Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Tribe on a treadmill

Well, ‘that time of year again’ has come a few weeks early this year.

It’s the time of year when we as Tribe fans are supposed to get all excited because we ‘stole' one of somebody’s best prospects.

And we’ll probably be doing it again sometime over the next five weeks.

And isn’t it wonderful that we now have this great big bundle of potential under our control for X number of years minus 1, the ‘minus 1’ being this soon-to-be superstar’s ‘walk’ year.

Or since he’s with the Tribe, his ‘trade’ year, since the team knows if they don’t deal him when that time comes he is sure to walk a few months later.

At the right time, we can always deal him for a couple of more big bundles of potential that will be under the team’s control for x -1 years, until they too get peddled in yet another use-it-or-lose-it trade.

Anybody think this is like watching your nutcase dog chasing his tail?

Mark DeRosa was around long enough to impress as a hitter, a hustler and a good teammate, though his “super utility” tag seems to me to be a bit misleading since he was underwhelming at four different positions in the field for the Tribe.

His bat and his presence will be missed, though his trade to St. Louis doesn’t have any emotional sting, unlike many similar trades in the past, because DeRosa wasn’t around here long enough for the fans to get attached to him.

The only emotion it stirs with me is anger, and not because I think it was a bad move. I am just sick and tired of being on the “prospect” end of these deals year after year after year. Just once I’d like to be sending a few of these ‘can’t miss’ guys to some other team for a sure-thing veteran to help the team in its quest for the post season.

The last trade we made that even resembled that was the Kenny Lofton deal two years ago. And he was a difference-maker, right up until one member of the current brain trust held him up at 3B.

Prior to that I can’t remember when the Tribe was on the seasoned-veteran end of one of those deals, but it goes all the way back to when Charlie Manual – that old fart baseball guy who just couldn’t get into the sabermetrics thing (but did manage to win a World Series last year) - was still managing the team.

Looking at the DeRosa deal at face value it’s hard to argue with.

DeRosa is free to sign anywhere this winter, and even if the Tribe were to be inclined to spend some money this offseason I doubt it will be on a bat. It certainly won’t be on a super utility guy with some pretty good pop and a clanky glove. DeRosa would be nice to have around, but any money the Dolan’s pony up this year will be sorely needed to fix the mess on that bump in the middle of the infield.

Chris Perez is the first “off-season” move made to fix that ugly situation. He has struck out 30 hitters in 23.2 innings this year, but he’s also walked 15, which is somewhere between 4 and 5 per 9 innings. His numbers from last season pretty much follow the same pattern. He throws in the mid-90s, but his strikeouts are said to come on his wicked slider. But, like so many Tribe players, there’s not much of a track record and since even those pitchers on this team who had decent resumes have all regressed alarmingly, I’ll wait more than a little while before I get excited.

As I look over the Tribe’s roster, it’s hard to say who may be the next Tribesman to head out of town for a piece of promise. Only Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez fit the classic mould of a difference-maker being sent packing for prospects. But they are not in their walk years until next year and to trade either one of them would send the message that the situation is too hopeless right now to even consider next season to be a possible success. It would kill off what little flicker of fan interest that remains.

There’s talk that the Tribe would trade Lee if they are overwhelmed, and the package includes a young, major-league-ready, potentially top-of-the-rotation starter. But why would anybody trade a guy like that for Lee? And even if somebody does, that word “potential” is still part of the above description. Once again the Tribe would be chasing two birds in the bush for the one they have in hand.

As far as Victor goes, I think the Indians brain trust would be killing off baseball interest altogether in Cleveland if they trade Martinez, even next year. Every team has to have at least one guy that the city can rally around – to call their own. Victor may be the guy the Dolan’s will have to pony up for if they want to keep the flicker of interest in the Tribe burning.

The rest of the veterans, I would presume, are not guys that there is a clamor for.

Somebody might bite on Ryan Garko. But please don’t offer him around as a part-time left fielder. It’s stretching it a little bit to say he’s a first baseman.

Peralta seems to have some value as a 3B, and no doubt Eric Wedge would like to see him gone. But how much would you get for him based on his performance this season and his slacker reputation?

Travis Hafner is damaged goods with a big contract. He is untradeable.

Jamey Carroll would seem to be about the most appealing bit of trade bait on the club right now.

Except for Lee, there’s almost no one who is of any interest on the pitching staff.

