When your foot of pride come down, ain't no goin' back

bob-dylan-5366.jpgWe’ve talked quite a bit about music in the blog this homestand, because, well, that’s the kind of thing that happens in a blog about a last-place ballclub.

Indians iTrac vision coordinator Jason Stein, who is known in this and many circles as the “Master of Self-Promotion,” doesn’t know a thing about music. Well, unless it originates from his native land — a foreign country by the name of Texas. You might remember that during Spring Training, Stein offered up a blasphemous take on Clarence Clemons’ transcendent saxophone solo in “Jungleland,” so his abhorrent musical acumen is well-established.

Stein and I are in the midst of an ongoing argument regarding Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan. The debate basically comes down to “legend status.” Which of these icons possesses more of it?

You can weigh this on many fronts — chart success, national and international acclaim, respect and cloutnelson.jpg within the industry, etc. – but everything and anything must be taken into consideration.

I want to open the floor for your take on this matter, and I won’t reveal which of us is arguing for Dylan and which is arguing for Nelson. (But I would like to point out that when Dylan and Nelson take the stage at Classic Park in Eastlake next month, a certain genius wordsmith from Minnesota will be the headliner, while a certain pot-promoting Texan will be his opening act… and I think that speaks for itself.)

Anyway, chew on that debate, if you feel up to it. And we have plenty of Indians info to chew on during tonight’s rain delay.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • Carl Pavano has been skipped in the rotation. He said he’s not injured, but Eric Wedge said he’s dealing with mild right shoulder soreness. Tomo Ohka will take Pavano’s start Saturday in Chicago, and Pavano said he will start Wednesday in Pittsburgh. “This will allow me to catch up on some things,” Pavano said. As Pavano put it, this doesn’t make much of a difference for him, in terms of number of starts, because either way he will get four more starts before the All-Star break.
  • It’s only two rough starts in a row, but you can’t help but wonder if Pavano might be dealing with a tired arm, in addition to the sore shoulder (which may or may not be related to the neck stiffness he felt two starts back). After all, he only threw 53 1/3 innings between the Minors and Majors last season and just 93 1/3 innings over the last three years. He’s already thrown 81 2/3 innings this year. Definitely something to track going forward.
  • Jake Westbrook is still dealing with elbow soreness, so his setback has set him back even further. He did not throw his bullpen session today, and it’s been postponed indefinitely. Wedge guessed that it will be at least a few days before the Indians consider having Westbrook throw again. Westbrook has had an MRI that revealed no structural damage, so that’s encouraging. But until the soreness dies down, don’t look for him to boosting the rotation any time soon.
  • Wedge remains upset with Jhonny Peralta’s approach, both offensive and defensively, but he said he basically had to start Peralta today because Travis Hafner needed a day off and Ben Francisco, who is clearly lost at the plate right now, needed a day, as well. As for Peralta… “He knows how I feel, and I know how he feels,” Wedge said. “The ball’s in his court. He’s a good player when he really commits.”
  • Wedge implied that Peralta hasn’t seriously committed to becoming “a very good third baseman.” And though Wedge didn’t say so, I can’t help but wonder if the move to third has had a negative impact on Peralta’s mindset on both sides of the ball.
  • Wedge also had some pointed words for catcher Kelly Shoppach. When a guy is striking out at a rate of about once every three plate appearances, it becomes difficult to justify having him in the lineup regularly, no matter what he brings to the table defensively. That’s what Wedge is dealing with regarding Shoppach, who has become the regular catcher not just for Cliff Lee but also Pavano and David Huff. “Kelly makes it tough when he gives away at-bats like that,” Wedge said. “He knows that.”
  • On the flip side, Wedge had more glowing things to say about Luis Valbuena. The gist is that if another rookie had the same exact numbers as Valbuena but looked over matched, Wedge would have had him sent down by now. But he feels Valbuena is putting up good at-bats and has shown some “moxie,” so he’s sticking with him.
  • The Indians announced the signing of five more Draft picks today, bringing the total number of players signed to nine, including eight from the first 16 rounds. Fifth-round pick Austin Adams (Faulkner University), eighth-round pick Cory Burns (Arizona), ninth-round pick Preston Guilmet (Arizona), 16th-round pick Dale Dickerson (Nicholls State) and 27th-round pick Tyler Sturdevant (New Mexico State) were all inked.
  • Travis Hafner is batting .310 (9-for-29) with two doubles, three homers and eight RBIs in eight games since returning from the DL. He feels the rest about every third day and the decrease in the number of swings he takes pregame has helped his right shoulder remain strong. “It’s progressing better than it was two weeks ago,” Hafner said of his shoulder. “Soon, I’ll be able to play three days in a row, and hopefully I’ll build up from there.”
  • “Chulkamania” is running wild at Triple-A Columbus. After two scoreless innings in last night’s 10-3 win over Rochester, Vinnie Chulk now has a 0.66 ERA in 12 total appearances covering 13 2/3 innings with the Clippers this season. He’s walked three and struck out 11. He has five straight scoreless outings and hasn’t allowed an earned run in 11 of 12 appearances.
  • Left-hander Chuck Lofgren got the start in that win over Rochester, allowing three runs on seven hits over seven innings. It was his fourth start at the Triple-A level.
  • Jordan Brown went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and three RBIs. He’s batting .307 with an .859 OPS for the season.
  • At Double-A Akron, first baseman Beau Mills has a seven-game hitting streak in which he’s hit .423 (11-for-26) with three doubles, a homer and six RBIs. He’s batting .352 in June to raise his average from .247 to .271.
  • Right-hander Trey Haley, the Tribe’s second-round pick in last year’s Draft, is just 18 years old but pitching in a full-season league at Class A Lake County. Over his last three starts, he is 2-0 with a 2.51 ERA. For the season, he is 2-3 with a 5.47 ERA.

