The joy of Spring gives people a sign of life, new beginning, a chance to start over, become better. It is this wish I hope for Miguel Cabrera, Austin Kearns and Coco Crisp. In my previous blog, I gave sincere praise to Mr. Crisp. It was shortly after I posted the entry that Mr. Crisp was the third player caught with a DUI. I just hope that these three gentlemen and others find what Spring is supposed to be about beyond the game of baseball off the field as well as on it. It is easy for me to preach because I don’t drink but I do have my addictions that are known to God alone. I fight them every day once I address them and can only address them with God’s help. Hopefully, these ballplayers can address their problems with God, family and friends to guide them also.
Also in my previous blog, I addressed the pitching and how wonderful it was so far to see pitchers go out there and put their work in rather successfully. Yesterday’s game was different. Masterson was not masterful as he he gave up 2 runs and 2 hits in 2 innings pitched. What troubled me more than this was the amount of walks that he had: 3 of them.
Jordan Bastian, the MLB.com beat reporter for the Tribe mentioned after the game on Twitter that Justin Masterson loved bowling. I responded back to him without a response that Masterson was now throwing more strikes in bowling than in baseball at this time. Well, yesterday’s performance showed it anyway.
On a positive note for the Tribe, the combination of Drew Pomerantz, Joe Smith and Vinnie Pestano pitched the following line 3 innings pitched 1 walk allowed and 5 strikeouts with no runs allowed. This is what I call relief. I really hope this attack of the strike zone can continue. Way to go so far!
DEAL WITH SEATTLE
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Movement off the field of play saw one of my favorite players traded away to Seattle yesterday in Aaron Laffey. Hopefully he will find an opportunity to compete for a starting role with former Indians manager Eric Wedge and former pitching coach Carl Willis reunited with Aaron. I really wish Aaron well and enjoyed meeting him briefly at Progressive Field. I really think he has potential. I just hope he does not do well against us, of course.>
In return, the Indians received Matt Lawson. Two things I thought about, when first reading the news on Twitter, was Matt Lawton and the former local food mart, Lawson’s which was bought out some time ago. However, Matt Lawson is not related to either thought.
In case, one wants to know more, Matt Lawson was one of the prospects who was received by Seattle when they traded Cliff Lee to Texas. His history has him playing 2nd base or shortstop but not at third. Hopefully, he will continue to blossom in the Indians’ farm system.
Later today, the Indians take their squad to face a split-squad Ranger squad in Surprise. I remember in their debut year in Goodyear seeing the Royals there against the Tribe. It is a beautiful park. Hopefully there will be little to no surprises for the Tribe to face when playing Texas. Neftali Feliz is scheduled to get some work against Cleveland as well as Derek Holland a AAA pitcher battling for a spot in the rotation for the defending American League champions. For the Tribe, the Rangers game will be a litmus test and hopefully will be fun to see how we match up with them.
Next game against
Many times in Spring training I am bringing plenty of extra sheets. Cross out, erase, change numbers, change names. Who’s that? What’s his name? Something like Albert and Costello.
So when one sees the box score of 7-6 on Sunday, they might be upset to see that we blew a 6-1 lead. Yeah, I know the games do not count. So I looked deeper to what positive this Spring Training game showed.
The first thing that popped out to me was the styles of play exhibited by the two teams. The pitchers’ duel until the bottom of the seventh the way Feller would have pitched it (1-1)turned into a barrage of runs from the 7th inning on, showing 6 runs for Cincinnati and 5 for Cleveland. Thus, the 7-6 final score.This resembled the way Sparky Anderson’s Big Red Machine teams played. Score, score, score!
Secondly, the third basemen did well. When reading about how the Indians are looking for a third baseman and 5th starter, it was great to see everyone in contention for these spots getting their work in and doing well. Jason Donald, one third baseman candidate and the one to most likely win the position at least at the start of the 2011 campaign went 1-2 with a double and a run scored. The third baseman of the future, Lonnie Chisenhall, went 2-3 with two doubles and two runs batted in.
Last but not least, in terms of the 5th starter candidates, their lines showed how the two gentlemen want this spot to be theirs. Josh Tomlin, one candidate for #5 started the game finishing with two innings pitched, giving up 1 hit and throwing 1 strikeout. The other candidate, Aaron Laffey, pitched 1 inning only giving up 1 hit.
In both cases, the competition for the fith starter and hot corner was heating up in the desert right out of the gate. When it comes to this production, I, as a fan like to see the depth it creates and the options it presents for Manager Manny Acta.
Notes from Game 2. 2/28/2011 This day back home in northeast Ohio brought flooding to many, myself included. Not a pleasant situation at all. Yet in terms of baseball, it was pleasant as someone opened the flood gates not to the parched earth of the Arizona desert but to the run department of the Cleveland Indians. While most of us were trying to assess the damage to our property back home, the Indians were breaking open the flood gates with one run off Bronson Arroyo
the possible #1 starter, one run off the closer,
Francisco Cordero, two runs off Dontrelle Willis,
trying to get a spot on the starting rotation and four runs, three earned off Nick Masset
(the man only gave up 20 earned runs last year in 76 innings pitched. Already he gave up 3 earned runs in 1/3 of an inning.) I know Reds fans, the games do not count but still, I would be concerned especially with Masset.