Any trade of Kerry Wood would fit into the same giving-up-on-next-year category that Lee and Martinez are in. I continue to believe that Woods’ problems would disappear if he were pitching on a team that presented him with a save situation more than once every 10 days or so.

So we will spend the next five weeks combing the Internet for trade rumors, hoping for the Tribe to find several diamonds in the rough. But I really wonder how effective we can expect that strategy to be.

In the ‘90s, the Tribe grew enough of its own players (Thome, Nagy, Ramirez, Belle to name a few) that the addition of prospects from other teams (Mesa, S. Alomar, Omar, Lofton) were enough to provide a team full of talent for several years. So the misses on people like Reggie Jefferson and Glenallen Hill were less consequential.

With the farm system producing next to nothing on its own over the past several years, every trade for prospects has to hit pay dirt for the team to have enough talent to win. While Grady Sizemore, Lee, Asdrubal Cabrera and Shin-soo Choo can be considered successes, there’s not enough talent coming from within to overcome the trade market misses (Jesse Barfield, Andy Marte, and Anthony Reyes to name a recent few).

With such a failure to develop home grown talent, or to properly develop that talent, pretty much every player acquired in these veteran-for-prospects deals has to pan out for there to be enough talent in the organization to field a playoff-potential team.

Without a highly extraordinary success rate on these deals, they amount to little more than the aforementioned tail chasing.

So excuse me if I fail to get to overly excited about another selloff of veterans in the next few weeks.

It’s just that time of year in what has become just another part of the schedule for the Tribe.

Wake me when enough of these prospects come together at the same time, with something important on the line and live up to their acquisition-day billing.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The questions continue to mount for the Tribe and the Dolans

Let's start with the positives - things it was good to see tonight.

  • It was simply good to see the Tribe win a game again.
  • It was great to see Grady Sizemore back in the lineup again, chasing balls down in CF and coming out of the box hitting the ball. (Added bonus - no Ben Francisco)
  • It was a huge relief to see someone other than Cliff Lee throw a good ballgame. David Huff was outstanding - finally pitching the way you had an inkling he could based on his work in the minors last season. He has, in fact, shown steady improvement in recent weeks, and that's a good thing for sure.
  • It was good to see Jhonny Peralta hit the ball - including an opposite field dinger. Too bad he has to be benched for two or three games every few weeks to remind him to put max effort into what he's doing and to play smart.
  • It was good to see Josh Barfield is still alive, since we never see him on the field.
  • And it was nice to see Pirates LF Nyjer Morgan wear his socks the way they are supposed to be worn - stirrups showing and white sanitaries underneath.
Now on to the unpleasantness.

Despite looking like a real ball team tonight (at least for 8 innings), the Indians remain too many games under .500 and too many games out of first for the rest of this season to provide much excitement.

That has Tribe ownership concerned, especially since the Tribe has drawn just three-quarters of a million fans so far this year with little reason for throngs of fans to show up in the second half of the season.

And so the Dolans will meet with Mark Shapiro in the near future to discuss changes that will give Tribe fans a reason to tune in and turn out in July, August and September.

At the top of the list is the status of manager Eric Wedge. It's quite possible the Dolans have seen enough of Wedge, or - possibly - that they feel the fans have seen enough. And so Wedge may become the sacrificial lamb any time now. If it's going to happen, I'd look for it during the All-Star break.

We've been through this before at this site. Wedge has had seven years to show he can lead this team to consistent success. He's fallen short of that mark. I wouldn't shed any tears if Wedge is shown the door, but as I said in my previous post, from a baseball standpoint it would be a pointless move at this juncture. It would have made more sense a month ago - before this team was dead and buried.

If he were to be fired, Wedge would likely be replaced with an interim, and probably somebody from the organization - an organization sorely in need of new blood and new ideas. If it were me, at this point I'd keep Wedge around and go in a completely different direction over the winter. No Money Ball wunderkinds need apply.

If Wedge gets the ax, the only purpose it will serve at this point is to placate the fans in the hope that they'll show up in the second half.

I'm certain that Shapiro and the Dolans will also talk about trades that can be made. It's obvious at this point that the Tribe will be sellers as the trading deadline approaches.

First on my list would be Peralta. Although he looks decent over at 3B, in general his act has worn thin here. A guy who has been around as long as he has needs to be more consistent, and, frankly, he needs to care about what he does a bit more. Let's face it. He dogs it, or is at least mentally absent, way too often.

