In all honesty, there is little to nothing positive to say about the Tribe’s lackluster performance in Detroit over the weekend. Lackluster may be putting it mildly. You know what I need right now? A good Bruce Drennan rant. Maybe that will make us all feel better. I know its old, but its a classic. His opening line sums up the team right now:
He’s right. Right now and back then on May 4th. The Indians are in a serious funk right now. To me, this makes little sense. Explain to me how they could play their best stretch of baseball essentially from early July to the first week in August against nothing but teams with over .500 records, then sink to new lows against the likes of Baltimore, Kansas City, Seattle, and the Detroit Tigers, who entered the weekend with the league’s worst record after the all star break (10-26).
I guess you can go to the youth card. I guess you can site injuries to key players. But this is essentially the same bunch who played over .500 ball against the contenders just a month ago. Fast forward to August 23rd, and they have gone 3-11 against the bottom feeders.
Here is the bottom line; when you look up and down the Indians lineup these days, fear doesn’t exactly strike into the hearts of opposing pitchers. When opposing teams send their lineup to the plate against the Tribe’s rotation, it’s not as if they have to face Pedro Martinez or Randy Johnson in their primes.
Take this weekend for example. The offense was outscored 19-3 and two of the three starting pitchers allowed 11 hits each. The other allowed seven. You won’t win a single series with those kinds of discrepancies.
So what were my weekend takeaways?
Say it with me (again); Justin Masterson is not a starting pitcher. We’ve given him just enough rope to hang himself, and he has done so. After another complete debacle where his stuff was all over the place and the Tigers battered him around to the tune of five runs on 11 hits in six innings, the handwriting for Masterson has to now be on the wall.
He was Friday night’s losing pitcher, moving him to a putrid 4-12 with a 5.33 ERA in 25 starts. I’ve been waiting and waiting for someone in the Indians organization to admit that Masterson may be best suited for a late game relief role. I get why; they wnated to give J Mast a full year to evaluate his future. I saw that future in the first two months of the season. The guy belongs in the pen.
Finally, after Friday’s loss, Manager Manny Acta came clean. “Justin is getting experience,” Acta said. “He’s going to be better next year regardless where his role is. Whether he starts or goes to the bullpen, he’s getting experience.”
That is the first time all season he has addressed the issue. Acta has been asked plenty of times, but always deflected. To me, its a complete no-brainer. Masterson should be put in the pen to go along with Rafael Perez, Tony Sipp, and Joe Smith as the bridges to closer Chris Perez in 2011.
The defense across the diamond is about as bad as I can ever remember. It’s not just third base, which has become a black hole. It’s all over the diamond. Jason Donald has been an adventure whether he has played short or second. Matt LaPorta, while improved at first base, is still a work in progress (see his “forgetting” to turn an easy double play because he forgot how many outs there were in KC). Trevor Crowe continues to take strange routes to fly balls.
The biggest issue defensively for the Tribe is still third base. Since trading Jhonny Peralta to Detroit, the Wahoos have gone to the triumvirate of Jayson Nix, Andy Marte, and Luis Valbuena at the hot corner. It doesn’t get much worse than that. Nix is just not a third baseman, but the Indians are intigued by his bat. Marte is Marte, I’ve been so done with him for at least a year, and now he is afraid of the ball in the field. Sweet Luis we all know is not the answer.
Nix, for the rest of the way, will probably get the majority of the at-bats, but there is no way on earth any of these three can be the guy next year, despite his amazing acrobatic catch yesterday over the camera-bay railing. The Tribe has to go outside the organization for a one year stop-gap for 2011 until Lonnie Chisenhaul is ready to take over.
Jeanmar Gomez and Josh Tomlin picked the wrong weekend to both not have it. I’m not going to panic about two bad outings, but its a shame that both didn’t have their stuff in Detroit. The Tribe is scuffling right now and could have used a pick me up in at least one of the two weekend starts from their rookies. Tomlin struggled through six innings, allowing five runs on Saturday night.
“I felt good with every pitch tonight, for the most part, except for a couple pitches I left up,” Tomlin said. “I was leaving my cutter up too much today. That’s usually my go-to pitch, and I was trying to throw it more to find it. It just took me too long to find it.”
Gomez was shellacked for 11 hits and eight runs in three innings yesterday.
“He lives and dies with that good sinker of his,” Acta said of Gomez . “It was just flat and up in the zone. The other pitches weren’t there and they hit him around. It was the second time they’ve faced him, so … they’ve seen him before.”
Both kids are approaching their maximum innings (175 for both), so it won’t be a surprise if/when Carlos Carrasco is brought up to perhaps turn the rotation into a six-man group.
Up next for the Tribe is a home series with the Oakland A’s. Fausto Carmona (11-11, 4.14 ERA) looks to get back to his All-Star form tonight. He will be opposed by lefty Gio Gonzalez (10-8, 3.39 ERA)