It's Independence Day for me this time

Indians iTrac vision trainer Jason Stein — known in this and many circles as the “Master of Self-Promotion” — poses what I consider to be an interesting holiday query.

How did Independence Day come to be known more commonly as the Fourth of July, rather than its proper title? And why doesn’t this treatment extend to other holidays? I’ve never been approached by somebody in a ghost costume who said, “Boo! It’s the 31st of October!” And I’ve never seen a guy in a Santa Claus suit say, “Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry 25th of December!”

The only other day in the Fourth of July camp is Cinco de Mayo. But that’s just because people love to say “cinco.”

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIA OF THE DAY…

  • The debate will rage as to whether the right decision has been made, but, no matter what your feelings are on Eric Wedge, perhaps you’ll agree that if the Indians are indeed going to stick with him, then Mark Shapiro did the right thing today by definitively addressing his job security for the remainder of the season. Letting this thing fester doesn’t help matters on any front. And if anything, such an announcement should have been made when this speculation began to get out of control two weeks ago. But, obviously, Shapiro needed ownership’s backing.
  • I have to wonder if the announcement was delayed to be made at a point when the Indians were playing better baseball. It certainly would be more difficult to make that announcement with the Tribe in the midst of losing 14 of 17 games.
  • Anyway, contracts aside, it’s obvious that nothing is guaranteed to Wedge or his staff beyond 2009, so this will be an interesting second half. What does Shapiro want to see in the second half? “I want to see some development,” he said. “We have some young players that we need to get back on track to ensure the team is in a position to do what we want to do next year.” Shapiro listed Fausto Carmona, Rafael Perez, Asdrubal Cabrera and Luis Valbuena, in particular. “There are a lot of young players we need to see develop so that we have a better base for making evaluations going into the offseason,” he said.
  • Regarding trades, Shapiro didn’t reveal anything earth-shattering. He continues to have active conversations and continues to search for young pitching. Nothing appears imminent, but imminent is a relative term when you get into July.
  • Down on the farm, the big move today was right-hander Hector Rondon’s promotion to Triple-A Columbus. Rondon was 7-5 with a 2.75 ERA at Double-A Akron. His ERA was the fifth-best in the Eastern League, and he was tied for fifth in the league with 73 strikeouts in just 72 innings.
  • The Tribe entered today having won six straight against the A’s, dating back to last year.
  • C Carlos Santana has three homers and seven RBIs over his last three games at Double-A Akron.

~AC

18 Comments

I wonder, from the way Shapiro talked about this from the beginning (calling firing the manager a “cop-out,” for example), if Mark didn’t go to the Dolans and say if Wedge went, he went too. I still think this is the wrong decision. If we do continue to slide down the standings, I just can’t watch Wedge mishandle our youngsters anymore, whether they are call-ups or new acquisitions. I just don’t get how Shapiro doesn’t see this.

Hopefully, Carlos Santana will be following Rondon to Cowtown as Wyatt Toregas is promoted to the bigs to take the place of the soon to be traded Kelly Shoppach.

I hope.

I might add that the date, Fourth of July, is itself inaccurate. Independence was actually declared on July 2, which is the date John Adams held dear all the rest of his life. July 4 was the day the document was signed, but it passed on July 2. So, we’re pretty much got it wrong all around, in name and in historical accuracy.

Fausto for Colubmus: 5 IP, 1 ER, 6 H, 1 BB, 5 SO, 1 HR, 87 pitches. He had 8 ground outs and 2 flyouts.
I have to ask: what’s the big deal about the start on Wednesday? Technically speaking, Huff is due up that day. Does anyone actually care that Sowers and Huff have a pitcher in between them? What possible difference could that make at this point? And I realize Laffey COULD make that start, but why not hold him back? What’s the point in hurrying him along?
Carmona’s not coming back from an INJURY. So why not hold off on that 5th starter until we have to, which would be the sixth day after Carmona’s start today, and just bring him? He clearly needs to face major league hitters.
And wasn’t the whole issue with Sowers and Huff pitching back to back because they’re both lefties? Isn’t Laffey a lefty?

The issue with huff and sowers is that they are very similar pitchers not just that they are lefties. Also, I’m not all that impressed with Carmona’s start since only 60% of his pitches were for strikes. His control is obviously better but one also has to wonder if the lack of plate discipline in the minors compared to the bigs is the reason for his success.

But why not bring him up? He has no physical ailment preventing him from pitching. And what difference does it make if Sowers and Huff are similar pitchers?
The season is lost. I don’t understand pretending like it isn’t. The more time Fausto gets against big league hitters, the better. The more time Laffey (and Westbrook and Lewis and Betancourt, etc.) have to recover from their injuries, the better.

