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TribeTalk: Are the Cleveland Indians Really the Worst Team in Baseball?

Samantha Bunten@@samanthabuntenAnalyst IMay 14, 2009

NEW YORK - APRIL 19:  Cleveland Indians manager Eric Wedge and Grady Sizemore #24 argue with the umpire about a Jorge Posada #20 of the New York Yankees pinch hit two-run home run in the seventh inning of their game against the Cleveland Indians at Yankee Stadium on April 19, 2009 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  The hit was reviewed by instant replay, and was ruled a home run.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Welcome to Tribe Talk, where Bleacher Report's Tribe fans weigh in on the ups and downs of the Indians each week throughout the season.

This week, we take a closer look at the Indians' disappointing start to 2009 and wonder, is the Tribe really baseball's worst team?

I would like to thank this week's participants, NinoColla and Dave Wiley, for their contributions.

This discussion is open to all, so please feel free to comment below and pitch in your thoughts on the questions we're addressing this week.

Go Tribe!

1. As of Monday, the Indians had the worst winning percentage in baseball. There is no question that the team is severely under-performing, but is the Tribe really the worst team in baseball? Does any member of this team deserve to be exempt from criticism for disappointing performance?

Nino Colla: No... this is clearly not the worst team in baseball given the talent they have. I don't think anyone was wrong about what they are capable of. It's just not clicking right now. There is no one that is above criticism.

Not even Victor Martinez, who said there is a lack of "fire" and "energy" on the team. Well he's the source of fire and energy and even though he's hitting better than anyone in baseball, he could step up a little in the leadership role.

 

Samantha Bunten: As bad as they've been, I don't think this team is anywhere close to being the worst team in baseball. I realize that winning percentages would say otherwise, but the talent present on this team is too great for them to remain in the league cellar for long.

If anyone deserves to be exempted from this criticism it would be Victor Martinez, but only in terms of his performance on the field. Since a big part of this team's problem is a lack of leadership and energy, Martinez is as guilty as the other 24 guys on the roster of falling short of expectations.

 

Dave Wiley: Personally, I do not think the Tribe is the worst team in baseball, despite the winning percentage. After watching them get red hot last year, and seeing some of the moves they made, I told myself, all they have to do is not dig themselves too deep a hole at the beginning of the season.

Well, the hole is getting deeper. I don't think they can go through May without some sort of a run, or the hole will basically measure six feet deep, and they'll be buried for 2009.

 

2. Of all the problems facing the Indians this year, the disaster that is the bullpen appears to be both the most damaging and the toughest to fix.

Other than throwing out the whole thing and starting over, what is the single best move the Tribe can make at this point to fix the bullpen?

Nino Colla: They can't make any more moves other than the ones they are making. They just need Rafael Perez and Jensen Lewis to right themselves. They can only do that by putting them in that position to be able to do that. Lewis needs to stay up and work through his problems, because for him it's all mental and makeup.

Perez meanwhile will benefit from going down to Columbus and fixing what he needs to fix by just pitching. He can't go out there and just pitch in the majors, it won't work.

 

Samantha Bunten:As much as he may not have cared for it, moving Laffey to the pen was probably a good move. Laffey has pitched pretty well so far this season, and the bullpen was sorely in need of another lefty.

Additionally, the Indians are expected to announce the acquisition of Luis Vizcaino, who was designated for assignment by the Cubs, as soon as May 14. This should be a tremendous help to our relief squad as well.

 

Dave Wiley: Not a clue. The bullpen will probably fix itself, but it will be a matter of too little too late. Starting pitching going deeper into games is the first type of hamburger helper I'd be buying for the bullpen. Now that I think about it, I'm a lefty...hmmmm...Open tryouts? Sitting on the couch eating Cheetos, I'm always saying...I COULD PITCH BETTER THAN THAT!

 

3. With a almost a month and a half of the 2009 season in the rear-view mirror, we can begin to evaluate the Tribe's major offseason moves. Thus far, what is your opinion of the Indians' acquisitions of Kerry Wood, Mark DeRosa, and Carl Pavano?

Nino Colla: Well Carl Pavano believe it or not has probably been the best addition so far. That isn't a knock on Kerry Wood, he just hasn't had a shot to be used all that much. He can stabilize the back end of a pen, but if the guys leading up to him aren't any good, that isn't his fault.

