Monday, April 11, 2005

Gloves of stone

I shouldn't complain. The Indians are 3-4 as of 6 p.m. Monday, when they lost to the White Sox in their home opener, 2-1.
The bullpen was stellar again, offering up two innings of scoreless relief after Kevin Millwood handed them and the offense a manageable one-run deficit in the seventh inning.
Millwood and the starters have done a respectable job on the whole, the lone black spots being duds from Cliff Lee and Jake Westbrook on Thursday and Saturday.
The offense has the second-lowest batting average in the American League, but it's still early. There is enough talent in the lineup to make a reasonable fan believe this offense will warm up as the weather does so.
But that defense... ohhh, that defense.
The Indians' glovework is ... how shall I put this delicately? Impotent?
Oh, nevermind the pleasantries. The Indians suck on defense. Suck suck suck.
An Aaron Boone boot today raised their already league-leading error total to 10. And Boone, with three errors, is one of the softer-handed Tribe fielders.
Jhonny Peralta has four errors. I said in an earlier post that we shouldn't be too hasty to judge Peralta because he is trying to fill the enormous defensive shoes of Omar Vizquel. And we shouldn't.
On the other hand, shortstop is not a position where you want to be holding your breath for every ground ball hit that way. A lot of ground balls go to shortstop, a big reason why Alex Cora has been starting the past two games.
It would be a shame if Peralta and his tremendous offensive potential are glued to the bench because he can't even make routine plays consistently.
But let's not brand only Boone and Peralta. Ronnie Belliard and Ben Broussard have both dropped routine throws from teammates. Grady Sizemore tracked down a fly ball in deep center Sunday in Detroit, only to have it kick off the heel of his glove on a diving catch attempt. Ryan Ludwick did the same in foul territory today.
Coco Crisp has range, but possibly the worst outfield throwing arm in the majors. Victor Martinez has gotten much better at moving around behind the plate, but throws out a very low percentage of base stealers. Pitchers who don't check runners and deliver slowly are not helping matters for Martinez.
Ironically, Casey Blake, who moved from third base to the outfield, might be the most solid defensive performer the Indians have had after one week of the season.
Seven games in is not the time to overly fret, but if this type of granite-handed defense continues, the Tribe's glovework is going to start costing them more and more games. In the AL Central, which promises to be tightly-packed all season, that could be lethal to their playoff chances.

1 comment:

Zach said...

What has struck me today is how weak the offense appears in the early going. I am likely jumping the gun, but it appears to me that Grady Sizemore (probably spelled wrong) is not ready yet.
I am counting the days before Juan comes back for 10 days before he gets hurt again. They'll be good for at least that long.
Defensively, Boone worries me, because I think defense is one of the big reasons they brought him in.