You gotta live it every day

General manager Mark Shapiro met with the media this afternoon. He makes it a point to have these sessions with reporters anytime the club is mired in a particularly rough stretch, and I, for one, give him credit for that.

You can probably guess what the chief topic was today — the job security of Eric Wedge.

Shapiro expressed nothing but confidence in Wedge and his staff and said he is convinced the energy and effort level by all involved is where it needs to be.

“I feel the answers are here,” Shapiro said, “with Eric and this coaching staff and these players.”

You can get the full spectrum of Shapiro’s thoughts in my story on Indians.com, which should be up soon.

In the meantime, the minutia.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • To me, the most interesting news of the day is that RHP Hector Rondon has moved from the Double-A Akron rotation to the bullpen. This is considered bold, by Tribe standards, because while there is clearly an emphasis on the bullpen at present, the need for depth in the rotation is also apparent. This just shows how desperate the Indians are for back-end relief help, and Rondon, possessor of a 5-0 record, 1.23 ERA, .208 average against, 0.92 WHIP, 26 strikeouts and five walks in 29 1/3 innings, figures to provide it. He was slated to start for Akron tonight but was instead available out of the ‘pen.
  • Rondon is not the first player making this move this year, just the latest. Aaron Laffey did it at the big-league level, and Steven Wright, Frank Herrmann and Zach Putnam have done it in the Minors. Are the Indians mortgaging their future to save the ’09 bullpen? This is what Shapiro had to say when asked that question: “We have a very careful process of balancing and understanding the importance of the future and respecting that in all of our decisions. Yet the goal is to win championships in this ballpark, and there’s a time when that focus shifts to taking advantage of that window of opportunity. There’s some sense of urgency and importance to where we are as a Major League team right now. That balance and pendulum is going to shift toward that team right now.”
  • So the Indians are getting a little more bold with their thinking and their lineup – or at least that’s the plan. Wedge started Matt LaPorta against a left-hander tonight, which was an obvious move, but both Wedge and Shapiro said to expect to see more of LaPorta in the coming days. He’ll get regular opportunities at first base (which was his position in college) and in the outfield, likely at the expense of David Dellucci and Ben Francisco.
  • With Jamey Carroll on board, Wedge is planning on giving Jhonny Peralta some time at third base. Asdrubal Cabrera can, of course, move over to short, and the right-handed Carroll and left-handed Valbuena offer balanced options at second base. Mark DeRosa can expect to see more time at first base and in the outfield.
  • Basically nothing in the lineup is set in stone right now — not even, as mentioned yesterday, Wedge’s long-standing stubbornness regarding Grady Sizemore and the leadoff spot. “Things can change daily,” Wedge said.
  • Also in the Minors today, 1B Matt McBride has moved up from Kinston to Akron. It was a well-earned promotion. McBride was batting .405 with 15 doubles, six homers and 36 RBIs in 31 games. He was converted from catcher to first base this season.
  • Bob Feller will hold a book signing of his “Little Blue Book of Baseball Wisdom” during tomorrow’s afternoon game. If you’re in attendance (I’m talking to YOU, Mike Kovack!), look for Bob outside Section 156.
  • Sitting in the Tribe clubhouse today was a well-crafted card from the students of Willoughby Middle School. Jensen Lewis visited the school today as part of The Plain Dealer’s Newspapers in Education program.

~AC

23 Comments

Shockingly enough, I don’t really have an opinion on the moving of minor league starters into the bullpen. If we’re looking at the future, it would seem that Laffey will get moved back. They’ve still got Sowers (who should think about maybe not walking so many batters), Lewis, and Huff, not to mention Lofgren in Akron who’s having a good year so far. So, in theory, they probably look okay as far as starters for the next few years.
And considering how hard it is to find good bullpen help on the market, it probably makes sense. But I suppose we have a while to see yet.
I understand why they’re going to start the long awaited, fan anticipated rotation of Peralta over to 3rd, but all I hear when they say that is “Garko will get fewer ABs” and that seems unfortunate. Maybe Ryan should go back to catching.

Too bad the goal of assembling a competitive major league team isn’t to develop as many 1st basemen as possible. Let’s see, Garko, Martinez, Laporta, with Aubrey and Jordan Brown at Columbus, and Beau Mills and this McBride at Akron. I’m curious how the minor league managers work their lineups, do they platoon these guys, to prepare for the big leagues, where of course everyone is a platoon player?

So the Indians currently have 4 major league 1st basemen (counting Aubrey), and apparently two other decent 1B prospects, 5 2nd basemen (Derosa, Valbuena, Barfield, Cabrera, Carroll), **** who might be a 3B, a 2B who is a 3B, and no actual 3B. This is no doubt what leads to the inconsistency in the defense, offense, and the crazy Wedge lineups. No one can get in a groove on either side of the ball.

