Tribe Weekend Recap: Injuries change dynamic, a starter revival, freeing Lonnie, and three outs shy of a sweep

Justin Masterson

Justin Masterson

A weekend that should have been spectacular turned out to be just good with a bitter aftertaste. Home from a brutal west coast swing, the Tribe was back on the corner of Carnegie and Ontario. Following back-to-back wins to open a three-game series with the Chicago White Sox, the Indians led 3-1 heading into the ninth inning Sunday afternoon as closer John Axford came on to face the White Sox 2-3-4 hitters.

They say walks will kill you and in this instance, the old adage came to fruition. With a two-run lead, Axford should have fed the ball to the slumping Gordon Beckham. Instead, he walked him on four pitches. Hard-hitting first baseman Jose Abreu had already homered twice in the series, but the Tribe’s closer came back with a big strikeout. Unfortunately, Axford did what he just cannot do: He walked the tying run, strikeout machine Adam Dunn. This brought Dayan Viciedo to the plate, one of the hottest hitters in the American League. You know what happened next.

“You want to challenge guys and have them put the ball in play,” Axford said. “Those walks and putting guys on, giving them free passes, is something that I definitely need to cut out.”

The three-run homer was Axford’s second blown save of the season, both coming on Sunday’s against the White Sox. The Indians were three outs away from a sweep, and still came away with a series win. So how did this all happen? As we always do each Monday, lets take a look at the good and the bad of the weekend that was in Wahooland. 

Friday night’s offensive explosion, any anomaly or the start of something big?

On a chilly Friday night at Progressive Field, the Indians desperately needed a win. They came home losers of six straight and had scored just 13 runs in those six losses. Something had to give. All if ended up taking was some home cooking.

Old Tribe punching bag John Danks was on the mound and the Wahoos saw red right from the jump. With one out int he first, Mike Aviles singled, Nick Swisher walked, and the struggling Carlos Santana laced a doubled to the left field corner, scoring a pair. Santana came home when another ice cold Indian, Ryan Raburn (zero for his last 22), doubled the other way. After a Michael Brantley single and a walk to Asdrubal Cabrera, Danks was on the ropes with the bases loaded and just one out. Yan Gomes punched one out to right for a two-run double. In the blink of an eye, it was 5-0 Tribe. They would put up single runs in the second, third, and fifth, before knocking the White Sox out with a four spot in the sixth, with a the big hit coming from Brantley (two-run single).

The 12 runs over the first six innings was one run shy of the 13 they scored in 54 previous innings on the West Coast. “We had a good approach, and we used the whole field,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “We kind of stayed after them, which is good.” So would the Indians use that as an offensive springboard to awaken the bats or would this be just one of those games where they happened to click? Judging by the rest of the weekend, Friday was the exception rather than the rule.

Despite coming three outs short of finishing off the sweep, the Tribe offense scored just five runs Saturday and Sunday combined. Saturday’s two came on a dropped two out popup and a sacrifice fly.

Injuries are about to test the Tribe mettle

I was on the West Coast most of last week and made my way to Anaheim for the second of the Tribe’s three losses to the Angels. In the fourth inning, Jason Kipnis grounded into a double play. The All-Star second baseman is not one to dog it down the line, but this time you could tell he just wasn’t running full speed. I was right past the bag at first and I saw him clutch his side. I told my friend who I was with “that’s a pulled oblique, we won’t be seeing him for a month.” Unfortunately I was right.

Kipnis now sits on the disabled list. Fast forward to Saturday night, Michael Bourn was removed from the game after legging out an infield single and pulling up semi-lame. The Indians say he came out for “precautionary measures,” but it the injury was to the same hamstring that bothered him last season and had him on the DL to start the 2014 campaign. Despite the fact that the Indians are calling this injury day-to-day, hamstring’s aren’t something that get better quickly. He could be back in a week, but this also could require a second DL stint.

Their big ticket free agent from a year ago, Nick Swisher, isn’t hitting. Their cleanup hitter, Carlos Santana, is off to the worst start of his career. Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, a former two-time, All-Star continues to flounder. Now comes the injuries. The Indians are looking at a lineup without their leadoff man and gold glove center fielder and their No. 3 hitter and All-Star second baseman. That’s five of your top six hitters that are either injured or performing far below their capabilities.

