Tagged: Scott Kazmir

One Month In – Where Do We Stand

One Month

The Indians ended April with a Thud. Losing every game on a west coast trip is never a good way to inspire the fan base. Good thing April is over and we are into May. Let’s look at the Tribe one month into the season.

The Record:

The Indians ended April 11-17 and on a 6 game losing streak. Not what you expect from a team with high expectations of making the playoffs. Is it time to panic? Not really. It is only one month. Last year they were 11-13 in April. They followed up April by going 18-12 in May. Last year the Indians had two 8 game losing streaks, and on June 10th they were 3 games under .500. This was a streaky team last year and I could easily see them rattling off 6 or 7 wins in a row. The team was at .500 before the 6 game west coast trip. So the record after one month is not a huge concern, but they leave themselves little room to continue their disappearing act at the plate, and in the field.

 

The Starting Rotation:

The starters began the year a little shaky, but have become the strength of this club. Masterson did not earn a win in the month of April, but he pitched well enough that he should have in three of his six April starts. Is Masterson a #1 starter? Maybe not, but he is definitely a #2. Would the Indians just pay this guy! Masterson’s agent reportedly proposed multiple offers to the Indians with a contract of around 17 million per year for 3 to 4 years. Usually the Tribe balks at contracts for pitchers because they are to long. The Tribe does not want to risk a lengthy contract on pitchers who are all susceptible to injury. Masterson is offering a shorter term contract which should make the Indians front office thrilled. I am just not sure what the Indians are expecting to pay for a starting pitcher who can anchor a staff. 12 million a year gets you an Ubaldo Jimenez type pitcher. Ubaldo has been atrocious in 5 of his 6 starts. He has a 5.19 Era in his first 6 starts and has walked 18 in 34 innings. That looks similar to the Ubaldo who pitched in Cleveland before last July. Are you feeling a little nervous about that signing now Baltimore? 3 years at 17 million per year seems fair to me, so the Indians need to stop with the excuses and sign Masterson. Otherwise we will be watching another warm body in the rotation next year. Yea you could gamble on a veteran coming off a poor year and get another Scott Kazmir, or you could get another Brett Myers. If the Indians are expecting to compete for a playoff spot they can’t afford to gamble on their starting pitching, especially when they would be replacing a front of the rotation starter.

Corey Kluber and Zach McAllister have been solid and consistent on the mound to start the year. I have followed Corey Kluber through the minors to the big league club since the trade with San Diego/ St. Louis for Jake Westbrook. Kluber was considered one of the Padre’s top pitching prospects. He had one off year and was traded. He has consistently been tops in the minor leagues in strike outs and walked very few. This year he has 48 K’s and 12 BB in 45 innings which is following his career norms. He projected as a #2 or #3 starter and that is holding true. Kluber has a 3.6 ERA even though he has pitched 5 games against some of the top offenses in all of baseball. Kluber has pitched two games against the #2 offense and one game against the #3, #4, #5 offenses in MLB.  Kluber has always been one of my favorites, and he looks to be a solid #2 or #3 starter.

McAllister has been just as good, if not better than Kluber. He has a 3.16 ERA and like Kluber he doesn’t give a lot of hitter’s free passes. McAllister fits in nicely and has done a good job in the 3 hole.

The 4 and 5 spots have been a problem for the Indians. I am not to worried about Danny Salazar as he seems to be righting the ship after a rough start early on in the season. Even though he has not looked as sharp or seemed to have command of all of his pitches, he still looks like a major league pitcher. His demeanor on the mound just says successful pitcher to me, and I think in the long run he will succeed. Carlos Carrasco is another story. As I write this he has been relieved of his starting duties and placed in the bullpen. Carrasco is just another version of Roberto Hernandez aka Fausto Carmona. Carrasco is a pitcher with a great arm, who will consistently put runners on base and make me want to start watching MTV with my wife instead of baseball. Thankfully I will no longer be up to date on the “16 And Pregnant” episodes, as Josh Tomlin has taken Carrasco’s spot in the rotation. Tomlin has pitched great in Columbus to start the year. He was called up to Cleveland this week and in his first start he looked very impressive. Tomlin walks very few batters. Isn’t it strange how not walking people usually correlates to winning. I mentioned in my last post that Tomlin would be back and it took less than a month. Unless there is an injury I believe you have seen the last of Carlos Carrasco starting for the Indians. The Indians still have insurance in Trevor Bauer who has been pitching even better than Tomlin. This is in Columbus also which is a big time hitter’s park. So if there is an injury, Salazar regresses, or Tomlin can’t hold down the 5th spot (I am sure he will – you don’t get the nickname “The Little Cowboy” for no reason), Bauer seems to be ready to step in.

