"I almost went to barber school. I always felt I had a talent for it."

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

barber.jpgSitting next to Indians media relations assistant Matt Whewell in the Progressive Field press box is a daily education. We learned a few weeks back that a human being is capable of consuming upwards of 42,388 calories in a single meal and still keeping an accurate box score after the fact.

Today, we learn what probably should have been a point hammered home to all pubescent males as a forewarning: Never let your girlfriend cut your hair. No matter what. If you’re on a budget and aren’t the salon type, well, by all means, go get a $7 cut on E. 185th Street. Pull the Sawzall out of storage and find a good angle in front of the mirror, if you’re really desperate. Do whatever it takes to avoid asking your girlfriend to bring scissors anywhere near your scalp. Because the only potential outcomes in that scenario are hurt feelings, a lopsided dome or some combination of the two.

EXCRUCIATING MINUTIAE OF THE DAY…

  • I’m not a doctor and don’t play one on TV. I am not medically qualified to know about treatment options for a “deep knee bone bruise.” But I do know that Grady Sizemore is seeing not one but two specialists this week (in Vail, Colo., and New York City) for second and third opinions on how to treat his condition. Clearly, this is not your standard bruise. Cartilage damage is a possibility, as is surgery. We should know more later in the week.
  • Trevor Crowe has been impressive filling in for Sizemore thus far. He doesn’t look as uncomfortable at this level as he did in ’09. Manny Acta and the coaching staff liked his energy in Spring Training, and Acta likes having a switch-hitter with speed on the active roster. Many fans would rather see Michael Brantley right now, but Crowe has clicked the nine games since his promotion. Also worth noting that just four of Brantley’s 32 hits with Columbus this season have gone for extra bases — three doubles and a triple. That’s worthy of some concern.
  • Justin Masterson on the hill tonight, and you know the story line there. He’s looking for a win. Hasn’t notched one since last August. His losing streak is at 10 games, covering his last seven starts of ’09 and his first eight of 2010. In Indians history, only four pitchers have had losing streaks of at least 11 games. They are: Guy Morton (13, 1914), Rod Nichols (13, 1989-91), Steve Hargan (11, 1971-72) and Fausto Carmona (11, 2006-07).
  • The good news on Masterson? He’s striking out 9.6 batters per nine innings, the third-best ratio in the AL.
  • Some fans want to see Masterson dropped to the bullpen and Aaron Laffey reinstalled as a starter. Worth noting that Laffey has labored a bit lately. “He hasn’t had his command his last few outings,” Manny Acta said of Laffey, who has allowed four runs on five hits with a walk over his last 2 1/3 innings. .
  • David Huff had just about pitched himself into the Columbus rotation before rebounding a bit with his start in Tampa Bay last week and against the Reds on Sunday. Tim Belcher and Acta were frustrated with Huff shaking off the catcher and going to his breaking and offspeed stuff more frequently than they’d like. They’re much happier with his last two starts. He still got burned on two changeups to Scott Rolen on Sunday, but his job isn’t in as much jeopardy as it was a couple weeks ago. “I was kind of going down the wrong path and getting away from what I do,” Huff said. “Manny and Tim saw that and yelled at me. They lit a fire under my butt.”
  • According to fangraphs.com, Huff is actually throwing a similar percentage of fastballs this year as he did last year (62.2 percent this year, 63.6 percent in ’09). He’s throwing more sliders (13.3 percent vs. 10.9 in ’09), less curveballs (4.4 vs. 7.0) and more changeups (20.1 vs. 18.6).
  • The back end of the Indians’ bullpen is set right now with closer Kerry Wood and setup men Chris Perez (zero earned runs allowed over his last 12 1/3 innings) and Tony Sipp (zero earned runs last 15 1/3 innings). Middle relief is a little more murky. If the Indians make a move, you’d have to imagine Jensen Lewis is the first name on the totem pole. He’s posted a 2.08 ERA in 8 2/3 innings since his demotion to Columbus a few weeks back. Joe Smith is 2-1 with a 3.48 ERA in 10 1/3 innings since he was sent down.
  • Alex White made his Double-A debut on Sunday and delivered seven strong innings against Harrisburg. He picked up the win by allowing just two runs on five hits with two strikeouts and a walk. He’s now thrown five consecutive quality starts between Class A Kinston and Akron, allowing just eight earned runs over 32 1/3 innings in that span.
  • Left-hander Scott Barnes, the Ryan Garko trade acquisition, was named Eastern League pitcher of the week after tossing five no-hit innings against Altoona last Tuesday. He’s starting again tonight.
  • Class A Kinston right-hander Joe Gardner was also named his league’s pitcher of the week. He has ye to allow an earned run in 16 2/3 innings since his promotion to Kinston. He’s also on the mound tonight.
  • Garko, by the way, has been employed by four organizations in the last 10 months and is currently playing for Triple-A Oklahoma City. Ouch.
  • Acta began his pregame presser today by grabbing the STO microphone out of a cameraman’s hands and holding it himself for the length of the interview. “It’s excruciating to see you have to hold this and do the camera, too,” Acta said with a smile. And, as you know, if it’s excruciating, it has to be documented in this space.
  • Got an Inbox coming Thursday. If you’ve got a question, post it in the comments section below, and don’t forget to include your name and hometown.

~AC

9 Comments

My question is what possible good could come to the Indians from playing a 39 year old middle infielder the majority of their games? Grudzielanek has 0 extra base hits this year, is not a good fielder anymore, and not a fast runner. He isn’t even playing poorly and his OPS is still only .600! Why don’t they just let Valbuena play a week straight? What is the worse thing that could happen?

