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.

~AC

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.”

24 Comments

Happy Birthday Colin! And I hope the Indians can get things figured out soon.

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

And we’re on the verge of getting swept.
I have to ask about a few things you mention, AC, to get your opinion and those of the regular posters:

“But until the Indians have a leadoff hitter batting better than .227,”

Which is entirely fixable, yes? I mean, considering how this season is going, why wouldn’t they move someone else to that spot? I understand the difficulties with our bullpen, but the lead off spot is something that can be fixed, but hasn’t.

“until they have a healthy, productive designated hitter,”

Which, again, would seem entirely fixable if, say, they made Garko the every day DH. He’s healthy. He can be productive when he gets the shot. Why not give him every day ABs and use LaPorta at first when Victor’s catching?

I feel like this is the same issue as the lead off spot — we have the guys, we just aren’t using them…as opposed to:

“until they have guys who can get outs in the seventh and eighth innings,”

What are you going to do?

“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.”

And yet one of the few guys who has come through in the clutch this season — Barfield — gets passed over for Valbuena in the very next game. That’s a great message to send.

Dellucci’s a regular? Since when?

Bad news to have a non-productive lefty platoon player like Dellucci because they play like 70% of the time.

Just to note….. Randy Newsome has been transferred from AAA to AA, so that means there is a free roster spot at AAA.

Should that lead us to believe that Sipp or Lewis are going to be optioned back to AAA to make room for Vizcaino?

I think it’s time for Mark Shapiro to fire Derek Shelton and send Eric Wedge the message to shape up or he’s next. Who can take Shelton’s place? Rick Manning.

I’m happy to here the good news about Joe Smith. Happy Mother’s Day!
-Ellie
http://mrmetbro.blogspot.com

A new day; a new lineup – and another loss.
He’s like my son’s t-ball coach – you have to play every kid at every position so they feel like they are accomplishing something each game.
Maybe at the end of this season, Selig can send the Tribe certificates of participation.
NOTE TO WEDGE – YOU HAVE DE-RAILED!!

For all the Dellucci haters, I hope that if they release him, that turns the season around… because it’s not going to.

If you want to complain about the contract, I could point out how much is being paid out to your designated hitter who has played how many games the last two seasons? Or how about that offensive beast of a shortstop, you know, the one who is the franchise’s all-time leader in home runs for that position in case you forgot. People are too hung up on the fact that this was a free agency signing. Guess what folks – who do you think the Indians are going to get in the free agency market?

You can’t develop consistency if you’re continually changing the line-up, and not just the order. Am I infielder, or an outfielder, or a DH? (And I’m pretty sure that the rapture won’t come upon us if Sizemore hit somewhere other than leadoff. If it does – my bad.) And why don’t we DH Garko? Why does Victor always have to play 1B when he’s not catching, why can’t he DH?

I realize what kind of team I have here in Cleveland, and I understand that no matter who you have on your roster, it’s not always automatic. Ask last year’s Tigers, ask the Yankees. This isn’t fantasy league folks. Explain the Phillies and the Rays last season…

To all the players who have done what has been asked of them, learning new positions (or two, Ryan Garko), and still come up on the short end of things, there are a few of us who get it. We appreciate what you’ve tried to do.

I really hope this team can step it up.
They have the potential.
I’ve been to seven games this year..and in those 7 games i’ve seen us come out victorious once.
I’m going to keep going, though, and hopefully this will turn around soon.
-Kelly

Love the Rick Manning Comment, but I would miss too much during the game. PS where’s Underwood been? I live in DC pay for the baseball package and hate missing a game. Ever time I come home in the summer I HAVE to go to a game. This season is just depressing. Something has gotta give. I love Shapiro and he has to send a message. FIRE WEDGE!! Hiring Manning!! Love it!!

there needs to be a wake up call within the organization sooner or later as I would prefer the former. “Grinding it out” be darned, there has to be SOME form of accountability among the coaches because no one is going to sit on their hands and watch this occur much longer. Not the media, not the players, and certainly not the fans. I believe Shapiro wanted to wait out the dry spell of April and assumed May would bring more consistency. We have seen the accountability among the players moving some to Columbus, outright releases, and banishment from play but this is getting unwatchable.

