Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The good and the bad

A week's worth of baseball is hardly enough time to develop a realistic view of a player's performance. But that's never stopped us before.

With the Indians treading water at or near the .500 mark, there is already plenty to discuss concerning the Tribe's bats and arms. Already, fans are developing some strong opinions about who is earning their keep, who should be shuffled onto the next bus to Buffalo, and who should be airlifted to Siberia.

In that spirit, let's take a look at some Indians who deserve gold stars one week into the season, and some who deserve a time out in the corner.

All this and brains, too

Fausto Carmona

He wasn't quite as dominant in Monday's outing against the Angels as he was in carving up the White Sox in the season's second game, but his sinker is working overtime, he's throwing strikes and he is setting the stage for one heck of a season. If he keeps it up for six months, he'll be a Cy Young favorite.

Grady Sizemore

With the stalled starts of Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez, Sizemore's .321 average and .406 on-base percentage through Monday wasn't getting a lot of ink. But he's the Tribe's best hitter who hasn't suffered a hamstring pull to date.

Victor Martinez

When Martinez pulled his hamstring, the offense went in the dumper. Martinez is, quite simply, the most important bat in the Tribe's lineup.

Ryan Garko

Here's hoping that Garko did enough weight training this offseason, because he's going to have to do a lot of heavy lifting in this lineup, especially if Hafner continues to plateau. So far, with a .304 average, four RBI and six walks drawn, he's been up to the challenge.

Rafael Perez

Too bad he's so dang valuable as a set-up man, because he'd be a dynamite closer. Through Monday, he had three strikeouts, two walks, a hold and no earned runs in four appearances. The two walks are the only real blemishes on his stat line so far.

It's a start...

Cliff Lee

One start is just that -- one start. But knowing how badly Lee struggled in 2007, to see him pitch 6 2/3 shutout innings in his first '08 start warms the heart. Now, let's see him do it all year.

Jake Westbrook

Six hits and two earned runs in his first start, covering 7 1/3 innings. I'll take it. If he can keep his obliques from ripping, he'll be fine.

Masa Kobayashi

Two appearances spanning 1 1/3 innings, four hits, but no walks and no runs entering play Tuesday. Already, he's better than Roberto Hernandez.

Craig Breslow

I'll admit, when the Indians picked this guy up, he scared me. He came from Boston with the reputation of being Ralph Macchio to Mitch Williams' Mr. Miagi in the School of Wild-Armed Lefties. But so far -- deep breath -- so good. Two innings of work through Monday, one hit surrendered, one strikeout, no walks. But keep in mind that Aaron Fultz started out well last year, too.

I'm not impressed, but I'll withhold judgment for now

C.C. Sabathia

Reigning Cy Young winners get the benefit of the doubt. But doesn't it seem like C.C. lives off the benefit of the doubt a lot? He throws really hard and shows flashes of brilliance, so when he struggles, it's largely viewed as a blip on the radar. But, even with last year's brilliant April-to-September performance, his postseason flameout reminded us all that C.C. has the stench of inconsistency on him, likely until the day he retires.

Paul Byrd

Bad karma alert. Any time you get caught up in baseball's steroid/HGH controversy, it's bad medicine. Byrd's first start left him with a 6.23 ERA. I'm not optimistic about his season.

Franklin Gutierrez

He still needs to prove he can hit righties. He still needs to prove he can hit for at least reasonable power. He brings the defense, but through a little over a week, .182 and one homer just ain't cutting it at the dish.

Rafael Betancourt

ERAs can be a misleading stat for relievers, but any way you slice it, three earned runs and nine hits in your first 3 1/3 innings of work isn't good. If Betancourt crashes back to Earth this year, the Tribe's bullpen is in deep trouble.

Travis Hafner

Nine strikeouts in his first 25 at-bats. Yeesh. He might recover to post solid numbers this year, but I'm beginning to wonder if the days of .300 and 40 homers from Pronk might be over.

Casey Blake

He's 34 and will turn 35 before the end of the season. He's never been an ultra-quick hitter, never really able to make the last-nanosecond adjustments to foul off a nasty pitch. As he inches up through his 30s, he'll only get slower at the plate. So far this year, he's been Eeyore.

Asdrubal Cabrera

No surprises here. Pitchers have adjusted, and now Cabrera must either adjust back, or adjust back to life in Buffalo.

Jhonny Peralta

He must be taking hitting tips from Hafner, because he's hacking away at the plate again. Of course, hacking and guess-hitting seem to become epidemics with this team at times.

The Hefty bag

Andy Marte

Please, please, please end this experiment. The sooner Mark Shapiro and Eric Wedge can come to grips with the fact that they whiffed when they made Marte the centerpiece of the Coco Crisp trade, the better off we'll all be. Stuffing him into the team cargo hold because he's out of options and playing him once a week is simply one last weak attempt to justify a non-factor of a trade.

Jason Michaels and David Dellucci

Playing Dellucci against lefties, Michaels against righties, Dellucci against righties, Michaels against lefties, Michaels during the day, Dellucci at night, Michaels on cloudy days, Dellucci on sunny days, NONE of it will make this a good platoon situation. No matter how hard Eric Wedge tries.

Joe Borowski

A bit harsh to place him on the scrap heap? Maybe. But the legendary general manager Branch Rickey once said that the key to being a successful GM is to get rid of players one year before you have to. I don't think Shapiro did that with Borowski, who already has a walk-off grand slam on the books.

1 comment:

Zach said...

Here's the thing with Marte: If the Indians see enough in him to keep him on the roster, he has to play every day. If they don't they need to cut their losses.

There is a part of me that thinks Marte would hit .245, but hit 25 homers and drive in 100 runs if given the opportunity. The other part of me thinks he is a lost cause.

The point is, keeping him on the roster just to keep him on the roster helps no one.

Casey Blake has started cold, but he usually heats up to get his average in the .270 range with 15 homers and 70 RBIs. The Indians have decided they can live with that production, and I don't blame them.

So that leaves Marte without a position. It's not like they can put him at first or DH.

So the only option is to see if you can find a taker, or put him on waivers. Let's be realistic. Marte is closer to Alex Escobar than Brandon Phillips.