Saturday, April 23, 2011

Choo & Santana Off to Slow Starts

Entering Saturdays game in Minnesota against the Twins, the Indians are in first place in the AL Central with with a 13-6 record.  They rank first in the American League in runs scored with 99, first in batting average at .269, first in on-base percentage at .341, and fourth in slugging percentage at .418.  They've managed to  accomplish this with  #3 hitter Shin-Soo Choo and  #4 hitter Carlos Santana struggling to find themselves at the plate.  

Carlos Santana is in his first full season in the majors and has hit in the cleanup spot in every game he's played.  Unfortunately for the Indians, he has not responded favorably posting a slash line of .215/.325/.338 with 2 HR, 10 RBI, and has struck out 13 times while drawing 11 walks.  Manager Manny Acta has said that fans should get used to seeing Santana in the cleanup spot because he is going to be there all year. Good news for the Tribe and Santana is that it appears that he may be coming out of his slump.  He is currently on a five game hitting streak and he has driven in a run in each game.  Additionally, 3 of his 5 hits have gone for extra bases.

Like Carlos Santana, Shin-Soo Choo is off to a slow start.  Choo is currently posting a slash line of .203/.265/.311 with 2HR, 10RBI, and has struck out 21 times while drawing only 7 walks.  Is this something to be alarmed by?  Has Choo had a history of starting slow?  For whatever reason, Shin-Soo Choo is off to an uncharacteristically slow start.  Although the Indians are finding early success, they will need Santana and Choo to contribute in the middle of the order to keep the good times rolling.  


The Indians Lineup vs Lefites

Manny Acta will have decisions to make each time the Indians face a left handed starting pitcher.  Acta has 4 everyday starters who are left handed in Grady Sizemore, Shin-Soo Choo, Travis Hafner, and Michael Brantley.  Below are the Indians splits versus left handed pitching for each player on the roster:

Today the Indians take on Brian Duensing of the Minnesota Twins.  In his career he has held left handed batters to a .195/.250/.248 and right handers have hit him at a .278/.338/.416.  The Indians have right handed bats in Adam Everett, Austin Kearns, Shelly Duncan, and Lou Marson on the bench today.  Did Acta make the right call with his lineup or is he simply working off of "gut instinct" and going with the hot hand?  Below are Duensing career numbers vs the Indians:

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Grady to Return To Leadoff Hitter?

Sizemore or Brantley....Brantley or Sizemore.....Both?

The purpose of a batting order is to produce runs by getting your best players the most plate appearances and protect the big bats in the lineups.  The Indians have a decision to make soon on whether to bat Grady Sizemore in the leadoff position or drop him in the order and keep Micheal Brantley in the leadoff spot.  Brantley has done an adequate job through the early part of the 2011 season many fans feel it would be a mistake to disrupt the lineup by inserting Grady into the leadoff while dropping Brantley.  

I believe that Manny Acta will insert  Grady Sizemore into the leadoff spot in the lineup against right handed pitching when he returns but Grady will either receive a day off or drop to 6th or 7th in the lineup against lefties.  For his career Sizemore has a slash line against RHP of .292/.382/.521 while only a .230/.320/.380 against LHP.  Brantley in his young career is much more evenly split.  Against RHP Brantley has a slash line of .269/.323/.335 and .278/.322/.361 against LHP.  Additionally, a player loses approximately 18 PA for every position in the lineup that he drops and I believe Manny Acta would rather give the extra at-bats to Grady Sizemore than to Micheal Brantley.  Finally, Brantley and Orlando Cabrera could form a nice wrap around at the bottom of the lineup providing plenty of opportunities for Sizemore to show off his power and drive the runners in.  

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sal "The Barber" Maglie & The Cleveland Indians

Sal Maglie won 119 games in his big league career and spent the majority of his career with the New Yrok Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers.  He also spent parts of seasons with the New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals, and  had a very brief stint with the Cleveland Indians in between his time between the NY Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers.  Maglie seemed to find himself involved in some of the most memorable games in major league history none bigger than the opposing pitcher in Don Larsen's perfect game.  Much of the detail for this story was from the book PERFECT by Lew Paper, a book I give high praise to.