So how do the Indians go about replacing Bourn and Kipnis? The first step was bringing back Nyjer Morgan to leadoff and play center field against right-handed starters. Tony Plush made a great first impression with his two-week cameo to open the season. In his return to the lineup Sunday, Morgan went 2-5. Defensively he is a downgrade from Bourn, but he is a solid fill-in. Michael Brantley will play center when a left-handed starter is on the mound. As good as Michael is in left, his play up in the middle leaves a lot to be desired. Their really isn’t any other option.

As for Kipnis’s replacement, 21-year old Jose Ramirez returns to take his shot as a regular. The kid is quite the story, rapidly rising through the Tribe ranks thanks to his speed and defense.you recall Ramirez mad a great impression with his September call up, so much so that he was on the playoff roster. He started the year in Columbus red-hot, hitting .319 with four homers and 17 RBIs. With the offense needing a boost, Ramirez was the perfect guy to bring in for a spark. In his first start Saturday, Jose’s bunt single turned into a run in the Tribe’s 2-0 win. Ramirez’s energy sure beats seeing Elliot Johnson strikeout and kick the ball around the field.

“The enthusiasm that comes from younger guys can be really good. I know last year in September, everybody got a kick out of him because of the way he strutted around. I think he’s endeared himself to a lot of people quickly because of the way he’s play,” said manager Terry Francona. “That little [expletive] is all over the place. He can help us win.”

Free Lonnie

Without Kipnis for at least a month, the Wahoos are going to need others to step into the run producers role. I say why can’t one of those guys be Lonnie Chisenhall? Yes, I was the guy who thought that the Carlos Santana move to third would spell the end of Lonnie as a regular and early in the season, he certainly wasn’t getting the at-bats. But when Francona did finally call his number, Lonnie responded…big time.

A month into the season, Chisenhall has become one of three Indians who has either met or exceeded expectations. After another three for four afternoon, Lonnie is 21-54 (.389/.441/.959) and yet he is still being used only one way – against right-handed pitching. He has been given just one AB against a lefty (a hit). Francona has quite the quandry on his hands right now. He’s getting nothing from Swisher, Santana, and Cabrera, and Kipnis is on the DL. Lonnie hit fifth both Saturday and Sunday, which clearly shows Tito’s faith in him. But will he give him a shot against Southpaws at some point?

I can see Francona working here. Last year he worked his magic with Ryan Raburn, putting him in positions where he knew he could best succeed without over-exposing him. He may be doing the same with Chisenhall. The difference here is that Raburn was a guy on his last legs as a major leaguer who caught fire, while Lonnie is a former first round pick who is still just 25. The great thing here is that Lonnie is finally thriving. I would hate to see him lose at-bats, especially in favor of 43-year old Jason Giambi.

It was nice knowing you, Elliot Johnson and its great to know you, George Kottaras.

Francona has always appreciated versatility more than most managers and with the way Elliot Johnson hit during the spring, he literally forced his way onto the team. He could play second, short, third, and all three outfield spots if need be. But as we have seen so many times before, what happens in March doesn’t always translate when the bright lights of the regular season come on.

Johnson wasn’t hitting in his limited chances and twice failed to put down bunts in key situations that called for one. The final straw (though Francona denies as much) was the Friday night when Johnson not once, but twice dropped throws that would have started double plays. After the second one, I turned to the people I was with at the game and said “he needs to be cut tomorrow. Enough is enough.” And sure enough, Johnson was DFA’d Saturday to make room for an extra arm which turned out to be Nick Hagadone for a day. Hagadone was shipped back for Morgan after Bourn went down.

And then there is the newest member of the Tribe, catcher George Kottaras. The veteran backstop was added to the 40-man roster and brought up from Columbus to take the roster spot of Yan Gomes, who left to be with his wife who gave birth to their first child over the weekend. Kottaras is out of options and he was reportedly told by the club that his stay in Cleveland would be short. But then, Sunday afternoon happened. Making his first start of the season, the 30-year old Canadian crushed two homers in his first two at-bats, becoming the first Indian in history to do so. He also drew a walk and called a great game in support of Corey Kluber.

