Tribe Talk: As Grady Sizemore Goes, So Go the Cleveland Indians

Samantha Bunten@@samanthabuntenAnalyst IMay 27, 2009

NEW YORK - APRIL 18: Grady Sizemore #24 of the Cleveland Indians on the field during batting practice prior to the game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on April 18, 2009 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/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 consider whether the Tribe’s fortunes are inextricably linked with those of Grady Sizemore, the dangers of incessantly tinkering with a lineup, and the chances of seeing Pedro Martinez don an Indians uniform.

I would like to thank this week's participants Nino Colla 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.       1. Nothing symbolizes the Tribe's disappointing season like the struggles of the face of the franchise, Grady Sizemore. Can Sizemore turn it around this season, and is there a chance that this might help turn around the fortunes of the whole team? Do you see any benefit thus far from Sizemore being dropped to second in the batting order?

Nino Colla: I think Grady is starting to turn it around already. He had that injury that kept him out of the outfield, but since he came back to starting there last Friday, he seems to be hitting very well.

The thing that jumped out at me the other night was seeing him hit a ball up the middle by staying on it and not trying to pull it. I don’t know why he got a little pull-happy, but  maybe the injury got him to get out of it, as I think he's starting to stay on the ball better and has stopped trying to yank everything.

With that, he will start hitting more and probably get himself back into the lead-off spot when Cabrera starts to cool off a bit. And as we know, when Grady goes, so does this lineup.

Samantha Bunten: Thankfully, Sizemore has finally shown some signs of life over the past week. While there is nothing good about hitting .222, batting average is a bit of a misleading statistic and I don't think Sizemore is really quite as bad as the numbers indicate.

Right now what really concerns me is the elbow injury that seems to be hindering the normally super-resilient Sizemore.

As much as I would hate to lose him to the DL, better he has a chance to heal and return to typical form, since it appears the injury may be a big part of what is hampering his productivity. Sizemore also appears to be pressing at the plate, and this is something he needs to work on regardless of injury.

I do think that a healthy, productive Sizemore could serve as a catalyst for the team's improvement in the near future. However, this team needs to figure out how to win even when their franchise player is hurt or struggling.

As far as moving Sizemore in the batting order, I don't think this has been particularly helpful to him thus far, but it does help the team in that it allows Asdrubal Cabrera to bat lead-off where he belongs.

Dave Wiley: Sizemore should have been dropped in the batting order, oh, let's see...so many moons ago that Chief Wahoo stopped counting them. Do I think it helps Sizemore any? Nope. But it helps the team more.

Get Sizemore a personal hitting coach. Make sure his name isn't Conti. Hitting is contagious. The whole team (with the exception of only a few) needs to get out of their slump, not just Sizemore. This was the same ole' same ole' we saw last year. Feast or famine at the plate, no in- between.

222. It was easy to understand why the Indians' brass began the season with a platoon at several positions and a lineup that wasn't set in stone: they wanted to allow unproven players to each have a chance to win a starting job and they needed more time to determine how best to use players capable of playing in different spots.

Two months into the season though, the platoons and the ever-changing lineup just look like more evidence of a team that simply can't get it together. Are you in favor of a regular batting order featuring the same players in the same positions every day, or do you see some value in tinkering with the lineup until the team improves?

Nino Colla: Yes, there needs to be a set lineup, or at least a set defense, because while the versatility is nice, too much versatility can screw with a team. I also disapprove of the way Ryan Garko is being treated and I think that needs to change.

I'm in favor of a semi-platoon, which I'll explain after I give you my lineup: SS Asdrubal Cabrera, RF Shin-Soo Choo, C Victor Martinez, DH Travis Hafner, CF Grady Sizemore, 3B Jhonny Peralta, 2B Mark DeRosa, 1B Ryan Garko, LF Matt LaPorta

Only on the days when Cliff Lee pitches, Shoppach can catch and Martinez can play first. Whenever Hafner comes back, he still won't play more than four days in a row, so that will give the Indians plenty of chances to shuffle in Ben Francisco into situations between left, right, and the DH. That was the ideal situation if you would have asked me a week ago.

But since Luis Valbuena has started to hit, this isn't going to happen. Valbuena is starting to give Wedge a reason to keep him in the lineup, and that complicates things. I'm not a fan of Mark DeRosa at first base. I love seeing him at second and Peralta at third.

The defense is so much better. Sure, it's even better when DeRosa is at first and Valbuena is at second, but Garko hasn't gotten a fair shake, and to me that is just stupidity on Wedge's part. It is the one big error that I think he has made so far that I would really criticize.

Samantha Bunten: I have never been a fan of ongoing platoons, because I've never seen one that truly worked. A platoon should be used only in the early part of the season to allow a favorite to emerge among players competing for the same position, or as a brief, temporary fix to fill in for an injured player.

Tinkering with the lineup is a little different. I'm all for moving things around until you get it right, but using a different lineup every day will never really tell us anything, and the defense should be virtually set with the exception of off-days to spell tired players.

Changing the lineup is fine, but the order needs to stay constant for at least a week in order to tell if it is actually working. Players work off of each other in a lineup, and they can't do that if they're batting before or behind a different person every day.

Dave Wiley: Tinkering is not necessarily bad. On the other hand, throwing a tinker tantrum for two months whilst the team goes down in flames is, in the words of Geppetto as he tried to get Pinocchio going, "Too much Tinkering".

Tinker rhymes with stinker, and stinker describes the team. It is an obvious mathematical progression.

3.  3. Rumors are flying about a possible trade of Mark DeRosa that would allow the Indians to  acquire pitching without increasing payroll. Do you think trading DeRosa would be a smart move for the Tribe?

