2-0 on Sundays.
- Last night, Rafael Betancourt tied George Uhle for 10th place on the club’s all-time list of career games pitched. Betancourt’s now at 357 games.
- The Indians are batting .248 as a team and averaging 4.1 runs per game since the 22-run outburst in New York on April 18.
- Right-hander Jeanmar Gomez went seven scoreless innings, and right-hander Zach Putnam went two perfect innings in his relief debut, as Double-A Akron beat Harrisburg, 6-0, yesterday.
- Michael Brantley pulled a Curtis Granderson yesterday, reaching over the wall to snatch a would-be homer from Carlos Maldonado in Columbus’ 7-2 win over Pawtucket. Brantley has had a slow start at the plate in his first exposure to Triple-A. He’s batting .233 with a .604 OPS.
- Right-hander Greg Aquino is another name to watch for potential relief help. He signed a Minor League deal before Spring Training and has a 1.80 ERA in five appearances for the Clippers, but he’s also had some arm problems.
- Finally, I’d like to wish a happy seventh birthday to my nephew, Colin, who occasionally clicks on the link to this blog when he’s not playing Star Wars games online.
UPDATE: Grace Jasinski, a 20-year-old Tribe fan from Aurora, Ohio, was in the right place at the right time today. Jasinski became the 40 millionth fan to walk through the turnstiles at Progressive Field and received a prize package valued at more than $20,000. The package included an authentic jersey with the number 40 on the back, a 40-game season ticket package, a $400 Indians Team Shop shopping spree, 40 balloons and 40 red roses, among other things. Way to go, Grace.
UPDATE NO. 2: Why no Matt LaPorta today, particularly with Dellucci entering the game in an 0-for-14 funk? Good question. For what it’s worth, here was Wedge’s answer.
“I’m just trying to use our regular lineup to get these guys going. We’re going to get [LaPorta] in there. When you go through something like this and the guys get together like they did last night, you need to send out your regulars to give them the opportunity to get this thing turned around.”