~AC

27 Comments

I’m hoping that Valbuena doesn’t become the new Marte. Granted, Valbuena has picked it up a bit since coming up. But regardless, Wedge always has good comments. It just seems like he is one of those guys that the brass is so high on they won’t look at anything negatively. This is what they did with Marte for a few years. He was supposed to be the star of the future and never lived up to expectations. He should have been dealt with long before he was. Hopefully Valbuena doesn’t meet the same fate.

Anthony, you crack me up. You’re always good at giving us information without really going off on a tangent, but if you read between the lines it’s possible to figure out your opinions on things.
For example, what moves do you think we should make regarding our bullpen? Who do you think we should call up for some offense? And what do you really think of Wedge’s comments about each player?
Anyway, the fact that Wedge would spend so much time ripping Jhonny and gloss over Shoppach is ridiculous.
As for the great music debate, I won’t deny that one is more legendary than the other…that same one also happens to be one of the biggest jerks I’ve ever seen on TV or read about.
But nice guys really do finish last.

Anthony-

How can there even be a debate between Dylan and Nelson? Dylan is the voice of a generation, and responsible for some of the most important pop-rock-folk songs of the twentieth century, while Willie Nelson’s biggest contribution to popular culture is an (admittedly delicious) flavor of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Point, set, match.

As for Valbuena- I know Eric Wedge loves the kid, and, to an extent, I see why- he’s a decent defender with some versatility, and some power in his bat. But still, he’s a guy who simply has not had extended success in the Bigs (see his .180 average). Meanwhile, Josh Barfield has been successful in his brief chances, but continues to get the shaft for continuous playing time, despite the absence of Cabrera, and the lack of production from Peralta and Valbuena. What’s it going to take to see number 29 on a more regular basis?

-Steve

http://flashesofselby.mlblogs.com/

Hey, I think Barfield has gotten the raw end of the deal as much as the next guy, but let’s not get carried away. Barfield has ONLY been successful in his brief chances (going 7 for 17 this year) and he HAS gotten prolonged chances, in ’07 with the big league team and the last two years in Columbus. He hit .243 in 420 ABs in 2007 and he was hitting .220 when he got called up from AAA after Cabrera got hit.
I’m all for more Barfield, but he HAS had chances to prove himself up until now, and he’s failed. I have a bigger issue with the fact that Wedge seems to enjoy benching guys the game after they perform well; that’s not a particularly good reward system.
Valbuena, on the other hand, was batting .321 when he got called up, and as of two seconds go now has 92 ABs at the big league level.
My problem is that I don’t know that we’re in a position to let him get the other 328 ABs unless he’s productive — not with so many guys in our line-up slumping, and not with needing 5+ runs per game to win.

Well, you can give Valbuena those other 328 ABs if you think that there is no way the Indians can contend this year. However, judging by how Wedge is managing this team (i.e. putting in Perez to face Fielder on Monday), I am beginning to think that Wedge might be looking at this as a lost season, and therefore is letting guys work out their problems in Cleveland.