DeRosa, on the other hand, has been a little inconsistent, although he does seem to be knocking in some runs. Pavano on the other hand has really settled down and has given the Indians a chance to win every time out aside from that disaster in Texas.

Samantha Bunten: Surprisingly, the Indians' best pickup of this offseason appears to be Carl Pavano at this point. Pavano is better than his 6.45 ERA indicates—WAY better—and looks to be a solid middle of the rotation guy.

DeRosa has been the biggest disappointment. His .239 average is almost 40 points below his career mark, and he looks like he's pressing every time he comes to the plate.

As much as his overall performance has been a disappointment though, he has shown flashes of solid hitting, so I believe he will get better. As for Wood, I don't think we've seen enough of him to say for certain, save opportunities having been few and far between.

 

Dave Wiley: I liked the Kerry Wood pickup, but would have loved seeing Lewis remain at closer. He had the "IT" factor, I think. Carl who? DeRosa should still work out.

Sure he's only batting .238, but that just means there is nowhere to go but up. That or Travis Fryman puts a whammy on all who take over third base since his departure.

 

4. The team held a players-only meeting last Saturday following a 4-0 loss to Detroit. Do you think this indicates that the men on the field, who have looked flat and lost for most of the season, are going to do a better job of stepping up and taking responsibility?

Do you think David Dellucci's comment that "no one is more frustrated than the 25 guys in here" rings true?

Nino Colla:They better, or else nothing more will happen. I think Dellucci is correct, because that's how all 25 men on the roster should feel. I believe it. But they are the ones that can actually do something about it.

Kerry Wood, David Dellucci, Mark DeRosa, Victor Martinez, Travis Hafner when he's there, same with Jake Westbrook, and at least on the field Grady Sizemore, all have to step up and lead more. Casey Blake, Joe Borowski, Paul Byrd, CC Sabathia, they are all gone.

 

Samantha Bunten: Let's hope so. This team has a lack of leadership and a lack of charisma, and that shows on the field and in the win column. I would like to believe this meeting was a sign that the players want to step up and save themselves, but the fact is that Wedge MADE them have the meeting.

That doesn't indicate the individual players are taking on any ownership of this themselves.

I certainly believe they're unhappy with their performance, and I believe David Dellucci meant what he said, but if they're truly more frustrated than for example, me, they aren't doing a very good job of showing it.

Dave Wiley:Uhhhhh...No. The owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers is probably more frustrated than the 25 guys on the Indians. Frankly, they should be frustrated. After all, we are getting David Dellucci quotes? YIKES!! A guy who should have been gone last year is our fearless quotation leader?

If you gave me the choice of 1) Putting Dellucci in charge of the team from a player perspective, 2) Sliding into second base through an ant colony of red fire ants wearing only a speedo and covered in some kind of food related item that attracts said red fire ants, or 3) Catching swine flu from losing a game of poker where the bet was kissing a pig on her little piggy lips...I'd have to say... what was that second one again?

 

5. Fun Question of the Week: Where is your favorite place to travel to see the Tribe play on the road? What opponents' stadium would you like to visit for a Tribe road game that you have not been to yet?

Nino Colla: I've only seen the Tribe play on the road in the old Three-Rivers stadium against the Pirates. I've seen the Pirates at PNC and I've been to Miller Stadium in Milwaukee. I'd really love to see PETCO Park in person and if the Tribe were playing, all the better.

 

Samantha Bunten: I like Fenway for the history and the electric atmosphere. Camden Yards is a great place to see a game as well.

I would like to see every major league park eventually (I've hit about a third of them so far). Right now I'm especially interested in going to Busch Stadium in St. Louis because the Cardinals have such a great fan base, and I would also like to make a trip to Safeco Field in Seattle soon.

 

Dave Wiley: This question couldn't be any easier. Yankee Stadium. The old one was great. I watched from behind home plate in old Yankee Stadium as the Tribe got blasted 22-1, then headed over to watch the Cubs play the Mets the following afternoon and saw Sosa blast a home run trying to keep pace with McGwire.

So I would say new Yankee Stadium hands down. No, I will not be sporting any Indians attire, nor will I don Yankees gear. "Live to see another day" and hopefully someday the Indians win the World Series.