Neighbors, do unto neighbors what you do to yourself

By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com
http://castrovince.mlblogs.com
http://www.twitter.com/castrovince

Eric Wedge settled into a home tucked away in sleepy Richfield, Ohio, last year to get away from it all.

Now, Shaq’s coming to town.

shaq.jpg“I’m trying to stay under the radar,” Wedge said with a resigned sigh. “That doesn’t help.”

According to a story in Thursday’s Plain Dealer, Shaquille O’Neal has completed his house-hunting in the Cleveland area for the upcoming Cavaliers season and opted for a rented, 7,000-square-foot house in Richfield.

The house reportedly includes an indoor basketball half-court, and the paper cheekily suggested that Shaq and Wedge could play a little one-on-one.

Wedge, probably sizing up the number of curious Cavs fans soon to be driving up and down his street, didn’t exactly sound up to the challenge.

You couldn’t come up with two more disparate personalities. Wedge is a grinder; Shaq’s a rapper. Wedge mixes up his lineups constantly; Shaq does mixed martial arts. Wedge idolizes John Wayne; Shaq… well… if you’ve seen him act, he’s no John Wayne.

How close is Shaq’s house to Wedge’s house?

“It’s close,” Wedge said.

Real close?

“It’s close,” Wedge repeated with another sigh.

There goes the neighborhood.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…

  • Matt LaPorta (left hip inflammation) is still out of the lineup tonight, but he took batting practice again and is feeling better. He’s available off the bench, and all indications are that he’ll be back in the lineup Friday.
  • The Indians made three completely unsurprising housecleaning moves today. Left-handers Zach Jackson, Rich Rundles and R.J. Swindle were outrighted off the 40-man roster and on to the Triple-A Columbus roster. The 40-man now has 36 players, with Anthony Reyes and Jake Westbrook, both of whom are on the 60-day DL, not counting toward that total.
  • Joe Smith (left knee sprain) threw his second bullpen session Thursday and tolerated it well. Wedge said Smith will throw at least one more bullpen before the Indians consider activating him off the disabled list. “We don’t have a timetable [for Smith's return],” Wedge said, “but it would be nice for him to pitch a couple times before the season is over.”
  • What has happened so far, with regard to this 10-game losing streak, is hardly historic. You only have to go back to June 28-July 9, 2008, to find the last time an Indians team lost 10 in a row. The Tribe has lost 10 straight games 10 times in franchise history.
  • But here’s where it starts to get interesting. Tonight, Justin Verlander opposes Carlos Carrasco. Not exactly a matchup that works in the Tribe’s favor. If the Indians lose, it will be the first time they’ve lost 11 straight since a 12-game losing streak in May of 1931. That 12-game streak, by the way, is the longest in team history, so the Indians are dangerously close to record territory.
  • If you’re scoring at home, in the month of September, the Indians have had three team wins and two team meetings. While data from around the league is not available, it appears this is not a strong win-to-meeting ratio.
  • The first of these meetings came Sept. 14 at the Metrodome. The Indians have lost nine straight since that little get-together. They came together for another team meeting before tonight’s series finale against the Tigers. The theme? Get loose. “I wanted them to back off themselves,” Wedge said. “You still have to relax and play to be your best. … You can’t get caught up in the results. You relax and play, and let the results take care of themselves.”
  • Such meetings aren’t commonplace for teams this far out of contention this late in the season. But the Indians have a lot to play for down the stretch – namely, the fate of their manager (whose fate might already be sealed) and coaching staff and the desire to avoid becoming the first Tribe team to lose 100 games since 1991. The Indians must go 2-9 or better down the stretch to do so.
  • This is already the first Tribe team to lose 90 games since 2003. That’s incredible, in and of itself, given that the ’03 club came into its season with absolutely no hope or plan to contend whatsoever.
  • You might remember that the city of Winter Haven, Fla., sued the Indians on Dec. 31, 2008, claiming the Tribe owed the city $107,454 in parking, concession, ticket and advertising revenue from the 2004 and 2004 Spring Training seasons. The [Lakeland, Fla.] Ledger reported that the team and the city have settled out of court, with the Indians forking over $33,500.
  • The evidence (particularly the splits against left-handers) is piling up that maybe Justin Masterson just isn’t cut out for this starting stuff. But relatively speaking, it’s early in the experiment, and the Indians will likely see what improvements Masterson can make with a full Spring Training as a starter. Wedge, for one, believes the experiment is worthwhile. “You need five guys who can give you a quality start and give you a chance to win a ballgame,” Wedge said. “If a guy has a chance to at least be a middle-of-the-rotation guy, we’ve got to explore that.”
  • Victor Martinez has a 22-game hitting streak for the Red Sox, if you need him.
  • Double-A Akron manager Mike Sarbaugh, who joined the big-league coaching staff for the stretch run, said he gave a game ball to hitting coach Lee May Jr. after the Aeros won the Eastern League championship last week. May has been in the game more than 20 years, and this was his first title of any sort. “I thought it was important for the guys to see that,” Sarbaugh said. “And that also reminds them that it’s not easy.”
  • Saturday’s game against the Orioles will be on WKYC Channel 3. Sunday’s game, originally scheduled to air on WKYC, will instead be on STO.

