Last Game (07.01.12):
Indians 6, Orioles 2
WP: Justin Masterson (5-7, 3.92)
LP: Brian Matusz (5-10, 5.42)

Up Next:
Vs. Angels 07.02.12 7:05p

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Even A Blind Squirrel Can Find A Nut

Aaron Cunningham hit a home run on Sunday.  It will keep him on this team for at least another month.  Does the moronic brass or mongoloid fan base care that he struck out in all 3 of his subsequent at-bats and left 5 men on base?  Are they troubled by his .171 average or his mediocre defense?  Hell, no.  Because they're idiots.

Suprisingly though, that's not what I want to talk about.  I really enjoy playing the Orioles and I'm sure that Justin Masterson does as well.  Heck, Bat likes playing everybody at this point.  If you watched any of the game today, you heard plenty about Masterson's June performance (2.09 ERA, .206 OBA, 1.00 WHIP), but the success goes further back than that.  Justin has made 17 starts this season and over the past 13 his ERA is 3.25 and he has held opponents to a .235 average.  I'm a sucker for symmetry.  After a stretch of 9 starts in which he averaged 5.5 BB/9, he has bounced back to a 1.7 BB/9 ratio in his past 7.  It was said that Masterson pitched like a true ace today and I agree.  The issue is that it simply seems unlikely that Bat, due to his gangly frame, will be able to avoid schneids like that 9 game set.  And, as such, he can never be an bonafide #1.  Still, I'll take what I can get, especially when we're back to a game and a half out of first.

Also of mild excitement is the resurgence of Shelley Duncan.  He's hit in his last five, batting .421 with 4 doubles, 2 homers and 5 RBI.  That's good for a 1.447 OPS.  And how about Lou Marson?  Lou-Lou is batting .386 with a .978 OPS since late May.  I don't expect this level of production to last, but hopefully they bring it back from the Atlantic Coast with them.

And, hey, no disrespect to Chris Perez and Asdrbual Cabrera, but I would have taken Vinnie Pestano and Jason Kipnis...

Roll Tribe.


Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Hit List

Lets see, Jose Lopez had 5, a career high.  Lou Marson had 4, also a career high.  Shin-Soo Choo had 4 as well, tying his career high.  All told, the Tribe banged out 19 hits off of 5 Orioles pitchers with Tommy Hunter surrendering 8 by himself in just an inning and 2/3.  Aaron Cunningham, he set a career high in... at-bats with 6.  He also tied a Major League record for fewest hits in a game with ZERO!  Slater finishes up the month of June 1-fo-21 (.048).  Some (including the Indians' craven skipper) will tell you that Cunningham is on the team not for his offensive production (thank goodness), but rather because of his of versatility in the outfield.  Well, the kid isn't exactly Paul Blair in the field either.  No disrespect to the guy (I crossed that line long ago), but he is less than worthless, he is a hindrance.

Josh Tomlin earned the win today, but it's not like he wowed anyone with his outing.  In allowing 10 more baserunners in his 6 innings of work in Baltimore, Josh's WHIP now sits at 1.48.  In 2011, it was 1.08.  Let's fudge the math and say that Tomlin is putting an extra guy on every two innings.  That is simply not going to cut it.  The opposition has an .862 OPS against Josh.  The Tribe has exactly one hitter with an OPS over .862 (Asdrubal Cabrera - .871) and he broke that barrier thanks to today's offensive outburst.  I am unsure if Tomlin is doing something differently or if he hasn't made any adjustments since the league caught on to his tricks, but what he's doing is not working.  Don't get me wrong, I am a Josh Tomlin fan.  That being said, if he continues to pitch like this he has to go.

Still, after their starter hit the showers, the bullpen was outstanding for the Indians.  That's the status quo for Esmil Rogers (yeah, I'm saying that) and Vinnie Pestano, but even Tony Sipp got in on the act.  The effort actually dragged the the relief corps' ERA for June under 5 to 4.95 and their OBA under .250 to .245.  I know that no one on the staff looks at these numbers, but in the eyes of this casual fan, the progression is significant.  If the Indians truly are going to content this summer, the bullpen has to bounce back to full 2011 form.  Coming into this season there were a number of serious questions in the lineup and one big one about the consistency of the rotation, but the mafia was expected to take care of business.  Chris Perez does an outstanding job running his mouth to the press, perhaps he should instead practice his oratory on his peer.

Finally, some much deserved love for Asdrubal.  Playing without a back-up for much of the season, Cabby has had his ups and downs.  The average has always been right around 3 bills, but of late he has shown a surge of power.  Over the past two weeks, he has batted .305 with 6 dingers and 15 RBI while posting a .926 OPS.  The oddest bit?  Today's was the first double in that mix.  Weird.  Like the spelling of weird.  Weird.