Offensively, I was impressed with Ezequiel Carrera, the AAA gentleman who we received when dealing Russell the muscle Branyan to Seattle last season. Speaking of muscle, Ezequiel is showing consistency going 1-3 with 2 runs batted in game 2 and in game 1, he went 1-2 with a homerun. Take that muscle! I’m keeping my eye on this kid’s progress.
Today the Dodgers come to town, with the very recent loss of Duke Snider. I remember me as a three year old living in AZ wearing a Dodger cap. I was a fan but never saw them play in person at that time. There were no D-Backs then, so for me, I too I share my condolences and tip my cap for one of the greatest Dodgers, Mr. Snider. Thank you, Duke!
I read about the Indians’ Eric Wedge addressing the team after the Indians dropped another 9-3 to the Royals. I myself was looking like this.
For those that suffer like this, it is no laughing matter. I changed my attitude quickly, snapped out of it and wanted to take a positive approach. They needed to focus on today only and play like a champion. I had to cheer like a champion.
Eric Wedge addressed the team. He said the team had to improve in three areas. They had to get better starting pitching. Today’s result. Enter Aaron Laffey.
His line score read IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Laffey 5.1 3 2 2 3 5 0 3.38
Starting pitching better after one game
Next Eric said that the Indians would have to get better defensively to help the starting pitching. Today’s result: enter Grady Sizemore.
He and the rest of the team had great defense and zero errors to help Aaron’s effort stand up.
Defense helps starting pitching after one game
Finally, Eric said the team had to do better with runners in scoring position.
Today’s result: enter Mark De Rosa.
Its the first day of Spring! Hooray! What does this mean? It depends on who you ask?
For some, it means Spring Cleaning!
For others, its means continued soul searching
For some its time to think about getting the lawn back in shape
Some desire to get thin after the long Winter slumber!
Whatever the reason or motivation, the change from Winter to Spring is great, yet challenging. For the Indians organization, this was no exception. As was reported from various Indians media sources, quite a lot of things happened in the last few days.
First, Adam Miller, one of the Indians top prospects was reported to have to have career threatening surgery unless he can learn to change the way he throws and gain enough command to maintain the ability to compete as a pitcher.
Next, the great trim happened for 15 players on the Spring Training Roster.
Along with Adam Miller, RHPs John Meloan and Juan Salas, LHP Tony Sipp and 2B Luis Valbuena were optioned to Triple-A Columbus.
RHP Hector Rondon and C Carlos Santana were optioned to Double-A Akron.
RHP Jack Cassel, LHP David Huff, C Armando Camacaro, 1B Jordan Brown, 3B Wes Hodges, INF Jesus Merchan, 1B Beau Mills and OF Stephen Head were reassigned to Minor League camp.
Just when I thought the routine was over, the news broke that Fausto Carmona now was bruised in the forearm in an intrasquad game and is now day to day. Quick, someone get these guys healthy for April 6th. I want to think we have a team left not looking like this before the season starts.
Luckily Aaron Laffey came out healthy again. His stats against the Brewers at Maryvale Stadium were 4 innings pitched, 3 runs all earned, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts and no homeruns. There was nothing that told me the fifth starter wasn’t his to have, still.
Today, Carl Pavano is scheduled to faceoff against the A’s in Goodyear. My goals are to stay in good health and just hang on until April 6th. I just hope all the players and coaches can just hang on, stay healthy out of camp and continue healthy throughout the upcoming 2009 season.
After all, in Ohio, its all about hanging on…
By the way, good luck to Ohio State and Cleveland State today. Hopefully both can hang on today also in the 64 team NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament. We shall see.
It was January. I interviewed for the Gameday security job which I will be performing at Progressive Field starting in April. (I know always the Jake) However, I need to remain professional and proper. Anyway, as I was walking in for my first interview, in came Aaron Laffey. The security guard that signed me in did not know who Laffey was but I did. He was coming to workout in his offseason program.
That got me to thinking. How many really know who this guy is? I observed him in Spring Training and thought Aaron was really rusty. My thoughts were that Aaron’s offseason program was not working out for him. That is why I made up my mind that not Aaron but Zach Jackson would be the starter in an earlier blog entry found here.
Aaron proved to us fans that he is the man for the fifth spot. Fans from casual to serious, will start to remember him now. As with all players, the more successful he is, the better he will be remembered. Let’s hope more outings are like the one he had today.
Never mind the ERA, just work on having more outings like this in the regular season.
I need to apologize to Aaron for being so quick to judge him. The fan in me wants Opening Day to start right away and I never realize how much goes into getting these players into shape. For example, I heard the MLB network saying Team USA pitcher JJ Putz would not throw that pitch that he threw against Canada late in Spring Training. As the WBC moves on, the pitching will improve, the announcer said. Relating this to Aaron, the pitching is improving and hopefully pitches are being thrown that weren’t before.
