Sunday, August 17, 2008

Tribesman looking good under the microscope

It's been a rough week as far as posting goes.

I have been having serial outages with my Internet, requiring the "cable guy" to come out to the house twice to fix things. Or least to bring the outages down to a minimum.

My Internet provider is a huge cable company headquartered here on the East Coast and owned by a family named Dolan. Same family, different branch. This branch owns the Knicks and the Rangers as well. Need I say more?

They must go after the B-list pole climbers during the free-agent season in the telecom business.


There have been some interesting developments with the Tribe since the last time I have been able to log onto my computer with enough confidence to think I might actually be able to complete a full post before my service goes out.

For now anyway, it seems the Tribe has a new closer.

Compared to what we've seen most of this season and last year as well, Jensen Lewis seems almost "lights out" in the role - thanks mostly to a little more pop on his fastball, and what appears to be a bit of a stomach for the position.

In 4 outings as the closer, Lewis has allowed only 3 hits over four innings, notching 3 saves in 3 save situations.

He got into to some trouble today in the 9th, but that was mostly because he started the inning off by giving up a dunker to right-center that landed between 4 players, none of whom could really have gotten to the ball.

He may be nothing more than the guy who fills the role for the rest of this season, but he seems to be worth a long look out there.

Another trend we've noticed - Ryan Garko apparently doesn't like sitting on the bench. Since being benched for one game and the better part of another for an uncharacteristic lack of hustle, Garko has hit .406 in 32 ABs over 9 games. He's hit safely in 8 of those 9 games and has 2 hits in 5 of the games. He's also driven in 11 runs in the 9-game stretch.

In case it has escaped your notice, Franklin Gutierrez is putting up quite a month so far in August. In 43 ABs , Gutierrez is hitting .349 with an OBP of .391 and a slugging percentage of .605 for an OPS of .996. It would be nice to have a glove and arm like that in the lineup regularly next year but one month does not a season make. Still this little surge gives you a bit of hope for the guy anyway.

With a very hot August, Ben Francisco has his overall numbers up to a respectable level for an MLB outfielder - though they are definitely still too light on the power side. Francisco is hitting .345 for the month, but with only 2 HR and 6 RBI. That brings his season average to .288 with 12 homers and 45 RBI. For the season his OBP is .345 and SLG is .468, for an OPS of .813

And then there's Asdrubal Cabrera, who is hitting .289 since be recalled from Triple-A almost exactly a month ago. His OBP is an even .400, while his SLG is .431 for an .831 OPS.

To me, Cabrera has gone a long way toward showing he can make the adjustments required for success in the big leagues and pretty much erased that question mark hanging next to his name at the All-Star break.

Cabrera, more than the others, has me believing he is the real deal and worthy of a starting role (please God let it be at SS) next year.

One other guy who is clearly making the Tribe's decision for them - but not in a good way - is Andy Marte.

When Casey Blake was traded, Marte was hitting .186. Since the July 26 trade, Marte is hitting .179 with 1 HR and 6 RBI. He's also been caught out of position a few very obvious times at 3B and seems to have to think a bit too long about where he's supposed to be and what he's supposed to do for a guy who wants to play in the major leagues.

I think Marte should be chalked up as a great big swing and a miss and we should just be thankful to have gotten Kelly Shoppach for Coco Crisp. That alone is a winning deal, as it has turned out.

In addition to Lewis on the pitching side, Anthony Reyes has been solid in his two starts since coming over from St. Louis and up from Buffalo. He's allowed only 3 runs and 16 runners in 12 1/3 innings. He's got, probably, 7 more starts to go so let's reserve judgment, but the early signs are good.

Jeremy Sowers has not yet been able to put it all together for a full game, but he did have those back-to-back starts where he was nursing a perfect game into the 6th inning. And, in his last two starts he was able to overcome early troubles to go on to pitch decent games, so he may have something to offer next year as well.

I think that bring us up to date. There have been some good signs since the Tribe began next year's spring training about 8 months early. Let's hope we see more in the final weeks of the season.

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