"These go to 11."

The Chicago regional of the 2009 U.S. Air Guitar Championships takes place tonight in Wrigleyville. Not that I’m telling you anything you didn’t already know.

airguitar.jpgApparently, unbeknownst to me, the Cleveland regional took place earlier this week. Congrats to Dave Weissman (whose Spinal Tap spinoff stage name is “Derek Not So Smalls”) for winning that event for the third year straight.

Unfortunately, the reigning Chicago region champ, Justin Howard (stage name: Nordic Thunder) is unable to perform tonight, due to an air guitar-related back injury.

The regionals are held in 25 cities, with the winners of each region advancing to the U.S. finals (location yet to be announced) in August. And the winner there moves on to the world championship in Finland.

All this goes to show we’ve really come a long way as human beings, haven’t we?

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • Whoever predicted Josh Barfield would be out of the lineup after going 2-for-4 last night was spot-on. Congrats. You’ve been paying attention this season.
  • Eric Wedge said Barfield was in there Friday because Wedge didn’t want to have Jamey Carroll playing five straight days with a fractured right middle finger. But Carroll has past numbers against Gavin Floyd (4-for-9 with two doubles), so he’s back in there today. Still not exactly sure why Luis Valbuena gets the starting nod over Carroll Barfield.
  • Jake Westbrook is making his first rehab start for Double-A Akron today, getting the nod in the first game of a doubleheader at Altoona.
  • Rotation-wise, the Indians are hoping to hold on for dear life this month until Westbrook (who will need probably four to six starts in the Minors) and Aaron Laffey are ready to come off the DL. With three off days in a 15-day span, beginning Monday, the Tribe can get a little creative with the rotation and perhaps skip a guy along the way.
  • Still no determination as to when Tomo Ohka will get a start. The Indians’ spot for Thursday against the Royals is TBD.
  • Right-handed reliever Joe Smith will be back with the Tribe any day now. If I had to guess, I’d say Tuesday. Smith threw a perfect inning against Charlotte yesterday, striking out all three batters he faced. He has worked four scoreless innings in four appearances on his rehab from a strained right rotator cuff. “It’s been good for him to be down there to get the appearances he needs to get comfortable,” Wedge said.
  • Regarding a comment I read from yesterday’s post, Carl Pavano, at his current rate, is projected to go 17-11 with a 4.63 ERA in 205 innings over 34 starts this season. If that were to happen, Pavano would make an additional $3.5 million in performance incentives, on top of the $1.5 million he is guaranteed this season. So, $5 million total. Obviously, this is just a projection, so take it for what it’s worth, but it gives you a pretty good idea of how Pavano’s contract is structured.
  • If you could somehow take away Pavano’s disastrous Tribe debut in Texas on April 9 (nine runs on six hits in one inning), he would be 6-3 with a 3.55 ERA right now.
  • Akron manager Mike Sarbaugh earned his 400th career managerial win with last night’s 12-5 victory at Altoona.
  • Finally, condolences go out to SportsTime Ohio broadcaster Matt Underwood after the death of his mother, Sophia, this week. Al Pawlowski is filling in on the STO broadcasts.

~AC

16 Comments

“Whoever predicted Josh Barfield would be out of the lineup after going 2-for-4 last night was spot-on. Congrats. You’ve been paying attention this season.”
That’s probably as close to a name drop as I’ll ever get and I’ll take it!
Maybe Wedge wanted to have a stronger defensive alignment behind Sowers…a fly ball pitcher.
I got nothin’.

LACF, you got the much deserved name drop and I got the details I wanted on Pavano’s contract. Couldn’t ask for more.

I have one thing to say in response to AC’s above posting and it should come as no surprise: WHY is our utility infielder playing 5 straight days and now 6 of 7 games, broken finger or not? Once again, Wedge’s preference for this guy is absurd. I am assuming AC meant to say that he wasn’t sure why Valbuena got the starting nod over Barfield and not Carroll (since he’s at 3B). This situation is Ramon Vazquez all over again. I am not saying that Barfield is Brandon Phillips. Not in the least so lets not go there. But Wedge’s preference to an aging, career utility infielder over young players is contradictory to his managerial roots. I truly hate this guy.

I understand why Carroll gets the nod at third, as I’d rather he play third than Valbuena. But the second base thing is completely baffling to me. Evidently “grinding it out” ignores the concept of momentum. God forbid anyone on this team start a hit streak; they’d be in trouble.
You know what stat I’d like to see? Sowers’ ERA after 5 innings versus his overall ERA. If there was ever a game for him to prove he can go 6 and still be effective it’s this one. He’s only thrown 61 pitches and 2/3 of those are strikes.

Aren’t we glad we pinch ran for Ryan Garko only to see the move become a managerial blunder that may have cost the Tribe a chance to win this game?