Same goes for LaPorta. Kearns did have a great April, but he has struck out 26 times in 64 at bats in May. Branyan has 3 good games this year. Acta has to find a way to play LaPorta at least 5 times a week if LaPorta is healthy. Otherwise send them both to AAA. It does no good to have two young players sit on the bench.

Also, I wanted to say please keep Masterson in the rotation. Right now he would not be successful in any position due to his control problems, but having an extreme ground ball pitcher with a great K/9 ratio is very, very rare.

*I meant to say Grudzielanek isn’t playing poorly for his abilities. He IS definitely playing poorly.

“I felt this might be the day,” Masterson said. “Of course, I got out there and it turned out to not be the day. That’s the frustrating thing. That’s not what we want. I still felt strong. I made some good pitches at times. I wanted to keep it close.”

Masterson is a funny guy.

Drew Pomeranz, LHP, Ole Miss is tabbed as our draft pick this year by Keith Law in his first mock draft. He points out that Pomeranz would be easier to sign as a college guy and has “slid” to #5 because of his ineffectiveness on the mound after straining a pectoral muscle. That’s all I want, to acquire another injured player.

Has anyone noticed that if Choo has a good first at bat his subsequent ones are usually good also. Conversely, if his first at bat is poor the subsequent ones are also.
Hal Leffler New Providence, NJ

Hal,
be careful with your criticisms on Choo as many of the fans are overly sensitive towards him. Personally, I agree with you.

He’s a quality ballplayer and the best we have right now but is prone to long slumps/hot streaks, terrible defensive gaffs in the field (TWICE a ball has gone under his glove), has a rocket for an arm but believes he can throw everyone out and subsequently allows the secondary runner to advance b/c he wants to attempt to throw a runner out at the plate, he’s hitting .375 at home but .239 on the road, and his K/AB ratio will always hover around 1/4.

The only reality of the situation is the Choo will not be in Cleveland for the long term as Scott “the devil” Boras will make sure he doesn’t sign long term.

It seems to me the entire lineup suffers from a lack of concentration. Choo at least usually works the count pretty consistently but takes too many called 3rd strikes and gets in extended ground ball modes, and definitely seems to lose his concentration as an outfielder at times. Peralta these days is good for one good at bat per two games, where he’ll actually lay off the low and outside breaking pitches, fouling off tough pitches, the other at bats it’s like he’s just up there swinging at anything and hoping something’s down the middle. The only guy who I’d say looks like he’s consistently trying hard, working hard most every at bat is Hafner, but his good at bats are just as likely to translate into a groundball to the second baseman. But he at least appears focused … Valbuena clearly needs to go to AAA. The .140 batting average is a good clue. They should just call up Bixler, play Grudz and Bixler at second, send Valbuena down, if Valbuena starts hitting well in AAA, then he could be back up in a month, play him every day again. He needs to get his confidence back, and start swinging the bat like he’s capable of and I don’t see how that’s going to happen at the major league level when he’s playing 2 to 3 times per week and probably very frustrated with his batting average and pressing. If they send him down and he can get straightened out then perhaps it won’t be a completely lost season for him. Laporta, the same thing, I don’t understand what they’re waiting for.

the problem is finding the right mix of guys at the ML level while maintaining our FMR situation. I would be interested to see if ANYONE would pick up Rafael Perez if we put him through waivers. No gut would say no so we’d be able to do the same thing with him that we did with Sowers. Jensen Lewis’ time in Columbus would appear to be numbered.

Perhaps the front office is waiting for Marte to return from his non-baseball issue and will demote LaPorta at that time. Marte gives us another corner option at 1B and 3B while LaPorta can go down and play 1B every day and LF upon occasion if they desire. With Brantley and Weglarz assuming two of the three OF spots daily they can move LaPorta in and out at their will. I’d prefer to see him play 1B daily though.

There are a number of players they should be able to safely drop. Jeanmar Gomez, Rivero, I would guess that they can remove Rafael Perez, though he actually retired 3 White Sox batters in a row yesterday. Is that a record for Perez this year? Can’t think of another time when he didn’t at least allow 1 guy on (either way, who would be sorry to see Perez go? If another team can get him back to pitching like it’s ’07 then great for Rafael and that team) Gomez though would appear to be a guy who was what a lot of people thought he was, someone who could do well against lower level players but struggle when he moved up to the higher levels. He’s behind Carrasco, Rondon (when he’s back), Pino, and I’d think Tomlin and probably Sowers as far as pitching depth goes. Rivero, it’s unfortunate they ever added him to the 40 man roster, but I doubt too many teams have space to add a struggling AA player … for the Laporta situation, why would they bother waiting for Marte? Branyan plays 1b, and Duncan plays 1b and outfield. I think 2 first basemen is enough. Marte should be off the DL in a couple days though … might I suggest trading Branyan to, perhaps Seattle, like right now? It’s not like the Mariners are hopelessly out of it, only 8.5 games out in a weak division and they DO have Cliff Lee, but they better get some offense fast if they want to make a move. Branyan would have to be better than Kotchman. Either way, what exactly is the point of Branyan continuing to play for the Indians in place of Marte and/or Laporta? Release him, trade him, remove him so the actual supposed future of the team can get some at bats

Shin-Soo Choo Busan, South Korea

Given the current state of political on the Korean Peninsula, is there now some doubt about my desire to stay in the United States? Seeing as my home country might be in a war soon, how does this change my decision making process regarding my military service requirement?

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