~AC

13 Comments

No worries; I expect Wedge will be house-hunting in another city before the NBA season begins.

I suppose it’s because I have no choice in the matter, and because I’m your typical Tribe fan, but I do have hope for 2011. Like I said before, .500 would be a reasonable goal for next year. But I think we have a decent enough gang of players that enough of them will reach their potential in two years.
That said, this was too soon for Carrasco. I’m not willing to write him off, but I think he should be in AAA next year along with Pino, Rondon, and Huff. I think another full season with Columbus would do those guys some good.
Then you could have a rotation of Westbrook, Carmona, Laffey, Masterson, and Sowers next year. Sure, it’s not all that impressive, but by the end of next year we’ll know if Masterson and Sowers have what it takes to start, and we’ll know if there’s any hope of rebuilding Carmona — and we’ll know if Westrook can return to form and if Laffey can pitch an entire season effectively. I feel good about all of that.
That’s 9 pitchers right there, not counting any of the Aeros who step up, the always baffling Lofgren, and the eternally injured Reyes and Scott Lewis. Even better, a decent number of those guys could fill bullpen roles if they don’t make the cut — and we still have some pieces to deal, if need be.
So I feel pretty good about what we have, or at least what it could be. Then again, what choice do I have?

LACF, when I read your starting five, I cringed a bit. But I agree with those five, and the important thing is that we are NOT shooting for a world series next year. Let the players develop, get better, and maybe this pitching staff will work out. I mean, if it does, then we hit our rebuild period a year early. If not, then we are exactly where we expected to be. A .500 team who is playing to gain experience and figure out their remaining problems.

Also, I have no idea why putting together a bullpen is so tough. We have a lot of pitchers to work with right now, and the first couple months of next year should really be devoted to putting all of them in some sort of role.

I agree with Pigeon and LACF:
I can’t see this team contending, but we all know what happens when your not suppose to contend and the Pressure is off. I don’t think the pitching is good enough, but we’ll see soon enough. I like the position players that we have. (Laporta, Brantley) I think Masterson will be fine if he is starting or in relief. (either one) Valbuena will get better. He’s good defensively and could hit .270-.280 at this level and a lot of doubles. It’s a very young team, they have to play everyday and learn. Then add guys like Cabrera, Choo, Sizemore and hopefully a Healthy Westbrook and Hafner. Right now Jake would be our Ace. He’s a good 3 and one of the best 4′s in the game, bus he’s not an ace. Our pitching needs a lot of help.

