Friday, April 9, 2010

The Worst Play in the World

Before we get started, let me say that the commenters on are patently insane.  Or at least absurd.  People are talking about Jhonny Peralta as if he is a valueless players: one went so far as to call him a "zero-tool player."  Does anyone remember LAST BLOODY NIGHT?  You know, when the Indians were down 3-2 in the 8th inning until a guy hit a double into the gap on a very good pitch by an excellent reliever with two strikes?  Come one, people.  Jhonny Peralta can be frustrating, but he's not a fungus.  Without his clutch hit, we lose on Thursday.  You want to trade one win for the other, I have to ask, "What's the point?"

And it's far from guaranteed that the Indians would have won today's game against the Tigers if he hadn't made the error.  Sure, we would have carried a 2-1 lead, but they scored another run.  Was our offense that potent that we were guaranteed another run?  Okay, maybe Jamey Wright isn't pitching with a 2-1 lead, but ... who's to say anyone else would have done better?  The fact is, the Indians were exhausted and did well to make a game of it, but that play by itself, although very important, wasn't the whole game.

This having been said, it was The Worst Play in the World.

The B-List Lite: 4/8

The Indians beat the White Sox 5-3  AGAIN last night (this time needing 11 innings, and today's game recap features:

  • Why the White Sox aren't a valid test of Justin Masterson's starting prowess
  • A Dynamic Duo of relief pitchers
  • A Dynamic Duo of hitters
  • Smallball well done
  • Smallball poorly done
  • A fruit basket for Ozzie Guillen
  • Tony Sipp leading the team in Witt Points per IP
  • The Thumper Rule applied to Joe Smiff
There are lots of places to watch Tofu Lou Marson bunt, but only one place to read The B-List.

Manny Acta's Attention Span, Revisited

So ... it's probably rude to come right out of the box with a Managerial Head-Scratcher after a very fine victory last night, including several clutch hits, some wonderful relief pitching by guys who were huge question marks coming into the season (Raffy Perez, Jen Lewis), and an extra-inning win on the road in April, but there was one sequence in particular (actually two, but they're linked) that made me wonder if maybe I was bending over backwards in my attribution of Clever Lineup Setting in the Opening Day lineup against Mark Buehrle.

And, of course, it should be said explicitly that it is unusual in recent years for an April Cleveland Indians squad to look prepared, focused, and energetic.  I think this reflects well on Manny Acta (and less well on the previous manager, Nameless McForgotten).

However ...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Link-O-Matic: Minor Leagues, Aaron Laffey, Luis Valbuena

A couple nice posts from Folks I Know:

Tony Lastoria runs The Indians Prospect Insider: he and his colleagues have previews of the Akron (AA) and Kinston (High A) teams up now.

Fellow writer Paul Cousineau chips in his thoughts about last night's game with a nice piece on Aaron Laffey's role.  Perhaps he'll even include me as a "Friend of the Feather" now ...

Nino over at The Tribe Daily runs down why you should be glad Luis Valbuena is your second baseman.

The B-List Lite: 4/7

The Indians beat the White Sox 5-3 last night, and today's game recap features:

  • Another look at Fausto Carmona's start
  • Why Asdrubal Cabrera is a good choice for leadoff
  • Clutch hitting
  • Klutz hitting
  • The horror of Mike Redmond "hitting"
  • Why Juan Pierre is like a neon tetra
  • Chris Perez and his theoretical fastball command
  • Terror on the basepaths!
  • Great Dionysus' colostomy bag
You may read other recaps, but none of them are The B-List. Joe Bob says, "Check it out."

Why this Fausto was better than the previous Fausto

Looking briefly at the pitching line for Carmona last night, one number sticks out more than any other:

6 BB

Yeah, that's a lot of walks.  8 of Carmona's first 10 pitches were balls.  The ChiSox scored a run in the first without the benefit of a hit.  Carmona gave up 3 runs on ONE HIT.  So his command is cruddy again, and it's the same old thing, right?


Well, maybe not.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

News flash: Manny Acta more attentive than blogger

I remember Bill Simmons writing something recently to the effect that chats frustrated him because the format encourages him to rattle off a quick response to a question that deserves more thought. I can sympathize with that: I'm better given a few minutes to craft a response, which is part of the reason that I don't do chats. (The other part is that no one has ever asked me to do a chat.)

