Kouzmanoff’s big splash, another near-heart attack

How ’bout that Kouzmanoff? First pitch of the first at-bat in your big league career, and it’s a jack with the bases full. All those who were watching know that he is only the third person ever to do that. What’s remarkable is that 2 of them have been in the last 13 months, and that the only other one was by a pitcher in 1898.

I certainly didn’t expect the offense to call it a night after the second inning. During the middle innings I was flipping back and forth between this game and the Auburn game, and settled back on this one as the Rangers crept closer and my War Eagles lengthened their lead.

I think we got a break on the call at home, and the Rangers got hosed. Victor blocked the plate well, but that camera right behind the plate seemed to indicate – to me, at least – that dude slid around the tag and Victor’s leg and I thought he got his foot to the plate. But I’ll take it. Mastny made like Bob Wickman in the ninth, getting the save but making us die-hards sure we would go into cardiac arrest by the end of the game.

So now we’re 18-5 in the last 23, within 4 of .500. When I got up the morning of Aug. 9, if someone had asked me what did I want the Tribe to accomplish the rest of the season, I would have said, "Just that they not lose 90 games." When you’re 17 under .500 with 2 months to go, 90 losses is what’s staring at you. Now, with this hot streak, we can hope for something much better – a winning record. For the last 28 games, I hope they match the August record by going 18-10. That would give us an 83-79 record. Even though it’s only 1 game, 83-79 just sounds better than 82-80. After the misery of May, June and July, it would be wonderful to go into the winter with a winning record of any sort.

Is he the answer?

Good article on indians.com about this cat who has started closing games for us.

Is he the solution? Too early to tell. But Tribe fans have to be pleased with the back end of the bullpen the past 2 weeks. Mastny has been flawless closing games, and Bettancourt and Cabrera appear to have re-discovered how to pitch. It has been almost lights-out after the sixth inning. Let’s hope it keeps up.

Sure is more fun when we win

The Tribe head to to Texas for 3 this weekend after finishing off a sweep of the Blue Jays last night. Can’t believe we won that one. In the ninth, when Hafner struck out and Martinez flied out leaving the bases loaded, I was sure we would get pummelled in the tenth, so I went to bed. Get up in the AM to find out Jhonny Peralta hit a walk-off jack in the tenth. Nice! At least indians.com had the video.

So the Indians are now 16-5 in their last 21, and have won after falling behind 3 times in the past week. I don’t think it had happened 3 times all year. This is what we were supposed to do from the jump. I guess it took getting rid of most of the veterans and going with the kids. Ryan Garko, Andy Marte, Franklin Gutierez, Hafner, Martinez, Grady Sizemore, Jeremy Sowers, Rafael Bettancourt, Tom Mastny, Shin-Soo Choo and Joe Inglett have all played well most of the time, and they’re all under age 26. We haven’t seen Trevor Crowe yet, and right now there’s no place to play Kevin Kasminoff, who is tearing class AAA pitching up. At least we aren’t the Royals, who have a worse record and hardly any good players in the minors.

But this is going to be a monster road trip. Texas always plays us tough and has a lot of bats to swing at you. You know Toronto will be playing angry, looking for revenge when we go there. And the White Sox are the White Sox. If we go 4-5 I’ll consider it a success. If we actually win more than we lose, I may be in need of a sleeveless jacket.

From off the top of my head and other strange places VI

Random thoughts while contemplating the magnitude of getting Peyton Manning for my fantasy football team:

  • Next up are the Royals, for 3 games in the K. We are 8-5 against them. Does anyone remember that we were 1-5 against them at one point?
  • Who’s everyone rooting for in the playoffs? Since Detroit has kicked our heads in so badly this year, I think I’m going to root for them. If you’re only going to win 4 games in a season series with a division opponent (assuming the likely event of a Tigers sweep at the Jake this weekend), you might as well get to say it was against the champs.
  • The White Sox are still the Evil People. Anyone who accepts employment with them becomes one of Lucifer’s top aids. That wil be the case long after time comes to an end. It’s a hard and fast mathematical equation – White Sox = Evil.
  • It was noted the other day that Jhonny Peralta is now 4th (from the top) in the AL in fielding percentage for shortstops. Maybe he will earn that monster contract after all.
  • I would rather watch Jeremy Sowers vs. Anyone in a 2-1 game that Sowers wins than an 11-10 game any day. Maybe it’s because great pitching is rare (for those of us that don’t live in Detroit or the Twin Cities), but I love a great pitchers’ duel.
  • Speaking of football, I hope Cleveland citizens won’t hate me when my Panthers beat the Browns this year. Keep in mind – the Browns are 0-for-life against Carolina.
  • Shipiro had better not whiff when shopping for a closer like he did last year.
  • Speaking of closers, good thing he didn’t take me up on my challenge to pay me for being the first to tout Carmona as closer, huh? Guess that’s why he’s the Indians GM, and I’m a shmuck sitting on his duff in Charlotte NC writing in a blog.
  • I would probably hate the White Sox a lot less if Hawk Harrelson disappeared off the face of the earth. Has there ever been a more annoying announcer ever in any sport? I mean, besides Chris Berman?

Trying to remain upbeat

The home PC is fixed, finally. Too bad it is now way too depressing to blog about the Tribe. It is unbelievable how badly this has turned out. The 2 problems have been that nobody can seem to catch the ball (other than Grady), and nobody in the bullpen can get anybody out (so it was a genuine surprise how Mastny managed to finish Saturday’s game).

But let’s try to keep our heads up as best we can. Marte is getting better, at the plate and at third base. Garko is hitting better than expected. Grady deserved his All-Star appearance (instead of just being there becasue an Indian had to be there). Pronk has been Pronk, and God love him for it. Hey, Shoppach actually threw some base stealers out the other day! And did anyone predict that Choo would hit as well as he has? No, especially me (since I ridiculed the trade when it happened, I won’t claim I saw it coming).

C.C. and Cliff have been steady despite some bad fortune. Sowers has been even better than advertised. Westbrook and Byrd have been decent as the 4 and 5 starters.

And we still have not seen Trevor Crowe, Adam Miller or any of those studs we have in the lower minor leagues yet. All is not lost. We may not win 93 every year, but I expect this year to be the exception, not the norm.

This is foul

Since I was a Royals fan for so many years, I am en expert at watching bad baseball (Watching 4 years of 100 losses out of 5 years will make you an expert). The debacle that is the Tribe in 2006 is among the worst I have ever seen.

Yesterday was particularly disgusting. I really wanted to blow my lunch. The defense is worse than the Royals ever dreamed of being. The baserunning, aside from #24, could easily be duplicated by a crew of toddlers (strike that, the toddlers would do better). And it has been, what, a month since anyone got a hit with a runner in scoring position?

Sowers would be on the way to Rookie of the year if only Liriano of Minnesota wasn’t a rookie this year. Grady is every bit the all-star, and Pronk, despite his recent slide, is the most under-rated player in the AL.

The rest of the team could be dropped into Lake Erie and only their loved ones would notice.

I have never seen such a bunch of pathetic, under-achieving bums in my life.

Bummed out

Tongue Man has been dealt to St. Louis. I am so bummed out. Now the tongue-wagging will be in an enemy park. A large part of the team personality has been shipped out. Not happy…….

From off the top of my head and other strange places  V

Random thoughts as I continue to call down curses on Dell computers for all the heartache they have caused me the past month:

  • Who’s getting traded next? Let’s not pretend we’re done dealing. My money’s on Todd Hollandsworth. He would be a great addition to a contender that needs another bat at a moment’s notice. Imagine how hard it must be never knowing when you will actually get to play, never getting to settle into a rhythm, and yet post a .720 OPS over 4 months, and never gripe once. He’s a pro’s pro, that’s for sure. It would hurt to lose him, but he deserves better than to play once every 8 or 9 days on a team going nowhere.
  • I bet Boone isn’t going anywhere. He’s going to have to be available when Marte comes up. Like every other rookie who has ever played, Marte is probably going to be totally lost at the plate his first few games (see Gutierrez, Franklin), and his confidence will take at least a minor hit. Once your confidence at the plate wavers, your confidence in other areas will suffer as well (see Rodriguez, Alex). At that point, Wedge will want to sit him for a day or two to clear his head. Bad as Boone has been this year, I trust him more at third than I do Tongue Man. Keep him at second to spell Inglett.
  • Anyone want to bet that Big Ben will light us up this weekend? He’s probably only going to play on Saturday against Westbrook (Sowers tonight and Lee on Sunday are both lefties). I say put the over/under for his hits at 3. I’ll take the over.
  • Conversely, I don’t have the same confidence that Choo will light up Seattle. Not that I’m pessimistic or anything.
  • OK, so the Jason Johnson signing was a disaster, the Coco Crisp trade does not look good until Marte becomes an MVP, and the Byrd signing is not a disaster but not as good as we wanted. But let’s give Shipiro props on the Jason Michaels trade. He’s got a decent .728 OPS, and Arthur Rhodes wouldn’t have made our shaky ‘pen any better.
  • JUST SAY NO TO DELL COMPUTERS! Trust me on this one. Buy one your neighbor built in his garage first. Stay away from Dell unless you are convinced you will NEVER have any problems for the entire life of the machine.
  • How ’bout that Sam Rutigliano stopping by the SportsTime Ohio booth to yuk it up with Sanders and Manning the other night? I can’t believe the guy is still working. He didn’t need to kiss up to Manning so much though. He’s got his own big name.
  • Speaking of Sowers, he’s the real deal. All he has to do is cut down on the Big Jacks and he’s ready to join the list of dominant young southpaws.

I’m not as sure as he is

A severe domestic dispute with the home PC, still ongoing, has kept me away from the blog for a long time. Trying to get in here long enough to add some thoughts.

Plenty of roster moves in my blogging absence. The hatchet man has been busy.

Eduardo Perez – Gone!

Fat Boy – See Ya!

Big Ben – Holla!

And what do we have in return? A low-level A catching project, a questionable second-base project, and a utility outfielder the local pundits seem to love.

Let’s talk about the outfield guy Shin-Soo Choo first. Anthony Castrovince and Jim Molony are glowing about him. I have one question: If he’s that dadgum good, what has he been doing in Tacoma most of the year? It ain’t because Seattle’s outfield is so stacked there is no room for him. Adam Jones played CF for them yesterday – he of the .243 average and .579 OPS in his first 11 big-league games. They also continue to give at-bats to the over-the-hill Carl Everett and his .653 OPS. I just think that if a guy is as good as these guys are making him out to be, he would have been in the bigs and playing every day. We shall see.

With Tongue Man clearly on his way out, it made sense to try to get another 2B prospect, especially if you don’t think Joe Inglett is the answer, and the Indians clearly don’t. I disagree with them on that point too. Hopefully he will produce well enough while he’s playing every day to change the appropriate minds. He’s got an OPS of .848 right now. I’ll take that from my 2B every day, especially if Pronk, Grady, Victor and Casey keep hitting, and Jhonny comes back to form.

I loved the Wickman trade, less because I know anything about the catching project we got and more because it gives Fausto Carmona the closer’s job. If you scroll down this blog you will see my post about this move more than a month ago – long before anyone else wrote about it. I should be getting paid for this.

C’mon, Shipiro, ante up! I promise I’ll refund whatever you pay me if Carmona turns out to be a dud as a closer…

Time to replace the big boy?

Bob Wickman has made a career of giving us Tribe backers heart disease. Every save is an adventure, and he has dropped 2 of his last 3 save chances. He’s getting along in years, and I wonder if it’s time to consider moving on to another closer. I think it is, and I have the perfect candidate.

Fausto Carmona.

I was originally against Carmona going to the bullpen. I thought he would be a great middle-of-the-rotation guy for the future, behind CC and Cliff along with Sowers. But check out Carmona’s line with the bases empty (the situation he would be in when starting the 9th inning): 17 innings, 0.53 ERA, 16 hits, 5 walks (too many) and 14 Ks. I say it’s worth a shot.

See, I have all the answers. The problem is, Shapiro never calls me!