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 discuss the impact of the Indians’ injury epidemic, ponder the uncertain future of Fausto Carmona and play make-believe General Manager.
I would like to thank this week's participants Scott Miles and Jeff Smirnoff 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.
1. Just when the Tribe was starting to look better, the team was hit hard by the injury bug. Even the seemingly indestructible Grady Sizemore is now on the DL.
Should we be worried all the injuries will push management toward a sell-off? Do you think the Indians have the depth to keep their season from suffering further from the injury plague?
Samantha Bunten: Whether this is realistic or not, I will be following my usual plan of refusing to give up on the season until the Tribe is statistically eliminated. The fact that the AL Central is so bad and the Tribe is only seven games out and very much in the mix means I can justify this sort of blind hope.
However, given the spate of injuries the team is suffering, it may be time to face the music. We have nine players on the DL. Nine. GOOD teams can't recover from losing over a third of their roster to injury. Why on earth would the Indians be able to do it?
As for the sell-off, I think it may have been inevitable anyway, though this may speed up the process.
For what it is worth, I think a sell-off would be foolish at this point. The last thing the front office should be doing right now is alienating the seven people left who actually go to games.
Scott Miles: As I started typing my response to this question, I actually felt something pop in my elbow. Eric Wedge isn't going to play me in the field, but he's going to let me continue to be an unproductive part of the lineup for the next two to three weeks before finally putting me on the DL.
A sell-off seems inevitable. DeRosa will be gone soon. Pavano will too, provided he keeps pitching well. These players are safe: Grady, Victor, Cliff, Choo, and Asdrubal. Everyone else is fair game.
And no, nothing I have seen from the bench or farm system leads me to believe that the season will get any better without all of the guys on the DL. Although I suppose it can't get much worse than having the worst record in arguably the worst division in baseball.
Jeff Smirnoff: I do not think that the injuries will push the front office towards a "sell-off", but the injuries definitely hamper the Indians' ability to get back into the AL Central race. If anything it may provide an excuse to not make a changes in the management (front office and field) that are direly needed.
2. Let's play make-believe General Manager: What two moves that are realistic (no, you may not trade Jeremy Sowers for Roy Halladay) would you make to try to save the season? And what player would you acquire if reality were no object?
Samantha Bunten: Realistically, I would be focused purely on relief pitching. As appealing as it is to go after a starter, one starter can't save us. We need long relief and set-up men, pitchers who can preserve a lead when we actually get one.
I would send DeRosa to the Braves (since they're rumored to be interested) for some bullpen help, and I'd consider sending mid-level prospects to a team like the Orioles since they have a surplus of decent pitching they might be willing to deal.
If reality were no object, my first instinct would of course be to go after a marquee starting pitcher. Halladay or Santana, or even Roy Oswalt if he would waive his no-trade clause. However, one pitcher won't save the season, as we need to do more than win one out of five games.
Thus, I'm going after someone with a HUGE bat—maybe if we get a player who can knock in four or five a game, we can put enough on the board to just out-slug somebody.
I would also focus on someone young and resilient who might actually last a few seasons. Since reality is no object here, I’d like to get Evan Longoria, Ryan Braun, or Chase Utley. I would be happy to exchange Andy Marte for any of these players.
Scott Miles: I'm going to cheat here and just go with my ideal everyday lineup: Garko at first, DeRosa at second, Asdrubal at short, and Peralta at third. The outfield will be LaPorta in left, Francisco in center and Choo in right. Victor catches and rotates with Shoppach and Carroll at DH.
This way the offense stays pretty balanced and you give LaPorta a chance to develop in a season that has no hope anyway. The pitching staff is just an absolute mess.
If reality was no object, I'm getting Roy Halladay for Jeremy Sowers. And Johan Santana for Masa Kobayashi, while we're at it. That'll help.
Jeff Smirnoff: With all the injuries that have occurred, two is not enough. In hindsight, signing Adam Dunn and Orlando Hudson would have been nice. Selling high on Kelly Shoppach would have also been a smart move.
3. Fausto Carmona looked like an ace in the making during his splashy 2007 debut. Since then, he doesn’t seem to be able to buy a win. Is it time to throw in the towel on Carmona? Is there any chance he can still be the pitcher we once thought he would be?
