Monday, April 03, 2006

White Sox 10, Indians 4

It's only the first game. There are 161 more (and 18 more with the White Sox) to play. But I think some trends are already starting to emerge.

1) Jim Thome will torment the Indians this year
Much like a lot of Indians fans, Thome loves GM Mark Shapiro, but I don't think he's too crazy about owner Larry Dolan.
He left town feeling low-balled, and now he's back in the AL Central to wreak havoc. He gave a sample of what is to come with his no-doubt homer off Fernando Cabrera in the fourth inning, re-energizing what had become a sparse Chicago crowd thanks to a three-hour rain delay.
After just seven homers and 59 games last year for Philadelphia, Thome is primed for a breakout year. The Indians, especially, are going to feed his comeback year.
My early prediction: Thome hits at least 10 homers against the Indians this year. It's going to be tough to make headway against the White Sox when Thome threatens to change the game every time he steps to the plate.

2) Yet again, C.C. Sabathia's conditioning is called into question
A strained oblique muscle can happen to any baseball player. But this is the second straight year C.C. has yanked a side muscle.
He left the mound in the third inning. Given the fickle nature of muscle strains, who knows when he'll be back? Last year, the injury cost him just about all of spring training and the first two weeks of the season.
I still don't think C.C. knows exactly how comprehensive your conditioning has to be as a major league pitcher. It's not just running and cardio. You need to stretch a lot to guard against injuries just like this.
C.C. is physically a high-maintenance pitcher. His height makes his mechanics liable to get thrown out of whack. His weight makes him a candidate for joint and muscle injuries. If C.C. doesn't realize that, it's up to the Indians coaching and training staff to monitor him, and press him when needed.

3) Fernando Cabrera is pitching his way back to Buffalo
Something isn't right with Cabrera. This isn't the guy who posted a 1.47 ERA for the Indians last year.
He had a rocky finish to spring training. Last night, albeit in unconventional circumstances, he looked terrible. Ten of his first 13 pitches were balls, he needed a great diving catch by Jason Michaels to save an extra-base hit, and he committed the cardinal sin of grooving a shin-high fastball to Thome.
The Indians have to get Cabrera straightened out. If he gas-cans his way back to Buffalo, that's a major piece of the Indians bullpen out of commission.

No comments: