"A uniform used to mean something"

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

target-logo.pngMinneapolis is Target Town. The Indians are wrapping up their first series at Target Field today. Right next door is the Target Center, home of the Timberwolves (only because Targetwolves don’t exist). And a few blocks away, on Nicollet Mall, is the headquarters of Target Corporation, as well as a Target store roughly the size of the Empire State Building.

I’m a Target fan. My fiancee and I even registered there (she picked out kitchen accessories, I picked out peanut butter and angel hair). But I do think the store is off-target in at least one area, and that’s employee apparel.

Target employees are all instructed to wear red, but they are not supplied with a uniform. So while the guy who helps you pick out a lawnmower might be wearing terra cotta, the guy at the electronics counter is in rosso corsa. And the woman ringing you up at the register is in coquelicot.

Target employees are referred to as “team members.” But on what legitimate team are the uniforms this disjointed? As a guy who donned a Wal-Mart smock in high school, I’m a little insulted by the inconsistency.

Other than that, love Target. And Target Field, in particular. The Indians are going from three games here to three games in Oakland Coliseum, which is a lot more like Dollar General.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…

  • How do you explain David Huff going from throwing nearly 70 percent of his pitches for strikes in a complete-game gem against the Rangers last week to walking a career-high six batters in his loss to the Twins last night? Easy. You remember that he’s 25 years old. “This is something we have to deal with as a young team,” Manny Acta said. “Throughout the year, they’re going to be making progress.”
  • I mentioned this on the STO pregame show yesterday, but what I like about Huff is the genuine anger he shows after a loss like that one last night. His competitive fire (not to mention his ability to attack both sides of the plate with a fastball low on velocity but high on deception, when he’s on his game) reminds me a lot of Cliff Lee. They both know they have the talent to win at this level, and they both get fired up when they don’t. In our postgame dealings with pitchers, you don’t see that quite as often as you might expect.
  • This is a normal day off for Jhonny Peralta, Acta said. If anything, Acta was encouraged by what he saw from Peralta last night, when he notched two singles and drew a walk. Acta said Peralta laid off some tough breaking pitches from Francisco Liriano and took well to a talk about using his lower half more.
  • There are no shortage of struggling hitters to pick on in this Indians’ lineup, but Acta hasn’t said a bad word about any of them. “Patience plus self-control leads to success,” he said.
  • The above was part of a larger discussion about the two words that fall outside Acta’s vocabulary — “frustrated” and “lucky.” He says he will never use them to describe his feelings or the fortunes of his team. When it comes to the former, Acta said he has a “great job,” and while baseball might disappoint him at times, it never frustrates him. The same, he said, goes with golf. “If I slice the ball, I laugh,” he said. “It makes me drive over and have another beer. I have a buddy who throws clubs and drops F bombs. Then after 18 holes, he says, ‘What time we playing tomorrow?'”
  • The Indians have lost 21 of their last 23 road games, dating back to last Aug. 30.
  • With Kerry Wood coming back soon, the current members of the bullpen would be wise to curry favor with the higher-ups. One guy potentially on the fence is left-hander Tony Sipp, so his 1-2-3 outing against the Twins last night was a necessary one. Sipp is carrying a 5.40 ERA and four walks allowed after five innings of work over seven appearances, and he had a rough spring camp, too. “I base my performance off feel and how I execute,” Sipp said. “The rest I can’t control. But it’s definitely good to go out and not walk anybody. That’s the main thing. If you walk people, nothing good can happen.”
  • All the balls used at Target Field this season have a logo commemorating the ballpark’s debut. A commemorative logo for the Metrodome’s last season was also on all balls used in 2009. But whereas that ball was only used in-game, this ball is used in batting practice, as well. That’s a nice souvenir for anybody who snags a BP homer.
  • My favorite Tribe farmhand, outfielder Jose “Can’t Stand Ya” Constanza is off to a sizzling start at Triple-A Columbus. He’s batting .444 (16-for-36) with three doubles, two triples, a homer, six RBIs two stolen bases and a 1.182 OPS.
  • Hector Rondon, on the other hand, is struggling down there. He’s 0-1 with a 10.66 ERA and a 2.29 WHIP in three starts.
  • Down at Double-A Akron, second baseman Cord Phelps (.422 average, 1.069 OPS) and outfielder Nick “The Canuck With Pluck” Weglarz (.314 average, 1.112) have been locked in. Phelps (whose first name on his birth certificate is the decidedly less cool “Robert”) was a third-round pick in the 2008 Draft.
  • Chris Perez asked me, “What’s this movie you’re always writing about?” He said he’s going to make it a point to check out “The Room.” This thing is growing.
  • This being our last day in the Twin Cities, my Pandora Radio selection for the composition of this blog entry was Minnesota native Robert Zimmerman. Although, Tom Waits’ “Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis” would have been equally appropriate. 
  • Not making the trip to Oakland, but I’ll catch back up with you from Anaheim on Monday.

