"You can't always get what you want"

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

lays.gifA reporter (not me) goes to a Goodyear Ballpark concession stand to order a pizza and some potato chips. But the chips, he’s informed, are only available as part of a combo meal.

“Can’t I buy them separately?” he asks.

“No,” he’s told.

“Can’t I make the pizza a combo?” he asks.

“No,” he’s told, “they’re only available as part of the hot-dog combo.”

He walked away chipless, with burnt pizza.

And people thought our health care system needed revamping.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…

  • The Indians will decide this weekend if Russell Branyan (herniated disc in lower back) is ready to appear in a Cactus League game. If he is cleared to play, he’d have the one week he feels he needs to prepare for the regular season. Ultimately, though, the decision will be in Manny Acta’s hands. Acta said some guys need roughly 60 at-bats to be ready and other guys just 30 or so. You, of course, have the right to remain skeptical that Branyan will be on the Opening Day roster. For what it’s worth, he did re-initiate baseball activities this week. He’s taking grounders and playing catch and taking swings off a tee in the indoor cage. “Now,” Branyan said, “it’s just a matter of putting it all together.” And tolerating the volume. Here’s the full story on Branyan.
  • Michael Brantley rolled his right ankle Sunday — and that might seem like a red flag, considering Brantley’s ankle trouble at Double-A Huntsville in ’08 and Triple-A Columbus last year. But Brantley said he was removed from Sunday’s game merely as a precaution. “I’m 100 percent healthy,” he said. “I’m healthy as can be. I rehabbed hard this winter to make sure both my ankles are strong.” Brantley said his conditioning program involved the use of balance balls and leg press machines to strengthen the muscles in his ankles.
  • When last I wrote about Kerry Wood on Thursday, Acta was essentially telling reporters we were wasting our time even bringing up his right lat soreness because it wasn’t considered serious. Now, Wood is slated to miss six to eight weeks, Chris Perez is the temporary closer and the bullpen battle is either much more clear or much more complicated, depending on how you look at it.
  • With spots guaranteed to the two Perezes (Chris and Rafael), Joe Smith and Tony Sipp, that would leave Hector Ambriz, Jensen Lewis (who had a rough outing today but has otherwise looked sharp this spring), Saul Rivera and Jamey Wright competing for three spots. Unless, of course, Mitch Talbot and/or Aaron Laffey miss out on a rotation spot and get placed in the ‘pen. But I’m still predicting Talbot will be in the rotation and either David Huff or Laffey will end up in Triple-A, because the starting depth they’d provide is more valuable than anything they’d contribute in middle or long relief.
  • Perez worked the ninth inning against the Brewers today. You might chalk this up as good preparation for him, until you note that the Tribe was trailing 9-2 when he came in. It was not a clean outing for Perez, who walked two batters with one out, leading to a run.
  • Perez isn’t letting himself get overly excited about taking over the closing duties. “There’s so much emphasis put on the ninth inning compared to any other inning in the game,” he said. “But you can lose a game in the eighth just as much as you can in the ninth. And there are times when it’s easier to work the ninth than the eighth, depending on where you are in the lineup.” Perez briefly closed for the Cardinals at the end of the ’08 season and blew a couple saves along the way. But he said nothing he experienced in that regard sticks with him the way his disastrous first outing with the Indians last summer does.
  • Carlos Carrasco isn’t vying for a rotation spot, but he’s looked pretty darned good the past week. He worked four no-hit innings in Tucson last Wednesday, and he worked five innings of scoreless relief against the Brew Crew today. “He threw the ball very well,” Acta said. “He was aggressive in the zone. The kid has good stuff.”
  • Jeremy Sowers, on the other hand, was roughed up to the tune of seven runs (six earned) in one-plus inning today. “He didn’t throw enough strikes,” Acta said. “He’s basically finishing his rehab. You’re not expecting pinpoint control. He’s just getting stretched out.” Sowers, out of Minor League options, will probably begin the season on the disabled list as he builds up his workload after battling shoulder soreness.
  • The Indians will be featured on MLB Network’s “30 Clubs in 30 Days” show on Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET and again at 9 p.m. ET. The show will feature interviews and analysis previewing the upcoming season.
  • I returned to Arizona just in time for the first and last off day of the Cactus League calendar. It arrives Wednesday. How will Acta spend it? “Mama’s coming to town,” he said of his wife, Cindy. “That’s a good thing.”
  • No “mama”? No worries. You can look for an edition of the Indians Inbox on the Indians.com site to satiate you on an otherwise quiet day.

~AC

14 Comments

As ST mentioned in the last blog’s comments, Carrasco is like a new pitcher! I guess this was the whole point — that he had this kind of potential but just needed to right himself after an off year.
The rotation and bullpen in Columbus should be interesting to watch. What’s the probable rotation, Huff, Carrasco, Rondon, Pino, and Gomez? That’s a nice group, particularly given the rag tag bunch they were throwing out there over the course of last season (because the Tribe kept taking all their starters).
I can’t wait for the season to start. I think it’s going to be fun to watch, win or lose.

I have been waiting for the MLB Network to feature the Indians and check it daily when I get off work. Thanks for the heads up AC.

If anyone read AC’s quick game synopsis of Jeremy Sowers on the main page he alluded to the idea that Jensen Lewis is pretty much assured a spot in the bullpen due to Wood’s injury. Now, that declarative statement is easier to make considering that Josh Judy, whom was the favorite amongst some of the Castronauts, was demoted earlier in the day thus there really isn’t much competition left. The only question is will the FO-Acta conglomerate roll the dice on Ambriz in lieu of Jamey Wright or Saul Rivera?