I disagree with the Rondon decision. When you’re 12-21, you shouldn’t make decisions that may benefit you in the short term at the expense of long term. If they were at .500 it would make sense.

On an unrelated note, how long until the press conference where Wedge announces Sizemore’s been battling some type of injury for the past month? 5 SBs and 5 CSs is very un-Sizemorelike, kind of like Victor’s 0 HRs last year.

While Shapiro has pulled out some great trades like the Colon trade, and some trades I think will be very good like the Sabathia and the one for Valbuena, I don’t think he is very good at assembling a cohesive team. A nice stat I just looked up, Jeff Stevens at the Cubs AAA affiliate has currently given up 0 runs and 4 hits in 14 innings, with 13 SOs. Would’ve been nice to be able to call him up this year, unfortunately, Shapiro trade him for the 5th 2nd basemen.

Another piece of the Derosa trade, John Gaub, has a 1.86 ERA with 17 SOs in 9.2 innings for the Cubs AA affiliate. Would’ve been nice to leave Rondon as a starter, and had this guy who’s striking out 2 per innings as an option for the future.

isavage, when the Cubs call those guys up this year and they perform, then the trade will be questionable. Until then, it’s apples and oranges.

I’m glad we use our best reliever when we’re up by five so that when we’re in close games, we have no one to turn to.

Is there really a Vandelay Industries, or are you a Seinfield/George fan?

Sadly, the Tigers lost and the Royals are currently losing 8-0, which means we’ll still be only 6.5 games back.
I almost wish we were in another division so I could just not worry about anymore!

Could not agree more, these moves are yet another point on the side of proving that wedge’s inconsistent lineups are responsible for the inconsistent lineups. What manager follows a solid win with a lineup change as dramatic as laporta at first? Especially with Garko in the lineup (after a night off) what was the point of that move? Fine, throw Laporta in, at DH!!!!!! Garko is a first baseman and wouldnt have made the mental error Laporta made in the seventh that completely changed the complexity of the game. This is simply poor baseball decision making and borderline irratic. That type of irratic decision making cannot be tolerated in a manager for long. Change has to be made. If that change doesnt lead to more consistent lineups, than the change must come in the form of a new manager.

So LACF, if you found out now that Shapiro was able to swing a trade of Mark Derosa, who’s only around until the end of this year, for 2 relief pitchers, one who’s in AAA and hasn’t given up a run and is striking out a batter per inning, and another guy in AA who’s striking out 2 guys an inning, automatically making them the 2 best relief pitching prospects in the Indians’ organization, you would think that this was a bad trade? I would consider any trade where you give up a top prospect in an area of weakness for a one year rental of a 34-year-old who plays a position that 4 other guys on your team already play, it’s a questionable trade.

Other questionable things, playing Laporta at 1B, a position he hasn’t played regularly for at least 2 years, so he can make an error that costs 2 runs, and batting Mark Derosa (6 LOB) 4th, so he can strike out with 1 out and the bases loaded. I put this loss as much on Wedge as the Yankees and Blue Jays Rafael Perez fiascos.

Garko and Barfield in the outfield, Laporta in the infield … Peralta to 3B and Derosa to 1B? Is the goal to have NO ONE playing their natural position? I think they should try Cliff Lee as a 6th outfielder. That will be the difference maker, and he’s athletic enough … Or Shoppach, he only plays ONE position! He either needs to learn how to pitch, or I vote he goes to the minors … Choo can be the catcher, when Shoppach’s pitching …

Two years ago, I remember they were really struggling offensively, they were juggling the lineup, trying to get something that worked, until they called up Cabrera, and then they stuck with a steady lineup for the rest of the year … and came within a game of the World Series. How about we try that again?

Sowers was great in AAA, too. Until those prospects pan out, there’s no reason to say the DeRosa trade was a bad one, particularly since he’s driven in runs for this team.
For that matter, we had no reliable 3rd base option heading into spring training. You claim that 4 other guys play that position — how many have had any success there?
LaPorta played 1st in Columbus. His last game there was at first.
What we can agree on (I think we all can) is that this team would best be served by an every day line-up. It’s clear we have the wrong manager for that.

Also, isavage, there was no reason to believe we’d be short on relief pitching when Shapiro made that deal. There was no reason to believe that Perez would have the year he’s had, that Lewis would decline from how he ended last season, or that Miller would get hurt even AFTER his last surgery. And one of those two guys is still in AA, so he still has to prove he can pitch in AAA. For that matter, Stevens has only thrown 14 innings! Not exactly a large sample size.

