Monday, August 25, 2008

Hafner's sore shoulder and other Tribe matters

They're saying Victor Martinez will be back up with the Tribe very soon.

That's the the good news.

The not-so-good news - Travis Hafner's shoulder is barking again.

According to the Plain Dealer's Web site, Hafner was kept out of the lineup down in Buffalo yesterday and today because of pain in his shoulder.

This would seem to be a setback by any definition of the word.

But that just ain't so, said Tribe skipper Eric Wedge to the PD.

"I wouldn't call it that at all. He's moving forward, but we're still trying to build a foundation for him. He hasn't played [in the majors] in 10 weeks. It's part of the process. He's been building up. We want to find that mixture of work days, batting practice, whatever it might be, and playing."

How can you call it a setback? He's perfectly fine - at least for the first couple of innings each night?

"He feels good early in the game, but he needs to feel better later in the game. He didn't swing a bat for a long time, but he definitely feels better than he did before."

I don't know about you, but I'm convinced. I'm especially confident that everything's fine because the Tribe has been so forthcoming about injuries so far this season.

Anybody besides me think that maybe it would make sense just to shut Hafner down for the rest of the year and hope to God a full off-season of rest will make him a viable option for next year?

Anybody getting the feeling that that is anything but a sure thing?

--
While we're talking about shutting folks down, shouldn't the Tribe consider it for Masa Kobayashi?

The guy has made 5 appearances this month and hasn't been effective in any of them, including tonight when he allowed the Tigers to tie the game at 3-3 in the 7th after taking over for Zack Jackson.

Kobayashi is clearly out of gas and one has to wonder if it made sense to sign a guy whose history has him pitching a lot fewer innings than the typical MLB late-inning reliever pitches each year. Maybe he'll fight his way through the wall he's hit and be ready to take on a full MLB work load next year. Maybe, and maybe not.

--
Just watched Jensen Lewis put up his 7th straight save and the Tribe put up their 8th straight win. This game can still be fun.

--
Which brings us back to Zach Jackson, who had his best outing so far for the Tribe, scattering 7 hits and allowing 3 runs (thanks in part to Kobayashi) over 6 1/3 innings. The outing brought Jackson's ERA down to 4.91, though he is still looking for his first win with the Indians. Tonight certainly makes you wonder if there's something to this Jackson guy, but based on his mediocre body of work in the minors you have to still assume that he's not on the A-list of prospects.

--
I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Grady Sizemore - with two homers tonight - joined the 30-30 club. He's at 31 homers and 34 SBs. Is 40-40 possible? It would be fun, no?
--

I'll be heading down to DC for the next three days (with a quick stop at Camden Yards tomorrow night). So this will be it until the weekend. Let's hope the streak is at a dozen by then.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Watching the trees, missing the forest

Since the Tribe bagged the season about a month ago with the CC trade most of us have been watching the team through a microscope rather than a wide-angle lens.

It only makes sense.

This season is shot.

The only thing that matters is who is making a case for themselves to be on the squad next year, when - hopefully - enough holes will be filled to put the Tribe back in a pennant race, if not the post-season.

We've been busy examining how each individual player is stacking up against his perceived competition for next year. Or worrying about certain positions where no one seems to be stepping up. (Yes Andy Marte we're talking about you.)

Terry Pluto has done a lot of that recently in the Plain Dealer, including today's paper. The same can be said for Paul Hoynes in his offering today.

On the national Web sites, Ken Rosenthal is among those who have been looking into the future of the Tribe and other teams. His most-recent offering about the Tribe examines where the pitching staff may be heading.

In the blogosphere, Paul Cousineau of the The DiaTribe has two pieces this week that deal with the future makeup of the team - one here, and the other one here.

We've delved into it ourselves recently.

It is only natural that anyone with an ounce of foresight and curiosity would try to relieve the current unpleasantness by looking ahead to see how things might work out a little better in the future.

But while we're busy worrying about whether Ryan Garko has shown enough to either get back into the picture for 1B next year or bring something valuable in trade, or whether Anthony Reyes is good enough to be a No. 3 or No. 4 starter next year, we're missing some of the best team baseball the Tribe has played since last October.

