Offense, Game Winning Bunts, and the Most Hated FranchiseI'm going to wrap up the past few days in news up in this post here rather than the usual notes and quotes.
I have a lot of links from outside the usual that I've built up that I need to talk about.
But the semester is practically over, I survived 10-page papers, group presentations and all that fun stuff this week. I do have two exams next week, but for now, I'm unwinding the best way I know how to, catching up on the latest miseries with the Cleveland Indians.
That was a rough series, yet again, because they very well could have won yet another two games.
I think if you said 9-12 at this point in the season with one game left in April, most fans would be surprised they're that close to .500 and in a way I might have been as well.
But 9-12, the way we've seen it unfold feels like it should be better.
I have a whole list of things I need to touch up on, so I'm just going to tackle them as I see fit.
[GRADY SIZEMORE: OFFENSIVE SLUMP, IS HE DONE, AND TRADING HIM]
Big topic right here... First off I saw this post here on a site I've contributed to over the past few months, hotstove.com. Now this is purely speculation on the writers part, who I can only assume is a close follower of the Giants. He suggest Grady Sizemore would be someone the Giants not only need, but could swing a deal for.
This broaches another topic... The want to trade Sizemore by some people and the idea that he will be traded by others. Count me in neither camp.
Sizemore is not only not going anywhere, he shouldn't. Is he done? Some people seem to think he's not going to be the same player he was years ago. I find that hard to believe. He's in a slump people, let him go. Just about everyone on the team is in a slump or has gone through one this month. Give it some time. Yes we didn't get off to the April start we wanted, but this team has played and looked a lot better than I think we all expected and they've looked and played a lot better in the month of April than they have in the past.
Anyway in that post I linked, the writer suggests that the Indians would desire pitching and if you are dealing with the Giants, I actually would expect pitching, and lots of it, or a lot of talent from it. I'm not sure the Indians aren't done piling up the arms, but I do think they feel a lot better about their depth than they did a year ago at this time.
If a deal of this magnitude would be swung, first off Sizemore's value is lower than you would want it to be right now, so you better damn well wait, I'd expect Madison Bumgarner WOULD need to be in the deal, and that is just a starting point. The writer starts there.Am I expecting too much? I don't think so. Bumgarner is their second best prospect. A year and a half of Cliff Lee garnered plenty of top prospects from Philadelphia, I'd expect Bumgarner and another top prospect would be a good starting point.
But let's not discuss a trade, because it won't happen. I'm simply trying to establish Sizemore's value, which is not as high as you'd like, but still pretty damn high, which is why you REMAIN CALM DAMNIT. Remain calm! Things will turn around for Sizemore at the plate.
[THE MOST HATED TEAM EVER]
Well not ever... But speaking of remaining calm.... Wow did you see this?
I have a lot of opinion on this... I think this is mainly because we as a fan base are so... negative. I mean this thing basically tracks the internet and the reactions, positive and negative, that a club has. You've seen Facebook Reactions on this blog before, you know exactly what type of negativity has been swirling around this team the past year.
But I've already done the work on this, and you can read the entire article here.
On a side note of small-market...ness? Great article by Joe Christensen in the Star Tribune about the Twins and Indians and how Minnesota based Target Field off what is now Progressive Field. The way you look at it now, you can honestly see the parallels between the 90's Indians and the current Twins. There is some magic there and there has been for some years and the move to a new park is just a little bit more. You get a core like they have, a superstar like they have, the winning they've been doing. Yeah... They're just "it" right now.
[CHRIS PEREZ ASKS YOU NOT TO BUNT, SUCKER]
"It was a bad baseball play that happened to work out," Perez said afterward. "I don't want to say it was bush league. But you never see that. Ninety-nine percent of hitters in that situation would rather win the game with a hit, not a bunt."
While I love Chris Perez.... C FN P is acting a little too much like K FN P over this bunt situation that lost the game on Wednesday.
You got beat man. No you personally, but the team. Just tip your cap and move on. Was it tough to lose that way? Yeah but it is hardly a bush league play. Kevin Kaduk of one my favorite blogs, Big League Stew, put it best.