Roll Tribe.


P.s. Since moving to the lead-off spot, Choo has homered 7 times, all of them solo shots.

A Hot Mess

Game time temperature was 100 degrees and Derek Lowe could have planted tomatoes behind the mound and watered them with all of the perspiration that was wicking off of his body.  The Tribe built a 5-3 lead and, after Lowe sweated that away, came back to tie the game at 7.  7 runs, that should be enough, right?  Heck, Shelley Duncan had 2 hits.  Well, they actually scored 8.  And they lost.

And Lonnie Chisenhall broke his arm.

I could talk about Asdrubal Cabrera going yard for the second straight game.  I could admonish all of the prognosticators who claimed he could never match his production from 2011 (on pace for 86 RBI and his OPS is 70 points higher).  I could speak glowingly of Jack Hannahan, mired in a 4-for-38 slump, but still able to dazzle in the field and execute the fundamentals at the dish.  I could mention that Casey Kotchman cracked 2 more hits.

Sadly, that's not where I'm going.  Let's start with Chris Idionetti, who guest starred on the STO telecast and made sure that Indians fans were aware that a trade was unlikely.  With a depleted farm system and somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 holes in this leaky boat, he mentioned about six times that the team has to work with the players that it has.  OK, that's not awful.  I mean, it's disheartening because we're very much in that window that Idionetti described last season and we're struggling to stay above .500 and he doesn't want to add any more talent, but maybe this will cause him to critically evaluate the players on the roster and demand that the best 25 sit in that dugout every night.

(Insert loud buzzing sound here.)

Wrong-o!  As far as I can tell, Aaron Cunningham is still on the roster.  Do you remember that movie The Butterfly Effect?  It had that guy from Two and A Half Men in it?  & there was an alternate ending when he went back in time and strangled himself in the womb to spare the world from the horrors that his life would bring?  Slater, are you listening?  Alright, maybe a bit harsh, but the Burger King down the street is hiring.  Maybe that's a better fit for you?  Tell me, is it difficult to brandish all of those "super bad-ass" tats and simultaneously bat .181?  Do you feel good about yourself when you peer deeply into your own eyes in the mirror?  Are you proud of your contribution?  No, I'm not saying it's all your fault.  It's like asking a retarded monkey to crack the human genome.  Manning said as much when he commented that a young kid can't fill a utility outfield spot.  Remember Austin Kearns, who I pointed my torches and pitchforks at last year?  Well, he's batting .279 with an .817 OPS for Miami.  I'd rather have Kearns back!

And I appreciate Michael Brantley's contribution, but you cannot bat a guy cleanup if he has 1 home run at the end of June. 

Do you know what I hate?  People who bitch and moan without offering solutions.  So, here it is.  The Chiz Kid is DL bound.  Job #1 is recalling Russ Canzler.  In 17 games since June 15, Russ is batting .349 with 7 homers and 25 RBI.  His OPS is freakin' 1.184!  This is a no brainer.  Unfortunately, the Tribe brass has no brain, so it is far from a foregone conclusion.  Pronk is expected back early next week, which is exactly when AC gets the axe.  We play without a back-up shortstop, so running without a true reserve centerfielder would be fine.  Or, we could just call up Jason Donald and he could do both!  Sure, JD hit .178 with 16 K's in 45 at-bats during his first trip through and, before 2 hits last night, was mired in a 1-for-31 slump, but, I reiterate, the ghost of Mario Mendoza is better than Cunningham.  And Mendoza ain't even dead!

At least Joe Smith and Chris Perez each gave up a run in relief and we lost by one.  That makes me feel better...

Roll Tribe.


Friday, June 29, 2012

A Win, How Refreshing

I will not mention the Yankees.  I will not mention the Yankees.

How the hell did it take the Indians so long to recall Zach McAllister?

Sure Z-Mac needed 105 pitches to get through 5 and 2/3, but for a staff that posted a combined 7.31 ERA through its last rotation, McAllister's outing was like watching Pug Galvin in his prime.  What?  He's the 5th winningest pitcher of all time.  Look it up.  Maybe this performance will encourage them to swap out more of the dead weight on the roster.  Yes, I am look at you, Slater.  Unlike the liberal STO media, I have no sympathy for your role on this team, only righteous anger for your lack of production.  Dude, I wish could smite him.

Maybe they just can't hit American lefties?

The Tribe came in with an abysmal 5-16 record against left handed starters, scoring just 3.4 runs per in those games.  They had no trouble with Wei-Yin Chen, who, admittedly, allows a .270 average and an .826 OPS to left handed hitters.