While I really like the guy, I see the sense in trading Mark DeRosa. It would be nice to have him around for next year, but he's not signed and they might as well get something for him. (It would be best if he were to be traded to an AL team so my AL-only fantasy team won't take a hit.)

If Carl Pavano proves to be healthy and effective after skipping a start, he will likely be gone too and I guess I feel the same way about him as DeRosa. He'd be nice to have but without any guarantees for next season, you might as well trade him.

Kelly Shoppach? If anyone wants the K machine I'd send him packing for sure.

Ryan Garko? If you're not going to use him (even though he tends to drive in runs) you might as well deal him as well.

As far as Lee and Victor Martinez go - trading either would signal a complete capitulation not only for this year, but next season as well. They should not be going anywhere.

One thing the Dolans and Shapiro will likely not talk about is Shapiro's future as the top baseball man in this organization. But it is Shapiro who built this wreck of a club, through poor drafts questionable free-agent signings and - to give credit - an ability to pick off some of the prospects that other teams have found and developed without giving up a lot in return.

No, the Dolans won't be discussing that topic with Shapiro when they meet in the next few days. But it should be something the Dolans discuss around the Thanksgiving table (if not sooner) when this disaster of a season has long been in the books.

(By the way, I started writing this piece with the Tribe up 5-zip and Wedge adroitly going to his bullpen to start the top of the ninth. As I typed the paragraph preceding this one, the bases were loaded, the score was 5-4, Kerry Wood was looking like Rick Vaughn, and just by chance a lazy fly ball ended up in the glove of Mark DeRosa to end the ballgame.)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

As another Tribe season crashes and burns, change at the top should be on the agenda

Ladies and gentlemen, the captain has turned on the fasten-seat-belt signs as Cleveland Indians Flight 2009 is in its final descent into oblivion.

Another season dead well before its time.

In one of the most depressing weeks in the history of the franchise, the Tribe just completed an 0-6 week that has sealed their fate for this season and quite possibly the fate of their manager as well.

Anyone who has been paying any attention at all knows the bullpen found every conceivable way to lose a ballgame this week, even relying on their leader, closer Kerry Wood, when the rest of the bullpen just couldn't muster up a loss on their own on Friday and Saturday.

The week also saw the defense come apart in key spots, the manager and his new 3B (or is he a SS? - depends on who you ask) sniping at each other, stand-up players like Victor Martinez and Kerry Wood blowing off the media (perhaps so stunned at the magnitude of the awfulness of this week that they just couldn't bring themselves to talk about it) and mind-boggling decisions by the manager that smack of desperation.

The week ended with one of the most lifeless performances this team has turned in this year, and that's saying something.

At this point it appears the manager has lost his patience, his ability to think clearly and make sound decisions and his ability to rally the troops one more time.

And it sounds as if he may be about to lose his job.

Here's an excerpt from a story posted Sunday afternoon on, written by the PD's Paul Hoynes:

When asked if he was considering a change, (Tribe owner) Larry Dolan said, "I'll talk to you later." When asked if that meant a change was being considered, Dolan said, "I just don't want to lie to you."

The argument can be made that Wedge's players - at least those who don't throw the baseball for a living - are still playing for their manager. They held a number of leads this week, only to see the pitching staff - primarily the bullpen - flush their work down the toilet.

There is some truth to that. The "grinders" among the position players still seem to be giving it their all most days. But for a lot of the other guys, the effort seems rote, the concentration lacking and the fundamentals out the window.

That falls to the manager.

Oddball lineups seemingly picked from a hat don't help much. Not one player on this team comes to the ballpark on any given day knowing what position he will be playing, or if he'll be playing and where he'll bat in the batting order. That type of uncertainty weighs on a player's mind and makes consistent, day-after-day performance much more difficult.

That also falls to the manager.

The starting pitchers never seem to make it out of the fifth inning and the bullpen is lethal in the eighth. That you can't lay at the manager's feet because every button he pushes blows up in his face. That falls to the general manager and his staff, and their seeming inability to judge pitching talent and find people who can get outs.

Blind loyalty to the manager falls at the feet of the GM as well.

It seems as though Eric Wedge is about to walk the plank. The ownership has to do something to make it look like they're trying with a half-season's worth of tickets still to sell.

A few weeks ago, when there was still a chance to save this season I was all for giving Wedge the boot. The stats say it doesn't usually work, but managerial changes do sometime spark a change of fortunes. There was nothing to lose in trying.

