Saturday, February 9, 2008

The day we've been waiting for

Well the good news is that spring training will be starting next Friday.

That would be GREAT news if I were heading down to Florida myself for six weeks, but as far as good news goes, I'll take it.

It's been a mostly quiet off-season for the Tribe. I won't rehash the whole thing here, but here's a quick summary.

They signed a legitimate new member of their bullpen and a few sore-armed possibilities for various roles on their pitching staff (either in Cleveland or Buffalo) - the latest being Brendan Donnelly and Scott Elarton.

They also added a utility infielder Jamey Carroll.

They tried and failed to get the biggest bat on the trade market this winter - Miguel Cabrera - who went to division rival Detroit instead.

They also tried to obtain the second-biggest name on the pitcher trade market, Dan Haren, but he'll be throwing baseballs out in the desert this season.

They looked into a couple of other possibilities - most notably Jason Bay - to add pop to their outfield, but no dice there either.


So they head of the Winter Haven - for the final time - mostly to shake off the rust of the winter and the memories of the final three games of last year.

David Dellucci, who will be platooning in left field this season after a nearly-season-long injury last year, told MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince the Tribe will have to approach this season the way they did last year and put last season's playoff collapse behind them.

"The difficult part is we will hear it all season. There is a desire to come into Spring Training wanting to win the World Series as soon as you get into Spring Training. But you can't do it. It's a completely different year. You can't play Spring Training games the way you played at the end of the season. You've got to take your time and let everything progress, just like we did last year.
"We got where we were because we weren't worried about the standings." --David Dellucci quoted on MLB.com

On this he is so right.

The Tigers notwithstanding, the Tribe faces two huge challenges - both of which can mess with the psyche - as they head into the season.

They have to put thoughts of last year - both the 96 wins and the playoff collapse - behind them. They start the season with zero wins and they have to fight the notion that those 90-plus wins will just re-appear this season. But they also have to forget about the flop in the playoffs which could produce a hangover into this season if they don't put it our of their minds.

In addition, they face the problem of high external expectations. After finishing tied with the best record in baseball last year with the Red Sox, the Tribe will be expected by their fans and by the national media to do it again.

We saw how that worked in 2006, after the strong year the Tribe put in 2005 - which ended in a collapase when it counted most.

But this team is two years older than the one that came to spring training in 2006, and much more familiar with pressure.

Still they showed in the last three games of last season that they are not impervious to pressure and the way they handle it this year will determine what kind of year lies ahead.


I myself think it will be a year that goes well beyond the end of September.

MLB.com has a pretty succinct capsule of all the teams as we near the start of training camp. Click here for their take on the Tribe.

1 comment:

moose said...

cousin ron - you are more optimistic than the moose. what concerns me about the indians is
left field, righrt field, third base, SS, second base and borowski
I think they will be OK in SP with CC, fausto, westbrook but then will byrd repeat or be suspended - and who will be #5 sowers, lafferty, or lee - if lee doesn't make it he has to be traded cause he will be a cancer in the clubhouse. lets hope sizemore, vicotr, garko, and haffner will be OK

concerned with cabrera will he slump

tigers will hit the ball and so will the sox but pitching is suspect for both of them - forget the twins and KC may beat them out.

in the east its the red sox and yankees and everyone else orioles rebuilding but toronto and tampa will hit

in the west looks like LA and Seattle will be better with bedard - texas and oakland - el stinko !!!!