Ah too bad, they were so close tonight. I watched the first 6 innings or so, Carrasco was not terrible. If a couple close pitches had gone his way in the 4th it would’ve been a different inning, one was definitely a strike, so he would’ve had a strikeout instead of a walk had his name been Verlander. Of course, if I were an umpire, I’d assume any pitch an Indians pitcher throws is going to be a ball, and would have to be clearly convinced otherwise to call it a strike. I didn’t realize the Indians hadn’t even led a game for 70 innings. That’s impressive. They managed to lead for 1/2 inning tonight, that’s progress. The Tigers are now 3 games ahead of the Twins, that sucks, but Marte now has a slightly higher .OPS than Peralta, and that does not suck … LACF, where does Adam Miller fit into your rotation next year?

Adam Miller? Is going to stay healthy? I don’t even think he can be relied on with his luck.. If he is anywhere on this team it’s the pen. That was the plan in spring training.

ST, I’d go with what 09 said. I’d be happy if Miller was able to get to AAA in a bullpen role next year. He just has so far to go.
Really, the first half of next year is going to prove a lot. If Westbrook, Wood, and Peralta (assuming he’s still around) perform well, I assume they’d all be trade bait. Wood, in particularly, really needs innings to prove himself because a solid closer would have real value at the trade deadline. Like I said, we’d probably have to eat a chunk of that salary, but we’ve got time to find a closer in our ranks.

sigh … man, you guys must think I’m pretty dumb to not realize I was joking about Miller. As far as I know Miller is a figment of the Indians’ organization’s imagination, meant to entice fans into believing a better future is possible … I’d still like to explore that possibility of converting Wood back to starting, seriously. It questionable whether he can ever stay in rhythm with inconsistent bullpen usage, and something tells me he isn’t going to get much of an opportunity to close games next year.

HOW CAN A TEAM WITH CARMONA AS A STARTER COMPETE? THIS GUY IS WORTHLESS, WITH A CAPITAL W.
WHY SHOULD ERIC HAVE TO MOVE BECAUSE OF O’NEAL? I AGREE HE’S A WORT ON CIVILIZATION, SO JUST STEER CLEAR OF HIM.
BRING BACK ERIC FOR ANOTHER SEASON, GIVE HIM SOME TALENT, AND THE TRIBE CAN WIN AGAIN. REPLACE HIM WITH JOEL SKINNER AND KISS NEXT SEASON GOOD BYE.

HOW CAN A TEAM WITH CARMONA AS A STARTER COMPETE? THIS GUY IS WORTHLESS, WITH A CAPITAL W.
WHY SHOULD ERIC HAVE TO MOVE BECAUSE OF O’NEAL? I AGREE HE’S A WORT ON CIVILIZATION, SO JUST STEER CLEAR OF HIM.
BRING BACK ERIC FOR ANOTHER SEASON, GIVE HIM SOME TALENT, AND THE TRIBE CAN WIN AGAIN. REPLACE HIM WITH JOEL SKINNER AND KISS NEXT SEASON GOOD BYE.

HOW CAN A TEAM WITH CARMONA AS A STARTER COMPETE? THIS GUY IS WORTHLESS, WITH A CAPITAL W.
WHY SHOULD ERIC HAVE TO MOVE BECAUSE OF O’NEAL? I AGREE HE’S A WORT ON CIVILIZATION, SO JUST STEER CLEAR OF HIM.
BRING BACK ERIC FOR ANOTHER SEASON, GIVE HIM SOME TALENT, AND THE TRIBE CAN WIN AGAIN. REPLACE HIM WITH JOEL SKINNER AND KISS NEXT SEASON GOOD BYE.

HOW CAN A TEAM WITH CARMONA AS A STARTER COMPETE? THIS GUY IS WORTHLESS, WITH A CAPITAL W.
WHY SHOULD ERIC HAVE TO MOVE BECAUSE OF O’NEAL? I AGREE HE’S A WORT ON CIVILIZATION, SO JUST STEER CLEAR OF HIM.
BRING BACK ERIC FOR ANOTHER SEASON, GIVE HIM SOME TALENT, AND THE TRIBE CAN WIN AGAIN. REPLACE HIM WITH JOEL SKINNER AND KISS NEXT SEASON GOOD BYE.

I think it’s funny when an individual’s sole persuasive strategy is capitalizing everything they type. And, that is only the beginning of what I think.

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