I know his time here could be coming to an end as quickly as tomorrow, but I am ready to declare this “The Summer of George.” Two roster spots are going to need to be changed out with Gomes and Josh Tomlin returning to Cleveland. Bourn hitting the DL could solve one of those two issues and the easy move would be to DFA Kottaras. But just maybe, the best move for this team is to completely strip Santana of his catching duties and letting him fully embrace his role as a third baseman/backup first baseman/DH. The only issue is that I just don’t know who would go for Kottaras too stay. There’s always Jason Giambi’s sore calf that kept him out the last two days. Could that flare up?

A starting pitching renaissance?

I’ve been talking about this for weeks now, but the Indians starting pitching has to get better as a group if they are going to be able to put together winning streaks. It is easy to point the finger towards the bottom of the rotation, but the truth is it is Justin Masterson’s poor start that has really gone under reported. He entered Saturday night’s start with a 4.84 ERA and hasn’t resembled anything like a top of the rotation starter. It was time for him to step up his game. That is exactly what he did.

For just the second time this season, Masterson pitched into the eighth, but unlike the last time where he gave up five earned runs, the opponent couldn’t touch him. Justin departed with one out in the eighth and didn’t allow a run on four hits and just one walk. He struck out six on his way to his first win of the season. It was the exact kind of start Francona has been looking for from their number one starter. “I was able to control it today, effectively wild at times,” Masterson said. “I was able to make some quality pitches when we needed them.”

A night earlier, Danny Salazar sought to build on the best start of his season where he pitched seven innings of one run ball in San Francisco. He went just five innings, allowing three earned runs, but Salazar deserved a much better fate. To say his defense let him down would be putting it mildly. He would have gotten out of the second inning unscathed, but the first of Johnson’s two errors led to a three-run Sox inning. His pitch count was rung way up and Salazar was relegated to a five and fly. Danny’s velocity was up and there was a lot to be encouraged about in those five innings. Despite the two botched double plays, he induced three others that were actually turned.

“I thought he did an outstanding job of damage control,” Francona said of Salazar. “A couple leadoff walks, a couple balls we didn’t turn to second, once he had his hands full, I thought he really threw the ball well.”

The sweep looked like a done deal Sunday thanks to the absolute stud work of Corey Kluber. It is amazing to think that a guy who was thought to be nothing more than rotation filler could become the most reliable pitcher in the rotation, but that is what Kluber is. After a rough start in Anaheim Tuesday night, Corey came back with a vengeance, striking out a career high 13, including a team record seven straight at one point. Eight innings of one run ball on three hits with 13 K’s? I’ll sign up for that every day and twice on Sundays.

“It’s just one of those things that happens when you make good pitches,” Kluber said. “I got in a groove there in the middle of the game.” Poor Kluber really earned this win, but had it snatched away on Viciedo’s three-run bomb in the ninth off of Axford.

“He just pitched his heart out,” Francona said. “That’s about as good as you can pitch.” Scott will have more of Kluber later today. If the Indians can take anything away from this weekend, its that their starting pitching gave them three great chances to win and had a sweep three outs away from occurring.

A word about Nick Swisher and the media 

By now you have heard about the comments that the bro gave to the media after Friday night’s win. Swisher said “There have been a lot of bad things written about us in the papers. We pay attention to all of that. So for us, we have to do it together. We have to band together and figure this thing out.”

Now I was not in the clubhouse to hear the context, but even so I am a little surprised that someone who spent four years in New York would take any criticism and fire back on it. The truth is this team underperformed in April. That is not a fact that anyone can dispute. Should the media relay the message that everything is rosy when it isn’t? If Swisher wants to use that for motivation or to show his teammates that he is sticking up for them, then fine, I buy it. But to be that thin-skinned after a poor month of baseball (one which he hit .211/.330/.617) to me is weak.

Up Next

The Indians look to build on the series with and keep things going against the Minnesota Twins, who come to Cleveland for four games. Zach McAllister will get things started for the Tribe as he faces off with Kyle Gibson.

