Sweeping a "Fire" Under the Bus
You just knew going into the ninth of today's game that the Tribe would get runners on base and flirt with victory.
Then you realized they have teased us fans all year with a season-changing comeback or a last at-bat win.
As Choo flew out to end the game, I wondered to myself how long can a team find new ways to lose?
- Moves I would make to the roster today... Cut Kobayashi and Dellucci (why is he still playing, we all know that he sucks). Bring in Vizcaino (which will probably happen soon) and call up Jordan Brown/Michael Aubrey and make them your left handed bat off of the bench. Dellucci is a train wreck and there is no room for a team that is 10 games under .500 to even have a roster spot for a 35-year-old, washed-up, can't-bunt, can't-field, can't-hit outfielder.
- Lineup changes I would make...Just move Peralta to third and get it over with. He is eventually going to play there next year and the defense is infinitely better with Cabrera playing short (see Friday's game). Let Valbuena play everyday as he has a flair about him and will get better as he plays more (Friday's game not withstanding). Move DeRosa to the outfield and hope he gets his bat going.
- LaPorta should be playing everyday and it inexcusable that he did not play in one game against Detroit. He is accruing service time and not gaining any experience riding the pine. That is a huge blunder by Wedge.
- Have Shoppach only play twice a week. His swing and plate discipline is a joke right now. Let him catch Lee and occasionally someone else. It's all or nothing with him. Give the other at bats to Garko, he at least usually gets on base.
- New lineup...Sizemore-Cabrera-Martinez-Choo-Garko-DeRosa-Peralta-LaPorta-Valbuena
- Still looks pretty crappy, but at least it shows some promise at the end. Francisco and Shoppach are strike out machines.
- I am done hearing Grady is not a vocal leader. He needs to man up, kick a cooler, yell at some team mates and help will this team to victory. Sizemore is not a young kid anymore.
- Wedge may not be the reason the bullpen blows or the team goes into hitting funks, but a club tends to take on the personality of it's manager. Here are Victor's quotes from after the game today...
In case you missed it, Martinez does not think it's Wedge's fault, which means he does not think Wedge should be jettisoned.
- Isn't it the role of a manager to help promote passion and intensity to help bring a team together? If the manager is relaxed and calm when the results are abysmal, the players may follow suit. It is nice to see Victor defending his skipper, but his comments kind of throw him under the bus. That "Fire" isn't going to come from a player's only meeting. That "Fire" isn't going to come when you can't get a sac bunt down in the seventh inning or when you miss a cut off. That "Fire" isn't going to show up when have got on base once to leadoff a game all season. The only way to catch the "Fire" is to play good, fundamental baseball, create scoring opportunities, pitch with confidence, and have fun for once. Do we really need to bring back this guy or do this after every win to loosen the team up?
- Whether it's bullpen coach Chuck Hernandez (who knows what he does anyways), or the Wedge-clone, hitting coach Derek Shelton, the demeanor, approach, and results of the players these men are supposed to have an impact on are well below acceptable. One or both should be canned just to let these guys here some sort of new voice.
I have a few theories concerning why the lineup looks so out of whack and have narrowed it down to these two main spokes in the bicycle in the Tour De Tribe.
Travis Hafner going on the DL was really no shock to anyone, but I didn't think the team would miss him as much as they have. The team is 3-8 since the last game he played in and are devoid of a true cleanup hitter.
Who knows if Pronk will ever stay healthy for an extended time, but the mere presence of his bat in the lineup lengthened its productivity. Choo is not a cleanup guy at all and may hinder his maturation. Here is what the cleanup hole has produced in those 11 games...
Choo: (8-35, 2 extra base hits) .229 batting average .341 on base percentage .415 slugging percentage .756 OPS 0 Home runs and 5 RBI.
DeRosa: (1-8, 0 extra base hits) .125 batting average .125 on base percentage .125 slugging percentage .250 OPS O Home runs and 0 RBI. Combine the two and here is the production out of the cleanup spot over the past 11 games...
Four hole: .209 batting average .306 on base percentage .367 slugging percentage .673 OPS.
With all the blame going to the bullpen, the cleanup spots' production has been well below average and a glaring hole to fill. Another guy is equally to blame for the teams' struggles.
Grady Sizemore might be hurt. I went to the game Apr. 26 when he collided pretty hard with Trevor Crowe. Grady got up pretty slowly and took a few moments to regroup himself.
He obviously looks fine in the outfield and on the basepaths, but maybe he hurt a shoulder-wrist-elbow during the play and hasn't told anyone or the team is hiding the ailment. We all know how the Indians love to hide injuries as we learned straight from the skipper (See Tribe Town Hall Meeting Part Two for Wedge's answer) in January.
Grady is also a gamer and would be the last to make any excuses. Here is some quick numbers for Grady.
Up until Apr. 26 season stats...269 batting average .367 on base percentage, .564 slugging percentage, .931 OPS.
After April 26th season stats...227 batting average .313 on base percentage, .424 slugging percentage, .737 OPS.
Over his past 12 games... (April 27-May 10) .167 batting average ..237 on base percentage, .288 slugging percentage, .525 OPS. Team Record (including game he had off) 4-9.
These stats are significantly terrible, even for a struggling Grady. Is he hurt or just in a slump? I know he almost took Verlander yard in the ninth Friday, but his swing is looking longer and his plate discipline has gone completely array. Time will tell.
Sizemore and Hafner are two of the most important parts of this lineup (including Martinez). As they go, so does the team.
The best thing about a team playing bad is that tomorrow is another day and yet another potential way to right the ship. The White Sox come to town and hopefully the whole Tribe will decide to show up for once.
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