Anyway, I sort of participated in a quasi-chatlike phenomenon with ESPN's "BBTN Live" thing, in which my Twitter feeds were displayed more or less realtime during the Indians-ChiSox opener, and almost immediately, I wrote something without sufficient thought that I now look back on and realize, "Dude ... that was a dumb thing to say."

Let's go to the videotape:
Stacking three lefties 2-3-4 against Buehrle seems ... misguided.

Well, it is true that Mark Buehrle is left-handed. And it is true that Cleveland's 2-3-4 hitters on Monday were Grady Sizemore, Shin-Soo Choo, and Travis Hafner.

The B-List Lite: 4/5

For the newcomers to this blog, I actually have been writing game recaps for for a while now (this will be my fifth season). Some of my better posts will be there, so I'll simply highlight them here and point you there to read the whole thing:

1) The Play™

As a long-time Division rival, I have a grudging respect for Moon Face Buehrle without actually being capable of liking him. I mean, he’s a White Sok. How can you like a White Sok? Do you have a favorite flesh-eating bacterium? “I generally hate necrotizing fasciitis, but that Vibrio vulnificus, man, I really admire its craft.”


In the game log, the second batter of the fifth inning says:

Lou Marson grounded out to pitcher

This is true, but only in the sense that the Romans were “somewhat rude to Carthage.”

Monday, April 5, 2010

Jake Westbrook's Rehab: Work in Progress

"How reliable is he?" asked Fenchurch in a sinking voice.
"How reliable?" asked Arthur. He gave a hollow laugh. "How shallow is the ocean?" he asked. "How cold is the sun?"

-- Douglas Adams, "So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish"

With that history, we can begin to understand what we're looking for. Early in spring training, Carpenter is looking good, but his command is lacking. That's a very typical situation, and in line with the few appearances he made last season in the minors. The general rule is that a pitcher with shoulder problems will exhibit a loss of velocity, while elbow problems are often first seen with a loss of control. It's thought that this is related to proprioception, the ability of the body to sense where it is in space. (Close your eyes and hold your hand out. Turn the palm up. Move it to the side. See, you can do that because you have normal proprioception.) With Tommy John survivors, a common complaint is "my hand doesn't feel connected to my arm." It's that way because it's now connected in a different way, and the proprioceptive connections have to be rebuilt.

-- Will Carroll on Chris Carpenter, March 11, 2009

So here's the thing: clearly Westbrook did not have his finest outing in the opener. Consider that Westbrook recorded 10 Witt Points (*) in just 4 innings of work with FOUR wild pitches, FOUR walks, and TWO plunkings of Carlos Quentin. Even though one wild pitch was bad enough to allow a run as Quentin raced home from third, none of the four wild pitches were as bad as the upper-thigh-high non-sinker out over the plate that Paul Konerko used to produce the first two runs.

(*) "Witt Points," named for noted blunderbuss Bobby Witt, are for feats of inaccuracy: WP, BB, and HBP

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Contractural Obligation: Best & Worst in 100 words

In the best case scenario, Westbrook returns to form, Carmona’s control from the winter/spring is real, Masterson finds a pitch to retire lefties, Talbot and Huff are better than replacement level, Sizemore is healthy and MVP-caliber, Choo maintains his gains, LaPorta improves, Raffy Perez returns to usefulness, the back end of the bullpen (whomever they are) holds leads, the infield defense improves, Valbuena doesn’t crater, Peralta has a 20-homer year, far fewer total schmoes see playing time, Carlos Santana is up by June and is excellent, and team health is excellent, yielding 85 wins and the Division title.

In the worst case, Westbrook has control and stamina problems, Carmona spits the bit, other starters channel 2009, the bullpen can’t hold leads, Peralta is traded, Wes Hodges brings his frying pan to third, Sizemore gets hurt, LaPorta becomes Austin Kearns, no catcher posts a .600 OPS, Valbuena craters, Brantley is Jason Tyner, the Korean army abducts Shin-Soo Choo, mass ptomaine poisoning on Dollar Dog Night, the Cavs lose Game 7 of the Finals on missed free throws by Ilgauskas, LeBron signs with Chicago, Progressive Field burns down, the Browns draft Tim Tebow, and everyone dies. Pretty typical Cleveland fare.