So I just wanted to take a moment to look at the entire forest. The first half of this season was so miserable to watch, we owe it to ourselves to enjoy what we've been seeing lately, even if it comes under the category of cheap thrills.

The Tribe, heading into Sunday's game, was on their longest winning streak of the year - 6 games. They've won 12 of their last 15 games and 14 of 21 so far this month.

In August, the Tribe has scored 116 runs - an average of 5.5 a game. They're scoring 6.1 runs a game in the 12 of 15 stretch and 7.6 runs/game during the 6-game winning streak.

Save one player (yes Marte, you again), the Tribe is getting offensive output across the board.

Some of those who struggled earlier in the year are making the biggest contribution in August.

  • Franklin Gutierrez .317 (BA) .567 (SLG) .936 (OPS) 11 RBI
  • Ben Francisco .316 (BA) .447 (SLG) .805 (OPS) (we should expect better power from the corner)
  • Ryan Garko .320 (BA) .467 (SLG) .840 (OPS) 17 RBI
  • Cabrera .292 (BA) .462 (SLG) .835 (OPS)
  • Choo .279 (BA) .508 (SLG) .888 (OPS) 8 Doubles 10 RBI
And stalwarts Grady Sizemore and Jhonny Peralta have contributed 16 and 14 RBIs respectively, with Peralta at .877 (SLG) and 4 HR. Sizemore has been dragging a bit this month with a .758 (SLG).

The Tribe's starting rotation is contributing as well, after adjusting to the loss of CC and Paul Byrd from their ranks. Largely thanks to Cliff Lee and newly acquired Anthony Reyes, the rotation is 10-5 in 21 starts. The rotation's ERA (not counting Sowers' debacle Saturday night) is 3.56 this month.

As far as the overall bullpen is concerned, it's hard to say it has gotten better. But it is fair to say that the back end of the pen has solidified somewhat, with Jensen Lewis making the most of his audition for the closer spot.

In August, the pen is 4-2 with 6 saves (all by Lewis), but it is sporting a bloated 5.04 ERA.

The good news is Jensen Lewis is 6 for 6 in save situations and has a 0.89 ERA with 9 Ks in 10.1 innings this month.

Raffy Perez is 2-1 with a 4.20 ERA, but if you eliminate two outings in which he gave up a total of 6 runs in 2 innings, his ERA for August is 0.66.

Perhaps the best news of all is the month being put up by Raffy Betancourt. After giving up 3 earned runs in 2/3 of an inning in his first August outing, Raffy Right has made 5 scoreless appearances covering 7 innings and has looked a bit like his old self.

So instead of wondering if Ben Francisco will provide more pop from the corner, or whether Peralta should play 3B or SS next season or whether the Tribe would be better off starting Kelly Shoppach at catcher or trading him for a starting pitcher let's take just a minute from our squirrel-like planning ahead and smell the roses growing at our doorstep in recent weeks.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Our own Indians hall of fame

On the weekend of the Indians' Hall of Fame festivities, my brother - Greg Vallo - put together a little slide show of Tribies from year's gone by.

How many can you name?

I'd say I got 95% of the ones after 1960.


video

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.

Anyway.

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.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Boston is Byrdland now

Well Paul Byrd is off to the Bosox

Good for him!

He'll get another shot at the playoffs, where he just might have been the Tribe's most effective starter last season.

The good news is it won't be the Yankees that Byrd will be helping to get to, and through, the post-season.

Although, quite frankly, there are teams I would rather see him help than the Red Sox.

The Boston blogosphere doesn't seem to have much of an opinion about the deal. Most blogs simply reported the trade and moved on without comment.

The closest thing to commentary I could find was from the Sports of Boston blog:

This isn’t supposed to be a major impact trade like the Bay/Manny deal. The Sox are simply addressing a need in their rotation right now. Tim Wakefield, a consistent innings-eater, hits the DL and Clay Buchholz is having a sophomore slump. Theo knows with the Rays wounded (Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria on the DL), now is the time to gain ground on them. Hopefully a change of scenery won’t affect Byrd’s hot streak.

I wonder a bit about a flyball pitcher like Byrd and how well he's going to do at Fenway with the Green Monster. But, hey, that's for others to worry about now.