Now it won't make any difference either way, and I could care less whether it's Wedge or one of the other organization kool-aid drinkers who runs the team the rest of the year.

But once this season finally draws to a close, the ownership of this team must deal not only with the question of who will manage things on the field long-term, but also - and more importantly - who should be the steward of this organization.

I for one vote for a new voice at the top. One with a real baseball pedigree, doesn't wear khakis and loafers and is not so married to the Money Ball principles that have led this team nowhere for nearly a decade now.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Tale of Two Ballgames

It was the best of games and then the worst of games.

With apologies to Charles Dickens, that pretty much sums up the Tribe's two-night stand on ESPN.

Sunday night, of course, Cliff Lee and Chris Carpenter were slinging.

Lee, as we all know, was throwing a no-hitter into the 8th inning. Carpenter, after a slow start in the first inning, pretty much kept pace with Lee pitch by pitch. The fielding was crisp. The time of the game was 1:58. I could have sworn I was watching Drysdale Vs. Gibson in the mid-60s.

Then, of course, there was tonight's "slugfest."

It was much more a walk-and-hit-by-pitch-fest, as the two teams scored 26 runs on 26 hits. That's either some pretty efficient hitting or the pitchers were letting a lot of guys on base gratis. Perhaps it was a bit of both

There were 12 walks, one HBP and four wild pitches.

One Brewer batter - I can't recall who off the top of my head - was so desperate to see a pitch he could hit that he swung and missed on a pitch that was so wide it eluded the catcher and went all the way to the backstop.

There were times during the 3-hour 56-minute crapathon, particularly when Greg Aquino and Luis Vizcaino were on the mound, when watching this game felt like undergoing root canal and a colonoscopy simultaneously - with no anesthesia administered at either end.

Raffie Perez, shell-shocked by his first-pitch, game-losing grand slam to Prince Fielder, was so bad for the rest of the inning he looked like he had never stepped on an ant hill, let alone a pitcher's mound, before.

Perez has quickly regressed to his pre-demotion self. And Indians fans, that aint good.

The bullpen was so horrible - 4 innings, 8 runs, 6 walks - it almost makes you forget that our No. 2 starter Carl Pavano was awful for the second straight time.

The Indians, have won 12 of their last 21, and for this team that qualifies as a making a run.

But these last two games were a microcosm of the Tribe's season to date (except for the 5 game losing streak to open the season). One step forward, two steps back.

Luckily, that seems to be enough to keep them in the Central Division race.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Back in the basement

Well the flirtation with fourth place didn't last too long.

The Tribe has fallen back into the Central Division basement - with a huge THUD!

The somewhat re-energized team we've seen over the past few weeks was not in evidence at Progressive Field this evening.

In fact all the facets of the horrible first several weeks of the season were on display tonight.

Horrible starting pitching - though Carl Pavano seemed to just have one of those nights. Cliff Lee was off a bit last night too, so let's just hope this is not the start of a new and disturbing trend and just a bad trip through the rotation instead.

There was some bad defense (though Shin-Soo Choo redeemed himself for butchering a line drive to right by eventually throwing out the hitter of that line drive (Tony Pena) at the plate a couple of batters later.

And the strikeouts - Oh the strikeouts!
Eight of them through the first four innings by Gil Meche. And 12 by game's end.

Really, not much to be happy about tonight. In fact, I can't think of a single thing.

A few other thoughts...

It has been well-noted that Jhonny Peralta was benched for a couple of games.
But has anyone noticed that Ryan Garko seems to have disappeared. He hasn't been in the lineup for the past four games. Meantime Kelly Shoppach has been seeing more time behind the plate. With a .207 BA, and 43 Ks in 111 at-bats heading into tonight, you have to ask why.

Call me suspicious, but with the Tribe's recent history of hiding injuries, one wonders if Shoppach hasn't been playing more because Victor Martinez is still suffering from his meeting a while back with a nasty foul ball off the knee.

The other explanation is Shoppach is playing on merit. Can that really be it?

Anybody like what they see of Luis Valbuena at SS?

Boy I sure do.

If the hitting comes along for Valbuena it looks that - along with Asdrubal Cabrera - the Tribe will have the middle of the infield plugged pretty well for the next few years.

Well, lets just hope tonight's return of the April Indians is short-lived and the Tribe takes the series finale - and moves back out of the basement tomorrow.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Is it time to start thinking about punting on this season?

I won't be able to watch the Tribe on TV today.