~AC

25 Comments

I’m so pumped that this “Room” thing is catching on. Glad you took my suggestion Anthony.

Weird. An error, followed by a walk…. leads to a run.

Well, nice day by Marte, other than the error, I should never question the wisdom of Manny Acta. I wonder if they’ll try to work him into the games a little more. I feel like this was the only game all year where everyone contributed on offense. Rafael Perez even looked a little better today, the only outs I’ve seen him make all year that weren’t blasted at someone, though Cabrera did save him in the 7th. I’d still say at this point that Perez would be the one to drop when Wood comes back. Sipp and Laffey have been nowhere near as sketchy as Perez so far

Cabrera’s play was pretty awesome. I don’t see how they can’t work Marte in more, as an experiment if nothing more. If Peralta really is going to get hot when the calendar changes, playing Marte at 3rd every 3rd day shouldn’t change that. After Peralta proves that he’s good to go, we just pull Marte back. On the flipside, getting Marte in regularly could be beneficial, if he ends up being the bridge to Chisenhall.
Talbot made pitches when he had to, which is key for a guy like him. Encouraging stuff.

after a rough start we are seeing some encouraging things from Talbot. The minutiae about Huff was good to read as well. How many commenters have said that Peralta just “looks like he doesn’t care?” I would have to imagine that with LaPorta scheduled for certain off days as well as Branyan it means Andy Marte should log significant time at 1B and even 3B for Jhonny 6-4-3 Peralta and his scheduled off days. Something in the range of two games a week? My guess would be that Kearns gets more time than Marte over the long haul though.

I always cut Peralta down for his demeanor (not to mention bad early season play)…. but that’s just what I see during games. I don’t know anything about this guy… none of us do. Inside his head… and behind the scenes…. he could be a completely different animal. Wearing your emotions on your sleeve isn’t always a good thing. Believe me… I know from experience. I’m a HUGE competitor… and I get WAY too down on myself when I make mistakes. I’m an absolute… pardon the expression…. mental midget. So, what I’m getting at is…. Jhonny probably deals with his issues in his own way. Which is probably a better way than I am capable of understanding. That being said…. I am going to stop with the Peralta hate posts. Maybe that will get him to snap out of his funk. Go get ‘em, Jhonny! I got your back! (P.S. We all know I won’t have a shortage of things to complain about.)

Personally, Peralta’s performance is amplified for me because of his contract. If he’s not good enough to fork over $7M on his option for next year, then we should try to deal him…but he needs to be good enough to trade! And with Chisenhall seemingly another year away, we need to find a bridge. If that bridge is Marte, it would be nice to get him in regularly, so then what do we do with Peralta?
Let’s hope history (and ST) are right, and he’ll pick it up after the first month, at least enough so that we can get more than a bag of balls for him at mid-season.

Yeah, Oakland’s got some good pitching this year, but tonight looks like a game we need to win if we want to take this series, given we face left handers in the next two games. I hate it when the Tribe is on the West Coast — makes me have to watch the games during prime time!

who else was 90% sure Laporta would not drive in a run when he came up with the bases loaded and 1 out? Not sure what his deal is. Is he still not 100% from the offseason surgeries? Right now I’d prefer to have Kearns starting, and to send Laporta down and call up Crowe as the 4th outfielder.

even though the Indians are only 7-9, and would be 8-8 if not for a spectacular bullpen blowup against Detroit, the offensive production is beyond frustrating. I’d rather see them losing games 9-7 every night, but as it stands, I really have to question the future of this team. We thought coming into this year that we had a good, young offense, with Sizemore, Choo, Cabrera, Laporta, Brantley, Valbuena etc, but Sizemore’s been awful, Choo and Cabrera have been ok but not great (other than Choo’s one week), Laporta looks like he could be a complete bust and Brantley might be a future 4th outfielder, and Valbuena hasn’t done anything against anyone but Verlander (same can pretty much be said of the entire team of course. They can apparently hit hard throwing right handers like Verlander and Floyd and no one else). And defensively, Cabrera’s been shaky at best. At least with the pitchers, we figured help was on the way and figured they needed maybe 2 starting pitching prospects to pan out, but right now, it looks like the entire offense needs replaced as well, and that two of the best hitters on the team are Austin Kearns and Branyan.

I chalk up LaPorta’s performance with the bases last night to inexperience. He took a pitch exactly like the one he grounded into a double play for a strike. Tom Hamilton actually made a point of saying “that’s a pitch you have to take, because if you hit it, it’s a double play ball.” He meant it as a compliment to LaPorta…who then hit the exact same pitch into a double play.
I don’t think LaPorta has a handle on that aspect of the game, or the idea that strike out in that situation is NOT the worst case scenario. I also don’t think he saw pitches like that in the minors.