It's hard to comment from the Tribe's side beyond saying so long, good luck and thanks for the good work.

I mean how do you comment on a bag of cash in return? Or a player to be named later. Something tells me that if the Tribe is deciding between cash and a player, the player can't be much.

The interesting question will be who replaces Byrd in the rotation.

Will Aaron Laffey be on his way back after just two outings in Buffalo? In his most-recent outing Laffey pitched 8 shutout innings. striking out nine. But his first outing was rather pedestrian.

It could be David Huff, who has been lights out at both Buffalo and Akron this year. I'd like so see him up myself.

Zach Jackson, who has been hot and cold at Buffalo since being the "throw-in" in the CC deal, is the Buffalo pitcher whose turn comes up in what would have been Byrd's next start Friday. Not reason enough in my book to bring him up.

As moves go, this one is a bit of a yawner from the Tribe's side. But it does clear one more spot for one more youngster to make an impression the rest of the way.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Shea Stadium salutations; Or how the Mets tried and failed to steal the heart of one Tribe fan.

Photo credit: Katy Vallo

I'm watching a fun - if sloppily played and pitched - baseball game right now. As I begin writing this, the Tribe is up 10-8 with Brendan Donnelly making his Tribe debut as the 8th inning begins.

It is, in truth, the second fun - if sloppily played and pitched - ballgame I've watched today.

I took a personal day today and headed out, with two of my three kids, to Shea Stadium for the last time (for me anyway) before the wrecking ball comes to visit at the end of this season.

The kids are Yankee fans (I did my best but sometimes a parent can't be held responsible), but they too wanted to make one last trip to the old park - already overshadowed by Citi Field, which will replace it next season.

(Citi Field would be a great name for a ballpark - simple and old fashioned - except the Citi part is named after the huge bank headquartered in NYC.)

After a delayed start due to rain, the Mets lost to Pittsburgh 7-5, with their pen giving up 6 runs over the last 3 innings to kick away a 5-1 lead.

Sound like anyone you know?

Let me tell you the Met faithful were not happy.

Anyway.

After spending my first 27 years in Cleveland, I've spent the last 25 suburban NYC.

It was Shea Stadium in 1984 and '85 where I sought to put a lifetime of frustration as an Indians fan behind me, watching an exciting young club with the likes of Doc Gooden, Ron Darling and Darryl Strawberry taking the NL by storm.

My first year in NY - 1984 - I sped out to Shea as often as possible. By 1985 I had a Friday night plan. It was going to be great. I had not only found a new, exciting team to root for, I could finally put my obsession with the Tribe in the rear view mirror.

But much to my surprise at the time, with no dish available yet, I found myself sliding the radio dial at night from the Mets over to what was then WWWE (or radio-free Cleveland as my wife used to call it) to listen to Herbie - still the lead dog on the radio at the time.

For some reason I found myself more interested in what Curt Wardle, Roman Romero, Pat Tabler and Mike Fischlin were up to than watching Mookie Wilson, Keith Hernandez and Gary Carter and the rest of the Mets battle for the NL East title, only to fall just short.

It was then that I realized you can take the boy out of Cleveland (blah blah blah).

Even today, in my last trip to Shea (unless someone lays a pair of tickets in my lap sometime in the next 6 weeks), there were "Cleveland moments."

Sitting in the mezzanine about even with 3B in my Omar Vizquel Giants T-shirt (which I had to search for at four souvenir stands at AT&T Park in SF last spring), I felt a tapping on my shoulder.

The woman behind me wanted to know where she could get a T-shirt with Vizquel's name on it.

I suggested she "try Cleveland."

That's when I found out the woman was from Cleveland's Old Brooklynn neighborhood, on a visit to Shea.

Then there was the pinch-hit appearance by Jason Michaels. J-Mike hit a seven-hopper to SS and was thrown out at first. Nothing's changed there.

When the parade of Mets pitchers frittered away a 4-run lead in the final three innings, I almost forgot what stadium I was in - thinking for a second I must be at Ontario and Carnegie.

The Mets and Tribe have almost no history with one-another.