FOX monopolizes Saturday afternoon TV rights and, even though I do believe the Tribe-Sox game might be on where you live, I am forced to watch the Yanks, Mets or Red Sox most Saturday afternoons.

When it's not one of those three, it's the Phillies - as is the case today.

I guess I won't complain too much though about the FOX baseball package, since the people who run FOX are the very same people - as of a year-and-a-half ago - who pay my salary.

So I thought I'd take a few minutes just to jot down some things going through my head about the Tribe, and the viability of the team for the rest of this season.

We've heard the trade rumors involving Mark DeRosa, and even some hopefully far-fetched ones about Victor Martinez.

The DeRosa rumors began shortly after he was moved from 3B but well before Asdrubal Cabrera was put on the DL, possibly for up to six weeks. Jamey Carroll could fill in at 3B while Cabrera is out and Jhonny Peralta is forced back to SS, but Carroll now has a finger issue that he may or may not be able to play through.

DeRosa has proven not to be the 3B the Tribe would like him to be, although he has been a presence - especially recently - in the lineup.

But he is expendable and I can see him being traded. The question is whether he'd be traded for someone that would help right now or down the road.

There is some question about which would be wiser, as the team stands 9 games under .500 but also only 6 games out of first.

To this point, the team seems to be making moves for the benefit of the current season, trying every imaginable warm body to repair the bullpen - even to the point of changing starters to relievers in the minors with the thought they might be needed later by the big club.

The most notable of those changing roles was Hector Rondon, down at AA Akron. But he was quickly moved back into rotation and left his most-recent start with a sore bicep.

Still, the moves made a couple of weeks ago imply the Tribe is looking to do something this year.

That could be changing though with the injuries to Asdrubal Cabrera, Grady Sizemore and Rafael Betancourt, who had become the most reliable guy in the pen in the past month or so.'s Anthony Castrovince, on his blog CastroTurf, reported last night there are some hints the Tribe may be thinking about throwing in the towel for this year:

The Indians are, as you might imagine, bracing themselves for the possibility that this season simply isn't going anywhere. As much as the Indians have been through this season, they entered tonight a reasonable seven games back in the AL Central. But when you factor in the injuries, the inconsistencies and the general snake-bitten nature of this club, it's hard to imagine a comeback.

In talking with general manager Mark Shapiro today, I got the sense that he's coming around to that concept, too. He didn't repeat the mantra that the Indians are "one good week away" from being back in contention. Rather, with regard to the still-developing trade market, he said the Tribe is "on the sideline" right now, "keeping a pulse" of what's going on.

Don't know about you, but I'm having trouble deciding which way to go on this one.

The team was playing well below expectations before the epidemic of injuries hit, and the list of the injured is sooooo long. So you have to wonder if there's any reason to entertain hopes for this year.

But then there's that number - 6. As in 6 games out.

And there's the fact that Aaron Laffey, Scott Lewis and Jake Westbrook will be back before too long to fill the many holes in the rotation. Again, I don't know about Westbrook, or even Lewis, but I expect Laffey to provide much-needed help. And an arm could be added in a deal for DeRosa (and probably others if the arm is attached to a pitcher of decent value).

Then again, I'm writing this on a day after a win, and I'm always more optimistic on such days.

I suppose if I were in charge, I'd make my moves as if the team were still alive this year, especially after being forced to abort last season. When the time comes to punt, it will - or should - be more obvious than it is right now.

And if/when the time comes for a sell-off, Victor Martinez is not someone who should be added to the Buyer's Guide to Available Cleveland Indians.

Unlike CC last season, Victor is not in his walk year until next season. Selling him off now would be admitting to the paying public that the team management has little hope not only for the rest of this season, but also the next.

That kind of damage to the gate is not a risk the team should or would take - one would think.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Time to farm out Fausto

He started the season as the No. 2 starter.

He was supposed to be the Tribe's next ace.

But so far this season Fausto Carmona has proven that 2007, not 2008, was the fluke.

And today it has become more than evident that Fausto needs to go back to Columbus to figure out just what the heck has gone wrong for him since his storybook season in 2007.

Carmona got blasted again today, allowing 7 runs in just two innings - including two three-run jacks to Jason Kubel - in the Tribe's 11-3 loss to the Twins.

The home run ball is not his only problem.

Carmona walked three batters in just two innings, while striking out only one. For the season he's walked 41 and struck out just 36.

In his last three starts he's pitched a total of 7 1/3 innings, allowing 19 runs in the process.