(photo via Chuck Crow/The Plain Dealer)

  • boomhauertjs

    I think Swisher’s really feeling the pressure of not living up to his contract. He needs to be dropped in the order. Maybe put Ramirez in the 2 hole and move Swisher down to 6.
    I’m less concerned about the starting pitching than the lineup/defense. With Carrasco finally out and Salazar starting to turn things around (no thanks to Error Johnson), I think they’ll be ok.
    How much different would we all be feeling about this weekend if Axford hadn’t blown the game? Sigh…

  • MrCleaveland

    I had Axford on my rotisserie baseball team last year. Briefly. He was awful. I was sad to see him come to Cleveland. He has Wickman-Borowske-Perez disease, but I think he’s a lot shakier than that trio. I hope we’re looking around for someone else.

  • Garry_Owen

    The position of “Closer” needs to go the way of the 4 strike strikeout. I hate it, and will never understand why every team is so married to the fatally flawed concept. For example, Francona pulled Axford yesterday two batters(?) after he gave up the game-winner, when a .079 slugger was at the plate. Suddenly, Axford was no longer “the guy.” But he was automatically “the guy” at the start of the inning?

    “We’re up by 2, ninth inning. Must put the Closer in!”
    “But why?”
    “Because he’s the Closer!”
    “But what if he’s no good, or what if the situation doesn’t call for that guy?”
    “The situation calls for the Closer! He’s our Closer! He’s gotta go in!”

    The Emperor has no clothes, but nobody will say it.

  • Harv 21

    Don’t tell me what Askford did is just one loss. For a team struggling to score runs and get off the mat, that can freakin’ kill them by making the struggling hitters more anxious. If this dude starts being Chris Perez without the mouth Francona might consider flipping him with Cody Allen. If they manage just a .500 record in May a shot at meaningful baseball in September is probably over.

    Also, I know Astrubal will heat up at some point but I just can’t watch him any more. He has “Thinking About my Next Contract” written all over him: total lack of situational awareness like a pitcher struggling with his control when Cabby decides to close his eyes and swing hard at a first pitch whatever. I don’t think he’s deteriorating like Baerga; his bat speed looks ok to me. It’s his head, and twice yesterday his approach was a rally-killing joke. His at-bats are killing them even more than those of Carlos.

  • JNeids

    I’ll come to the Ax-man’s defense (and probably commit an error like the rest of his defense would). After hearing that he was tipping his pitches and hopefully got that fixed in St. Louis, I was more than willing to take a chance on a guy who set the season record for saves for another team. While I realize he doesn’t usually go 1-2-3 like everyone thinks a closer should everytime they pitch, I don’t think he’s getting nearly the credit he deserves. Look across the league at how many starting day closers have been demoted from the spot. Axford is 9/11 in save sitchus, and those 2 HRs he served up to the Sox are the only runs he’s allowed in his last 10 appearances (yes I realize you can’t just remove them and yes I realize they we’re both game-losing HRs). Until he starts blowing more saves, I don’t care if he walks the bases loaded as long as he gets out of it unscathed. And while this doesn’t affect my view of him as a pitcher, I also appreciate the breath of fresh air he is compared to Sir Spouts Off from last year. As for yesterday, you could tell he didn’t have his best stuff. When I saw how many curveballs he was throwing, I got nervous, and sure enough…

  • JNeids

    He swapped him for Scrabble (lefty-lefty matchup) to prevent any more damage in hopes that we could overcome just the 1 run. Axford didn’t have his best stuff yesterday. It happens. And rather than risk him walking another batter, especially a guy you want swinging, Francona made the right move, post-game analysis be damned.

  • JNeids

    See my response below to Mr. C. I completely agree that a blown win/sweep can feel like more than 1 loss, but are we really calling for his head just for that? Cody did the same exact thing a few nights prior in SF.

  • Garry_Owen

    You know who had his best stuff? Kluber. 110 pitches be damned. But if you go “match-up” when we’re down by 1, why not go “match-up” when we’re up by 2. You don’t have to throw in the Closer just because he’s the Closer.