But, getting back to Barfield- he has had really only one chance in Cleveland (he only got 33 ABs in 2008), and did under-perform, but he is a solid defender and, despite the fact that he has had only limited face time this year, he has done well thus far. Until he proves that he cannot play in Cleveland this season, I think it is only fair to give him increased playing time, especially with Peralta and Valbuena struggling in everyday roles.

Call me crazy – it’s okay, lots of people do – I don’t like Bob Dylan! There. I’ve said it and I feel better.

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

The music question-Dylan has written some great songs; so has Nelson.
They both have had many of their songs covered.
They both have staying power-been singing, writing, and playing forever. Nelson’s probably sold more records, Dylan’s fans are probably more fervent. Nelson has made records in a couple different genres, and with many different artists.
I don’t know. They really are both important folks in the industry and their music will influence recordings for years to come. I can’t decide. I like them both.
Now where does Van Morrison fit into all of this? He’s like a musical genre all by himself. Jazz. rock, pop, country, easy listening, Celtic-he’s done it all, and he’s been around forever too.

Barfield blew his chance in ’07, then performed below average in AAA in ’08 and was doing so again in ’09 before getting this recent call-up. He never even proved he deserved another chance at the major league level by performing in AAA.
I’m not saying Barfield isn’t just as deserving as Valbuena to be on the field, but the idea that he has some great reservoir of untapped potential? There’s nothing to suggest that’s true, even at the minor league level.
Again, what bothers me if Wedge benching guys who perform well for no apparent reason. Barfield went 2 for 4 with an RBI his first game back and was benched the next day. Valbuena went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI tonight and will most likely start tomorrow.
It’s the double standard that bothers me, but I don’t expect Barfield to be any better than Valbuena. There’s not reason to think otherwise.

Our bench is awful. We have absolutely no depth.
And speaking of awful, the White Sox are the only team in our division that won today. Unreal.

Dylan. No need to comment on the Tribe… just Dylan.

If Wedge was going to put Wood in the top of the 10th, that suggests that they would need to score in the bottom of the frame. Wood goes 1-2-3 and Wedge sends in Valbuena/Shoppach/Crowe. I about threw myself down a flight of stairs when I realized he wasn’t going to pinch hit for one of those stiffs.

Dylan, IMO

I think Valbuena will end up being yet another absolute theft from Seattle. That being said, it would be nice to stash him in AAA for most of the year. I also think Barfield deserves a legitimate shot to prove he’s worked on his bad offensive habits. He’s at least going to give solid defense in the meantime. And Wedge has got to find a way to keep Garko in there. With Hafner only able to play two in a row, there is no excuse not to find room for Ryan.

And I can’t help but feel they are rushing Westbrook. I know he yearns (you ever yearned?) to help turn it around, and we all want him back so badly, but the truth is that he wont be the same horse this year no matter what. Jake was one of the most underrated players in the league with his groundball ratio and massive innings, and without REALLY building himself up cannot contribute with either of his strengths. He is just a year removed from surgery and is such a huge element to our success for this year AND next, the staff MUST be certain to baby-step his way back. I know he has been ‘on schedule’, but not being as cautious as possible is unacceptable.

tribetime1 – totally agree. Wedge grooms these guys to be ‘versatile’ for just such a situation. However all those switches would have completely confused Wedge so he went with his ‘gut’ and sent 3 guys to win the game all who are batting well south of the Mendoza line (and were a combined 3-13 on the night). Missed opportunities – it’s nothing new.

Why do guys like Kelly Shoppach and Trevor Crowe consistently get at-bats in clutch situations late in games when there are better hitters on the bench? If Travis Hafner swings a bat on day three after playing days one and two in a row, his shoulder is just going to crumble, especially with an off day the next day?

Why can’t Kerry Wood pitch more than one inning? He was a starter for, what, eight years? He threw 13 pitches, and now he probably won’t pitch again for another two weeks.

Why does Ben Francisco refuse to go the other way/hit the ball on the ground? There’s a reason you’re batting .230, Ben.

Why did Rick Manning put the blame on Greg Aquino for that passed ball? Maybe he didn’t throw the pitch he was suppose to, but you’re telling me Shoppach couldn’t recognize that a curveball was coming instead of a fastball? Give me a break. Catch the baseball.

How much longer are we going to put the obvious Jensen Lewis for Vinnie Chulk transaction aside? Why is Lewis still on this team, exactly?

Crowe is not physically or mentally ready to play baseball on this level.

Francisco and Shoppach are absolutely not everyday players.

That is all.