How many times can we all have the same conversations without seeing changes from the organization? If you win us a ballgame (Garko, Barfield, LaPorta) you get rewarded with another start and more CONSISTENT playing time. If your error costs us the game in a 1-0 loss (Valbuena) you sit your butt on the bench, not get another start the following game. And WHY is Peralta the only player given a “mental” benching, err I mean break? We will continue to have these conversations until the roster gets to the 25 men that Shapiro wants (and by Shapiro I really mean Wedge). We have too many stopgaps on this roster unfortunately due to injury, inconsistent play and flat out terrible results. If AC is correct and Vizcaino and Smith are replacements for Kobayashi/Lewis/Herges/Sipp (pick any 2) and Carroll replaces Dellucci, MIGHT we see a more consistent lineup after all those moves? NO ONE has a defined role on this team and I included Sizemore in that discussion b/c of the thoughts of moving him to the 3 hole amid Cabrera’s success.

Since VMart said the team was lacking fire perhaps we can light up the Cuyahoga again just so the players can SEE what fire looks like. I will refuse to use the name of the team until I see something that resembles a professional baseball team. WORST TEAM IN BASEBALL! That is all that needs to be said. Instead, I will use my tagline of ‘The Burnin’ Cuyahoga’ for this wretched group of maligned individuals. I am not suggesting they are not trying and have quit on the manager but grinding the gears isn’t working anymore. No more playing Kelly Shoppach in lieu of Ryan Garko. No more consistent PT for Ben Francisco. No more David Dellucci, even against righties. No more Choo in the 4 hole, but rather in the 2 hole against righties.

1. Cabrera (2B)
2. Choo (RF)
3. Sizemore (CF)
4. Martinez (C)
5. Garko (1B)
6. DeRosa (3B)
7. Peralta (SS)
8. LaPorta (LF)
9. ANY player (DH)

with this lineup we can utilize true off days for players given our flexibility as well as giving everyone a positional off day but keep their bat in the lineup. When Cliff Lee pitches then move Martinez to DH and Shoppach behind the plate. When we face a lefty, move Choo to 6 and DeRosa to 2. I still have faith in DeRosa over the course of the year because he’s deserved that benefit of the doubt IMO. If you have ever played a sport you know how mentally critical it is to have a defined role. Knowing day in and day out what is expected of you. Showing up to the ballpark and getting it done.

What has DeRosa done to let us give him the benefit of the doubt? Dude just flails at pitches that are feet, literally multiple feet, out of the strikezone.

There is no reason/excuse for Wedge to be sitting LaPorta. I hate that Wedge is sitting him. Hate it. I hate the fact that he even considers it a good idea, especially given the alternative. I hate the fact that LaPorta didn’t play once this weekend series. I hate the fact that Barfield hasn’t been playing, like at all. I hate the fact that both Peralta and DeRosa are stealing ABs away from Valbuena. I hate the fact we are still playing Dellucci. There is so much to be sad about the managing of this team. I know people are clamoring for Wedge’s head and the sad thing is, I don’t even think these people get the half of it.
The Cleveland Indians are the worst team in baseball. The Nationals, arguably the worst run organization in the three major sports (hockey? no), have a better record than us. If Wedge keeps trotting out the same crud every night and expects something different. Well, then, that is the very definition of insanity.

strummer, man, you have got to start looking things up every once in a while. It undermines your points.
Forty-two. That’s how many runs DeRosa is responsible for so far this year. He’s second in RBI and second in runs scored. THAT is why he’s in the line-up every day. We’re not a team that can just give up those numbers and expect to ever win, particularly when we only have 7 guys in the double digits in RBI, one of which only plays every third day (because he insulted Wedge’s mom or something, I guess).