There was also an article about Jackson wanting to make the Indians roster here. As Indians fans know he is competing with Aaron Laffey, Jeremy Sowers, David Huff, Scott Lewis and Kirk Saarloos. All of these pitchers and others will make this organization stronger should they be called on. I liked the effort they showed today in winning 4-3. Hopefully, the effort will continue in Peoria tomorrow. We shall see.
Keep it up, Aaron! We sure are going to need your efforts to be strong and focused.
Yesterday Eric Wedge said to reporters “One thing people have to remember, spring training isn’t about results, it’s about getting better and progressing.”.
Well one thing that is glaring out to me are Aaron Laffey’s three starts so far, one has to wonder if he is worth the #5 spot in the rotation
Aaron gave up 1 run but it was unearned in 2 innings of work
Aaron gave up 4 runs, all earned in 2 innings.
Aaron Laffey was supposed to pitch 3 innings. Instead, he gave up 3 earned runs in 1 inning.
I’m starting to wonder if this is progress, as Wedge says.
Yet in Laffey’s defense, he IS coming off elbow surgery. Just watch this video
Yet one has to argue, should Jackson be given more of a chance to earn #5 status?
Greetings from the Grand Canyon!
Yesterday my family and I went to Goodyear for the first time. One thing you notice is the Indians complex seems to be the only thing in town. One wonders what the residents of the town did before Cleveland came to play baseball here. The weather has been spectacular for those who have had 40’s for a long time. (Now that I am at the Grand Canyon, those Cleveland, OH temps have returned.) Anyway, prepare yourselves with plenty of sunscreen if you come down here to Goodyear.
When we got here, two fields were being used by various members of the team. We caught the last bit of running drills. I never was able to get an idea of how each player did. Hopefully, I will have another opportunity to watch this more carefully. When you have a family with you however, no matter how much I like to watch baseball, they always come first.
We did see some excellent fielding drills. One position I focused on during these drills was third base. The players there performing groundball drills and cutoff drills were Jamie Carroll, Mark DeRosa, Tony Graffinino and Andy Marte. Grounder after grounder were fielded cleanly by all. Yet I was looking at something that most reporters may not cover when reporting a story. That issue is heart.
Andy Marte seemed to be going through the motions. He did not seem to care. Everything was just routine and there was no passion. Its like he’s there to take up space. This is something that I would think he would change seeing that he might want to impress another team. Oh well, I wonder if he even enjoys the game by what he showed today.
Jamie Carroll really showed a different intensity. Even though he was not going to play in the game, he still treated the drills like he cared, fielding and throwing crisply and showing me that he is a winner who wants to win.
Mark DeRosa started for another day and was showing the leadership that was needed in these drills telling the others that he had the play, yelling out commands to the outfielders where to throw the ball. It was great to see.
Tony Graffinino was also showing intensity making sure that balls were caught and balls were thrown in the direction of the plate. I was really impressed with his way of practicing.
These evaluations carried over to the game. When we got there, it was $5 to park on grass. When we arrived, Arizona was completing batting practice. It was nice to see former Indian Matt Williams giving instruction with some intensity to the Arizona hitters. I always enjoyed his play when he was here in Cleveland.
Anyway, back to the game. We sat in the right field area right by the foul pole. Mark DeRosa started once again and had a nice double. He looks really focused and ready to play well for Team USA. We shall see. The person that really caught my focus in between trips to the various parts of the park with family was Tony Graffinino. He really showed me that he wants to be a part of this team. For example, as I recall, he carried over the intensity from practice cutting off this ball from left field and threw to the shortstop covering third. Even though he did get a hit, he walked and came home on a wild pitch once he moved to third.
One thing I also was able to recall was three of the four errors. It was what happened after that really made me happy. Remember, Anthony Castrovince said the sun was intense. He is not lying. There was a lazy fly ball between Matt LaPorta and Grady Sizemore that was simply missed played by LaPorta. Yet in true “Wedge team ball fashion”, Matt LaPorta made up for it by hitting a homer to the grassy area behind the fence. The ball was crushed.
Laffey pitched well despite misfielding a play at first. He pitched out of trouble and really showed me that he wants to be that fifth starter. One thing about the pitchers. At least for Laffey and Jensen Lewis, whom I observed directly. It was interesting to see these pitchers continue to do running drills on the playing field even though the game was still going on. To avoid problems, they tried their best to run in between batters.
Another error I observed was done by Steven Head, who was playing right field at the time. It was upsetting to me at the time. However, he also made up for it by hitting the ball with an “excuse me” like swing. Yet he ran it out with such intensity that he was safe. I really think my intense yelling “Run it out” helped.
Yes, the score resulted in a loss but the intensity and ability to work through mistakes gave me great hope that things are going to get better just in time for the marathon to begin on April 6th.
For those that were expecting pictures, I must explain that I have nowhere to download the pictures from the camera onto the current labtop I am using. Don’t worry, pictures will be shared hopefully after I go to the game next Monday. Now onto the canyon with my family.