  • JNeids

    I don’t disagree, I was more explaining my take on why he made the switch just for the final batter as opposed to why he didn’t for the first 5.
    And I ask this somewhat seriously as I don’t know enough about the usability of pitchers, but does it make sense to use 3 pitchers against 3 different batters for situational purposes in every close situation? Depending on whether or not the guy pitched the game or 2 prior, it may make him unavailable for the next game when he is more needed.

  • Pat Leonard

    How “lucky” are we, by the way? Tribe-killer Paul Konerko finally gets put out to pasture and a new Tribe-killer named Jose Abreu jumps right into his role.

  • JNeids

    Thankfully his HRs against us have been harmless to this point, and he’s struck out in pretty much every other at bat (27% overall!), but I was thinking the same thing when I saw him again this weekend.

  • MrCleaveland

    I’m with you, brother. The concept of Closer is manufactured nonsense. I’ll grant that it make sense if you have a guy like Rivera or Gagne in his heyday, but most teams don’t have lights-out closers. Gotta be a better way.

    Also, I hate this “You got to have a short memory” stuff that they feed the fans. I don’t want a guy who blows a save to shrug it off like it’s nothing. I’d like him to think about what happened and why. I’m sure they do, but I don’t like being told it’s no big deal.

  • Garry_Owen

    I totally get that concern. I understand that even warming up can sometimes take you out of consideration for the next game. After all, it’s not like pitching a 10-pitch inning means that you only threw 10 pitches.

    I guess my point is that the situation yesterday was not a “closer situation,” despite conventional wisdom. Just because you have a 1-3 run lead doesn’t automatically make one guy “the guy.” In my opinion, the score is pretty irrelevant to who goes in the game. I think the inning should be, too.

    I don’t know the answer, but if it was me, I’d have a short list of 2-3 guys that I would consider to start a 9th inning. I just wouldn’t designate a single guy based on an irrelevant circumstance. Carrasco, Scrabble, and Allen all would have been good choices yesterday if you have to take Kluber out.

  • Garry_Owen

    I’d love to see the whole concept of “save” go away, too. It has created so much unnecessary drama. If you pitch a shutout 7th inning with a tiny lead, you get nothing – nor does the guy that follows you if he pitches a shutout 8th. But hey, you pitch a shutout 9th inning with an arbitrary 2-run lead? That’s a “save!” It’s no wonder “closers” generally tend to be headcases. Rivera was great, at least in part, because he transcended that nonsense. He pitched the 9th as if it was the 6th. If he only pitched 6th, or 7th, or 8th innings, he would have been just as great, but would we have noticed?

  • Harv 21

    not calling for it now, said he “might consider.” But believe the sitch requires close monitoring, given the control problem he’s showing. I’d be more patient if they played .500 in April, but if the hole gets deeper in May it will be tough for them to finish with 80 wins, never mind the 90 probably needed to be sniffing at a post-season shot.

  • JNeids

    For the record, I agree with both you and Mr. C that the concept of closer needs to evolve with the rest of the sport. The days of the lights out 1-2-3 closer are pretty much gone. But again, the availability of pitchers might have a hand in it.
    Regarding short memory, it’s just media speak. No chance Axford isn’t thinking about this next time he takes the mound.
    And while they do track “Holds” for the relievers that pitch before the saves, it’s obviously not as “glorious” of a stat.

  • nj0

    Yeah, all my rational thought aside that seemed like one of those “We are cursed to lose” kind of losses.

  • nj0

    One of the more interesting facts about closers (something Joe Posnanski brings up semi-regularly) – teams going into the 9th win 95% of the time. This number is pretty much consistent since, like, forever. 70 years ago, it was 95% of the time. Today, it’s 95% of the time. To quote, “There has never been a full season, not one since we have the numbers, where the entire league won 25 games over or under expectation. ” Pre-closer, post-closer: 95%. Of course, that doesn’t prove that having a 9th inning specialist isn’t valuable, but it does make you wonder.

    So I agree. Kill the closer.

    An inconsistency that confuses me: in other innings of relief, a manager will aggressively use lefty/righty splits to the club’s advantage. Yet in the 9th, you GOTTA go with your guy! Even if the splits suggest otherwise. Why?