Well, maybe the season is lost, maybe it’s not. Let’s put this into perspective. Last year on July 6th, we were 37-51 and right in the middle of a 10 game losing streak. That isn’t too far away from what we are now, and we were more games back (13.5) at this time than we are now (12). We didn’t really start winning and moving up towards .500 until mid to late August. Just think where we might have been if we started that climb a few weeks earlier…..or even a month and a half earlier. There is still a lot of baseball to play, and in recent years, this is when we’ve played our best baseball. So, yes it looks grim, just as it looked last year. But, it isn’t too late. We’re about a month and a half away from that……at least compared to last year.

Well, maybe the season is lost, maybe it’s not. Let’s put this into perspective. Last year on July 6th, we were 37-51 and right in the middle of a 10 game losing streak. That isn’t too far away from what we are now, and we were more games back (13.5) at this time than we are now (12). We didn’t really start winning and moving up towards .500 until mid to late August. Just think where we might have been if we started that climb a few weeks earlier…..or even a month and a half earlier. There is still a lot of baseball to play, and in recent years, this is when we’ve played our best baseball. So, yes it looks grim, just as it looked last year. But, it isn’t too late. We’re about a month and a half away from that……at least compared to last year.

jkrumwiede, while I truly do respect your fanhood and devotion to hope, I cannot get as glossy-eyed as you. Perhaps I wish I could though. You are certainly an optimist, whereas I’m a realist.

I do not see this team as being capable of a sustained run nor do I see the organization making progress for that potential. Our starting pitching has too many questions, our bullpen too many patchwork hole-fillers, and our lineup too inconsistent despite the decree from Wedge to be more consistent. The revolving door of our bullpen stopgaps makes me think their nickname should be “Lil Dutchboy.”

I think your hope relies heavily on too many unknowns, and substantial ones at that. We do not know what we will get from Carmona, Laffey, and even Westbrook not to mention Grady’s elbow and Hafner’s shoulder. Betancourt is getting healthy but rumored as a trade piece. Huff is progressing through the rookie ups-and-downs but has shown he can handle his own. Sowers is ineffective at the ML level. Ohka is not even mentionable in the starting rotation. Rafael Perez is totally lost. Why is Chris Gimenez on this roster? Where is Jordan Brown and Matt LaPorta? Despite his great weekend Ben Francisco has not developed into a ML starter. He does nothing well except turn on a fastball. Shoppach is a joke. With all these Triple-A pitchers we have been pining for Gimenez or even Toregas to catch for them but to no avail. Too many questions, not enough answers. And the “distraction” of Wedge’s tenure along with his apocalyptic crew is without question the most frustrating aspect of this team to the fans.

While they say that you cannot fire 25 players we here on the blog have provided several options for altering this roster to which the organization deems unnecessary. I just don’t get it.

I think you’re probably correct: I tend to be overly idealistic at times. With the problems we’ve all been discussing (pitching being paramount), I don’t think it’s realistic to think we can win the division. But, I don’t think a .500 season (+/-) is out of the realm of possibility.

Our pitching, both bullpen and rotation, is obviously a huge problem, but I think there is an important additional variable. Our offense rarely produces in clutch opportunities and situational hitting. Francisco and Shoppach rarely produce at all. Not to pine after past seasons or past players, but in the mid-90s our lineup had around 5 guys hitting over .300 season after season. Those who weren’t hitting that were usually at least hitting over .250.

With the problems our that exist in our rotation, and our bullpen’s tendency to hemorrhage runs, I just don’t understand how guys like Shoppach and Francisco play consistantly. While LaPorta did struggle a bit in his time with the club, if he played everyday I know he will find his groove. Even if he didn’t, I think what BA he did put up wouldn’t be much worse than Francisco….plus he would be seeing consistant big league pitching.

Never-the-less, let’s see if we can’t get to .500 this season, and start thinking about what we can do next year.

I’ve actually turned around on Francisco.
I hear what you’re saying, you’re going “LACF, two good games don’t make him worthy of keeping around!” And I agree with you.
But I was thinking about our starting outfield next year (Choo, Sizemore, LaPorta), I wondered who are fourth outfielder would be. It has to be someone who can afford to sit, so not one of our promising youngsters. Do we then go get another David Dellucci for obscene money? It definitely has to be someone who can play center, too. So I think we keep Ben as our fourth outfielder — I doubt his trade value is very high, anyway.
It’s time to play the guys who need major league experience (Huff, Sowers, Carmona, LaPorta, Brown), rest the guys who need rest (Sizemore, Westbrook, Laffey, Lewis, Betancourt) and trade for arms when we can.

