Tuesday, March 14, 2006

A confused analyst

FoxSports.com's Dayn Perry doesn't seem to know what to think about the Indians.
One month, he's patting them on the back for a "solid" off-season and the acquisition of prime prospect Andy Marte.
Then the first edition of his 2006 baseball power rankings come out, and he has stuffed the Indians in the middle of the pack, predicting a "disappointing" season.
Why am I telling you this and not Perry? Because FoxSports.com makes you mine the deepest parts of their Web site to find a e-mail address for feedback. Man, I wish my paper operated like that sometimes. My phone number and e-mail are attached to every article I write.
Yeah, I'm an Indians fan. Brand me a homer if you want. But what really peeves me is that Perry has the Indians listed 11th, one spot below the Tigers.
The Tigers! He has far more flattering things to say about the them than the Indians, too. He calls them a "dark horse" in the American League, possessing a fearsome offense and some peppy young pitching. He calls them "a team worth paying attention to."
And the Indians aren't?
Perry seems to think there has been too much fawning over the Indians this winter for having won 93 games last season (how on Earth could he get that idea?), and apparently wants to take them down a couple of notches.
He cites a dismantled bullpen, loss of Kevin Millwood, and sophomore slump for Jhonny Peralta as the reasons the Indians are doomed this year.
The whole "Indians are crap without Kevin Millwood" movement should serve as bulletin-board material for Paul Byrd, who, like the Indians, continually makes solid strides and has little notoriety or respect to show for it.
Peralta might not hit .292 this year, if only because scouting reports on him will be more detailed now. But even if Peralta falls a bit, is it unreasonable to think other guys might pick up the slack? I don't think Aaron Boone will be hitting below .200 in May.
Even if Boone does, Perry's boy Andy Marte, whom he drools over like a lovesick schoolgirl, might be able to come up, hit .350 and author a nuclear disarmament treaty while he's at it.
So what's all this head-shaking over Peralta's bat?
As far as the bullpen goes, it remains a question mark. I don't deny that. But bullpens get rebuilt on the fly every year. Bullpens are the most changeable area of a baseball team. Every year, bullpen pitchers fall in to roles, fall out of them, lose their effectiveness, get hurt, reclaim their careers, fail to reclaim their careers, and other possibilities I haven't thought of.
Sure, it would have been nice to keep Bob Howry and maybe Arthur Rhodes. But Howry's replacement, Guillermo Mota, can be as effective, if not as durable.
Fernando Cabrera came on strong at the end of last year and deserves the chance he's getting this spring to be a major cog in Cleveland's bullpen. He can help absorb some of Howry's role as well.
In short, the Indians might not have the great bullpen of a year ago, but the bullpen should still be good. They aren't patching holes with pitchers like Jose Jimenez or Scott Stewart.
So come on, Dayn. Lighten up. There are plenty of local fans and media members already ragging on the Indians. We don't need more of it from afar.

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