  • Garry_Owen

    That’s good stuff. I don’t feel so crazy, even though I’m clearly ranting. I was storming around the house yesterday muttering and mumbling about closers for like 30 minutes. (It probably felt like 5 hours to my wife.)

    The only thing that I would say about the inconsistency that you cite is *maybe* managers feel like they can be aggressive with match-ups before the 9th because they know they have “a guy” for the 9th? I have no idea. Would be interesting to know how those splits worked out pre closer era.

  • Steve

    Came here to say something to this extent.

    The save causes teams to organize their rosters and manage the game suboptimally. Francona went to the pen yesterday to face the best part of the Sox order, and came away with someone else besides the team’s best one inning pitcher, and maybe not even a top three option for that situation.

    The save stat has to be reserved for a specific person, too frequently determined by seniority more than talent (and we also let starters try to finish the fifth solely so they can get a win). But WAR is the stat that causes all sorts of consternation.

  • John Smith

    A .500 record in May and you’re dismissing September baseball? This team didn’t get hot until the summer last season. I don’t care how well people think DET is playing right now, they’re not what they were last season. And Detroit will not go 15-4 against the Tribe this season. Sure, they’re hot, sweeping KC and HOU coming up next but that is the same Royals team the Tribe took 3/4 from. This Indians team will be fine. Hoping for a sweep over the Twins, pitching will get hot and build off of Kluber’s gem yesterday (against a good offensive team in CHI even w/ out Eaton).

    Wouldn’t jump off quite yet…you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

  • nj0

    Ah, “traditional” stats… part of the fabric of the game…. completely nonsensical… ill-conceived and pretty ridiculous once you think about them…. like batting average. Which picks and chooses things to value and ignore. And which isn’t even an average.

  • Natedawg86

    But if you get rid of the Closer you get rid of the Set-up man too!

  • mgbode

    my hope is that Jose Ramirez is forcing his way into the lineup. When Kipnis comes back, suddenly Asdrubal gets a few more days off with Ramirez at SS. Then, Jose taking off and control of the spot, suddenly Asdrubal isn’t so needed at all. Maybe trade him for some RP or whatever we can scramble together for him.

    A man can dream.

  • Natedawg86

    I do hate the Closer pos too, but with those numbers, how many were a save situation?

  • Steve

    The only issue with matchups is that as the game gets later, teams will match up back against you, and now you’re left at a platoon disadvantage with a weaker pitcher. All else being equal, as the game gets later, you’d prefer a pitcher with smaller splits.

    Of course, when you face guys like Abreu and Dunn, you know they won’t be pinch-hit for, so you can match up against the heart of the order.

  • mgbode

    but, the good news is that our defense was still making mistakes.

    ah well, we should have had the sweep and that game really killed the mood for the series. but, we seem to be getting better overall ABs and our pitching is coming around too.

    the best news though? our depth players that we plug in (calling up Nyjer, Jose, the Bauer start) all have been helping. my real hope for the team is that our young players and these depth guys are good enough to make us out-last some of these other teams over the long haul of the season.

  • Steve

    Still, momemtum is tomorrow’s starter. We’ve got the better one tonight.

  • nj0

    I understand that, but there are scenarios where it might make sense. Maybe they have three righties/lefties in a row coming up? Just saying that even when that scenario would present itself, most managers would still go with the closer cause that’s what you do.

  • Steve

    I’m taking Swishers comments as completely about rallying the team. The “we have to do it together. We have to band together and figure this thing out” says where he’s really going with this one, the line about the media is not important, it’s just about getting to the end of that quote.

    And I think the media has been quite lenient on the team considering their start. I’m in the “talk to me in June” camp, but teams coming off playoff appearances with expectations for more that start off so slowly get a lot more heat than this team has been given. I’d say its quite a long leash so far.

  • Steve

    But those three righties in a row is a prime situation to bring a LHH off the bench and steal back that platoon advantage. Obviously you have to pay attention to how teams can match up back at you at all times, but especially then.

    But I’m completely on board with the idea of always matching up against guys like Abreu and Dunn. If Kluber could only go 6, and they came up in the 7th, we’d match up one at a time. There is not enough difference between that situation and the 9th inning last night to completely change your tactics.