AM, I like the line-up, although I’d leave Victor at 3 and move Grady to 4. I only suggest that because Victor seems perfectly happy in the 3 spot. Also, Victor’s hitting .313 with runners in scoring position, as opposed to Grady’s .216, so I’d hate to see us get guys on in the first inning and not get them in. Since both Cabrera and Choo can steal, there’s a decent chance our #3 guy could come up with a RISP.
As for 7-9, I don’t really care at this point. I’d be happy with any combination of Peralta, LaPorta, Francisco, Carroll (when he returns), Shoppach, and Barfield. While I’ve never been on the Barfield bandwagon, I think they need to let Valbuena play every day in Columbus and give the one guy on this team who has shown some spark a shot.
But 1-6 needs to be set in stone for a few weeks. I think that’s key for our offense.

I’m beginning to have more faith in Sowers working himself out than Reyes. It should be interesting to see what happens when Lewis comes back, particularly since Reyes is a righty and we don’t really have anyone for long relief in the ‘pen. That actually might be the deciding factor in who Lewis replaces, as both Sowers and Reyes seem to be battling for the #5 spot in the rotation.
And I agree with someone who posted a while back that maybe bringing back Westbrook slowly by using him as relief might be the safe thing to do. It’s where Jake started with us, after all.
Granted, this is all dependent upon there being a reason to need Jake and all.

I’m sorry LA let me reiterate, I don’t think DeRosa should be playing third. It was a poorly worded rant. He should be in the outfield/DH. Peralta should be at third. With Francisco out of the everyday lineup, and Shoppach should only catch once every five days, like he did with Byrdie in 07.

But LA, man, seriously, when you claim to have “faith” in Sowers (in any capacity even when in comparison with Reyes), it undermines anything you’ve ever said. We still have to give Huff a look.

ROTF

Wedge used the phrase “regular lineup”….

Tell me that’s not the funniest thing you’ve ever heard…

from Eric Wedge: “I care about all these players, and I really care about the fans. I know how disappointing and discouraging this is. (this is MY favorite part) It’s my responsibility, and I take full responsibility for it. But the players have got to go out and play.”

1. tell me that guy isn’t lobbying (weakly) for his job
2. how can he assume “responsibility” in one breath then lay it his players’ laps the next?
3. how much longer do we really need to listen to this nonsense? My guess is June 3rd…

strummer, I said I have more faith in Sowers than I do in Reyes; it’s all relative.

strummer, so it doesn’t seem that I need LACF to fight my conversation debates for me (as you pose reasonable albeit early concerns for the guy’s numbers) I will provide you with one more additional stat about Mark DeRosa. Over the past 3 seasons in which second basemen have acquired at least 1000 at bats, DeRosa’s averages of .291/.368/.453 ranks 3rd in baseball behind Chase Utley and Dustin Pedroia. Without a doubt all those day games in the banbox that is Wrigley Field helped his stats I would think that if he finished the season at .285/.350/.430 it would be considered a good trade for The Burnin’ Cuyahoga.

Wonderful goods from you, man. I’ve comprehend your stuff before and you’re simply just too superb. I really like what you possess acquired here, certainly like exactly what youíre stating and exactly how in which you say this. You make this pleasant and you still take care of to keep it wise. I canít wait to see a lot more of your stuff. This is actually a good website.I truly wanted to create a little remark to be able to convey appreciation to you for the fantastic information you’re sharing only at that web site. My time rigorous internet studies have at the conclusion been rewarded with wonderful understanding to create regarding with my friends. I would point out that the majority of us visitors are unequivocally rendered to stay in a really good location along with very many wonderful people with useful methods. I feel truly fortunate to possess come across your entire webpage and appear toward really more enjoyable times reading through here. Thanks once again with regard to everything.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: