Tagged: Terry Francona

Is It Really The Middle Of August?

It is the Dog Days of Summer, at least that is what they say.  It feels more like October.  The Tribe is on their very difficult West Coast road trip, and have upcoming games against Oakland and the Los Angeles Angels.  12 of their next 18 games comes against first place teams (Atlanta & Detroit) or teams ahead of them in the wild card standings (Oakland & Baltimore).  So the weather outside may not be so hot, but for a team trying to make a playoff push things should be pretty warm.

Here is a look back at the week:

The Good:

Asdrubal Cabrera gets thrown out of a game.  Usually that is not a good thing.  Last Sunday the Tribe was riding a 7 game losing streak and they were about to get swept for the second consecutive series in a row at home.  Down 5 – 0 in the sixth inning with two outs, the Tribe bats came alive.  One of those bats was from Cabrera’s replacement Mike Aviles.  Nick Swisher and Aviles both hit two run homers.  Cabrera, who has looked awful lately at the plate and in the field, did the Tribe a favor by getting sent to the showers early.  By one out in seventh the Indians had the lead and stopped their losing streak.

Yan Gomes continues to push for more playing time.  Francona has been working Gomes into the lineup more often.  Gomes has responded by not only hitting the cover off the ball (.429 average for the week), but he is also great defensively behind the plate.  Gomes has thrown out nearly 50% of would be base stealers.

Go Ahead Make My Day

Go Ahead Make My Day

The Bad:

Thanks for Nothing:

I mentioned last week the Indians only needed to make up one game a week to catch the Tigers.  They made up a 1/2 game this week to sit at 6 1/2 games back.  Not bad.  Unfortunately the Indians only went 3 & 3 this week, the big bad Tigers went 3 & 4.  The Tigers leave Cleveland and have a losing week, but the Tribe can only catch up 1/2 game in the standings.  Indians must take advantage of their chances if they want to make the playoffs.

The Ugly:

Other than Gomes .429, Kipnis .273, Aviles .250, and Brantley .250, the offense was putrid this week.  None of the other nine position players batted over .200.  That happens when one of the games you play a rookie pitcher (Andrew Albers) making his second start ever throws a 2 hitter with no walks.  Uh doesn’t this happen always when Cleveland faces a pitcher for the first time.  Even the great 90’s teams had trouble with rookie pitchers.  Note to self –  Next time Tribe faces pitcher for the first time bet HEAVILY on the other team.  That should put an end to that curse.

Mark Reynolds has been released and replaced by Asdrubal Cabrera

Cabrera has been especially weak at the plate for the last month (batting only .175).  Asdrubal has not looked good at the plate.  He is consistently down in the count and swings at everything.  Hence his 3 walks and 20 strikeouts over the last 30 days.  Chisenhall has been just as bad as Asdrubal over the last month batting .176 with 1 RBI.  Michael Bourn who has had a decent year only batted .212 in the last 30 days.  If Bourn doesn’t change his pace his decent year will turn out to an average year.  The Indians can ill afford to have numerous players batting under .200 for any length of time.  Especially when two of those players are batting lead off and cleanup.

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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

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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

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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?

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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.

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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!