  • Steve

    Depth has been a huge plus, and we’re needing it.

  • mgbode

    if Kottaras is what finally makes Tito DFA or DL Giambi, then…

    http://image.b4in.net/resources/2013/09/18/1379521354-Summer+of+George.png

  • mgbode

    I hate Momentum. He’s so fickle.

  • Steve

    I can’t imagine that Kottaras will be the breaking point for Giambi, but I’ll take it. I’m still betting that Aguilar keeps hitting well enough that they can’t ignore him, and that’s when Giambi will finally be gone.

  • nj0

    If that were the case, why not use more than one pitcher in the 9th? Oh, cause it’s the 9th and 9th = closer. A closer faces three guys cause thems the rules. Splits mean nothing to a closer.

  • woofersus

    The strong performances from guys in Columbus have been a source of comfort to me in the early stages of the season. Just like Yan Gomes emerged last year, I think we have a few guys on the verge right now. It’s wise not to rush the young ones, but I think we’ll be seeing more of them as the temps warm up. Jose Ramirez, Jesus Aguilar, Trevor Bauer, and Josh Tomlin have all been spectacularly good.

  • mgbode

    most likely. i wouldn’t mind Ramirez and Aguilar forcing their way onto the roster. that would definitely be a good thing.

  • Steve

    I’m 100% convinced that a team could make huge upgrades by just changing bullpen tactics from “by inning” to “by opposing batter”.

    Rzep should be facing Dunn when he comes to the plate in his highest leverage PA. Allen or Shaw and Abreu in the same circumstances. If that means Allen comes on with 2 outs in the 6th and then starts the 7th, fine. If that means Rzep in the 9th, fine. Worry less about the number of the inning and more about what just how important that next at bat is.

  • tsm

    Agreed. No reason for any pitcher to throw Cabby a strike on the first pitch. He needs to begin using his head. Also, Santana never adjusts with 2 strikes on him. Yesterday, the final pitch to him was on the outside corner and he still tried to pull it and grounded to second. I am sure the hitting coach has preached to them that they must adjust to the situation and pitch count. Chisenhall actually seems to be doing this and going to left field more often.

  • woofersus

    I agree. I didn’t read it as whining, but saying they’re aware that expectations are high and thus far the results have been disappointing.

  • woofersus

    So, the big day for Kottaras was nice, but this isn’t a guy who really challenges for a roster spot. His career numbers aren’t going to wow anybody, and one great game doesn’t warrant using a roster spot on a backup catcher when we have two guys who can catch already on the roster, both of whom are much better offensively. (despite Santana’s rough start) I think he’d just end up taking AB’s away from Chisenhall.

  • Harv 21

    yes, I am in fact being somewhat hysterical – nothing in baseball bothers me as much as a beautifully pitched game the team really needs and a closer that comes in and flames the win into a stunning loss. But I did the math after my comment above.

    If the Tribe goes 14-14 in May they will be 25-61 after 56 games.

    To reach 90 wins they wil have to go 65-41 the rest of the way, a winning percentage of .613. Not so easy but still emimently doable if veterans hitters heat up, Bauer and/or Tomlin calm the rotation and they play some semblance of defense. Thanks, John. I’m a little better now.

  • Harv 21

    why does everyone hate Giambi so? Guess it’s time for him to break out the head first slide into first, but ’tis a shame he must risk his creaky body every year just to stop all youse from lighting your torches like angry peasants.

  • mgbode

    of course, 90wins likely means the team is not participating in the postseason.

  • Harv 21

    sniff is what I said. You know, the gleam, men.

  • mgbode

    because he is a player who offers no defensive value to the team.
    because he is a player who offers no baserunning value to the team.
    because as a hitter, he is batting .173/.273/.352 in his time with the Indians and has actually been considerably worse in his 11PA this season (1 HBP, 1 DP nullifying any gain by his one base).

    I despise a non-meritocracy approach to sports. I fail to see how any time Giambi sees is from his own merits.

  • mgbode

    it doesn’t matter, we are going undefeated the rest of May anyhow :)

  • Steve

    And Giambi hits the DL again. Kottaras stays.