There was the Robbie Alomar deal, the Carlos Baerga/Jeff Kent deal and the trade of a fellow named Byrd from the Tribe to the Mets long ago.

But on the field the two have virtually no history. They've never really done battle over anything that matters- unless, of course, you count the short-lived battle for the allegiance of one transplanted Clevelander more than 20 years ago.

I have to say, in that battle the best team won.


.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Lessons learned, kudos earned and a new Tribe closer

It's been only three days since my last post (why does that sound like I'm in a confessional?), but a lot has happened with the Tribe.

Paul Byrd and Ryan Garko both seemed to have learned a lesson, but in different ways.

Byrd threw a complete game against Roy Halladay and the Blue Jays, for his fourth win in his last five starts. His ERA during that period is 1.80 and all of those starts have been quality starts - a least as defined by MLB's statisticians (at least 6 inning, no more than 3 runs).

The veteran got a little remedial help with his curveball from the master of the pitch - Minnesota broadcaster and former MLB and Tribe pitcher Bert Blylevin. Whatever Blylevin told him, it seems to be helping.

Byrd reportedly has cleared waivers and can be traded. I would not be surprised to see the Tribe hang on to him though and bring him back next year if it can be done at a reasonable price.

Byrd is now 7-10 with a 4.53 ERA and has last year's post-season success to add to his appeal. How many fifth starters in the league offer anything more attractive than that? Add in his veteran presence on an otherwise young staff, and the idea may not be as dumb as many of you are thinking it is as you read this.

Meanwhile, Ryan Garko seems to have learned another kind of lesson - don't dog it when you're barely holding on to your spot on the roster. After being benched for one game and most of another for failing to run out a dribbler down the line, the Tribe 1B got his chance to get back into the lineup Saturday.

Garko went 2-for-4 with 2 RBIs. He also sprinted down to first after getting hit by a pitch. That may be a bit over the top, but it's clear Garko did not enjoy his couple of days in the Eric Wedge doghouse.

Newly acquired starter Anthony Reyes is getting kudos for his first outing with the Tribe. He went 6 1/3 innings Friday night against the Jays, allowing just 1 run on 7 hits and striking out 4.

Reyes' fastball topped out at about 90 and was mostly in the 88-89 range - just a bit shy of what the Tribe had been expecting apparently. He mixed in a breaking ball and change-up, which he used to get some lazy flyball outs when he needed them

Reyes appears as though he's going to be a pitch-to-contact kind of pitcher who will need his control to do well. Think a young Paul Byrd. Better yet, don't think of that at all, because one Paul Byrd is plenty, thank you.

Better to say we can expect Reyes to be a finesse pitcher, who may live or die by the flyball. There have been a zillion pitchers in the history of baseball who have been quite successful with that approach. So far, with his work in Buffalo and Cleveland, it appears Reyes has a chance to add to the list.

Speaking of lists, the one listing the names of Cleveland closers for 2008 just got one name longer.

Jensen Lewis, coming off a solid 9th inning save Friday night, apparently is the latest member of the Tribe's frightening bullpen to be given the opportunity to close out games- at least for this minute, which is longer than Ed Mujica lasted in the role.

This is pure speculation (wishful thinking?), but ESPN reported Friday that a non-contender put in a claim on Oakland closer Houston Street, who is having a bit of an off-year.

Any chance that it could have been the Tribe?

The only other team that could have beat them out on a claim would have been Seattle. Under rules governing revocable waivers teams in the player's own league get first dibs if he is claimed by multiple teams.

The point is moot though, since - according to ESPN's Buster Olney - the As and the other team - whoever it was - couldn't work out a deal.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Gimme a break!!

Well the Tribe is giving thier fans a break today, after the twin disasters in Tampa on Tuesday and Wednesday.

There's no game tonight. Thank God!

Even better, there's a Browns' preseason game to view - something to take our minds further away from the Tribe.

What can you say about the last two games?.

It's clear the Tribe has no bullpen to work with for next year.

None.

There is only one guy - Raffie Perez - who can be counted on for next year. (That's using that term loosely - since there were about six guys who could be 'counted on' in April for this season.)

There are lots of other developments with the Tribe as well.

Two new faces will be in Tribe uniforms when the torture resumes Friday night.

Newly acquired Anthony Reyes will get his first start for the Tribe against the Jays in Toronto after two impressive outings at Buffalo since his acquisition from St. Louis.

In addition, Brendan Donnelly - who has been rehabbing on the Tribe's dime all season long - will be joining the so-called bullpen. Donnelly has been impressive in eight minor league appearances since returning from elbow ligament surgery - which was done in 2007.

The good news about Reyes is that his audition for next year will count for something. He is on a one-year contract, but his lack of time in the big leagues ties him to the Tribe for 2009.
Donnelly, on the other hand, has no such obligation.


The Tribe signed the former Angels standout prior to this season in the hopes that he'd be ready right about now to bolster the pen with a fresh arm as the team was heading into the playoff stretch run.
Some stretch run.


Hopefully Donnelly will do the decent thing and accept a position with the Tribe next year if they make a reasonably competitive offer. But this is 21st Century baseball, where there word 'loyalty' doesn't exist.
The bullpen Donnelly will join is in its most chaotic state to date - having been beaten to a pulp in the final two games of the three-game series in Tampa.


Raffie Betancourt got his head handed to him Tuesday. No big surprise. On Wednesday it was Ed Mujica and Masa Kobayshi's turn.

Kobayashi has been decent in a set-up role but inconsistent (being kind) in the closer role.

Mujica had been feted recently for his run of 10 or so good outings. But his first crack at the closer position blew up in his face. He had similar blowups earlier in the year in other roles (does anyone truly have a role in this pen?). So it kind of makes you wonder if his recent effectiveness was just a hot streak.

As a result of the failures of Betancourt, Mujica and Kobayashi, Tom Mastny was sent back top Buffalo. Makes as much sense as anything else that has happened out in the pen this year, no?

Actually, except for that one memorable inning in last year's ALCS against Boston, Mastny has shown little in the past three years. His act has worn thin and I really don't blame Eric Wedge for being hesitant to use him this season - which only added to his ineffectiveness.

So what does that leave in the pen?

Not much.

We've been looking at the lame-duck portion of the schedule as a place to find answers for next year. In the case of the bullpen the answer is resoundingly negative.

We would be remiss if we didn't mention Ryan Garko's indiscretion yesterday - standing at home plate, watching his foul dribbler turn fair. I didn't see the play, but right from coaches pitch league we are taught to run it out until the umpire says it's foul.


That said, Garko's took the right tack after the game saying it was a stupid mistake that won't happen again and that he is fine with Wedge's decision to take him out of the game.

Still, with Garko struggling to hold on to his position and his place in the Tribe's 2009 plans, it's the kind of move that sticks out in management's mind.

The most ironic part about the whole Garko affair is the fact that Wedge finally called someone on the carpet publicly by removing Garko from the gain, but found himself forced to play Sal Fasano at 1B when an injury to Asdrubal Cabrera later in the game forced massive infield position changes to avoid the loss of the DH - the position where Garko started the game.


Only 49 more to go!!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Asdrubal's O is up a notch, but is it enough?

The Tribe sent infielder Asdrubal Cabrera back to Buffalo in early July to get him refocused at the plate.

At the time he went down his stats were dismal. In 158 ABs, Cabrera was hitting .183; .247 (SLG); .285 (OBP); .532 (OPS). He had scored 16 runs and had 13 RBIs.

He's been back in the bigs since July 18. For the most part the commentary I've heard and read is that Cabrera's glove is to die for, but his hitting may not justify full-time employment next season.

That is an easy impression to get, looking each night at Asdrubal's stats - still weighed down by his awful first half.

But it seemed to me his bat has gotten better-enough (if you will) to earn his keep. Here's what I found.

Since he's been back with the Tribe, Cabrera has had 52 ABs, or roughly 1/3 as many as he had before being sent out. He's got 9 runs scored and 4 RBIs since his July 18 return to the lineup, so his runs-scored pace is a little better, and ribbie level about the same.

But Cabrera is getting on base with more regularity and with a little more pop - not a lot, but some.

Cabrera is hitting .269, up from .183; .383 (SLG) vs. .247 and .372 (OBP), up from .285 prior to his demotion. That raises Cabrera's OPS to .755 after his recall from Buffalo from a dismal .532 before being farmed out.

With his homer tonight, he's had two since coming back, compared with one before being sent down - much too small a number to make any judgment on, but I bring it up because it's there.

I am biased in favor of defense and I say when you have a potential wizard with the glove you play him - if his numbers justify it at all. In Cabrera's case I think the numbers - since his return at least - are encouraging. But we've still got two more months (almost) to get a better feel.

By the way, to illustrate my point about defense being as important (or more so) at keeping runs off the board as offense is in putting them on, tonight's two runs for the Rays scored due to Jhonny Peralta's lack of range.Peralta's bat has convinced me we need to keep him, but we need to see what he's all about at 3B - especially since Andy Marte has disappeared again and - to me - has pretty much shown he has nothing.

Reyes on the way?

MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince reports we may be getting our first look at one of the guys who recently joined the Tribe during all of the trade-deadline activity.

Anthony Reyes, picked up from St. Louis, is 2-0 at Buffalo and Castrovince reports there are strong hints coming from the big-league club that we may see Reyes the next time the Tribe needs a starter on Aug. 12.

Oh ya! The man Cleveland fans love to hate - David Dellucci - had another 2-run dinger tonight. The game winner in fact.

Does that mean I want to see more of him? Of course it doesn't.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Lame duck and old Byrd lead Tribe

Two guys who will have no impact on the Tribe's future had quite an effect on their present tonight.

Paul Byrd has now strung four good starts together - the latest being tonight's 7-inning 1-run outing against the Twins.

Byrd has now given up just 5 earned runs in 25 innings (1.73) over the past four games, winning three of those contests.

Byrd keeps building his case with the various contenders who may be looking to the waiver wires to find an extra arm to get themselves into the post-season.

(Let me stop right here to mention I just saw Manny lift one deep into the leftfield seats at Chavez Ravine for his first Dodger dinger - a two-run job. It was accompanied by the typical Manny 5-year-old-girl-like celebration with his new buddies in the dugout.)

With stomach turning let me continue.

Offensively, the Tribe was led tonight by another not-in-the plans veteran, fan favorite David Dellucci, who - for one night - gave Tribe fans something to appreciate. Dellucci went 3-for-4, including a 2-run dinger and a double.

Jhonny Peralta drove in the first run of the game with an opposite-field double that tied the score 1-1.

Peralta has been doing a lot of that opposite-field stuff lately and his BA is showing it.

It's almost enough - in fact his resurgence may be enough - for me to stop agitating for the front office to trade the guy. He's been hitting for about six weeks now, showing a better eye and a willingness to hit the ball where it's pitched. If he continues his conversion into a professional hitter with pop (instead of a guy just swinging for the fences) his shortcomings at SS just may be more tolerable.

(Let me just interrupt myself again to say I just watched Casey Blake lift a flyball down the left field line which landed about 6 rows deep just to the right of the foul pole at the The Ravine - much more fun to watch than the HR I mentioned earlier.)

Probably the best news for the future coming out of tonight's game was the two-run homer by Kelly Shoppach who just continues to rake and is making a case for himself to be the starting catcher next year - which would mean a move to 1B for Victor Martinez and a trade (?) in Ryan Garko's (o-for-4 .243) future.

Shoppach hit .318 (1.066 OPS), with 6 HRs and 14 RBIs in July. He's 3 for 7 so far in August.

With the a stick like that, the Tribe's FO may have to look at making him a full-timer next year, especially with Garko being such an absolute bust this year and Victor probably being better off physically playing at 1B.

And, Adrubal Cabrera had two more hits tonight and is hitting .278 since coming back to the bigs, with an OPS over .800.

Andy Marte took an 0-for-4 and has started to look lost up there again lately.

(Casey just hit a ground-rule double to right-center. He's up to about .350 with the Dodgers.)

Marte looked for a short time like he might be coming around with increased playing time, but there just doesn't seem to be any consistency there. He's now 2 for his last 28 and I would say he is well on his way to blowing his longest, and final audition with the Tribe.