Is Johnny Damon finally waking up?

Although his season average still sits at a decidedly unappealing .213, he's raking at .370 with an 1.117 OPS over his last 9 games.  I like totally agree with Bud Shaw that Idionetti will put on black face and do a minstrel show to the tune of "getting Travis Hafner, Roberto Hernandez and Grady Sizemore (won't happen) back is like making three huge deadline deals" and, more so, I agree that no Cleveland fan should be foolish enough to fall for the song and dance.  Still, if Damon continues and maybe Carlos Santana (.151, 0 HR since May 17th) remembers how to hit, that would be a big help.

Where have you gone Jack Hannahan?

When Jack hurt himself on May 12th, he was hitting .305.  Since then, he is 3-for-34 (.088) and his average has plummeted to .248.  Not only has the Indians' mismanagement of Hannahan's injury led to an unproductive player on the field, they have effectively destroyed what could have been a career year for the guy.  It's really very simple.  When a players gets injured, put him on the DL.  When a player is physically ready to play again, reinstate him.  The brass followed neither rule with Cap'n Jack and we have all suffered for it.  Heck, if I had the authority I would try woManny and Idionetti for crimes against humanity.

I love me some Esmil Rogers.

Yeah, it's not a question, but it's true.  If it were February, I would ask him to be my valentine.  I  have no idea where he finds the torque for his 98 MPH fastball nor how someone who averaged 4.5 BB/9 for his Major League career has managed a 13/0 K/BB ratio over his first 7 Indians appearances, but it's so sweet that I'm doodling little hearts that read Mrs. Esmil Rogers in them.

Here's to two in a row, folks.

Roll Tribe.


P.s.  Why does it seem like the Indians never hit any home runs?  Well, not only are they 21st in long balls, but 13 of the 64 (that's like a fifth) have come in just 4 total games.  Feast or famine my friends.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

In Case You're Wondering...

I can't write about the Indians losing to the Yankees without cursing like a sailor on leave.  That's because the Yankees are the most most perfect embodiment of pure evil in the world.  If I had the power to erase one entity from history it would not be Judas or Hitler or Osama Bin Laden, it would be the New York Yankees.

Roll Tribe.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Rock Bottom

I don't know how it gets any worse than this.  The Indians dropped the final two games of a weekend set with the Astros by an aggregate score of 15-2.  The bullpen has imploded down to three consistent performers, none of which are left handed (Nick Hagadone: 19.80 ERA, .423 OBA, 3 HR in his last 7 games).  Speaking of left-handed, the two starters that stymied the Tribe?  Yup, both left handed.  JA Happ used to be a big time prospect and was part of the package that allowed the Phillies to snare Roy Oswalt from Houston, but he has never lived up to his promise.  In fact, over the past two seasons, Happ is 12-22 with a 5.17 ERA.  Saturday's starter, Dallas Keuchel (they'll love him in Texas), is an unheralded former 7th round pick who has a career minor league record under .500.  Still, he needed just 108 pitches to shut down the Indians on six hits in his very second Major League.  The Tribe is now an abysmal 5-15 against left-handed starters and bat .215 as a team against southpaws.  We're all aware that the team does not start any right-handed hitters on a regular basis.  That's not the essential problem.  Rather, and I am getting good and sick of saying this, there is no depth on the big league roster.  I challenge you to find a less productive hitter than Aaron Cunningham that has been on the active roster since Opening Day.  I dare you to find another player that still leads him team in starts at a position and has batted lower than Shelley Duncan's .134 since May 1.  And I double dog dare you to dig up a guy who has hit cleanup for his team at least 12 times in 2012 and posted a lower OPS overall (.630) or in that spot (.501) than Jose Lopez.  Hey, don't forget about his slugging percentages, .369 and .265 respectively.

I don't know what else to say.  Kevin Youkilis is off the market, traded with a dump truck full off cash to those forkin' White Sox for a pitcher (Zach Stewart) who has an MLB ERA of about 6.00 and a 28 year old utility guy (Brent Lillibridge) who does a better job imitating Dumbo than squaring up a 4-seam fastball.  That's my long winded way of saying that the Indians could have had Youk had they wanted him.  Let's hope that Kevin's numbers away from Fenway over the past two seasons (.191, .645 OPS) hold true and he becomes a liability for the ChiSox rather than an asset.  Regardless, there is one less right handed bat on the market, which will raise the already hefty price tags on those who remain.