Samantha Bunten: If Fausto wants to have any chance of re-establishing himself as a pitcher to be reckoned with, he should follow the sage advice of Crash Davis: "Quit trying to strike everybody out. Strikeouts are fascist, plus they're boring."
Truer words have never been spoken, especially for the likes of Fausto, who can't strike out anyone at all with the stuff he's throwing right now. Carmona needs to gain control of his entire repertoire of pitches and stop relying solely on his sinker.
Instead of trying to overpower every hitter he faces, Carmona would do well to just pitch to them. He might discover he can get people out that way.
Scott Miles: There is definitely time for Fausto to regain the form he had in 2007. He needs to have the revelation that CC had when he was developing into the ace: sometimes it's best to back off a little. You don't need to throw that fastball 95-97 mph to have success.
Slow it down a bit, hit your spots, and don't worry about overpowering hitters. That's not his style—he needs to let hitters beat that sinker into the ground, and not try to be perfect with that pitch or try to rack up a ton of strikeouts.
Jeff Smirnoff: There is, but he has to trust his stuff and develop some complementary pitches to accentuate his sinker. Hitters can lay off of it now because he can not control it, and he has no supplementary pitch to keep them honest. Hence a lot of walks and a lot of balls up in the zone.
I question whether he can mentally overcome the past two years.
4. The amateur draft is fast approaching, and the Tribe has the 15th overall pick in the first round. What should the Indians focus on acquiring with their first (and subsequent) draft picks?
Samantha Bunten: Fortunately for the Tribe, the 2009 draft is heavily populated by pitchers at both the prep and collegiate level. The Indians need to go after a college pitcher (ideally a lefty) with their first pick—in other words, someone who can be ready, like, yesterday.
Subsequent picks should be spent on prep pitchers with a high upside that the Tribe can develop for the future, and possibly a middle infielder or two to increase the organization's depth in that area.
Scott Miles: This is so tough to say because the MLB Draft is unlike the ones in the NBA or NFL, where guys are ready to contribute right away. Let's say a team has a glaring need for a shortstop. Well, by the time you draft one, it will be three or four years before he's major league ready. And by then you have plenty of other problems.
I would say the biggest need in the organization is power arms (yes, I know what I just said about Fausto, but let me explain). Right now, we have one pitcher who can overpower hitters: Kerry Wood. Every other pitcher is in the 88-92 mph range.
This is fine when your pitches have a ton of movement (like Fausto) or you can command the strike zone (like Cliff). But if you're not really good at either one (like the rest of the staff), you're really SOL, to be honest.
The Indians used to bring some flamethrowers out of the 'pen in the 90's. Right now, the Tigers have Rodney and Zumaya; the White Sox have Jenks; the Twins have Nathan. You want to turn around the bullpen? Have some guys with howitzers attached to their shoulders come in. Couldn't be much worse.
Jeff Smirnoff: Pitching, pitching, pitching. The Indians have a glut of position players in the minors. They needs to develop and cultivate impact talent on their pitching staff. Both in the rotation and bullpen. CC Sabathia is the last homegrown pitcher they have developed, and Julian Tavarez is the last reliever before Raffy Perez. Yikes!
5. Fun Question of the Week: What is your best idea for a fun, creative promotional item the Tribe could hand out in the future?
Samantha Bunten: Since the Indians are (unsurprisingly) having trouble putting butts in the seats, I would run a promotion that allowed fans to buy any seat in the house, and then upgrade to the best available seat (free of charge) upon arrival. No one should be sitting in the nosebleeds and looking down on 20,000 empty chairs.
Scott Miles: Die Hard Night...free admission to anyone who is still alive and can remember when the Jake was rocking during the 455-game sellout streak.
Seriously, though—cheap tickets. You want to bring fans to the stadium even when the team stinks? Lower ticket prices. How much revenue could the team be raising off ticket prices when you're at 50 percent capacity?
Get fans back in the stadium. Let them blow their money on concessions and merchandise that they wouldn't be spending in the stadium anyway.
Jeff Smirnoff: I am a big hat and t-shirt guy. I think free hat/t-shirt day where you can pick a hat or t-shirt of your liking would be cool and go over well with fans.