The bullpen so far seems stable. Vinnie Pestano was sent down early in the month after giving up hits to almost every batter he faced. He had a WHIP of 3.38. That means for every inning he pitched he put 3.38 batters on base. I think Hendrix’s WHIP in his first year of youth baseball where the players will pitch will be lower. A WHIP of 1.75 or higher is usually pretty atrocious. Pestano’s velocity has been down last year and the start of this year, and just a couple MPH has made him very hittable. The rest of the bullpen has been very good. The bullpen has stranded 50 of the 60 inherited base runners through May 7th. This puts them at the top of the league in keeping inherited runners from scoring. John Axford has not let one inherited runner score. Then again he has put them on himself and let them cross home plate a few times. Axford is the one part of the bullpen that I am not to sure about. He does have 9 saves out of 11 chances is which is not to bad in one month. Unfortunately he likes to walk batters and he is not unhittable. (I think there is something to this walking batters and a pitchers success rate) He has issued 11 walk and 11 hits in 14 innings. Axford has a 1.57 WHIP which is getting up there near that atrocious level. The Tribe could probably survive an Axford collapse by moving Cody Allen into the closer role and rearranging the bullpen. But ultimately this probably wouldn’t be ideal considering the teams other problems.

 

Batting:

In my last post I stated how my main concern about this team was its offense. Well they haven’t changed my opinion much. The Tribe is next to last in the American League in runs scored, and 26th in MLB with a .231 team average. There are only 4 teams all in the National League (where the pitcher bats!) with worse averages. (Side note – The San Diego Padres have a .215 team average….Uh maybe I should stop complaining about the Tribe offense) Other than Michael Brantley, Yan Gomes, David Murphey, Nyjer Morgan, Mike Aveiles, and Lonnie Chisenhall (3 of whom are part time players), the rest need to vastly improve at the plate. Jason Kipnis who is currently on the DL has a .234 average, while Michael Bourn is batting around his career average of .266. Unfortunately Bourn has done little else as he has played in only 15 games. He has 2 stolen bases but he has been caught 3 times, and he only has scored 6 runs all year. I didn’t think so at the end of spring training, but Nyjer Morgan needs to be on this team. Morgan is batting .294 with 3 stolen bases in 3 attempts, and 5 runs scored in half the at bats Bourn has had. Not to mention he is playing better defense.

The rest of the lineup would bring the San Diego Padres team average down:

Asdrubal Cabrera .215
Nick Swisher .202
Ryan Rayburn .167
Carlos Santana .139

Image

Zero Point Zero!

And Mr. Blutarsky (Jason Giambi) .000

It will be almost Memorial Day before Giambi plays again. He has not reached first base since spring training, other than a hit by pitch. That includes games with the Indians and the Akron Rubber Ducks. He actually didn’t even get a hit in spring training. He reached base twice by walk. His last hit in a game was last year! The Tribe’s offense needs a jump and the Indians need to bite the bullet soon with Giambi. Jesus Aguilar is in AAA Columbus. Last year he set the Akron record with 105 RBIs in 130 games. He is off to a fast start in Columbus this year batting .319 with 7 HRs and 17 RBIs in 31 games. The Tribe is not good enough to waste a roster spot on a player who is not helping. Sooner or later Giambi is going to need to produce or the Tribe needs to make a change.

It is good to see Chisenhall producing and Brantley is Mr. Consistent. I believe the rest of the lineup will improve, but I do think this team needs one more bat. Preferably a right handed bat.

Defense:

I actually witnessed this game when Canseco took one off the noggin

Where the hell do I start? This is the one area that has derailed the Tribe more than any other. The starting pitching has had a few bad games, the closer has let a few slip away, and the offense has been absent for most of the year. But it is the defense that has ultimately cost the Indians the most. This does not just a couple of players, but the entire team.

Yan Gomes- The poster boy for the Tribe’s bad defense. He has 9 errors already and leads the league with 4 PB (past balls). Last year for the entire year he had 3 errors and 4 PB. Yan you’re not going to get the last 2 years of that contract you just signed if you continue to play like that.

Michael Bourn – Who in the hell voted this guy a gold glove centerfielder in the national league? I have yet to see a gold glove defender, including last year. This year I wouldn’t put him in the top half of American League centerfielders. He only has one error but the number of bad routes I have seen, along with missed diving/sliding catches, and running into the other outfielders tells me he is not a premier defender.

Asdrubal Cabrera – has 5 errors and has not looked that great in the field. He had better start hitting because the Tribe has Fransico Lindor in Akron who is considered a gold glove defender, and I am sure he can hit .215 if not better.

Nick Swisher – 4 Errors and he could have been charged with more. I have watched a few games where Swisher has not given much effort on coming off the bag at first. I really expect more from Swisher.

