You start on higher ground but end up crawlin'

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

Back in the halcyon days of … oh, early April… I asked those of you who frequent this space to offer up a prediction on how the Indians would finish.

wedge3.jpgAs I sit here in eager anticipation of the season’s final game, which will feature a lineup that would have been considered second-class even in the Cactus League season, I thought I’d take a trip back in baseball time to see how those predictions shook out.

Here’s the rundown:

  • One of you (and I say “you” in the most general sense, in that readership of this blog has, I’m sure, decreased exponentially in these waning weeks of the season) said they’d finish with 101 wins.
  • Twenty-one of you predicted the Indians would finish with 90-99 wins.
  • Eight of you said they’d finish with 80-89 wins. (I was right with you there, so, should I make any future predictions in this space, please consider the source.)
  • Two of you said they’d finish with 70-79 wins.
  • On the extreme side, one of you made the bold prediction (proven wrong, sadly, on Opening Day) that the Tribe would finish 162-0. (This guy also thought Chicago would land the 2016 Olympic Games.)

But we play by “Price is Right” rules here, and reward the closest without going over. So step on up and take a bow, henryscott35, because you’re the big winner with your incredibly not-as-inacurrate-as-you-might-have-suspected guess of the Tribe finishing 32-130.

I have a feeling that prediction will be much closer to the norm next year.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…

  • The beginning of the end of the Eric Wedge era took place in this ballpark, when the Indians lost Game 7 of the 2007 ALCS. And the era comes to its official close here today. Alanis Morissette — oh, no, wait… it was a reporter — asked Wedge if he believes in irony, and his response was rather cryptic. “Irony can work both ways,” he said. “There’s the kind of irony you’re talking about. But I think you’ll probably see some irony beyond this, too.” Nobody in the room knew what to make of that. “I’ll let you chew on that for a while,” Wedge said. Consider it done, Wedgie.
  • All irony aside, the appropriateness of Tomo Ohka, of all people, making the final start of the season was pointed out to Wedge. In a season in which nothing has gone to plan, Ohka getting the final nod seems just about right. “I figured we’d have a day-night doubleheader today to really top it off,” Wedge said. “I’m glad I’ll be home tonight.”
  • General manager Mark Shapiro will meet with reporters Wednesday at Progressive Field to discuss, among other things, the managerial search and what it will entail. According to ESPN.com’s Buster Olney, John Farrell has pulled himself out of the running. If that’s the case, then the most obvious candidate for the job is taken off the board, as was the case when Bud Black pulled out in 2002. But it could also be that Farrell is merely trying to get the focus off of him as his team gets ready for the postseason. We’ll see as the next few weeks evolve.
  • Shin-Soo Choo’s 20th homer was an opposite-field shot over the Monster. “He did it in style,” Wedge said. With that blast, Choo became the first Asian-born player to hit 20 homers and steal 20 bases in a single season. “A lot of players have done it, but no Asian players,” he said. “And I did it in my first full season in the Majors.” Choo hopes to reach 30-30 someday. “Every year, I want to get better,” he said. “Maybe some years will be worse, but I hope better.” Choo had 13 homers in the first half before slowing down considerably. But he’s hit six homers in the season’s final month.
  • Wedge felt it was important that Asdrubal Cabrera work his way back from tightness in his hamstring to play Saturday. Cabrera will finish with a .308 average — .309 against right-handers and .306 against lefties.
  • Chris Perez will have surgery Wednesday at the Cleveland Clinic to remove the extra bone that formed in the back of his left ankle. It’s not considered serious. It only affected him running, not throwing.
  • As I’m typing this, Luis Valbuena just hit the first leadoff home run of his career.
  • The Indians are 30-50 on the road this year — their worst road record since going 30-51 in 2003.

Well, that about does it for the 2009 in-season minutiae, though there will still be plenty of other blog posts throughout the winter. Still, I want to take this occasion on the last day of the season to once again thank all of you for your support of the blog over the last couple years. It’s been fun watching it develop. We’ve had some good dialogue, broke a few news items and, I hope, had some fun, even in a lost season such as this one. See you next year… and next week, for that matter.

~AC

28 Comments

the last minutiae. this is sad.
-Ellie
http://mrmetbro.blogspot.com

The season would’t have been the same without the blog. In reference to the first post with the W-L predictions, I am still expecting the Sal Fasano book. Can’t wait to keep following the blog during the offseason.

We were optimistic!
I was partially right, when i said that i was not confident about the the rotation. Ask the same question next season and i bet you get a completely different answer. lol

AC,

I never comment here because I don’t generally sign into MLB.com before reading your posts, but I figured that I should say thanks back. This blog is required reading for Tribe fans, and you do a great job with it. Thanks for doing all the work I assume this site demands. Your analysis and your dedication make being a Tribe fan slightly easier.

