Thursday, August 20, 2009

Why we still watch

Wow. Wasn't that fun?

Just finished watching the Tribe take it to the Angels tonight.

If you're anything like me you ask yourself nightly, Why am I still watching these guys?

The games mean nothing for this season.

And, as we've learned the hard way time and again in the Wedgie years, what's happening now probably won't mean a heck of a lot for next year either.

But, we keep watching because nights like tonight keep the flicker of hope alive within us.

It's easy to picture Justin Masterson slicing up one of the game's best offenses next year, with a huge assist in a tight spot from Tony Sipp.

Sounds like a formula for a lot of wins in 2010, doesn't it?

And then there was that sixth inning, with everyone contributing - top to bottom.

The vets on the club contributed - with Travis Hafner doubling with two guys on, driving in one of the runs and later scoring on a sacrifice fly. He added an RBI single a couple of innings later.

You can just see Hafner, his shoulder in much better shape, knocking in runs in bunches next year.

Jhonny Peralta had three hits, with Sizemore, Cabrera and Choo each contributing two. Even Andy Marte had two hits, though one was a checked swing roller.

Matt LaPorta 2.0, making his first appearance since being recalled, had a key hit in the heart of the seven-run sixth, knocking in two and adding another ribbie later. And can't you just see LaPorta at the heart of many a rally next year?

It's hardly an every-night occurrence, this team hitting on all cylinders. But it has been happening more lately.

On the surface, Tribe fans - me especially - are curmudgeons and pessimists. But the truth is, with me - and I'm betting with you - way down deep inside we still believe that some day, some way, we will make it to the promised land and it's nights like this that contribute to what some might consider a delusion.

Why else would we be watching and then writing or reading about it when it's over?

(Full disclosure: I did spend an awful lot of time in the hot sun today.)


Anonymous said...

Agreed man. They've been playing great. They need to get off to a decent start next year. Even 5 games UNDER .500 at the all-star break can put us in contention next year. If we were at 5 games under now, I think we could have a shot. The White Sox's are selling everything and the Tiger's and Twin's aren't that great. We need Hafner to hit for power and LaPorta to follow suit slightly though. Hafner is the key to having any contention thoughts.

Anonymous said...

I've been watching the Indians since the mid-50's, and I'm here to tell you that it will be a long time before the Indians will do what they did in the mid-90's.

This doesn't bother me much as I spent most of my adult life in LA and saw some very good teams there. With MLB's lack of cable revenue sharing, it makes it impossible for teams not in large markets to keep their star players. I can't follow a 30 team league when star players keep moving around....most of the teams are playing guys I never heard of. So I've become a big fan of the NBA and NFL, where the field is level, and the stars usually stay with their teams.

From what I can see of the Indians, Mark Shapiro is doing nothing that wasn't done between 1960 and 1993 when the Indians were never even in a pennant race. He's trading established players in their prime for prospects. The Indians always did this, and it never worked. That only works if you augment it with players coming up from your farm system as most of the acquired prospects are going to fail. But Shapiro has not proven in 7 years that he can bring up many prospects. And they brag about his trades because most of the guys playing he got in trades. So what? They are one of the worst teams in the AL thanks to his trades and the other actions he's taken.

Good luck diehard Indian fans. I've moved on (I don't follow the Browns either, who still look and act like an expansion team). The Cavs are wonderful, and thanks to cable and the internet I can follow teams not in Cleveland on a daily basis.

Anonymous said...

Taking the Browns score more or less than 11 tomorrow like the Indians did last night? lol

There are reasons to be very optimistic about the future. I actually feel this team is in a better position to win than even the teams of the 90s.....why?


Jon Hart was a good GM that did a lot for this team...but he was TERRIBLE at getting pitching after the 1995 season (it was like he got brainwashed by all those runs). I mean, we lost the 1997 World Series in a tight Game 7 3-2 in extras (as we all know)....but why were we even playing a Game 7? We scored 11 runs in game 3...and lost! We scored 7 runs in game 5....and lost! And the worst part, both were home games! ugh.

This current tribe team/system has far and away more/better pitching to help the big league club.

There no such thing....but the Tribe is testing the boundaries of having too much starting pitching for their upper levels.

Barring a trade....consider how things could look next year (and this is very likely, not exagerrating).

At the ML level?

Carmona, Westbrook, Laffey, Masterson, Sowers


Huff, Rondon, Carrasco, S. Lewis, Lofgren

At AA?

Kelvin De La Cruz, Jeanmar Gomez, Eric Berger, Scott Barens, Connor Graham

Plus you've got guys like Bryan Price who should be ready for AA at the start of the year and holdovers like Josh Tomlin and Ryan Edell (though I think both should be moved to the bullpen).

You'll have at High-A Kinston guys like Nick Hagadone, Jason Knapp, TJ House, and possibly even Alex White!

These rotations (other than the ML one) are STACKED for their levels.

The future is extremely bright in Cleveland.

Throw in the positions players like Santana, Chisenhall (the steal of the 2008 draft), Weglarz, Mills, Brantley, LaPorta, etc......and you've got a great mix of young talent.

This system may be even better than the ones we had in the early 90s!

Ron Vallo said...

see what I mean about the streak of hopefulness in us all.

Dave said...

I'm not a curmudgeon, or a pessimist. But I live baseball and the Tribe has been my team since the 1960's. That being said, these performances mean nothing because Wedge will not focus on getting things right in spring training. Wedge needs to go... followed by Shapiro.