The Tribe has plenty of time to turn the season around and get on the plus side of the win/loss column. They need the bats to come around but they really need the defense to step up.

 

Ok this is a Tribe blog but the NFL draft is tonight so a couple of things. One -Johnny Manziel reminds me of Doug Flutie. Flutie’s chance in the NFL came late in his career because everyone thought he was to short. Flutie was a great QB and I loved watching him. Manziel may be fun to watch also, but it is his off the field activities that tell me not to draft him. There was risk with Flutie and his size, but there was no risk with how Flutie carried himself off the field. The Browns are could be kicking themselves if they don’t draft Manziel and he turns out to be great. I just wouldn’t take the chance and would stick with the safer choice. Watkins, Mack, Robinson, and especially Clowney if they could get him.

Second – I really hope my Buccaneers or the Browns draft my man from Kent State, Dri Archer. The guy may not make it in the NFL if he isn’t durable enough, but man is he fun to watch. Who knows it could be Manziel to Archer soon.

Take Care

Advertisements

No Time To Panic People

I am trying to find what works for me in this blog.  I would like to write just a little more often, but keep the content much shorter.  This is a very difficult assignment for me.  I have a very hard time putting my ideas down and it can take days for me to finalize my post.  I have always struggled with writing, and I never considered myself very good.  I appreciate all the comments on the site and those who have told me in person they enjoy the blog.  That encourages me to try harder so thank you.    So with that said I am going to try and post a weekly recap.   Hopefully I can find a rhythm that works for me.  Hopefully the Tribe can get back into rhythm soon.

I liked my idea last year when I recapped the season using the theme of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.  So lets run with that.the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly

The Good:                                                                                                                        

Yan Gomes & Ryan Raburn

Yan Gomes & Ryan Raburn

The Tribe locked up Ryan Raburn for two more years with a club option for a third year at a very reasonable salary of roughly 2.5 million.  The Indians bench has been one of the strengths this year, and should be for a couple more years hopefully.   After trading for Mike Aviles this winter the Indians signed him to a contract extension through 2015, while catcher Yan Gomes is making the league minimum through 2015.  The Tribe’s bench gives Francona a lot of options when it comes to roster management during a game.  Gomes has been looking superior defensively to Carlos Santana behind the pate, and Rayburn and Aviles can play almost any position if asked.  If fact Rayburn pitched in the 9th inning of Thursday nights fiasco against his former team the Detroit Tigers.  The bullpen was decimated from the previous nights 14 inning loss and Raburn took one for the team by going out to pitch in a lost cause.  Actually he posted a perfect inning and struck out Detroit’s Matt Tuiasosopo.

Pitchers IP  H  R ER BB SO HR PC-ST ERA
R  Raburn 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 13-8 0.00
raburnk_original

Click picture to see video

Matt Tuiasosopo, Ryan Rayburn owns you!

The Bad:

The Tribe went 2 – 5 for the week.  They started out the week playing the lowly Miami Marlins.  After getting beat down 10 – 0 on Friday the Tribe won the next two to take the series from Miami.  The Indians then came home to start a four game series against the 1st place Detroit Tigers.  BIG SERIES…. Big Let Down.  I could of put this in the Ugly column but lets not panic.  Yea the Tigers have a good team.  Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, Tori Hunter, Victor Martinez, not to mention a CY Young pitching staff.  They own the Indians this year.  They do have problems with the rest of the league.  I am not saying that the Indians will win this division, but I don’t see why they can’t stay close to Detroit.  The Tigers are not good defensively and if they don’t hit extra base hits they move base to base.  They are the slowest team I believe I ever saw.  Fans use to think Travis Hafner was slow, but he really wasn’t that bad.  Victor Martinez on the other hand couldn’t out run my friend JJ.  And for those of you who know JJ that’s slow.  Prince Fielder makes Miguel Cabrera look small and Cabrera is a fat ass!  The point being the Tigers are not perfect and they do lose quite regularly to everyone but the Indians.  If you take away the games between the two teams the Tigers record would be 55 – 42 while the Tribe would be 59 – 40.  They play 3 more games against each other in Detroit, so the Indians could theoretically make up ground over Labor Day weekend, and there is 7 weeks of baseball left.  That is one game a week.  Don’t forget that on June 11th the Tribe was 5 1/2 games behind Detroit, but by June 30th was in 1st place.  I don’t think the Tribe wins the division, possible but not probable.  I do think if they keep chasing Detroit ultimately they will be in good position to win a wild card spot.  I don’t see this group of players quitting on Francona.

I was talking to my friend John at Thursday nights game.  He thought the Tribe should get into a fight with Detroit.  The way that Detroit has pushed us around lately I am starting to think that’s not a bad idea.  The Indians might want to get physical with the Tigers just to let them know they are not intimidated by them.  I don’t see Francona going there, but by that last game in Detroit if the scenario hasn’t changed… I would throw down.