I’m gonna admit it, I’m tired of watching Valbuena. I like is style and I like his swing but he isn’t doing anything. Nothing. Send Valubena back and let him work on whatever it is that prevents him from hitting the ball with consistency. Same with Crowe.

This was the last straw. I was at the game last night with three sox fans and came home to the tunes of their telling me that we had just “kicked their …”, played a perfect game. While much of that was thanks to Pavano’s great outing, the offensive approach (outside of innings four and eight) was spectacular, getting Danks to throw over 100 pitches through five innings of his start. With that type of performance, even the most novice of baseball fans/people would tell you to go ahead with the same lineup. Not wedge. I am getting sick of his excuses too. I cant listen to another speech about previous numbers or giving someone a day off (Hafner excluded). Even if Jamey Carroll and Luis Valbuena were Omar and Robbie Alomar, Id have stuck with the same lineup after last night (hyperbole). This is game management at a level not only below major league level, but below youth level. Injuries have certainly been a piece of the puzzle as to our struggles this season, but Wedge isnt even giving us a chance. This constant change is why we sit here in June with only ONE winning streak of more than two (and just two or three of two). That is inexcusable no matter what level of baseball or how many injuries.

Looks like I’m watching the rest of this Tigers game now.
As I’m sure AC will mention tomorrow, Westbrook went 3 IP, 1 H, no ER for Akron today (who won 1-0). That’s a good start, at least.
Just finished watching the Dodgers game – it’s hard to argue against them having karma on their side right now.
I’m with everyone else: a consistent line-up would be nice. I mean, without Grady and Adrubal, it would seem like a regular line-up makes even MORE sense now. Play DeRosa at third when Martinez is at first (which puts Garko in the OF), play Carroll at third when Martinez is behind the plate (which puts Garko at first). Play Barfield at second. We should be able to get by right now by only rotating in and out two guys: Shoppach and Carroll.

Crazy stat of the day: since being recalled from Columbus (for the second time), Sowers has 16 IP and 3 ER, giving him an ERA of 1.71 over that span.
As near as I can figure (my math isn’t the best), we’ll only need a fifth starter 2 times for the rest of this month.

Just because someone has a good day at the plate, that doesn’t guarantee they are having one tomorrow. There really isn’t anything to prove that the results of one day at the plate have much to do with the next day’s results. I just don’t understand the complaining about lineup changes. Player X doesn’t play better when batting 2nd a few days in a row, and he doesn’t fall apart when he’s moved to 6th.

AC, thanks for answering the reader’s comment questions in your posts. It really shows you care.

But the fact of the matter, ben, is you need consistency. You can’t expect a player not to be effected if he’s in the lineup one day and doesn’t play the next four. Wedge has shown no consistency with his line ups this year.

As far as consistent lineups go, I do think players are able to find a groove from day to day, and one interview recently with Shoppach I think recently confirmed that. I don’t really understand how batting order can make a player “fall apart” either though.

Someone just commented on the article about last night’s game saying why do we keep Valbuena and Crowe in the lineup when they are batting like .190? It seems like we always bring guys up here that struggle a lot initially, or are very spotty. I know players can bloom over time, but I think we as fans want to see a bona fide rookie ‘wow’ us. I just looked up stats for Evan Longoria and Joey Votto for examples, and they came right up to the big leagues, were given consistent full-time positions, and shined. Looking at Brandon Phillips, who everyone loves to reference — he struggled with Cleveland, going up and down between here and AAA and a had low batting average. What is it with Cleveland that makes it so hard for AAA prospects to show their worth when they come to the big leagues?

ben, I think that you are absolutely wrong in this case. Results will come to fruition because of a consistent approach at the plate.

Finding a platoon player or career 4th outfielder that pinch hits nightly to be successful is rare in baseball. I do not think that you understand or acknowledge the fact that athletes have a daily routine for a reason. Familiarity typically breeds comfort. Not having a known, defined role is detrimental to a player’s psyche. This is undeniable IMO.

ben is actually wedge… that’s the only person I can think of who believes consistency comes out of thin air.

Zaj, amseeley, bvielhaber, it’s up to you to actually prove this, rather than just give up your opinion. Yeah, its a lot easier to say “Wedge is an idiot” than to actually look at the results (the ones that say that what you hit one day means little to nothing the next) and realize that maybe Wedge, who is around these guys a bit more than any of us, might have a better idea of how a guy is responding psychologically.

Wedge’s team this year hasn’t been consistent, why should he consistently go to something that isn’t working? This is just whining and trying to demonstrate perfect hindsight. If we somehow did something else, everything would certainly be better. Let’s see the proof that taking a team playing poorly, can suddenly improve by making a consistent lineup.

