Sunday, May 17, 2009

Taking a vacation from the Tribe

Going to be gone for a week - a well-deserved vacation if I must say so.

No Tribe for a week would seem like vacation enough, but we'll be doing Disney - my daughter's pick for her senior-year family getaway.

So it should be a good time.

But before I go, there are number of things to go over.

A week that started out with a bit of promise - the team scoring runs and winning three of four - ended with the Tribe at the low point of a dismal season, at 11 games under .500 and 7-1/2 games out.

The roster moves continue (David Huff and Greg Aquino arriving, Masa Kobayashi and Tony Sipp departing), but the results are the same. No one can pitch. No one can field. No one (except Victor) can hit consistently.

David Huff's MLB debut was one to forget. Seven hits, four walks and seven runs in 3 2/3 innings. One performance does not a career make, but he appears to lack an out pitch - even after getting ahead of hitters. A lot like Jeremy Sowers. You have to give him a few shots, but so far it seems the search for a No. 5 starter - and a No. 4 for that matter - continues.

Two long-time MLB retreads - Aquino and Matt Herges - kept the Rays at bay the rest of the way (with a one-out assist from Kerry Wood). I'll take it, but I wouldn't count on it going forward.

Today's outfield was a joke; Ryan Garko in LF, Ben Francisco in CF and Shin-soo Choo in RF. Is it any wonder the Rays had a bushel full of extra-base hits?

Did Grady Sizemore need the day off? I guess probably so as he's been below the Mendoza line (.167 to be exact) over the past 11 games. But do we have to see Garko out in LF on a day when Grady is not in CF?

I've got a better question. Do we ever need to see Garko in the outfield again. He was awful out there today on balls hit over his head. That's a tough play for many outfielders but Garko wasn't close to making those plays - one of them hit for a double by Rays pitcher Andy Sonnanstine. He did manage to catch one in the 7th after an awkward chase back to the wall - but that one might be filed in the "blind squirrel finding a nut once in awhile" category.

Another thing that is becoming quickly obvious is Mark DeRosa is about as good at 1B as he was at 3B - perhaps worse. The question of where to stick him in the field is becoming a bigger one each day. The Cubs felt his best position was 2B (or at least that's where he played most of the time for them). But I can't help but think that putting him there would just reopen as many holes as were closed by putting Asrubal Cabrera at SS and moving Jhonny Peralta out of the middle of the infield. They need DeRosa's bat, which should become more consistently good at some point. But the question remains, where does he play?

The Rays did all they could to help the Tribe today by sending out a lineup card that had two 3B on it, meaning that Evan Longoria - who actually was supposed to DH and bat third - had to come out of the lineup and Sonnanstine had to hit in No. 3. So the league leader in RBIs comes out and is replaced by the pitcher in the three hole.

Of course that didn't turn out to be as rosy as you might think for the Tribe, as Garko played a can of corn to left into an RBI double for Sonnanstine. Yes Garko was playing well in, but a decent leftfielder has enough time to get under that ball.

And the game was full of controversy. A horrible call on a ball that hit the top of the wall in left took a double away from the Tribe in the top of the eighth. (Click link to see video)

And then there was the bench-clearing shout-and-shove, precipitated by two Kerry Wood pitches- one behind B.J. Upton and one just off his letters. It was supposedly retaliation for a base running indiscretion earlier in the series.

If you are thinking with your head, that's not such a good idea when your down only two and there's a runner already on first . But if you're thinking with the part of the body that puts testosterone into the blood stream, it probably wasn't such a bad move. Something to rally the team a little. Not that it did.

It is becoming very obvious that this organization does not have enough pitching to get the Tribe through this season. You can switch guys from the rotation to the pen or vice-versa at all levels of the organization. But the bottom line is there are just not enough effective big-league arms to go around.

It is time to face facts. This pitching staff, even if it at some point starts to perform at a level closer to what should be expected, is not the kind of staff that allows a team to rip off 9 of 11 or 19 of 25. And with the team already 11 games under .500 that's what it will take to put the team back into serious contention.

I just don't see that happening.

Have a good week otherwise. I should be back online next Sunday or Memorial Day at the latest.


LambBone said...

Garko, Kenny Loften or Carl Yastrzemski in LF. No difference. None would have caught the balls smoked over Garko's head.

You scream about wanting JP at 3B - and now you complain that DeRosa is now playing 1B. These moves are insignificant and you talk like they are key factors.

DeRosa at 1B and Garko in LF isn't costing the Tribe games. Inability if the bullpen to hold a lead is.

Wake up dude and find something real to complain about.

Anonymous said...

Garko was fine in LF on Sunday. The ball hit by Sonnanstine would have been over anyone's head that was playing that shallow (coaches fault there, not Garko's).

I will say this though...I agree, why put him in LF and DeRosa at 1B? DeRosa actually PLAYED the OF last year. Garko is a better 1B 'right now' than DeRosa. I fully believe DeRosa will get better, but the team is better at the moment with DeRosa in LF (or 2B or 3B) than at 1B. Garko should be playing everyday, but at 1B or DH.

Once Hafner is back he should get a start a week in LF or RF. Garko himself says he felt more comfortable moving there than he did when he moved to 1B. The Trop is a tough place for outfielders to get a read on the ball anyways.

I also agree with teh first poster. Garko in LF isn't losing us games. The bullpen is....and Garko not being in the lineup everyday hurts as well.

Anonymous said...

Once I read you saying that fly ball was a can of corn, it was clear that you know nothing about baseball.

Maybe a good OF with a great jump and excellent speed might have caught it. But can of corn? Stupid comment by a blogger.

Also your rip on Francisco and Choo shows more ignorance on your part.

Garko should not be a regular in the OF and if we could trade him maybe we should.

Ron Vallo said...

Well, welcome back to me.

Don't believe I ever used the words "can of corn" Pretty sure I said it was a tough play that was difficult for most. So please don't put words in my mouth.

Also I did not "rip"on Francisco and Choo. My point was simply on the day when your best and regular CF is not in the game, you should not put your least experienced, most slow-footed outfielder in LF. My point was the outfield was a cut below usual at two positions. I merely mentioned Choo because he happened to be one of three outfielders that day. I have no beef with Choo, but you can't put Garko in LF on the same day you are sitting Sizemore.

As for DeRosa, I haven't seen him play at all this week since I've been away, but what I saw of him in his first three games or so at 1B was unimpressive. He's versatile. But 1B is NOT one of the positions he has played in the past - at least not often enough to do it well. My point there was why play both Garko and DeRosa out of position?

Also any moron knows the bullpen has been the reason the Tribe is losing games, but a porous defense with players moving all over and some playing out of position doesn't help matters.

jimmycrackcorn said...

Au contraire, mon frère. Right from the post: "Of course that didn't turn out to be as rosy as you might think for the Tribe, as Garko played a can of corn to left into an RBI double for Sonnanstine." Someone spent a little too much time with Goofy, methinks.

Ron Vallo said...

OK jimmy. you are right.

It appears most agree that Garko shouldn't have caught that ball. I have to admit I was watching with half an eye that day.

I followed that with a quick, sloppy response to the criticism. So E - me, which I still think puts my fielding average well above the Tribe's team defense.

Hope you have been reading long enough to know that my work is usually much better than I displayed in that particular post.

And hope you'll keep reading.