Nolan Ryan

The Ugly:

  Corey Kluber has been one of the biggest surprises this year for the Tribe.  Kluber came out in the first game against Detroit and pitched 7 1/3 innings of shut out baseball.  He should of won that game if not for a melt down by Chris Perez in the ninth.  I am glad Perez is not talking to the media.  What do you want to hear him say after that mess.  Just shut up and go do your job, I don’t need to hear any excuses.  Any way Kluber was fantastic.  He comes to the game the next day complaining his middle finger hurts.  Now he is on the DL for 6 to 8 weeks.  For a team that needs things to go their way this was a major blow.  Danny Salazar has looked impressive so far but it still can’t be good when you lose one of your best pitchers.  Last night Scott Kazmir left the game early and I am not sure why.  I was hoping the Tribe would sign Kazmir next to a new contract.  Hopefully this is only a minor setback and nothing serious, because the Indians are not in a position to lose starting pitchers in a playoff race.

Stretch Time, Time For A Beer

So here we are at the All-Star break 1 1/2 games out of first and 7 games above .500. I really don’t believe this team is going to collapse like years past. The Tribe is not perfect.  They have their faults, but this team has a drive/desire to win.  The schedule is going to play into their favor and I think a few of the position players can increase their output. Overall they seem to be a close knit team that is having fun. Winning is usually a good recipe for fun, and the Indians have been winning.

It is the so called half way point of the season, and I thought I should evaluate the players so far. I was listening to the radio the other day and the host compared a player to Keystone Light beer. He said he was cheap, but not very good. I got a chuckle out of that and decided I should rate the entire 25 man roster like that. Pull up a case of your favorite and lets get going.

#27 & 26 Genesee Bock – Nick Hagadone & Rich Hill

Image

I remember in college buying a six pack of Genesee Bock beer with my buddy Emery. I can’t think of any reason why we bought it other than we thought the can looked funny. Who in the hell puts Goats and Flowers on a beer can? If the beer was any good they wouldn’t be putting it in a can! I remember that I didn’t like it and I never drank it again. The same can be said for Nick Hagadone and Rich Hill. I don’t like the way they have pitched as the lefties out of the bullpen, and I don’t care to see them pitch anymore like that. O.K. Hagadone is not technically on the roster at the moment, but he has been for the majority of the season. He has pitched so poorly that he is player who gets sent to the minors repeatedly when they need a roster spot to bring someone up. Lefty relief help is the one glaring weakness on this team. Francona has consistently shown faith in both of them, so Hagadone and Hill need to step up.

#25 Old Milwaukee – Ubaldo Jimenez

Image

How Old Milwaukee is made

In high school most of my friends drank Old Milwaukee. When I went to college the same was true. I was not a fan, but when your buying cases of beer and sharing you go along with the majority. I really thought this beer tasted like crap, but it was beer so I kept drinking it.

Ubaldo Jimenez is a pitcher and they keep pitching him. He is not a great pitcher, but he serves a purpose just like Old Milwaukee. To be fair Ubaldo has not been horrible. He actually seems to be pretty good at times. Unfortunately every game by the fifth inning he is approaching 100 pitches or is past it already. The bullpen has had it troubles this year. Ubaldo can take part of the blame, because every time he pitches the bullpen never gets any rest. If this team is going to challenge for the entire year the bullpen needs to improve. The starters going deeper into games will help the bullpen. Ubaldo can not just go out and pitch, he also needs to be good and go deep into games. Who names something “Old” anyway?

Image

Maybe I would have liked it more if this was true!

#24 Busch – Vinnie Pestano

ImageMy friends drank Old Milwaukee, I liked Busch. It was cheep but I liked it. What more can I say. It can’t be that bad, the St. Louis Cardinals stadium is named Busch Stadium. Milwaukee is not named Old Milwaukee Stadium.

Vinnie Pestano is my Busch beer. How can you not like him. He runs from the bullpen to the mound at a full sprint whenever called on to pitch. He accepts blame when he pitches bad and does not shy away from the media. He answers questions honestly and has been dominate the last couple years. Unfortunately this year he stinks. I am not sure if he is healthy, but whenever he comes in get ready for a home run. I like Pestano and I want him to be good, but the truth is right now he is not a top reliever.

#23 King Cobra – Mark Reynolds

ImageKing Cobra’s can mess you up if you drink it, but be careful.

Their slogan is “Don’t let the smooth taste fool you.” Same can be said for Mark Reynolds. Don’t let his awesome home run power fool you. Yea he can mess another team up sometimes, but he can also hit under .200 for two months straight. Better yet he has hit .091 for the month of July. Yikes! Don’t let the 15 homes runs fool you. Four home runs since May 10, He was unstoppable in April/May, but now he looks like he drank some King Cobra. The one position player that I am truly worried about.