I still disagree on the bullpen not being an obvious weakness LACF. The day the Indians’ made the Derosa trade, I made a comment on this site saying the same thing that I’m saying now, that the Indians’ shouldn’t be dealing relief pitching prospects … Stevens was the best relief pitching prospect for the Indians last year, on top of his play this year, obviously, if they had kept him, he’d have gotten a shot by now. I can guarantee you he would’ve done better than Kobayashi and Perez. And Derosa is a 2nd basemen by trade, I’m saying they have 4 other 2nd basement. They don’t have any 3rd basemen. Now they’re talking about moving Peralta to 3B. This is what they should’ve done from the beginning, in my opinion.

I understand what he’s trying to say, though. Why would we move Peralta to third? Then we could move DeRosa to outfield (we have too many outfields) or to 1B (we have 1B down pat). The bottom line is that our lineup is terribly managed. There is no consistency in order, or position.

Well, and that’s the thing. DeRosa is the most successful 3rd baseman we have, even if that’s not saying much. All the others have very little time at that spot. We needed him.
What’s particularly frustrating is that it’s clear the decision to get more starts for Peralta at 3rd is entirely because of his range…something pretty much everyone has mentioned for a while now. If that’s the issue, why wasn’t this in place well before now? Why make this move (supposedly) now and, by doing so, crowd an already crowded outfield and/or first base? Consistency is clearly an issue, so how is more inconsistency the answer?
Here’s an idea I haven’t heard yet: if Peralta’s range is an issue at shortstop, why not move DeRosa to 2nd? We don’t have an experienced 2nd baseman if we move Cabrera to short. Why would we move DeRosa to the already crowded outfield or first?
Our outfield should be a combination of four guys, Choo, Sizemore, Francisco, and LaPorta. First base should be Garko/Martinez.

I personally think that moving Hector Rondon into the bullpen for a potential short term answer in 2009 is ridiculous. Perhaps the organization is worried about the IP he will accrue this year. But, you do not alter a position of strength for the future in lieu of desperation for the uncertain present. So time ago I said Rondon was the club’s best SP prospect followed by Huff and de la Cruz. We’ve already seen what can happen to players without having a defined role. I’d rather seem them promote him to the 5th starter and option Sowers than this bullpen nonsense.

Btw, Mark Shapiro is delusional, arrogant, ignorant, and crazy if he thinks the fans are going to continue to be a part of this joke of a team and organization (as it is currently playing and being run). The fans will demand a change and it will be reflected in the turnstiles. I am going to my first game of the season tomorrow for only 3 reasons:
1. I work 2nd shift
2. it is a 30th birthday present to my sister
3. Cliff Lee is pitching so IF we can score 2 runs for him we might have a chance to win

I still reiterate that at the current moment Luis Valbuena has done nothing to deserve more PT… at the major league level. I will ADAMANTLY agree with LACF about moving DeRosa (back) to 2B while we give Peralta his run at 3B and Cabrera his time at SS and leading off for that fact. It would seem too logical that it makes this club better defensively. Peralta will be a liability anywhere so getting him out of the middle of the infield, particularly for our ground ball pitchers, isn’t exactly rocket science.

Agreed, AM. Shapiro and (more so) Wedge were great at what they did, but this team is past that point. It’s time for the next step, and so far I’ve yet to see proof that Wedge can deliver. Shapiro, I have doubts about, too.

Agreed LACF. Shapiro is slowly destroying any credibility that he has built up in the past with the decisions and/or lack thereof, routine inaction and overall poor choices he has recently made (Dellucci, Kobayashi) that are hitting a climax in 2009. Wedge never has any credibility coming out of April so he is resting on his laurels of 2007.

As an Indians fan through and through I hate to post negativity on here. Basically because I don’t know anything about baseball compared to everyone else here. However, some commenter before me mentioned about Grady dealing with some kind of an injury – I agree. I just said that yesterday to someone. Someone asked him weeks ago in an interview how the groin injury was coming along and he wouldn’t give a clear answer. He said “…things are coming along and I don’t expect it to change my productivity”. You gotta wonder though – haven’t we heard those kinds of things before. Love Grady, love Eric, love Shapiro….but it does have me wondering.
Myranda

Shouldn’t have mentioned just those 3….like ’em all.😎

Yeah the injury thing would make a lot of sense. At this point I am kind of hoping that’s it because if it isn’t then I don’t know how he fixes himself. Grady can’t steal bases anymore and he just isn’t hitting like he used to. But I don’t know if it would still be the groin injury, it might be he did start a little slow. I think he may have been hurt on one of those collisions he had earlier in the season in the outfield. I feel like after those collisions his major problems started.
Melissa

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