Is there someone else you would rather see traded, either because they are less valuable to the team at present or because they would fetch more in trade?

Nino Colla: Trading Mark DeRosa would only make sense if the Indians fell out of contention. Right now, it doesn't. They would obviously do this to get pitching and free up the everyday job for Luis Valbuena.

However, this team refuses to give Matt LaPorta an everyday job because they are still lugging around David Dellucci, so why do it for Valbuena by trading a guy that is actually worth a damn?

I wouldn't make any trades for any of the pieces on the major league roster, unless it was a throw-away like Jeremy Sowers, whose value is decreasing by the pitch. No question this team needs some arms, but not at the expense of another position on this team.

I think we learned that after taking Aaron Laffey out of the rotation to fix the bullpen. It helped out the pen, but also weakened the rotation.

Samantha Bunten: Aside from Cliff Lee, Victor Martinez, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Grady Sizemore, I would be willing to consider trading anyone on the roster who might be able to fetch half-decent pitching in trade. That absolutely includes Mark DeRosa.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure DeRosa is a strong enough candidate to bring in the kind of pitching help the Indians need. Teams with a surplus of arms are few and far between. In other words, this is a seller's market.

I don't foresee any team with extra pitching being willing to part with a top tier pitcher for the likes of DeRosa when there will no doubt be a better offer on the table at some point from another team.

Dave Wiley: Well, considering the fact we have David Dellucci as commanding veteran leadership, do we really need Mark DeRosa? Wait, what is that smell? One moment while I shovel up that pile of crap statement…Can't we trade for a hitting coach, or a manager? Maybe if they just tinkered a little bit...

4. 4. In addition to acquiring pitching through a trade, there exists a small possibility that the Tribe might seek help from a currently unsigned player. One name seems to come up over and over again: Pedro Martinez.

Do you think Martinez really has enough gas left in the tank to make a difference for the Tribe? Given the price tag and risk factor, do you think the notoriously conservative Cleveland front office would even be willing to try to sign him?

Nino Colla: I would rather sign Paul Byrd for half of a season at this point. With Jake Westbrook coming back in a month or so, the Indians don't need to invest in a guy like Pedro Martinez who has been sitting around since the WBC ended.

Byrd has probably been sitting around longer, so I suppose I still wouldn't sign either one, but if I had to pick, I would go for the cheaper option.

I could always stick Byrd in middle-relief. Pedro would be a nice addition to the bullpen, but he would never do that. He is stubborn enough to hold out this long for more money, could you imagine his reaction to a bullpen job?

Samantha Bunten: Five years ago, I would have happily given up half our roster to put Pedro Martinez in an Indians uniform. Unfortunately Pedro: Version 2009 is not the same pitcher as the guy who won back to back CY Young awards in 1999 and 2000 and helped Boston to a World Series title in 2004.

There is a reason why Pedro is still available: the asking price makes this a high risk-low reward endeavor, and thus a chance the Tribe front office will never take. At some point this season, some team desperate for pitching will sign Martinez, but it won't be the Indians.

Dave Wiley: Pedro in a Tribe uniform. I have my eyes closed...the picture is hazy...nope, it is just not coming into view. So is it time to replace my contacts, or will this just never happen? Could be the first one, but I'm going with option B: no Martinez in a Tribe uniform because of the price tag.

5.  5. Fun Question of the Week: We can't all be Jeffrey Meier or Steve Bartman, but every time one attends a game as a fan, one has a chance to impact what happens on the field.

Have you ever been to a game where, as a fan, something you did in the stands had even the slightest impact on what was happening on the field?

Nino Colla: While I didn't directly impact the game on the field (I don't think shouting "I LOVE YOU BIG SAL!" had any real impact), I did once sit in front of a guy who directly annoyed the living crap out of one Jacque Jones.

Jones was with the Twins at the time and playing right field. This heckler decided to call Jones by the name of "Jackie" because well, that's what his bright idea was for the pronunciation of Jacque.

“JACKIE!”, he would scream and his friend would follow, “JONES!”.  It would be repeated several times. “JACKIE! JONES! JACKIE! JONES! JACKIE! JONES!”

There was another time someone called Brad Wilkerson a scrub or something like that. Wilkerson air-mailed a throw to home plate. Then later that inning, he booted another ball hit to him and made a shaky throw after he recovered.

Samantha Bunten: My dad seems to have a special talent for this, once startling Albert Belle with a well-timed “Jo-ey!”, but most evident in a situation we now refer to as 'The Dead Spot Incident'.

In the late 1990s, we used to remark on the patch of dead grass in left field that never seemed to go away. During an Indians-Mariners game, for no particular reason, my dad shouted from the home run porch at Randy Winn (then playing left field for Seattle), "Stand ON the dead spot!"

Winn looked up, confused, and then promptly moved about 10 feet to the right so that he was standing directly on the dead patch of grass.

Dave Wiley: True story: I was sitting down the first base line with my two 11 year old nephews right after the “thong sticking out of your pants” became a popular fashion statement among girls who thought it a grand gesture to just show men their undies.

This woman shows up, crouches down near the aisle to talk to someone, and has an orange thong so far up her back she could have used the waistband portion to tie her hair in a pony tail. The nephews thought this was the coolest thing ever, and commentary persisted throughout the section about the thong.

As it turns out, thongs and baseball don't mix. The thong was so distracting that when a foul ball was ripped into our section, it hit an old man in the head (no, not me) because he was too ogling the woman's thong. What was that we were watching? Oh yeah, baseball.

His wife stood over him as the paramedics woke him up and said "See what staring at young girls underwear gets you?!" Oof…double whammy. Always remember: Baseball is dangerous. Keep your underwear tucked in at all times. And, the rose goes in the front.


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