#22 PabPBRst Blue Ribbon – Jason Giambi

Pabst Blue Ribbon, the beer that won a blue ribbon at the Worlds Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893! You won an award in 1893 and your still bragging about it. I go to find out that there is doubt whether they even won an award at this event.  If the last time you won was in 1893 then you had better try something else.

Giambi was great at one time and it wasn’t 124 years ago. He is not the same player he once was. That being said I still think he brings a lot to this team. He has about 1/2 the HR’s and RBI’s of Mark Reynolds in 1/3 of the at bats. He produces when runners are in scoring potion and I think he brings a great veteran presence to the team. His hustle and face slide into first earlier this year motivated this team. They went on a nice winning streak after this event. The problem is you can’t have Giambi and Reynolds both hitting .200 and getting everyday at bats.  They need to start producing or the Tribe needs to move on to something else.

#21  Coors Banquet Beer – Nick Swisher

Coors Banquet

Does Coors come in a soup can?

I am not really sure what Banquet beer means. It is cheap and you can supply a banquet if you need to? I just remember as a kid that when anyone went past the Mississippi river the neighbors would give them money to bring back Coors beer. Just because it wasn’t sold here it was special if you got it. Big time free agents don’t generally come to Cleveland. So when one does it seems special. Unfortunately Swisher is not preforming up to his capabilities. He may just be average and not the masher he was when surrounded by superior talent in New York. While not a failure he should be capable of more than he has showed so far.

#20 Miller High Life – Lonnie Chisenhall

Miller High Life

I was told never to mix my Alcohol. That includes beer and champagne

Miller High Life calls itself the champagne of beers.  Uh O.K.?  It still stinks and I can’t stand that crap.  Any half ass  brewer knows you don’t put beer in clear bottles.

Chisenhall has one of the prettiest swings in baseball.  His swing is the champagne of swings.  To bad his production is more like High Life’s taste.  Alright his production isn’t nearly that bad, but it could better.

#19 – 16 Budweiser – Matt Albers, Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw, & Joe Smith

Budweiser I drink Budweiser all of the time. It is not my favorite but I can always count on it. It taste the same and I am rarely surprised. Same goes for the majority of the Tribe relievers. They have pitched pretty well so far. The few mistakes they have made seemed to be at the most inopportune times, or the defense has let them down. I am not to worried about them, but like Budweiser we don’t need to use them every day.

#15 Carling’s Black Label – Scott Kazmir

Black Label There was a time when Carling’s Black Label was one of the most popular beers. Just watch the movie Animal House. A reference is made to this fact in the bar scene. I still will have one when I find it.

A few years ago Kazmir was one of the best pitchers in baseball. He has not been dominate with the Tribe, but you have to be encouraged with the way he has pitched this year.  After all he was out of baseball for a couple of years. I like Black Label and I like Kazmir. I think he only gets better as the season goes on.

#14 Red Stripe – Chris Perez

Red StripeJamaica’s Red Stripe has to be Brody Baum’s beer of choice. That would be Chris Perez’s dog who gets packages of marijuana sent to their house. Perez has had a couple of bad games, but overall he has been o.k. He did spend a few weeks on the D.L. but seems to be over that. The Tribe needs him to be solid with the rest of the bullpen having some problems. If Perez can’t keep it together this team may be in trouble.

#13 Sam Adams Cherry Wheat – Drew Stubbs

Sam Adams Cherry WheatS.A. Cherry Wheat is one of my favorite beers. We carried it at the bar I worked at, but I was the only one who drank it. The distributor kept dropping it because no other bars would buy it. Drew Stubbs is player I really like. Others don’t enjoy his contributions as much as I do. Stubbs doesn’t have the highest batting average and he does strike out often. I just enjoy the other aspects of his game. He is the fastest player on the team, and his speed changes the game. He is a very good outfielder with a pretty good arm, and when he gets on base watch out. He causes the other team to panic sometimes which leads to big innings. He also has some power to hit a home run. Maybe one day more people will join me in enjoying a Cherry Wheat and watching Drew Stubbs.

#12 Yuengling – Asdrubal Cabrera

YuenglingYuengling is America’s oldest brewery. Asdrubal has been a member of the Tribe longer than any other member of the team. Their are a lot of rumors that the Tribe may trade Cabrera. Fransico Lindor is now at double A Akron and could be in Cleveland by late next year. Lindor looks to be a star. Cabrera has had some difficulties especially in the beginning of the year, but he is definitely one of the players I see stepping it up. I do give Cabrera credit that I have not heard any complaining from him with all of the rumors. I think Cabrera thrives in pressure situations and I can see him becoming a force down the stretch in a close pennant race.