Oh, no, I was actually watching the TV feed last night — it was Rick Manning who said it.

But the bigger problem with Laporta is that he’s not elevating the ball, pretty much ever. I figured just from watching him that that’s been the case and just looked up that according to fangraphs, his fly ball % this year’s been 25.7%. (last year was 41.8%) Both his ground ball and line drive % are up from last year, making up for that difference. It seems like when he actually has hit the ball hard, for the most part they’ve been low line drives which the infielders can make plays on. I can’t even think of a game since spring training where Laporta hit the ball hard into the outfield. Granted it’s a very small sample size, but so far he’s been a ground ball/double play machine, much like Peralta was last year when he had a 50% ground ball rate. Sizemore has had something of the same problem so far. When are we going to see a HR from one of those guys? I would’ve figured Sizemore and Laporta to combine for at least 50 HRs this year.

You know, I will fully admit that I complained about Wedge’s constant use of platoons, but I like the line-up Acta put out there today, particularly given that it seems like our right handers are more productive than our left handers lately (okay, so just Kearns). I also like that he was willing to sit Grady against a lefty, which worked out well to bring him as a pinch runner.
This is a clearly a team that’s got to manufacture runs and it seems like Acta is willing to put the line-up out there that will give us the best chance, even if it means sitting a guy like Sizemore.
ST, I think it was wishful thinking to hope for 50 HRs from a rookie (more or less) and a guy who was hurt all last year. But the lack of power across the line really is eye opening.

not really wishful thinking when all they had to do was perform as well as they did last year (not that great) for a full season to make it to 50 HRs combined. Laporta’s still batting .000 against lefties, by the way. Things that seem like bad ideas: subbing Sipp for Carmona. Let’s see how this works out.

sweet, worked out well. Acta has the magic touch

I don’t think it’s fair to make projections based upon what LaPorta did last year. Aside from the sample size, there’s the simple fact that he’s still earning. It’s going to take time before we see what he can do, just like it will take time for Grady to recover from his surgeries.

Can we just re-sign Redmond for next season now? I don’t care how he hits from here on out, what he’s managed to do as Carmona’s personal catcher makes him worth it!

I really have to question the future of this team. We thought coming into this year that we had a good, young offense, with Sizemore, Choo, Cabrera, Laporta, Brantley, Valbuena etc, but Sizemore’s been awful, Choo and Cabrera have been ok but not great (other than Choo’s one week), Laporta looks like he could be a complete bust and Brantley might be a future 4th outfielder, and Valbuena hasn’t done anything against anyone but Verlander (same can pretty much be said of the entire team of course.
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Today marks 1/10th of the season — I think it’s still early to say what this team is or isn’t. The only reason I even brought up the issue of whether or not Masterson should be a reliever is because it’s a question that has surrounded him his whole career.
Sizemore will get it together with time, just as, I believe, LaPorta will (although I’ll be honest and say that regular playing time would be the best thing for him, but I don’t see that happening until mid-season). I have no idea if Valbuena will work out or not. I think Brantley needs a strong stint in AAA to get going. I don’t doubt Cabrera or Choo based upon last year.
I have no idea what to expect from Hafner and Peralta. Honestly, I don’t really have any expectations. But I think we have contigency plans with both of them, the only down side to which is all the money we’ll lose if we have to bench them or release them.
Honestly, I think Acta has found his rhythm with the line-ups, and I expect to see more mixing and matching over the next few weeks until people step up consistently. Until then, we just have to manufacture runs, which we seem entirely capable of doing.
Honestly, I think I’m more concerned about our bullpen than our offense, but I guess part of that is because our bullpen flying under the radar.

Laporta seems to have knack for doing the worst possible thing with runners in scoring position and less than 2 out. If he has a guy on 1st, he grounds into a double play. Guys on 2nd and 3rd, all he needs is a ground ball, and he strikes out

Third inning and it’s already 3-0 and it looks like left handers are hitting about .500 against Masterson. It is going to be a long season for him if that doesn’t change soon.

we have scored 18 runs in our 10 loses, and that includes the loss @ Detroit (8-9). For a scary thought, factoring that game out and we’ve scored 10 runs in 9 loses! That’s the problem right there. Say what you want about the erratic bullpen and starting rotation but last time I checked you can’t win if you don’t score runs. 43 runs scored in our 8 victories, exactly the type of inconsistencies you would expect from a mix bag of young and age. It is what it is.

Thanks amseeley! I heart cliche’s! “It is what it is”…. IS by far my favorite. Can we lobby for the Tribe to get a patch on their sleeve that says, “IIWII?”

Yeah, but I believe that our offense has the potential to be better. I don’t know that I feel the same way about our bullpen, at least until we see some of the younger guys improve. Although I guess the same could be said about the offense, I guess I just have more faith in guys like Sizemore, Choo, and Cabrera, than I do in Perez, Sipp, et al.

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