Oh, and on one positive note, I think Luis Valbuena is going to be a very good hitter. Our middle infield looks incredibly promising for the next eight years or so. Thanks, Seattle.

I think Rafael Perez is contagious, the Indians sent him down, the bullpen automatically became decent. They called him up, and everyone automatically started sucking. How about exchanging some Perez for Rundles

And the award for most jerky comment goes to…tribetime1! Congrats.
AC, judging by the other responses you’ve gotten, I think most of us like your various intros to info about the team. I think a few paragraphs about music vs 14 bullet points about the Tribe is perfectly fine. But even if I didn’t like it, I doubt I’d lecture you about it, but that’s just me.

isavage, that’s is a truly frightening observation. It really does seem like that, doesn’t it? At this point, I think they should accept that as reality and send Perez down again.

Just read the Indians Inbox and I’m a little annoyed. Because while I agree that Francisco and Peralta are both struggling, Kelly freaking Shoppach is a drain on this line-up every single time he’s in there, yet we get nary a word about it from Wedge. And, you know, Peralta might have an easier time focusing on becoming a great third baseman if he actually played third base every day.
But back to Shoppach — if Francisco and Peralta are in danger of losing their spots when Sizemore and Cabrera come back, why isn’t Gimenez getting some starts behind the plate? Why isn’t Victor back there four out of every five starts? Why are we having our young guys pitch to Shoppach — they don’t have a personal catcher, so why aren’t they pitching to Shoppach? Every time Shoppach is behind the plate instead of Martinez, we are benching a .260 hitter with 28 RBI and 22 K’s (Garko) for a .200 hitter with 16 RBI and 48 (!) K’s. How does this make sense to anyone?
And if Valbuena gets the benefit of the doubt, why not Gimenez? Looking at Columbus’s site, he’s caught for Sowers, Huff, AND Ohka in the minors. If we’re going to take a chance on a catcher who’s hitting .200, why not try the guy who’s only hit .200 in 15 ABs, as opposed to the guy who’s done it for 125 ABs (and strikes out 38% of the time).
Maybe it’s that mighty .139 with RISP that keeps Shoppach in the line-up all the time.

Just to pour salt in the wound, Garko is hitting .351 with RISP in just one more AB than Shoppach.

LACF – The Indian’s brass making logical decisions about obvious situations AND acting up them…surely you jest.

tribetime1, it’s not that you spoke out of turn, it’s that you’re a jerk about it.

I didn’t realize you were being forced to read the blog, tribetime1. I’m pretty sure AC would not miss your criticism if you quit. LACF is exactly right- no need to be a jerk, unless AC kicked your dog or something, and in that case there are more constructive and classy ways to voice your opinion… for example an email.

AC- keep the music reviews, tidbits, and humor coming… it is much appreciated! In a dismal season you are doing a great job!

wow, I’ve been out of town for 3 days and look at all the chatter I missed. A few observations though.

While designating Aquino for Gosling was a quality move, the organization should also send down Perez (Sipp or Rundles?) and Lewis (probably Chulk, I still like Meloan long term). My guess is they are waiting for Laffey. By possibly adding him back to the rotation we can move Ohka back to the pen. How about giving Chuck Lofgren a shot in the rotation?

On the firing Eric Wedge front, it will never happen… during the season that is. I think that given another sub .500 year the organization must seriously re-evaluate him and his staff. IF it happened during the season I would imagine that it would be an internal, interim candidate (please not Datz, Willis or Shelton). I have always maintained the Sandy Alomar Jr. would make a great ML manager, as most catchers do.

Can someone answer me this question, perhaps you AC. The Indians have 42 players listed on their 40 Man Roster, with 3 players listed (S. Lewis, Reyes, Westbrook) as ‘not’ on the FMR. If my math is correct, then that is 39 players on the FMR. Shouldn’t we have an opening then (Lofgren?). Additionally, why isn’t Adam Miller on the 60 day DL? If they made that move, even retroactively, wouldn’t that leave us with a total of 38 and thus 2 open spots?

tribetime1, it needs to be said: you’re not very bright. I wish you nothing but the best, as life has got to be hard for you.
AM, Perez for Sipp probably makes the most sense, since they need a lefty. But it is baffling that they would keep Perez any longer. And, correct me if I’m wrong, but they’ve yet to send Lewis down this year, yes? How crazy is that? He’s the new Masa.
Yeah, I can’t find a list anywhere that gives us a full 40.

tribetime1, why all the angst man, this is a blog. Can I call you Little Ball of Hate?

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