#11 – #9 Fosters – Yan Gomes, Ryan Raburn, & Mike Aviles

FostersFosters comes in the big oil cans and you get a lot of beer. Same could be said for Gomes, Raburn, and Aviles. The Tribe has found three players who give them a lot off of the bench.  Aviles filled in for Cabrera when he was out for a month. He can play multiple positions and has some pop in his bat. The same can be said for Raburn who can man the corner outfield positions. Either one can play everyday if needed. Gomes might not be an everyday player, but he is much better than past  back up catchers.

#8 Michelob – Carlos Santana

Michelob
Michelob comes in those fancy bottles that look all high class. In reality I think it’s just Budweiser in a fancy bottle. I expect a lot more out of it. Carlos Santana is pretty good and critical to this teams offense. I just expect more from him, and his defense can be atrocious sometimes. I am waiting for him to hit .300 and be a home run threat every time he steps to the plate. Teams do pitch around him but I am looking for that MVP type player to show up. Santana is probably just what we see, a really good offense player but not elite.

#7 Blatz – Zach McAllister

BlatzI loved Blatz beer.  I could drop those little oblong bottles and they would just bounce.  But whenever I drank it I was worried about what was going to come out the next day.  McAllister was one of the Tribe’s best pitchers before going on the DL with a finger injury.  He had a better ERA than Masterson.  He has done a spectacular job so far.  I am worried about what going to happen tomorrow with McAllister.  If he can come back and continue pitching like before that will be a big boost to this team.  Hopefully he bounces back from his injury.  If he does lets pray he is not a flash in the pan and the league doesn’t start figuring him out.

#6 Milwaukee’s Best – Michael Bourne

Milwaukees bestMilwaukee’s Best was the beer of choice when playing any drinking game in college.  It was cheap and it got the job done.  When you were drinking the beer super quick it didn’t need to be the best.

Michael Bourne came relatively cheap to the Tribe.  He is doing what he does best and that is use his speed.  He plays a very good center field and when he gets on base he is a threat to score from first.  He might not be the best player on the field, but he is just what the Indians needed.

#5 Bud Light – Cory Kluber

bud lightI don’t drink light beer usually.  If that’s all there is I have no problem drinking it.

This is one player I was not expecting much out of this year.  Kluber has turned into one of this seasons more pleasant surprises.  If not for Kluber and McAllister becoming good starting pitcher, this season could have been disappointing.  I wasn’t buying Kluber this year, but since he is here I will keep drinking it.

#4 Labatts – Michael Brantley
labatt

Labatts is my beer of choice. On a day in day out basis I choose Labbatts over any other beer.  It is not expensive.  I like the taste and I can find it in most stores as long as I don’t cross the Mason -Dixon line. It is everything I want. Michael Brantley is my Labattt. He plays a great left field along with being able to play the other outfield positions. Zero errors so far and he is amoung the league leaders in outfield assist. When the Indians need a hit Brantley is the man. He is batting .370 with runners in scoring position. That is 4th in the American League trailing Miguel Cabrera and Chris Davis. The two AL MVP candidates this year. I had a bad experience once with Bradley. If I could just get past that he could be one of my favorite players. I have had a few bad experiences with Labatts and that hasn’t stopped our relationship.  So no more hard feelings Michael.

#3 Guinness – Justin Masterson

GuinnessGuinness is different.   It doesn’t come any darker.  It is a meal in it’s self, and has a distinct taste.

Justin Masterson is not your everyday ball player.  He seems like a player you might actually be friends with in life.  He is funny and joking around all of time.  Last year he got money together from the players to fly Jack Hannahan home on a private plane to be there for the birth of his child.  I think he keeps the team loose while also being a leader.  Not to mention he is having an All-Star season.

#2 Fat Tire – Jason Kipnis
Fat Tire Beer

Fat Tire still has not made it to Ohio. It is the one craft beer I truly enjoy. When I get some I hoard it and drink it only on special occasions. It is in my opinion a great beer. I have been telling you for a couple years now about Jason Kipnis. Like Fat Tire the entire nation has not got to enjoy his play. I think he is an incredible ball player. He doesn’t lead the league in any categories but he does everything. He leads the Tribe in average, hits, triples, home runs, and stolen bases. He is only one behind Santana for team lead in doubles. This guy is a tough player and should become the face of the franchise. His teams have won championships wherever he went, I hope that holds true in Cleveland.

#1 Tequilla – Terry Francona

Francona has been the biggest factor in the success of the Cleveland Indians El Toro Tequillathis year. I don’t think the Tribe would be where they are at today without Francona. The team believes they can win, and they play as a team.  They never look ahead playing one game at a time.  Eric Wedge use to preach about taking it one game at a time, but he never seemed to connect his message with the players like Francona has.  Francona has won two world series in Boston so he has a reputation.  Players respect him and they want to play for him.  I am not sure if the Indians would have signed all of the free agents they did this past winter if not for Terry Francona.  He definitely brought a different way of thinking to the Indians and that alone has been the biggest positive so far this season.