October 3, 1951 - Worked the first eight innings of the playoff game between the NY Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers.  Left the game after 8 innings trailing 4-1 and watched from the clubhouse as Bobby Thompson hit the "shot heard round the world" sending the NY Giants to the World Series. 

September 29, 1954 Was the game one starter for the NY Giants against the 111 win Cleveland Indians in the 1954 World Series.   He was replaced after 7 innings with the game tied at 2 with two men on base and Vic Wertz due up.  He watched from the dugout as Vic Wertz drove a ball deep into the right field at the Polo Grounds and Will Mays make "the catch"..  

October 8, 1956 Was the starting pitcher for the NY Giants in Game Five versus the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1956 World Series.  He took the loss and watched from the dugout as Don Larsen struck out  Dale Mitchell to complete the only perfect game in post-season history.

If you are like me and like stories of guys that overachieve and take interesting routes to success, then Maglie is your type of player.  He was a very popular basketball player in the Niagra Falls area but his true love was baseball and ge turned down a scholarship in basketball to Niagra University in order to draw a paycheck to help his family and spent weekends playing semi-pro baseball.  

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Reminder to Tribe Fans Why Josh Beckett is a Punk.

The Indians don't have to look to far back for inspiration to battle Josh Beckett this week.  One day after the Indians lost Carlos Santana to a knee injury, Beckett looked to use thug tactics to inspire his teammantes to a final push for the pennant.  I guess using Indian hitters as targtet practice wasn't much of an inspiration as the Red Sox watched the post-seaon from the same perspective as the Indians.  Let's hope this version of Tribe hitters send Beckett to the bench early.

Could my being a Cleveland Indians fan be a leading indicator for my disdain of Josh Beckett?  Lifetime against Cleveland Beckett is only 3-4 with a 5.56 ERA, so that's probably not it.  O.K. I may be masking some bitterness behind those stats, Beckett was the 2007 ALCS MVP by going 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA, 18K and 1BB against the Tribe (ALCS GAME 1 RECAP VIDEO HERE).   But how can I justify  being angry at someone who backs up their attitude with dominating performance (PAINFUL GAME 7 WRAP UP VIDEO HERE).  Disliking Beckett solely for that reason would show me to be a sniveling pompous arrogant horses ass like Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe and that is a fate I wish on no man.  My problem with Josh Beckett goes directly to his actions on the mound on one particular evening where he earned the moniker "punk" beyond all reasonable doubt. 

Are there better terms other than punk to describe Josh Beckett?  I did a cursory search on and my handy Merriam Webster Dictionary and found several that may fit the bill: goon, hoodlum, thug, poser, bully, and strong-armer.  I chose the less abrasive word punk but I really wanted to go with the word that sums up Josh Beckett best and that is "Bitch".  I'm certain Kenny Lofton would have some better words to describe Beckett.  Check out the Facebook Group that I stumbled upon while preparing my thoughts: Kenny Lofton can and will beat Josh Beckett's ass

Honorary Punk 2010: Victor Martinez:

"We really didn't try to hit anybody. If you don't pitch [inside] in this game, you're not going to pitch for long," Martinez said. "That was just a two-seamer that just ran in to Duncan and we didn't really try to hit him. And Choo, not either."

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Indians and the Unfriendly Month of April

One of the most used phrases uttered by broadcasters around opening day is that baseball is a marathon not a sprint.  Getting off to a good start was not a benchmark of the Eric Wedge managed teams and that slow-start tradition seemed to continue in Manny Acta's first year as manager.  Getting off to a good start in 2011 would be a nice jolt of positive energy for an organization attempting to bring fans back into the fold after three very disappointing seasons both from a on the field performance standpoint and a public relations perspective.  The Indians 2011 schedule in the month of April includes 14 home games and 13 road games.  The Indians do not face any of last seasons playoff teams and have 7 games against the K.C. Royals.  Can Indians get off to a better start than they did in 2010?