Ben, according to my clock it’s 3:27 am so I will make this as brief as possible. I am the last person you want to start a statistical war with on this site. The LAST person, trust me. I am an insomniac that does two things on a Mon-Fri basis: goes to work and reads about sports. I find your remark to be a total deflection. You should have been a 19th century philospher b/c rather than answering questions or making insights, you pose questions for proof of something intangible, and anything less than certainty will support your counter. Classic philosophical banter strategy. Asking for proof that consistency yields success is like asking for proof the sun rises. It’s a cause-and-effect relationship that has a multi-faceted argument. In this argument you are Hagel and I am Hume. Challenge accepted.

By the way, we are ALL commenters on this blog, hence WE GIVE OUR OPINIONS, much like AC does but his connections to the source (the team) are obviously more credible. We are not trying to say our opinions are the golden rule. Rather, it is more appropriate that we use the term “perspective” rather than opinions b/c our perspective is outside of the team’s realm. You asked for a war son, and I’m just perturbed (aka drunk) enough to step into to the field of battle and defend my rationale.

While I am too tired to provide you with the statistical data that might be acceptable for you at this very moment, consider this few topics relating to your rant that I will touch upon at nausium tomorrow:

(1) Eric Wedge’s career record and playoff appearance(s) achieved in Cleveland (bad topic for you to win)

2) Eric Wedge’s career record in the month of April with Cleveland (even worse topic for you to support junior)

(3) a response to this comment: “There really isn’t anything to prove that the results of one day at the plate have much to do with the next day’s results.” For a sneak peak, every sports player, coach, manager, scout et al. in this history of the world has argued counter to this statement by you

(4) I don’t even know where to begin with this statement: “Let’s see the proof that taking a team playing poorly, can suddenly improve by making a consistent lineup.” Seriously, the great Socrates himself would have been in awe of this statement.

(5) I’d hope that I can remember or find the number of lineups used by Eric Wedge in 2007 versus 2008 because that might just put the proverbial nail in the coffin.

Talk to your later this afternoon.

ok Ben, my absence yesterday was unfortunate but don’t fret. I have mounds of data for you to reject blithely. I will begin my sermon with two quotes from Mark Shapiro on 4/4/09:

“I still would rather have eight guys that Eric can pencil in 162 times a year that are All-Stars,” Shapiro said.

“We’re not looking to have guys play four positions,” Shapiro said.

Apparently, Shapiro agrees with those of us that desire a consistent lineup. True, we don’t have 8 players performing at an All Star level this year. Then again, no team does so attempting to start that argument is moot. Let us begin.

Rather than gearing up for the knockout left hook in round 5, I shall throw a monstrous haymaker in round 1 and discuss Wedge’s career record in the month of April: 73-96! That’s 169 April games over 6+ seasons. He has managed an entire season of games in April to amass a .432 winning percentage. Over his career the Indians have accrued a record above .500 only twice: 13-12 in 2006 and 14-8 in 2007. Conversely, we have racked up deficits of 13, 4, 5, 2, and 6 games under .500 in the other years. And yet the Indians media will eagerly inform the fanbase that Wedgie’s boys went 44-28 last year from July 10th to the end of the season or how from 2005-2008 the Indians are have the 7th best record in the majors at 348-300 (a totally misleading statistic since they are simply factoring in his two 90+ win seasons to skew the data). The bottom line is starting off the season 1-7 and finishing 3rd in the division at 81-81 is the only real stat the matters.

Speaking of real stats, lets talk about his one playoff appearance in 6 years. ONE! And as the organization continually reminds us, our division is weak. Most consider it the weakest in baseball every year from top to bottom. I would inform you that Wedge’s career record is 522-511 (.505) but since I am talking about playoff appearances I will use his 6 year career totals: 496-476 (.510). One playoff appearance and only 20 games over .500. Quite the daunting statistic given his two best seasons amount to a total of 54 games over. That means his other 4 seasons were a total of 34 games under. Yeah, he’s the model of consistency.

Lets get to the idea of a consistent lineup. I will provide you with the number of lineups Eric Wedge used each season. Beyond the eye-popping numbers, look at his two successful seasons compared to the rest. Then ask yourself, do you see a correlation between the lineups and success rate? If you say no, then (a) you’re lying, and (b) you will probably spout off about injuries, rookie conributions, blah blah blah.

2009: 51 lineups in 61 games, 316 Runs Scored, 330 Runs Against
2008: 110 lineups, 805 RS, 761RA
2007: 81 lineups, 811 RS, 704 RA
2006: 97 lineups, 870 RS, 782 RA
2005: 67 lineups, 790 RS, 642 RA
2004: 88 lineups, 858 RS, 857 RA
2003: 123 lineups, 699 RS, 778 RA

Throughout his 1033 games we have scored 5147 runs (4.98 RS/G) and 4854 against (4.70 RA/G).

Darn, time for work. Perhaps this wetted your statistical appetite. Let me know if you want more because I’ve got plenty.

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