Thanks for a great season. A great season of coverage that is–the baseball could’ve been a bit better I think.

Agreed. I also have not commented once this year… because I don’t comment. I’m here to read, not … “discuss(?)”….
but with your comments about dwindling readers etc, I also wanted to pass along a word of thanks at the end of the season.
It was a disaster. But your writing kept things going. And your willingness to add your opinion to the things you were reporting is greatly appreciated.
I don’t read blogs by fans. They have no access. It’s all opinion. But for a beatwriter to use his blog as a chance to add personal input to the game stories and team struggles. What a joy.
Thanks for the great season and great blogs.

As for this season… back in 1991 when the team sucked so bad, I associated being an Indians fan with these words from the musical Les Miserables. I said we have to find joy in each victory, not in each season. Because being a Tribe fan, “we live on crumbs of humble piety. Tough on the teeth, but what the hell.”

I don’t know if you get to see the stats on these things but I don’t if you really lost that many readers. This is the only Indians blog I read, and I trust it as my connection to the Indians from New York. I didn’t expect to be as much of a Tribe fan as I am when Joe Smith was traded. But this kept me interested and I’ll continue to read this for following seasons.
-Ellie

Thanks for making this season bearable.

http://allthingstribe.mlblogs.com/

Hey Anthony, I also have never commented, but wanted to say thanks for the great writing and insights this year. The blog and indians.com articles are great. Hope to keep reading your work for a long time to come.

Kirk

AC, just throwing my thanks in there along with the rest of these guys. I appreciate all the good writing and humor. I have a good buddy in the Script school at OU, and I can only hope that he turns out to be half the writer you are (A bit dramatic, but why not?).

Thanks, Anthony, for a season’s worth of insight into covering and analyzing the befuddling 2009 edition of the Cleveland Indians. I remember the ‘glory days’ from 1948-1964 when my dad had 4 season box seats behind the Indians dugout, and the Yankees visiting over the weekend would draw 80,000 to the Friday night, Saturday afternoon, and doubleheader on Sundays.
Vaguely I remember the 1948 World Series.
I read Let’s Go Tribe, DiaTribe, and this blog every day. The most sobering aspect of the collapse this year to me is the total lack of a good starting pitcher. Maybe the righthanders – Masterson, Westbrook and Carmona (?) and possibly Hector Rondon – can carry the team next year, as the soft tossing lefties – Huff, Sowers and Laffey – are all below average.
Enjoy the off season.

*sigh*
How many more days until pitchers and catchers report? It’s been a while, but I posted a new entry in my blog about some things I look forward to next year.
http://indianterritory.mlblogs.com/

I had about 6 Burning Rivers into me when I made that 101 win prediction. I stand by it.
Disappointing season to say the least, but I had a lot of fun commiserating with all of you during the season.
I wish everyone good health and good luck and see everyone back here in the spring.
Go Tribe.

AC – Thanks for a great season, look forward to your winter updates. As a friend said yesterday
“All good things and Indians seasons must come to an end..”
Will next year be better or have we just lowered our expectations.

Well, I look at it this way:
I would much rather have very low expectations and be pleasantly surprised, than have high expectations, and be let down. I think we all learned this lesson this season.
http://indianterritory.mlblogs.com/

I really enjoyed reading your blog all season AC despite the disaster the Tribe was. Make sure and give us a quick review on Springsteen show in Nov. He was loose and on fire in August. I look forward to your updates over the winter and your blog next season.

AC–you made this miserable season worthwhile. We could always count on you to tell us the truth and help us through the god-awful fire sale that demoralized the team and the rest of us. You’re the best, buddy.

Hey AC and all posters,

Thanks for keeping this season entertaining, if only in blog form – though I do apologetically admit I am one of the ones who fell off towards the end. It’s hard to keep tabs on a team playing so terribly when there are two teams post-season bound out here.

Anyways, hope you all have a safe and happy rest of your year, and enjoy the “other” seasons. I’d say go Browns, but at this point I’m really hoping they’ll steal Detroit’s record. So…go Cavs!

Hear, hear, AC! This has truly been an oasis of Tribe talk on the internet. Granted, the fact that you’re a fellow Bobcat helps, too.
And I’d be remiss and saying thank you to all the other CCers, like AM, ST, CG, JK, Pidgeon, 09, the other LACF, and a bunch I’m leaving out. We’ve managed to have some solid conversations around here without ever getting jerky about it, which says an awful lot.
And, yes, I think I was the one who predicted 162-0, but that was with tongue firmly planted in cheek.
Thanks for making the best of this season, everyone.
So, now for the nitty gritty: who do we think will get the managerial nod, particularly if Farrell IS off the list? I’m leaning towards Showalter. He’s been a big fan of the Tribe’s moves at the trade deadline, which has to help.
Also, given that we have no clear cut utility infielder for next year and that a) he wants to keep playing and b) would probably do it at a reduced rate, is the idea of bringing back Omar totally insane? Or, if the price were right, would it be exactly the kind of thing a young team like this could use next year? He even played some third in Texas, so imagine him giving advice to Marte, Cabrera, and Valbuena…

My money is on Torey Lovullo.

