Monday, July 16, 2007

What is wrong with Cliff Lee?

Time to fire the manager!

All right, just kidding.

It is time, though, to find out what's wrong with Cliff Lee.

The short answer is the home run, due to lack of control.
Lee is giving up homers at a higher rate this year than at any time in his career. He's given up 16 in 81 innings including tonight's pounding. That's one every five innings, or nearly two per game. You're not going to win much that way.

Last year Lee gave up one homerun every 6.7 innings. In 2005 - his best year with the Tribe - Lee allowed fewer than one dinger every 9.2 innings. That's how you go 18-5.

Back to this year. Lee has allowed homers in all but three of his 13 starts. Five of those 13 starts qualified as "quality starts" by MLB standards, though two of those five just barely made it - meeting the minimum requirement of six innings pitched and three runs.

In 2005 and 2006, Lee walked 2.3 batters every nine innings. This year he's at slightly more than three per nine.

Lee, of course, missed all of April with a pulled muscle in his rib cage. So you could look the other way in May when he gave up 22 runs in 35 2/3 innings, or about a 5.50 ERA. In June he appeared to be rounding into shape, pitching at an ERA just over 4.50 but putting together three consecutive quality starts from June 18 to July 1.

But in his last two starts Lee has given up 12 earned runs in 9.1 innings. So the theory that he was bad in May because he was behind everyone else doesn't hold. He's been bad simply because he's been bad.

Not sure what choice the Indians have but to let him ride it out right now. But with Lee pitching so poorly and Jake Westbrook just so-so, the starting pitching is suddenly a concern. All the more reason Mark Shapiro better find someone to pitch the middle innings.

Another thing becoming more and more clear - Fernando Cabrera is not going to provide any answers to the middle reliever problem.

He was torched tonight.

One-third of an inning, five hits and four runs. But these were not your garden variety hits. One homer, three doubles and a sharp single, with a sacrafice fly thrown in for good measure - the only out he got.

This comes on the heels of a two-inning, two-run outing on July 6, which included four hits and two walks.

In eight outings, from May 29 to July 4, Cabrera gave up only three runs in 11 innings and appeared to be turning a corner. But it now seems when he turned that corner he ran head on into a Mack truck.

The question again is what do you do with him. You can't pitch him in anything but a mop-up role. Other teams know you can't send him down to the minors because he's out of options.

In a one-on-one trade right now the Tribe is at a serious disadvantage. At this point they will be lucky to get the proverbial bag of balls.
True Confessions:

I admit to leaving the Indians behind at 11-2 tonight. How 'bout you? I let the kids have the high def TV to watch that team from the Bronx. Normally the good TV is saved for the Tribe. At least I still control something in my own home.

I apparently have a faithful reader. A guy named Moose. He keeps reminding me to watch out for the Twins. Here's something worse to ponder. The Yankees, with Phil Hughes heading back to the rotation sometime in the not-to-distant future, are only seven games behind the Tribe for the wild card spot. Just six back in the loss column. And now, with that in mind, I have to try to go to sleep.


moose said...

10 runs and cant win thats bad .
some decisions need to be made and soon about lee and cabrera - can we send them both to the disabled list

the sox will get great enjoyment out of beating the tribe - they arent done yet if konerko and dye heat up

the pitchnig matchups favor the sox the next 2 nights

need I remind you - here come the twins

Anonymous said...

Have not seen much of the Tribe this year and I'm guessing I didn't see the best of them Monday night. Knowing the way the White Sox have played this year, they will stumble and hand the next two games to Cleveland, so don't despair, Tribe fans!

latrell sprewell said...

Beginning of the end, baby. Next week vs Boston & Minny, that wild card lead shrinks faster than George Costanza's tallywhacker in the pool. Sets the stage for the weekend of Aug. 10-12, when the Yanks come to Tribe town and move into the wild card slot. And I know from choking - just ask P.J.

Ron Vallo said...


interesting you should mention that August series at the Jake. I will be in Cleveland for that weekend visiting family and will be at some or all of those games. i hope your dire predictions are as off balance, as you seem to be