Let’s Get Drunk and Play Some Ping Pong

Yes spring is finally here.   Today is opening day and the Tribe will be playing tonight against the Toronto Blue Jays.  Mark your calendar, 162 games to go plus some hopefully.  It is time to start having some fun!

This has been one of the busiest off seasons ever for the Tribe.  No move was more important than the hiring of Terry Francona.  Francona immediately brought a fresh voice to the organization and a new vigor.  Francona would probably disagree with me, but this move alone could result in a .500 season.  Manny Acta had this team in first place, or within a few games at the All-Star break two years in a row.  If Acta could accomplish that, I don’t see why Francona couldn’t improve upon that final record a little.  Yea Francona had a complete collapse his last year in Boston, but that was Boston.   Everyone jumped ship that season.  The GM left and took the Chicago Cubs job.  Yeah the Cubs who make the Indians look good when it comes to winning.   They haven’t won a world series since 1908.  It has been so long that I think they should change their name back to the Chicago Orphans.  The Boston media was all over the team, especially about chicken and beer. Chicken, Beer, and Pills  Francona had to deal with some of the game’s biggest egos and prima donnas in Josh Beckett, David Ortiz, and the failed Carl Crawford signing.  He dealt with Manny Ramirez the years prior to his final season in Boston.  So Cleveland should seem like a paid vacation to Francona.  I appreciate that Francona wanted to come here.  The comercials on the radio he states how he grew up a Cleveland fan.  Acta choose to come here too over Houston, but here is where the difference lies.  Francona actually has the ability to get free agents to want to come here too.  I am not sure if any of the free agents other than Reynolds and Myers signs here if Acta is still coaching.  After hiring Francona, the Tribe proceeded to spend 117 million dollars in free agency on 1B/DH Mark Reynolds, SP Brett Myers, OF/1B Nick Swisher, and CF Michael Bourn.   The last time the Indians were relevant Trot Nixon was running around the dugout smashing shaving cream pies into everyone’s face after a win.  I get the same feeling again this year.  Francona and Swisher have made the Tribe clubhouse fun.  The team has already put together a Harlem Shake video and Siri spoof.

</a>

This is a complete makeover of the positional players from last year’s team.  DH Travis Hafner is in New York

Hafner before joining the Yankee's DL

Hafner before joining the Yankee’s DL

and will probably be splitting time with Ben Francisco who the Tribe released during spring training.  Now stop for a minute and think about that.  The Tribe signs Nick Swisher from New York and the Yankees take Travis “I might play 100 games DH’ing” Hafner who has to share the DH role with Ben Francisco who was not going to make this team out of spring training.  What in the Wide, Wide, World of Sports is going on here?  Starting 3rd baseman Jack Hannahan is the utility infielder for the Cincinnati Reds.  I did enjoy watching Casey Kotchman play 1st base, but Oh how painful it was to watch him pound every ball into the ground while batting.  I think I can count my hands how many balls he hit out of the infield.  Kotchman is now playing for the Miami (everything must go) Marlins, probably one of the worst teams in the league this year.  2012 starting left fielders Austin Kearns (who was released in the middle of last season and did not sign elsewhere) is playing for the Miami Marlins, and Shelley Duncan is playing for Tampa Bay’s AAA team, Aaron Cunningham was with Texas to start spring training but has sense been released, and Johnny Damon is at home dropping everything and stumbling around his mansion.  (I am going to miss seeing Damon wonder around the outfield and throwing the ball around between innings.  It made me giggle to go the game and watch him in the field.  Thank you Johnny for making me laugh like a little school girl.)  Our utility infielder this year Mike Aviles was the starting SS for Boston and Toronto last year.  So as you can see even if the free agent moves this off season turn out to be horrible the Tribe should be making gains.  DH, LF, 1st base, and 3rd base gave us nothing last year offensively and LF was a mess defensively.  No matter what there will be improvements from those positions this year.