And as LACF pointed out, not only will the Columbus rotation be intriguing but their bullpen will be one to watch as well b/c lets face it, those guys have a greater chance at affecting the ML club sooner than the rotation. I would be fine with a LaPorta, Crowe, Marte mix at 1B and LF only b/c it appeared that Marte and LaPorta worked off each other quite well last year.

as if we couldn’t have came to this conclusion ourselves, b/c having read the reports I know I did, it appears as if Carmona and Redmond will be paired together during the regular season. If you noticed every time there was an article or snipit on Carmona it was always Redmond whom was doing the catching, not Marson. Alas, Paul Hoynes has made the connection as well (as Redmond caught all three of Carmona’s outings) as this potential pairing was confirmed by Acta.

Buster Olney features an article on Fausto Carmona on the ESPN baseball mainpage. It is an “Insider” article attached to his blog so if there are commenters out there who would like to read it but don’t have an account let me know and I will copy & paste the article.

I would like to read it and don’t have an account. Can you copy and paste it on here? or email it to me?

Thanks!

my pleasure gotribe1

Tim Belcher, the new pitching coach for the Indians, approached Fausto Carmona after Carmona’s fourth inning of work Monday with something of a quandary. Carmona was throwing strikes and pitching so efficiently that he was on track to get in fewer pitches than expected in five innings of work — and Belcher raised the idea of pitching a sixth inning.

If Carmona can regain his 2007 form, Cleveland will suddenly be worthy of discussion in the AL Central.
Carmona cut him off, in a good way. “No,” he said. “I’ll go pitch the fifth, and then we’ll talk.”

Belcher got goose bumps hearing this, because what it meant was that Carmona was completely focused on the immediate challenge in front of him. The fifth inning. And he wasn’t thinking about the sixth inning, yet.

These are all strong early barometers for the Indians to read in their ongoing evaluation of Carmona, whose work has ranged from some of the best in baseball when he throws his hard sinker for strikes, to some of the worst in the majors, when he has allowed one bad pitch to snowball into a series of bad pitches.

Carmona got votes for the Cy Young at age 23, after going 19-8 with a 3.06 ERA in 2007 for the Indians. But he saw his ERA climb by more than 2½ runs at age 24. At age 25, he posted a 6.32 ERA last season. Now he is 26, and this spring, he is throwing strikes consistently, and recovering after falling behind in the count in a way that he hasn’t the past two years. Quite simply, Belcher sees a young pitcher who is maturing.

“I was a month from being 26 years old when I first pitched in the big leagues,” said Belcher. “What happens is, when they have such tremendous success at an early age, mistakenly we view them as major league veterans — and they’re still pretty young guys.”

In the past two seasons, one bad pitch for Carmona would pull him into disaster, like an anchor chained to his ankle. One bad pitch would sometimes lead to another, and then a walk and then another, and then a mediocre fastball served over the middle of the plate. He would get sped up in his delivery, the anxiety causing him to rush.

Carl Willis, the Indians’ former pitching coach, spoke with him about this; Carmona was well aware of the problem. What Belcher is seeing in Carmona this spring is that he is more aware of how to maintain his composure pitch to pitch, and more importantly, maintain the pace of his delivery. When he has fallen behind in the count, he still has thrown quality pitches — and when Carmona throws strikes, he can be devastating with his bowling ball sinker.

“I’ll be perfectly honest with you — he has done it himself,” said Belcher. “I have spent minimal time with Fausto. I think this is just a cumulative effect of the last couple of years. … Everything that he’s been taught and coached up on, from a mental side as far as maintaining his mind in a moment, that’s all been laid out for him. The [coaching] resources have been there for him. He has allowed it to finally take hold within him, and he’s making those adjustments on his own.”

After Mike Redmond came back from catching an inning in Carmona’s start Monday, he offered a one-word assessment for Belcher: “Filthy.”

Including Carmona’s six scoreless innings against the Cubs on Monday, he has allowed just five hits and one run in 13 innings this spring, with just two walks and six strikeouts.

There are not many players capable of single-handedly transforming a team’s pennant hopes. Carmona has shown he can be one of those guys, if he throws strikes. The Indians will look like a very different team if they get the 2007 version.

Elsewhere, Manny Acta is thinking about a possible pairing of Redmond and Carmona, writes Paul Hoynes.

Thanks for that, AM! I’m happy to hear about Redmond, as I think a veteran catcher is exactly the kind of guy Carmona needs to keep him settled.
Watching the Tribe addition of 30 in 30 and getting excited for the season to start!

You know, I realize that we spend a lot of time dissecting this team, but, man, the “30 in 30″ coverage is SO shallow. I mean, it’s clear that at least some of it was filmed recently, since Grady referenced how Pronk is hitting and Shapiro referenced Carmona’s last outing, but these guys aren’t talking about this team in any real detail. And they’ve basically named a rotation that no one has picked, not to mention a bullpen that no one has picked.
The interviews are nice, but I get much better coverage here — both from AC and the Castronauts!

Thanks AM!

Aside from Brantley, the line-up today looks like our projected opening day line-up! That’s pretty exciting to see.

your welcome gotribe1. Perhaps we need an abbreviated designation for your handle… perhaps gt1?

gt1 is fine with me!

I liked Harold Reynolds’ lineup choice. It was pretty darn close to what I would like to see.

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts on domain. Regards

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