I could keep telling you the same things, like Jeanmar Gomez needs to be demoted or a radical move needs to be made to get a consistent reliever onto the roster or that Slater demeans the entire grand history of the game every time he laces up his cleats, but you know all of that already.  If losing 2 of 3 to Houston isn't a loud enough wake up call for Idionetti and woManny then I would be willing to forfeit the remainder of the season in exchange for their simultaneous dismissal. 

Oh, good, here come the Yankees...

Roll Tribe.


P.s.  Scott Barnes has been promoted again and will join the Tribe in the Bronx this evening.  The corresponding demotion has not been announced.  My guess: Gomez.

P.p.s.  'Tis official, Jeanmar has been sent down.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Meanwhile Back At the Clip Joint

Cord Phelps
Do you wonder why I didn't write about the Clippers last night?  Well, it was because Russ Canzler didn't have any hits, so there wasn't really any news.  OK, Cord Phelps hit a 3-run homer, Jared Goedert had two hits and an RBI, Charlotte's Conor Jackson hit 3 home runs and the Clips blew it in the 10th thanks to a walk, a hit batter and a wild pitch by Frank Herrmann.  Now you're all caught up.  Back to Canzler.  Russ (.275) chalked up two more hits, including a 2-run jack.  Over his last 10 games, he's batting .389 with 5 homers, 10 RBI and a 1.326 OPS.  So....  Call him up, Idionetti!  I personally guarantee everyone who reads this that he will not bat any worse than .141 with a .422 OPS over a 7 week stretch.  Why those numbers?  That's what Shelley Duncan has posted since May 1st.  C'mon, man!

Phelps (.272) added two more hits for 2 more RBI and Gregorio Petit (.222) doubled twice, but the pitching staff got knocked around pretty good.  Actually, it was really just the starter.  Who is Chris Schwinden (4-6, 3.38) and why did the Indians sign him?  Schwinden was rocked for 7 runs (6 earned) on 9 hits over 4 frames tonight.  Chris has made it out of the 5th inning just once since joining Columbus, while compiling a 5.87 ERA and surrendering 4 long balls in 15 innings pitched.  Matt Langwell (1.93) looked good over 3 scoreless innings, Eric Berger (4.08) extended his own scoreless streak out of the bullpen to 9 innings and Dan Wheeler... I don't write about Dan Wheeler.

Also, say goodbye to Hector Ambriz and Beau Mills.  Ambriz, who pitched 48 innings of relief for the 2010 squad after being selected from the Diamonbacks in the rule 5 draft, was released from AAA to open a roster spot for the returning Scott Barnes.  The Astros signed Hector yesterday.  Mills, the 13th overall pick in 2007, stumbled through 2 middling seasons at AA in 2009 and 2010 before reasserting himself as a prospect last season.  However, Beau was batting just .197 in 2012 and only .156 since April before landing on the DL with what was most likely a phantom injury.  He has been traded to the Reds for a player to be named later.  I have no particular animosity against either player, but I am excited to see the organization dropping some dead weight to open spots for younger talent.

Oh, the Clips are home now, taking on Ryne Sandberg and the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.  First pitch tomorrow is at 7:05p and, if you put a gun to my head, I would say it's Zach McAllister (5-2, 2.98) on the bump.

Other Minor Points of Interest --


Congrats to Jeremie Tice, who made his AA debut tonight with an RBI single in 3 trips.  Tice is fresh off of a Carolina League All-Star appearance and posted a .580 slugging percentage in the first half.  In an organization desperate for any kind of power, Tice is the latest and greatest white hope.

Speaking of monthly flavors, with RA Dickey making Major League hitters look plain silly, the most significant player in the Indians' system may just be Steven Wright.  Wright (6-4, 1.99) and his knuckleball picked up the win tonight in one of his least impressive outings of the season.  That being said, Steven allowed 3 runs on 4 hits and 3 walks over 6 and 2/3 while striking out 7. 

Lake County

Out of the gate in the second half, Luigi Rodriguez moved from first to third in the batting order and responded with 4 hits, including his 5th home run.  L-Rod has mashed 3 of those 5 dongs in his last 6 games, during which he has recorded 3 multi-hit games and batted an even .300.

Felix Sterling (3-6, 5.63) was back in the rotation after a brief exile to the bullpen.  It seems as if nothing has changed.  Sterling allowed 6 hits and 3 walks over his 4 innings of work, leading to 4 runs (2 earned).  Felix punched out 5, but threw a wild pitch.  He has an 11.86 ERA over his last 6 starts.

Lastly, a hearty congratulations to Jesus Aguilar and Francisco Lindor for being selected to play in the All-Star Futures Game as part of All-Star Weekend in Kansas City.  Let's hope they get to the bigs sooner rather than later.