Half a party in a one-dog town

Well, it’s a day game in Chicago, and, because of a schedule that will take me to St. Louis this weekend in advance of the All-Star Game, it’s my last Tribe game of the first half of 2009.

And what a dizzying, mind-boggling, stomach-twisting, head-spinning first half it’s been.

We’ve seen the Tribe blow through 44 players, including 26 pitchers. We’ve seen Tony Graffanino, Greg Aquino and Luis Vizcaino. All that’s left is to work out a trade for Ronny Paulino.

We’ve said “sayonara” to Masa Kobayashi and “ciao” to David Dellucci. We’ve seen Fausto Carmona banished to the Arizona desert. We’ve seen Josh Barfield and Tony Sipp log more miles on Interstate 71 than most truck drivers. And we’ve bid a tearful farewell to Dick Jacobs.

We saw the Indians nearly become the first Cleveland team to start a season 0-6 since the 1914 Cleveland Naps. Then we saw them not only spoil the first game at the new Yankee Stadium but, two days later, post 22 runs, including 14 in a single inning.

We’ve seen an opposing manager turn in a lineup with two third basemen, a game-winning hit strike a gull and Cliff Lee nearly toss a no-no.

What we haven’t seen, of course, are many wins, which is why we have seen calls for the head of manager Eric Wedge and demands that he be replaced with… Mike Hargrove? Really?

Personally, I trace it all back to Spring Training. Maybe we should have known this season would be confusing when the Goodyear Ballpark PA guy called Rafael Betancourt “John.” Maybe we should have known the Tribe would be bitten by bad luck when Jhonny Peralta’s wife, Molly, was bitten by a scorpion. Maybe we should have known this team would be afflicted when pretty much every player reported to camp wearing Affliction.

It’s been a long, crazy ride, and there’s still more to come. And I’ll keep trying to keep up with it all right here at CastroTurf in the second half.

For now…


  • It will be interesting to see how Rafael Betancourt fares in his return from the disabled list, and if the Indians shop him before the July 31 deadline. I can’t imagine the Tribe picking up his $5.4 million option for 2010, unless it was restructured somehow. Relief help is always desired on the open market this time of year, and Betancourt could pitch himself into consideration among contenders.
  • For his part, Betancourt said he’s not worried about his contract or the trade rumors. “All I have to do is pitch,” he said. “Everything else is going to be out of my hands — contracts or whatever. I don’t really know what’s going to happen. All I have to do is go out and pitch.”
  • Jeremy Sowers won’t be pitching for awhile. The Indians are going to have him sit for a week before he picks up a ball again at Triple-A Columbus. He’ll throw a bullpen a week from today, with an eye on starting for the Clippers on July 19. The thinking is that Sowers – like so many others this time of year – could use a mental and physical break. His fastball loses some command and velocity as his innings wear on (and that is probably a big reason why he struggles the third time through the opponent’s order), so the rest might do him good.
  • The Tribe will use Tomo Ohka for Sunday’s start. Coming out of the break, the Indians won’t have a need for a fifth starter until July 25. Nothing is set in stone — and nothing has been set in stone all season — but Sowers and Fausto Carmona could be options for that start. And Jake Westbrook is still expected back by early August.
  • Why didn’t the Indians move Sowers to relief? For one, they value starting depth. And in recognizing Sowers’ strengths for four or five innings, they are still hopeful they can get him straightened out and keep him effective that third time through the order.
  • Wedge sounded off about the opportunity available on this pitching staff and how pitchers, youngsters and veterans alike, aren’t taking advantage of it the way they should. “Guys should be frothing at the mouth to get in there,” he said.
  • Wedge also said that with so many teams in baseball looking for quality pitching help, no one at Triple-A has any reason to complain about being there. “If they’re not up here,” he said, “there’s a reason they’re not up here.”
  • On the bright side, Wedge said he’s been pleased with what he’s seen from Jose Veras his last couple times out, and he was happy to see the way Chris Perez rebounded last night.
  • On June 13, the Indians and Sox were within 2 games of each other in the Central standings. Since then, the Indians have dropped 17 of 22 to fall 13 games back, while the Sox have won 16 of 22 to climb to within two games of the first-place Tigers.
  • How about Hector Rondon’s Triple-A debut last night? He held Indianapolis hitless and scoreless for six innings, allowing just two hits with eight strikeouts. He threw 95 pitches. Rondon is 2-1 with a 1.03 ERA over his last five starts between Akron and Columbus. He’s struck out 29 batters in 26 1/3 innings in that span.
  • Ben Francisco has hit in six of his last seven games, batting .476 (10-for-21) with a homer and two RBIs.
  • Ryan Garko has an eight-game hitting streak in which he’s hit .333 (10-for-30) with a homer and two RBIs.
  • Asdrubal Cabrera is batting .176 (6-for-34) with four runs and six RBIs in eight games since his activation from the DL.
  • Victor Martinez snapped an 0-for-15 funk last night, but he’s still 5-for-his-last-55.



