Thursday, April 01, 2010

Jusssst a bit outside: the Cleveland Indians preview

Duty calls to preview the MLB season, providing up to 30 things somewhat about each of the 30 teams, even the sucky ones. At bat: the Cleveland Indians.
  1. Tarnished genius in trying circumstances, or collective underachievement: Cleveland always grades out well when the organization is evaluated, but, uh yeah, people like to see results. They did get to Game 7 of the American League championship series (or as it's said in less pretentious sports, "final") in 2007.

  2. The cynic's cynical choice for Central champion: Grady Sizemore is back after a lost 2009, rightfielder Shin-Soo Choo (.300/.394/.489 last season) can rake and manager Manny Acta deserves something good after escaping from the Washington Nationals. There's a rooting interest in these guys, plus they can play the LeBron-likely-leaving card for beaucoup sympathy points.

  3. For what it's worth: Former ace Fausto Carmona was sharp during the fake games. He throws a lot of ground balls, which is very democratic.

  4. Over-under: 74½ wins.

  5. Take the ... Over. It's in keeping with the irrational hope four teams tie for first in the AL Central with 80-82 records. Under if you doubt their pitching.

  6. That damn P-word again: Notice how teams such as Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland get some preseason optimism invested in them, and then we recall their starting pitchers had a 5.30 ERA last season?

  7. Core strength: Catcher Carlos Santana is tearing through the minors, a little hope has been invested in shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and there's Sizemore in centre.

  8. A possible outlier: Cleveland had lights-out relief pitching during its last two good seasons (the near pennant in 2007, a 93-win second-place team in '05). It's been lousy (historically so) in other seasons, but Chris Perez, Raffy Perez and Jensen Lewis are the makings of a decent bullpen.

  9. The double edge to that: Choo and Cabrera will each go to arbitration after this season. Three guesses which agent Choo is retaining, first two don't count. (Answer: Scott Boras.)

  10. Actual attempt at analysis: "There are a lot of ifs, but the Indians could surprise if Travis Hafner and Jake Westbrook return to their former selves." (National Post.) Staking it on a 33-year-old DH with old-player skills and a right-hander who had Tommy John elbow surgery and hip procedure done less than two years ago is always a good idea.

  11. They have an Alomar again: Sandy, Sr., is on the coaching staff, for what that is worth.

  12. Misplaced sympathy: Da'Sean Butler, a forward on West Virginia's Final Four team, wears a Cleveland cap because "I always root for the underdog, no matter what. Any team having like a 10-102 season, I like them."

    Come on, the Indians have had bad records, but not quite that bad.

  13. Bonus points for any play-by-play announcer who says: "(Player's name) shuts the door on Cleveland and LaPorta."

  14. Hence the term Shapiro-esque: Santana, Sizemore, Choo and Cabrera were all acquired from other organizations. Cleveland GM Mark Shapiro tends to be all-or-nothing with his trades, though.

  15. Kudos for not playing to stereotype: Thanks to Ichiro, it seems like every Asian position player who comes to the majors is expected to be some line drive-hittin', table-settin', on-base machine, but Cleveland was smart enough to see that Choo should hit third, not second.

  16. Fame and obscurity: Right-hander Anthony Reyes, who's rehabbing a sore right elbow, stands as the most obscure pitcher to ever start and win Game 1 of a World Series. For that reason alone, one would hope he makes it back.

  17. Wait until LeBron signs with the Knicks: Why would a Cleveland Plain Dealer blog link to a Tom Verducci article on the Top 10 teams of all time, which was half made up of past New York Yankees teams? Talk about a serious New York complex.

    Speaking of which, there is no point to those greatest team of all time articles. The selector(s) invariably will put the wrong Yankee team of yore first (1939 should go ahead of '27), mistakenly include the '61 Mantle-Maris team who had no pitching depth and a mediocre top of the lineup.

  18. Prospect to suspect: Canadian outfielder-first baseman Nick Weglarz, one would hope, is not one of those players with advanced plate discipline who plateaus because he lacks that home-run stroke. Triple-A ball is full of those guys.

  19. This is how fragile pitchers are: Cleveland has a minor leaguer, Adam Miller, whose "only baseball activity is walking around camp squeezing a baseball with his right hand ... (h)e is trying to break the adhesions on the scar tissue in his right middle finger." Remember Al Leiter losing four seasons to blisters?

  20. Name game: Is anyone else confused by the fact the International League's Indianapolis Indians are not Cleveland's Triple-A club?

  21. Still the best line from Major League: "Don't forget, folks, Tuesday is Die Hard Night. Free admission for anyone who was actually alive the last time the Indians won the pennant." They did win two in three seasons a few years after that movie, but are into their seventh decade since beating Boston in the 1948 World Series.

  22. PECOTA says: 79-83, tied-2nd AL Central, 767 runs scored, 792 against.

  23. In English please: A worst-to-first story would go down even better than a Burning River Pale Ale.

    Or -- or -- they'll be good again right after Ted Mosby meets the Mother.

1 comment:

Rob Pettapiece said...

1. In a misguided attempt at impressing someone, the 2007 Indians were my preseason pick and they almost got to the WS. If only I was that smart all the time.

13. The Canada/USA rivalry! LaPorta and Weglarz were on opposite sites in Beijing. Tens of people watched with interest as 58-year-old Rheal Cormier blew the game.

15. Every Asian position player except the one nicknamed Godzilla? So Taguchi was never thought to be a line-drive hitter. Kazou Matsui, don't remember.

What is true is that all the LHH in Japan do the Ichiro run-to-first-while-swinging thing now, much like all the players in North America do the Jeter hand thing. Watch Olympic ball: it's the worst there.

18. Weglarz didn't make the 25-man, did he? Choo, LaPorta, and Sizemore should all be ahead of him, at least until he tears up AAA as we all hope he does. His number (71) is not encouraging.