So offensively this team looks to be improved no matter how the year goes.  No more of the entirely left handed lineup that Acta had to trot out last year every game.  The Indians brought in right handed bats in Mark Reynolds, Drew Stubbs, Mike Aviles, Ryan Rayburn, and switch hitter Nick Swisher.  Opposing teams will not have the luxury of bringing in a left handed pitcher this year and let mow down a left handed dominated lineup.  The Tribe only hit 37 HR’s right handed last year as a team.  Reynolds has averaged 33 over the last five years.  The Tribe will be striking out a lot this year.  Every free agent starting positional player signed was in the upper ranks for strike outs last year.  Swisher was 27th in MLB, Bourn 15th, Reynolds 12th, and Stubbs 10th for strikeouts last year.  So get ready for a lot of whiffing.  I do like the speed brought to this team.  Bourn who will be playing CF and batting leadoff has a career .379 on base percentage which is great.  He has 257 steals in the last 5 years which is the most in MLB (Averaging 52 a year).  So he can easily turn a walk or single into a double.  The Tribe also added Drew Stubbs who has averaged 33 steals the last three years to join current players who are fleet of foot Jason Kipnis, and Michael Brantley.   I am going to guess that with all that speed that the aft mentioned power hitters who happen to strike out rather regularly may see a greater majority of fastballs.  The speed and power can complement each other quite nicely.  I believe the fans may see an influx of homeruns this year.  Swisher has averaged over 25 homeruns the last six years, while Mark Reynolds as mentioned has averaged 33 over his career. Not to mention Stubbs, Asdrubal Cabrera, Carlos Santana, Jason Kipnis, and Lonnie Chisenhall who are all capable of 20 HR’s.  Oh and there is this guy named Jason Giambi too.  Not sure why he is on the team other than he has hit a few homeruns in his career, let’s just hope he is not Johnny Damon 2.0.  I always hated seeing the Twins come to town and Denard Span in centerfield.  It seemed that no ball hit to the outfield ever made it to the ground.  Span ran everything down.  The Tribe now has their own version of Span in center and close replicas in left and right.  Bourn was rated as the best defensive center fielder last year by numerous outlets.  Stubbs isn’t far behind defensively, and Brantley is no slouch.  I anticipate seeing nightly highlights from this group in the outfield and I expect our pitchers will not be disappointed.  Don’t walk anyone and keep the ball in the park pitchers!

Pitching is one area of concern.  The improved outfield defense should help, but last year Indian pitchers usually shot themselves.  Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez regularly walked batters (7th and 3rd in the league) and then proceeded to let them steal (1st and 2nd in stolen bases allowed), threw a wild pitch (2nd and 3rd in league) or hit the next batter (1st and 2nd in the league).  Amazing!  The three remaining 2012 opening day starters were WORSE or got hurt.  I am assuming the starting pitching cannot be that horrible again.  Masterson and Jimenez have looked much better this spring.  At least they are not walking batters and then plunking the next one.  Oh yea and Roberto Hernandez aka Fausto Carmona is in Tampa as the 5th starter after posting a 5.33 ERA this spring.  I am going to enjoy watching Fausto on the other team laboring through 30 and 40 pitch innings.  I believe that Scott Kazmir will have a great season.  My dark horse for the Cy Young award.  At least that is what I am hoping for.  (As I write this I find out Kazmir will possible start on the DL, Oh well 😦  If Kazmir has any kind of decent season and Masterson and Ubaldo are not terrible, the Indians may have a shot at hanging around the playoff chase.  They do have some options in AAA in Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco if one of the before mentioned pitchers proceeds to stink or Zach McCallister /Brett Myers falters.  The bullpen once again should be the strength of this team.  Even if one or two players have off years the Indians have bullpen depth in the minors to cover all but epic fails.

Hopefully the Indians can make the entire year as much fun as spring has been.  For the first time in a while people are talking about the Tribe and there is a buzz in the air.  This team opens the season against Toronto who is a favorite to win the AL pennant, followed by Tampa Bay, the Yankees, the White Sox, and Boston.  Tough opening two weeks so a good start would be comforting and help spur on the enthusiasm built in the off season.  The Tribe did make some moves that I believe have to help improve the team.  They also have some wild cards.  Carlos Santana could bust out and become a superstar.  Lonnie Chisenhall could add a big bat to the bottom of the lineup, Asdrubal Cabrera becomes even a better hitter with protection around him, or Kipnis in his second year takes it up another notch.  Ultimately the team’s fortunes lie with how well the starting pitching performs.  Let’s hope they can have some fun and relax.   Maybe McCallister grows in his second year; he has the potential to become a top of the rotation pitcher.  Kazmir becomes the dominant pitcher he was when he came up with Tampa, or Bauer comes up and develops into the Ace he was touted as.   There is the possibility this year that Swisher and company can entertain us and make this one fun summer.  And hopefully a fun fall!

I have been following a web site on SI.com called Extra Mustard.  The site deals with sports related topics on the internet that are usually quite funny.  In staying with my fun summer theme I will try and add some content to each post during the year.  Make sure you check out the videos.

Who knew that Danny Mainus name was so funny?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KgeYpR5wJc&feature=player_detailpage

By the way for those who haven’t heard me and Danielle are expecting another child.  Due on October 19 right around the start of the World Series!