Anonymous said...

How exactly is anything that happens to prospects after they are brought up Shapiro's fault?

Last I checked, it's not Shapiro's job to get the most out of them and help them develop. It's his job to get them into the system...and he's done a better job of it than ANY GM in baseball the last 7 years with the exception of a very select few (Atlanta and the Rays have done well).

Consider Marte was ranked a top 10 prospect in all of baseball. We got him for what? A so-so CFer? yeah, terrible move by Shapiro.

You can thank Wedge for destroying him.

Michael Aubrey was a top 15 all of baseball....injuries destroyed.

We'll see how LaPorta does....played well in AAA.....hopefully Wedge doesn't destroy him too.

Getting Santana was one of the biggest steals I've ever seen in a trade.

Anonymous said...

If Shapiro goes, this team will be absolutely screwed.

Best GM in baseball (or at least top 3).

Way, WAY better than that overhyped hack in Boston.

Dennis said...

I think Shapiro has done well with what he has to work with, which is a cheap, tight fisted owner. Why he bought the Indians if he didn't have the cash to back them up, I'll never know. Wedge has to go, look at all the guys who flourish once they get away from him. His handling of Marte and Phillips are perfect examples. Everyone cannot be the kind of hitter he wants them to be, they have to be their own players. I would put money on Marte becoming a better than average third basemen if he leaves the Indians, but we won't see it because Wedge won't leave him in the lineup long enough to find out. Why is Gimenez even in the lineup? Because he is like Wedge? Well Wedge never made it to the bigs for very long, and while that doesn't stop him from being a good manager, something is. He is not learning from his experiences and the players under him don't advance. Time for him to go! And for a real manager, not Lovullo or Hargrove!

Anonymous said...

I agree with most of what you said Dennis. Wedge needs to go. He's had long enough to prove he can get ML players ready to play and develop the young talent given to him, and he's failed miserably on both fronts.

I disagree, however, about getting a 'real' manager. Hargrove would be a PERFECT fit for this club next year.

We NEED an experienced manager to be brought in for 2 years. Promote Lovullo or Fryman to be the bench coach, or whomever the Tribe wants as the manager of the future.

Tribe failed epicly by naming Wedge the manager when they did. You should NOT bring up a manager from AAA and make him manager. It rarely works.

Take the 90s teams under Hargrove. He won the PCL (when our AAA club was in Colorado Springs) and everyone thought he was gonna be named manager....but he wasn't. He was promoted to be on the ML coaching staff though.

Instead, the hired John McNamara to be the manager. He was definitely over-the-hill as a manager...but did bring a World Series appearance (1986) and loads of managerial experience.

You don't think any of that rubbed off on Hargrove?

Tribe did the same thing when the fired Hargrove. They named Charlie Manual the manager and promoted Joel Skinner...the presumed manager of the future to be on the major league staff and learn.

AAA managers make almost ZERO bullpen/pitching decisions. The pitching lineups are predetermined by the front office and ML staff. They want their young guys to get regular work and set up schedules for them to pitch on. The lineups are similar too provided there are no injuries.

It's really quite easy to be a minor league manager (not saying coaching the young guys is easy, just the mangerial decisions).

You NEED to bring them up and let them see how things work at the ML level before throwing them in the fire. Tribe did this before with GREAT success.

They need to do it again.

Only guy i'd be ok with bringing in as a manager from outside other than Hargrove is John Farrell. He's worked at the ML level now for a few years and has a good understanding of how things work.

But barring him, bring in Hargrove to groom someone while we rebuild.

Worked before, and will again.

Anonymous said...

The only place I've found to really gripe about Shapiro's performance in the last few years is in his inability to build a decent bullpen two years in a row. No, there was no way for him to know that Smith would take so long to get his control his order, that Wood wouldn't have any in the first place, that Lewis would lose his or that Raffi Perez would forget how to pitch entirely. That said, we all saw the debacle unfold, and he spent half the year picking through other teams' garbage to no avail; the only reason the 'pen has looked relatively competent lately is because Smith finally got his act together at the same time that Chris Perez and Sipp have been halfway decent. When Shapiro figures this out somehow, the team will be way better from year to year.

Anonymous said...

Is it fair to compare Mark Shapiro to Frank "Trader" Lane? That sure seems like it when it comes to trading popular players. What does it matter if those players that he gets develops, they'll be traded away for more prospects.

That said, I don't feel he's done a satisfactory job with the team. If you can't win in the easiest division in baseball, then something's wrong.

I'll also state that I feel he would sooner give up on a season than do what it takes to bring a championship to Cleveland.

Anonymous said...

why do we watch??? because we are gluttons for punishment. we hold onto that everlasting hope that maybe "this" is the year, only to see the team stumble out to an 0-5 & 1-7 start which turned into the 6th losing april in wedge's 7 years as manager of this team, thereby destroying whatever hope we might have had. the tribe then traded away all their top players for a few decent prospects which is then followed by a resurgence in their play as all the young, hungry and spirited players parlay their youthful exuberance into a renewed sense of pride leading to a strong finish, thereby keeping wedge's head off the chopping block. talk about being on a treadmill. i say enough of this insanity (doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result) and get rid of the one constant in all this mess: eric "the genius" wedge.

Richard said...

We are also Tribe fans stuck in the limbo of Red Sox and Yankees...
We watch because they will always be our team - we still yell, groan, swear at them - but we will never switch to the Yankees or Red Sox.
There's always next year.

Ron Vallo said...

well said Dave!