Friday, September 12, 2008

Tribe baseball is fun again

Long time no see.

And I apologize for that.

The last two weeks have been a zoo on the job and at home - where every conceivable appliance and consumer electronic in my home has given up the ghost.

Just this week I spent three nights on the phone with my satellite provider - their technician trying to guide me through the process of sticking various wires into various holes to make my TV picture come back. After three nights of trial and error, I was able to watch the Tribe tonight.

And what a night to rejoin the fun.

The Tribe put an 11 spot on the board and Cliff Lee put up win No. 22.

I have an e-mail argument going with a colleague of mine in Toronto who is backing Roy Halladay for the Cy Young award - touting his eight complete games (for whatever that's worth in today's game.)

But even my Toronto pal - before tonight's game - admitted Lee would have to have a complete collapse in his last four (now three) starts to even have a chance of blowing the award.

If Lee doesn't win the Cy, regardless of what happens in his last three outings - than the post-season awards count for jack.

A lot has happened since I last posted.

Hafner has rejoined the team. He's 3 for 8 since coming back - all singles. He also is still unable to play DH in consecutive games. And he still has that stiff, awkward swing we got used to seeing in the early part of this season. You've got to say Hafner is very much a worrisome question mark for the Tribe next year.

The same can not be said for Victor Martinez, even though he is hitting just .222 since coming off of the
DL late in August. He's a little rusty, but he seems to have healed up nicely and has shown at least a little power since he has come back.

Some other thoughts on the Tribe, in no particular order.

Shoppach has more than proven his ability to play everyday, with his 20 dingers in what amounts to a little over half a season of at-bats. He's also got a .973 OPS for the year.

The only question is which team will he be starting for next season? Starting catchers who can hit are hard to come by. The Tribe has two.
Shoppach could bring a solid starting pitcher, or quite a haul in a package.

In addition, the Tribe has Carlos Santana - or Victor Martinez Jr. - working his way quickly through the minors. He should be ready to take over for Victor when it becomes clear the time has come for him to move to 1B.

Those are good reasons to consider trading
Shoppach. But, if the Tribe intends to contend next year, I would be strongly in favor of keeping Shoppach, letting him catch most of the time and putting Victor at 1B - where wear-and-tear on his knees, hammy and elbow will be drastically reduced.

Two other Tribesman who have shown themselves deserving of a starting spot next season are Shin-
Soo Choo and Asdrubal Carbera - both playing key roles in the Tribe's second-half resurgence.

I would start
Choo regularly next season and I think the Tribe would do fine to head into 2009 with the same outfielders they have right now. Eric Wedge has done a good job of mixing and matching out there and I see no problem with keeping the same approach next year so long as Choo is out there most of the time. A big bat would be nice, but there are too many other holes to fill (and don't forget Matt LaPorta will be coming on soon enough).

I think the Tribe has the right idea about adding a bat in the infield. My preference would be at 2B, which would force them to move Cabrera to short and Jhonny Peralta to 3B. Peralta has turned himself into a hitter who gets it - all the time - this season and my criticisms in the past of his offensive approach appear no longer valid. But I sure would love to see Cabrera's glove plugging up the SS hole.

The next comment will come as no revelation. I think we've all seen enough of Andy
Marte. Wave bye bye Andy!!

We've seen a lot of good things from the starting
rotation in recent weeks. But that key part of the club is fraught with concerns.

Fausto ever going to find the plate consistently again?

Anthony Reyes has been quite a find. Can we trust the Tribe when they play down his current injury? I'll believe Reyes is OK when I actually see him in the rotation next season.

Laffey? Two question marks for sure. Especially given Laffey's late-season injury, I'd put more money down on Buffalo's Dave Huff for next season. It seems more than clear the Tribe will sign or trade for (or both) an experienced middle-of-the-rotation guy. That is if they are serious about next season.

The best news in recent weeks
out of the bullpen has been the resurgence of Raffy Betancourt. With the two Raffy's looking to be on track and Jensen Lewis acing his test at closer, the bullpen cupboard does not look quite as bare as it did a month or so ago.

I would think the Tribe will try to find a proven closer for next season, but I'd feel better going into next year with Lewis as the closer than I did heading into this season with Joe
Borowski in that role.

1 comment:

the moose said...

good to see you back - thought maybe the tribe fan in yankeeland got kidnappped

I guess it is better being a tribe fan in yankeeland than a yankee fan in yankeeland

next weekend there will be a moose in redsoxland for monday and tuesday games

I will get to see lee go for number 24

hope I dont get highjacked !!!

go borwn -oops thats another blog