His ERA for the season sits at 7.42 and he has allowed 69 hits in 60 2/3 innings. Add in the 41 walks and that works out to 110 base runners allowed in those 60 2/3, for a WHIP of nearly 2.00.

All the numbers aside, Fausto is just plain lost.

He hasn't a clue.

And it is time to send him to Columbus to figure out just what has gone wrong and to fix things away from the spotlight of the majors.

The only argument that can be made against sending Carmona down is the fact that there is no one you really want to see in a rotation that already includes David Huff and Jeremy Sowers.

But what sense is there in sending Carmona out every five days to get pounded?

Tomo Ohka has replaced Fausto after Carmona's early exit in his last two starts. He's pitched five innings and given up three runs in each of those outings. Not exactly sterling work, but enough to keep the team in the game.

And it's not like Ohka would be in the rotation for too long.

By the end of the month, if not sooner, Aaron Laffey, Scott Lewis and Jake Westbrook will come off the DL and could serve as replacements for Ohka, Sowers and/or Huff.

I don't expect much out of Westbrook because he'll need the rest of the season just to rebuild strength, velocity and control. But certainly Laffey should make the rotation better and Lewis offers some hope as well.

One thing is clear though, Carmona needs a break from the big time and needs to get his head together - something that he won't be able to do if he keeps getting it bashed in every five days.

My guess is the Tribe, which currently has eight pitchers in the pen, will activate Travis Hafner sometime Friday, move Ohka to the rotation for now and send Carmona down.

I know that is what I would do.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Good riddance to the Yankees

This most recent Tribe-Yankee series didn't have the same feel as many others in the past.

Sure Yankee TV play-by-play guy Michael Kay (nearly two years after they first appeared in the playoffs) went on and on about the midges - as did the rest of the media, as you can see from the photo to the left.

Kay in fact claimed to have done research on the midges and discovered that they are eaten by seagulls, the presence of which at Progressive Field was an equal fascination for Kay.

And, as many past series have gone, the Tribe played it close for most of the games, but you just had that feeling that things would tip the wrong way in the end - as they did three out of four times over the extended weekend.

But the atmosphere where I live - in the middle of Yankee country - was different this time.

I didn't get harassed at all.

I went to my grandnephew's Little League game Saturday. His grandpa - my brother-in-law Roger -was there. Roger is typically pretty good with the needle, and the Yanks of course had won Friday night. But not a peep out of him during a two-hour conversation.

The Tribe had dropped to 0-2 in the series by the time my around-the-corner neighbor Glenn came driving by while I was watering the lawn. When he pulled his car over to the curb, I was sure the usual ribbing was coming. Instead we talked about our sons' work plans for the upcoming summer, and a bit about the swim club our families both belong to.

The weather was too cold here over the weekend to visit said swim club - which for me is usually a venue for baseball-related putdowns, especially when there is a Tribe-Yanks series in full swing. Since I didn't go there, I guess the weekend wasn't a true test of local sentiment. But for some reason I feel I probably would have gone unscathed had I paid my swim-club buddies a visit.

I looked high and low in the media for the usual condescension or Cleveland put-downs. None were to be found.

Even Kay, and his sidekick John Flaherty on the YES Network broadcasts of the game, had little negative to say - save the constant harping on the midges.

I'm not sure if it is a case of everyone here in Yankeeland suddenly putting aside their usual baseball arrogance, or something much worse.

I'm beginning to think that the Yankee faithful just don't see the Tribe as any kind of threat this year and simply not worth their effort.

Any other readers from this area notice the same thing this weekend?

The Yankee series marked the end of the Tribe's battles with A.L. East opponents until late August. This fact was pointed out by the best of the Cleveland sports bloggers - The DiaTribe's Paul Cousineau - in a post late last week.

In making his point that the first one-third of the Tribe's season has been loaded with games against the East - thought by most to be baseball's strongest division - Cousineau was attempting to sound a hopeful note for the rest of the schedule.

After all, there are only 10 games left against the East - six against Baltimore and the rest against the Red Sox. So it is natural to think that the schedule may get easier as the season wears on. I read that, and was heartened, I admit.

But then I did some checking.

In their games against the East so far this season, the Tribe is 12-14, for a .462 percentage.

That means against the rest of the league they are 10-17, or .370. And they are playing .415 ball overall.

So you really can't blame the preponderance of games against the East for the position the Tribe finds itself in at the moment, nor can it be used as a way to assure ourselves that things will get better.