AC and fellow CC members,

Despite a horrible Indians season, it’s been fun talking about it with you guys, joking, and ranting, whatever we can to get through this season. I don’t know where the road will lead us the next 3 years, I guess we will find out soon enough. Will the prospects work out? Can the new manager lead this organization to the promise land? We will see, but I look forward to find out and although I appreciated Eric Wedge and what he did, I can also say it was time. Hopefully we’ll get a manager that can communicate better with these guys to start the seasons off well and set the tone, rather than start slowly at the gate and try and come back. I’ll keep checking the blog in the offseason and I hope to hear from you guys.

Cantonguy, a proud member of Castrovince’s Crusaders.

I think we should discuss a new name for our virtual gang. While CCs is easy to abbreviate (and at one point was relevant to the team), the full thing is a bit of a mouth full. Perhaps a single word would be better like, say, The Castronauts.

This season has been a travesty. However, this blog and the discussion that followed made it bearable. Thanks AC; thanks guys. Let’s keep a lively discussion going through the winter months. What say you?

Castronauts! I love it.
There are a million different space analogies we can crowbar into this forum.

I’ll just echo what’s already been said here, awesome job on the blog AC, and I always enjoy your articles as well, much more colorful than standard sports writing. Cantonguy, you’re the winner in the great Sowers/Huff debate, with his solid September I’d now definitely give Huff the advantage over Sowers … LACF, I’d vote yes for Omar, as long as he doesn’t get gored by a bull this offseason. Though I don’t see it happening, mostly because they will want someone solid to hit from the right side in case they can actually compete next year … prediction for next year, 89-73, Peralta hits .290 in April on his way to a .305/26 HR contract year, Carmona 15-4, ERA around 3.00, Westbrook 14-9, 3.5 ERA, Masterson 13-12 4.05 ERA, Huff 14-11 4.54 ERA, bullpen will actually be solid for a change, team will have about 120 stolen bases on the year, have five players with 20+ HRs

it was a year to remember but for all the wrong reasons. I am trying to figure out what 12 month span I felt worse: the 2007 choke job followed by the trade of Sabathia or the season of high(er) hopes in 2009 that started in the winter months with the signing of Wood and trade for DeRosa only to see Lee and VMart jettisoned along with everyone else under the sun.

I very much enjoyed seeing AC get more perturbed if not flat out frustrated as the season pregressed, like most people did. I said it in spring training, having a writer that is not employed BY the team leads for greater credibility despite his dependency OF the team to do his job. Good stuff AC. Well done. And to all of the commenters (a new name is still under construction but the Castonauts looks like a early favorite) whether you were a daily, weekly, monthly or simply just a casual reader it was my privilege to talk baseball with you all; other than that one drunken fella who constantly felt the need to use derogatory comments thrown at people. I don’t remember your name dude but you definitely get the “Dunce of the Year” award.

I want to thank all the commentators this year for putting up with a less than mediocre (alright downright awful) team. It has been a pleasure reading the comments on here through the season and let’s hope we can at least improve om some aspects in 2010.

A second thought..on mlbtraderumors it is saying that maybe Rich Harden would be a possible fit to help this ballclub, barring an injury. Would the tribe take a gamble on him for maybe 5 MM plus incentives?

gradykid, while that $5M price tag may be affordable (but unlikely) for the Indians given their salary purge this past season I think Harden will get more than $5M and one year. He will be in line for at least a 2 year deal, perhaps a 3rd if it’s an option but that’s simply my opinion. His name is rumored with the Nationals as well. I am still leaning towards Erik Bedard as our oft-injured SP project.

from Baseball America (man I am so bored)

8. Lonnie Chisenhall, 3b, Indians, Double-A Akron (Eastern)
The first thing nearly every scout points to with Chisenhall is his pure, compact swing, which results in line drives to all fields. Not known for his power, Chisenhall still popped 22 home runs between high Class A Kinston and Akron. The Indians promoted Chisenhall, 20, after he hit .276/.346/.492 in 99 Carolina League games, but he hasn’t been able to replicate his success in the Eastern League, where he hit .183/.238/.387 in 24 games.

9. Carlos Santana, c, Indians, Double-A Akron (Eastern)
Santana has the potential to be a future major league all-star, but he’s already had to clear off some room on his mantle after collecting his second straight league MVP award. The high Class A California League MVP with the Dodgers in 2008, Santana earned the honors again this year in the Eastern league, where he batted .290/.413/.530 in 130 games. The switch-hitting catcher has bat speed, patience, power, athleticism, arm strength—the skill set to add more hardware to his budding collection in the near future.

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