LACF, I couldn’t agree more. Francisco is a perfect 4th outfielder, if you ask me. He can play all three positions pretty well, and would be a good guy off the bench to run for someone…..and dare I say even pinch hit.
Also, what do you think about Rondon? Seeing him moved up to Columbus leads me to believe we will see him top-side next year (maybe even a few games late in the season). If we can shore up our rotation, I will feel much better about next year. Even though the bullpen has been arguably our biggest problem this season, the rotation is what I worry about most.

LACF & jkrumwiede, I think that if we went back into the postings you could find many of us that think Francisco is nothing more than a 4th outfielder, as his game is currently constructed. Perhaps his offense could, in time, be more consistent but jk is correct in his ability to play all 3 OF spots. However, I would argue against the idea that “he can play all three positions pretty well.” But at that point we are simply grasping at straws.

Rondon is a September call-up IMO. Barring any shocking trades I would venture a guess that our ’10 rotation would be something like Lee, Westbrook, Laffey, Carmona and Huff/Lewis. I do not consider Sowers to be a long term option and the organization says he is almost unavailable in the bullpen b/c it takes him FOREVER to warm up apparently.

LACF, if Jordan Brown gets promoted and performs well throughout the rest of the season would you be more inclined to let Francisco go at season’s end? Just curious. And while other commenters are trying to rush our Double-A talent to the majors for 2010 I would still think that 2011 is the more prominent year for guys like Rondon, Santana, Brantley, Mills, Weglarz, Rivero and maybe even Hodges (depending on how he responds in the second half of this year). Who knows? The only entertainment I get is corresponding with knowledgeable Tribe fans in our season of discontent.

Well, I think it’s unfair to say Francisco can’t play all three outfield positions well. He doesn’t have Grady’s vacuum of a glove, but he doesn’t make a lot of errors either (2009 E: BF-1, SSC-4, GS-0) . He doesn’t have Choo’s cannon of an arm, but he can still threaten baserunners if need be (2009 A: BF-4, SSC-8, GS-0). He is pretty quick, and can cover a lot of ground. To me that fits the bill of a “pretty good” outfielder.

I think you are generally correct about rushing players up this year. I think those prospects that we value should be developing, rather than being thrust into high pressure situations before they are prepared. We have no need to call them up this year…..at least not with our present record. There are a few that I think are ready, and benefit from seeing MLB pitching before next year, namely LaPorta.

“The only entertainment I get is corresponding with knowledgeable Tribe fans in our season of discontent.” – - – I couldn’t agree more.

Well, I think it’s unfair to say Francisco can’t play all three outfield positions well. He doesn’t have Grady’s vacuum of a glove, but he doesn’t make a lot of errors either (2009 E: BF-1, SSC-4, GS-0) . He doesn’t have Choo’s cannon of an arm, but he can still threaten baserunners if need be (2009 A: BF-4, SSC-8, GS-0). He is pretty quick, and can cover a lot of ground. To me that fits the bill of a “pretty good” outfielder.

I think you are generally correct about rushing players up this year. I think those prospects that we value should be developing, rather than being thrust into high pressure situations before they are prepared. We have no need to call them up this year…..at least not with our present record. There are a few that I think are ready, and benefit from seeing MLB pitching before next year, namely LaPorta.

“The only entertainment I get is corresponding with knowledgeable Tribe fans in our season of discontent.” – - – I couldn’t agree more.

I find AC’s latest snippet of Shin-Soo Choo to be quite coincidental. A friend challenged me to produce statistics about how rather unproductive Choo’s 2009 season really is after I made some comments about his beloved one-named moniker man. I sent the email about 5 minutes ago only to revisit the MLB site and what do I see? AC’s article about Choo in the four hole. Eerie timing.

I don’t think Brown performing well would sway me on Francisco, just because I don’t know that Brown can be a good fill-in for Grady when need be. Up until this season, he was a straight 1st/DH type guy, and they expanded him to the outfield to make him more versatile (there’s that word again). So I doubt he’d be able to cover center field as well as Francisco.
Honestly, let him compete for the first base job for next year (I say that assuming Victor will be behind the plate all of next year, with Santana replacing him in 2011). Garko seems to play better if he’s challenged.
I’m glad they’re calling Rondon up to AAA, but I agree with AM that he’s more likely a candidate for 2011. Still, you never know what can happen. Perhaps half a season in AAA pushes him to the next level.

LACF, agreed on the Rondon front. Perhaps 2+ months in Columbus this year combined with half a season with the Clippers in 2010 would be enough for this kid. He is certainly the fastest riser of the 2011 kids I mentioned.

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