Thursday, July 3, 2008

Big Pow-wow in Cleveland

I'm heading to Cleveland for a long weekend in an hour or so.

Contrary to what you may think, I have not been invited to participate in the big pow-wow being planned for today by the Tribe brass.

Tribe manager Eric Wedge and his coaches will be meeting, and Wedge will also participate in a conference call with GM Mark Shapiro and other tie-wearing types. Wedge of course is in Minnesota while the front office is - in the front office, back in Cleveland.

This is supposed to be a wide-ranging meeting to discuss where to go from here on the player front.

First up will be the bullpen.'s Anthony Castrovince reports the entire pen may be in for a shakeup - starting with the closer role.

But, Castrovince reports, the closer spot is not the only one under scrutiny.

"Other changes might come simply in the way Wedge uses his relievers. He wants to back off Masa Kobayashi, Rafael Betancourt and Rafael Perez a bit, as all three rank among the league leaders in appearances. -Anthony Castrovince of"

Revamping of the bullpen would mean more work for Edward Mujica, Rick Bauer and Tom Mastny. It could also mean the recall of Jensen Lewis and Brian Slocum.

Slocum has a 0.69 ERA in seven appearances since being converted to a reliever at Buffalo. Wedge tells he likes what he sees from Slocum.

"He's coming on strong. He's always had a good arm. I think the move to the bullpen will help him out. His performance has been high on the radar."

And, reports, Jensen Lewis' return may be near, according to Wedge.

"I don't want to put a timetable on [Lewis' return]. But he's starting to show some consistency and his arm strength is better. He's starting to locate the ball."

I have no problem with any of this. It is time for experimentation. What I do have a problem with is Wedge's refusal to use these guys earlier. It has been his pattern to use just the top three or so guys - heavily - while letting the rest of the relievers rot in the pen.

The impression is Mujica, Mastny and Bauer suck. When they get in the games it sure seems that way. They may in fact suck. Or could it be that it's difficult to pitch when you come in once every nine days and try to pitch three innings in a game that your team is already losing? It's pretty difficult to stay sharp that way. Wedge has always done a horrible job of keeping everyone fresh and useful in the pen.

Bauer was an effective closer in Buffalo. If he were to be used like a closer (an inning a day in 4 or 5 out of every 7 days) might he pitch like a closer, or at least something resembling a closer?

Maybe now is the time to find out.

Kobayashi doesn't seem to be the answer. Overall he seems to have been effective, but he blows up nearly as often as Borowski. The only difference is his blowups come as three-run seventh innings that put the game out of reach, rather than ninth-inning blowups that end ballgames. Borowski's disasters - as numerous as they are - stab you in the heart and are more easily remembered.

Tom Mastny - out of desperation - closed games toward the end of 2006 and did a decent job. I don't think he's closer material, but if he pitches regularly in spots that matter in the 7th or 8th inning, he is likely to be more consistent than he has been in the past.

Maybe Jensen Lewis was sent to Buffalo to boost his fastball because he is the fallback position at closer. Just a thought. And it certainly is a thought worth taking a look at.

The last two months must be about giving some of these other arms a chance, just to see of they are of any real use to the team for next year.

They can't be any worse.

Of course today's meeting will not stop at the bullpen.

The organization will undoubtedly be discussing names they know are available for CC Sabathia. The names that Shapiro has actually discussed with other GM's, not necessarily the names we've seen all over the papers and the blogosphere.

There would, I would guess, be some discussion about an infield realignment, with Asrubal Cabrera coming up to play shortstop and Jhonny Peralta moving to third. That is pure speculation on my part, but I know I would not only discuss it, but do it. Then you have some idea if Peralta can actually play the position when making plans for next year.

Failing a move of Peralta to 3B, I'd put Andy Marte there for the rest of the year and let him make or break his opportunity.

Either move would displace Casey Blake, but that is not a problem. Blake is probably being sought by more than a few teams and could very easily be gone soon. If not, he should get the bulk of the time at DH unless and until Travis Hafner gets back. He can also play 1B and the outfield, as you know, so he wouldn't be hurting for ABs.

Since I wasn't invited to today's meeting, those are my thoughts.

I was in Cleveland on my annual summer visit on the day of the big Robbie Alomar deal and the Carlos Baerga deal before that. Just happenstance. Could lightning strike a third time?


the moose said...

the big pow wow got rid of joe blowowski - that took a lot of thought

bobbydb19 said...

The revamped bull-pen looked pretty awesome last night. Wow! Never saw so many fireworks.

the moose said...

I hope CC likes bratwurst, cheese and pabst blue ribbon beer

milwaukee here he comes - anybody want my CC Cy young bobblehead and baseball cards

what will happen to rons fantasy team without CC

Ron Vallo said...


it is quite apparent that CC does enjoy a brat every once in a while.


you stole the idea for my posting this morning - the early "success" of the bullpen revamp.

the moose said...

Marte gets an RBI !!!!!

Maybe Borowski wasn't the problem but a scapegoat - boy that bullpen looks bad

next question - will they loose a 100 games

the moose said...

this is terrible - can we end the season

bobbydb19 said...

Before the All-Star break, they may have the worst record in all of baseball.

Heading to Yankee Stadium on Tuesday to watch a team with some fire (Rays) vs. the Yankees. I will obviously be scoreboard watching. Why? I have no idea. Maybe to see how CC may pitch in his last game as an Indian.

Ron Vallo said...

Tuesday may be too late on CC.