Thursday, April 20, 2006

50 wins and a flameout

The good news: the Cavaliers won their 50th game of the season, albeit barely, in last night's season finale.
The bad news: the Wizards nabbed a gimme win over a Pistons team that stopped seriously competing several weeks ago, and will arrive in Cleveland for Game 1 with the Cavs Saturday.
The really bad news: while all that was going on, the Orioles took my Wednesday post on how bad they are and turned it on its ear.

The Cavs
Cleveland's first 50-win season in 13 years came with some difficulty. The Cavs barely survived Atlanta, 100-99.
Coach Mike Brown sat LeBron James and Larry Hughes because he would have been run out of town if either one of those guys would have sustained a major injury three days before the playoffs begin.
They faced a Hawks team playing loose, their season already branded a bust long ago, and fell behind by 12 in the first half.
Cleveland eventually rallied to take control of the game in the second half, before falling asleep at the switch down the stretch. When Donyell Marshall missed a pair of free throws with less than seven seconds left in the game, Atlanta had a chance to win as time expired, but a three-ball missed at the buzzer.
Kudos to the Cavs organization, which organized an elaborate postgame ceremony in which players personally gave their jerseys and shoes to selected fans.
The Cavs are the toast of the town. Winning would be enough. But the Cavs did up "Fan Appreciation Night" right. In addition to the jersey and shoe giveaway, the Cavs also awarded trips and cars, among other prizes totaling about $500,000.
The Cavs, however, came in second with regard to fan appreciation giveaways during the final night of the regular season. In Dallas, the Mavericks gave every fan in attendance a free plane trip from American Airlines. That's about 19,000 plane tickets to be awarded.

The Indians
Did I say the Orioles were awful? Either they used my blog as bulletin board material (less likely) or they were so thoroughly humiliated by Tuesday's 15-1 thrashing by the Indians, they decided to do something about it (more likely).
The Indians pitching loomed utterly helpless Wednesday night. Jake Westbrook was terrible, and the bullpen was even worse. The Orioles mashed out 21 hits, trumping Cleveland's 20 on Tuesday, and had a cathartic 18-9 ass-whupping of Cleveland.
Westbrook was spotted a 7-3 lead, but was knocked out when he surrendered seven in the fourth inning.
On came the bullpen, which is quickly showing an inability to keep deficits close. Matt Miller was bad, then left with a strained elbow. Punch his ticket for the disabled list right now.
Rafael Betancourt relieved, and promptly strained his back. Exit, stage left.
Jason Davis provided a rare bit of relief, working a scoreless inning. But manager Eric Wedge didn't keep him around long.
Next up was Danny Graves, who is quickly becoming a failed experiment. He gave up five runs on five hits over 1 2/3 innings. His ERA now stands at 7.71.
I know Graves' friendship with GM Mark Shapiro helped him get that final bullpen spot, and will probably help Graves stick around in Cleveland for a while. But whatever Graves had that made him a dominant closer in Cincinnati has deserted him.
I am starting to get that Jose Jimenez feeling whenever Graves trots out of the bullpen. That feeling where you know something bad is going to happen.
Question: why not give these multi-inning mopup assignments to the guys you are going to be relying on in the future? If the Indians have finally committed to Davis as a reliever, give him the innings to sharpen himself.
Once Graves is cut or shipped to the minors, the Indians are still going to be figuring out how to plug in Davis. My guess is that two innings of Davis (1.80 ERA) would be a heck of a lot better than 1 2/3 of Graves.


Anonymous said...

Please take back what you said about the Orioles!!! And don't tell any more teams that they suck. I have a feeling every team is reading your blog and gets upset being called losers. So no more.

Erik said...

You know what? I think the Kansas City Royals are a model organization. I think, top to bottom, they might be the best in baseball. If there is another team that could win the World Series this fall, I'd like to see it.