One word sums up the Tribe thus far in 09. Stinky.

And now for the most amazing thing, we’ve seen Eric Wedge bring in Kerry Wood in the 8th inning for the first time this year!

So it’s an off day for Hafner, fine. But why DH Sizemore today? If Shoppach has to start then why not DH Victor and keep Garko at first and not in the outfield? I like that he’s in the lineup, but not in right field. If Grady is still having that much trouble with his elbow why is he playing at all? Having Grady at DH with Garko in the outfield is not something we should ever see. I’m not a Wedge hater, but this lineup makes no sense to me.

Wait a minute — Kelly Shoppach drew a walk!! He drew TWO!

Make peace with whatever god you hold dear, everyone, the world is coming to an end!

Agreed doublesteal … if Sizemore is hurt he should get surgery now, call up Crowe for the rest of the year to take his place in CF. They should want to get a read on Crowe anyway, and he’s batting around .350 at Columbus since his return. Hopefully they’ll also trade Peralta, and call up Marte to play 3b the rest of the year. If these guys hit .150 who cares? They let them go, and 3b is Hodges to lose next year, and if Crowe performs well he increases his trade value, if he doesn’t, Sizemore’s back and healthy next year and Crowe’s likely gone anyway … good to see Rondon pitching well. I’m curious, anyone know how JD Martin slipped away in the off season? Shapiro seems to have a great ability to misjudge pitching talent, Martin has a 2.14 era as a starter for Syracuse in the Intl league. So that means they got rid of a pitcher who would have the best era of any relief pitcher in the organization (Stevens), and Martin, who has a better era than any starter in the organization … yet they kept Meloan, who they trade for someone who’ll never be heard from again after this year

I’d, myself would be a little hesitant about looking for “trade value” right now… I go back a long way with the Indians and I can’t remember the team improving their position in the standings through a trade. If I’m wrong, please someone correct me… This other thing, trading good players for prospects, albeit because of “option year $$” I don’t recall, either. There was all the hype a couple years back about the pitching; now, I see two names there that I would like to see pitch. One might’ve made the All Star team and the other’s about to be traded? Hey, players are in a slump…

Idler, I’d say Ed Taubensee for Kenny Lofton was a pretty good trade, as was Colon for Lee, Sizemore and Brandon Philips … that guy they traded for Choo was a good one … I can’t remember the last time the Indians improved because of someone they drafted

I think getting Cabrera for Eduardo Perez was a good trade as well. In fact, most trades I can think of in recent years have been real good for us. The drafts? Not so much….In fact, we’ve seemed to have pretty bad luck there.

idler, the trade value is for people who will help us in the future, not this season. No one can help us this season.
I’m looking forward to see what we can get for Carl Pavano.

call me crazy but Pavano is a guy I’d like to have back next year, particularly with the uncertainties we have in our young rotational depth. I make this statement with three caveats: 1. they move Lee sometime within the next 55 weeks, 2. Carmona’s future is a major unknown and, 3. Pavano decides he is comfortable here and stays for decent small-to-mid market money.

“3. Pavano decides he is comfortable here and stays for decent small-to-mid market money.”

You know, were it any other pitcher, I would find this idea insane, but given what Pavano has been through, I have to wonder if this is an actual possibility.

Given the relative bargain our option on Lee is, a deal for Pavano might not be so out of the bounds of reality. Imagine if Westbrook can make a return, too — that’s a group of workhorses right there.

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