"Uh, not only did it work, it won the game for the Angels. And the victory will count the same in the standings as a win that would have been gained by Kendrick putting a Perez pitch in the gap"
He's right... The win counts just the same and it goes as a hit. The boxscore doesn't recognize it as any less of a hit as if he would have clubbed one. He knew Perez was going to throw a strike from the get-go and Roenicke and the Angels out-thought the Indians to win that. Nothing more you can do.
I love the fire in Perez though. I like having a real spit-talker in the back of the bullpen. It is a reason I'm a fan of his hair... BECOME A FAN OF HIS HAIR DAMNIT.
[HANFER, LAPORTA, PERALTA, and MARSON]
Travis Hafner: He's sat the last two games against left-handed hitters. Am I the only one that doesn't see things going as bad as some are making it out to be. Up until recently he was on-base of every game. Is he struggling against the left-handers? He's struggling to hit period, so yeah. But that shift is really doing him in right now. He's hit the ball hard in instances. Is he driving it? No not like he was earlier. Is he taking good rips? Not as good as he was earlier.
But he doesn't look lost at the plate. One thing that does bug me is how he has been letting a lot of first-pitch strikes go in unattended to. He needs to take more first-pitch swings. I know that isn't his game and he is more of a selective hitter who likes to work the count.
But a majority of the first pitches he's been seeing, from what I've noticed, have come on the first pitch and they've been real hittable.
Matt LaPorta: I stripped him of the Matola nickname until further notice due to his struggles. He's been atrocious at the plate this year and there may be rumblings going around that he may not be all that healthy, but who knows. It wasn't until Tuesday where he got his first hit against a left-handed pitcher (actually got two, was 0-for-18 on the season) and he's been horrible in RBI situations. With 17 at-bats he's had just one RBI. He's truck out twice in three chances with runners at third and less than two outs.Those are rally killers.
The two hits against Saunders were a start, but he needs to buckle down. I think he needs to play at the major league level and a call down to Columbus would be pointless. He has to do it against major league pitching. So if he is hurt, fine, put him on the DL, but don't send him down to Triple-A. He has to figure it out up here. His defense has been good so that is no excuse either.
Jhonny Peralta: Say what you want but lately, Peralta has been hitting a little better. He's also been walking. Did you know he's second on this club in walks? He's also got as many walks as strikeouts (14). Holy! He's getting on base, which is a good thing and his average still sucks, but maybe he's turning it around a little.
Lou Marson: I announced over twitter that I would not shave until Lou Marson had a multi-hit game. That lasted one game and it was only because he didn't even play Monday. He was in there Tuesday with two hits and then did it again on Wednesday. So now I've decided I won't shave until he goes hitless. Marson has gone from under the .100 mark to .171 in just two games, which is pretty good... That average is still bad, but he's picking it up a little more. Had two doubles, one that was as close as you can get to being a home run without being a home run, so maybe he's coming around. The beard is still in tact (technically haven't shaved since last Wednesday) and will remain until Marson does not hit in a game he starts. He won't be starting tonight with Carmona pitching.
Manny Acta stood by his catcher again, saying there is no time table for Carlos Santana and that Lou Marson needs a legit chance. Until Tuesday, Marson had three hits, three walks and scored just one run. I don't think he had been past first base all that much, the past two games, he's done it plenty.
Speaking of Fausto Carmona. Anthony Castrovince has a nice long piece up about Carmona and his new demeanor. One thing I didn't assume was Carmona as a shy individual. Usually when you see the dugout, he's always jumping around laughing and he's constantly toying with teammates.
"He's very shy," Tribe manager Manny Acta said. "He doesn't say much. He keeps to himself and keeps his headphones on."
"He's got an office phobia," Acta said. "I learned that right away. He doesn't like to be in offices. You're not going to pull him over by the batting cage and talk. He's a very respectful guy, but he keeps his distance. You try to get close to him, but he's not the easiest guy to engage in long conversations."
Office phobia? Well thank god Michael Scott is not his boss...
His boss has kind of been Mike Redmond, who has bee instrumental in Fausto's turnaround began planning on how to let Fausto pitch long before he was signed.
"Even though I didn't get any hits off him, he actually did me some favors by the way he pitched me," Redmond remembered. "As I was facing him, I was always in the back of my mind going, 'This guy doesn't need to do all that stuff. He doesn't need to throw me changeups. He's giving me a chance by throwing me those pitches. If I ever caught him, I'd use him differently.'"
You know, that t-shirt that was given to Masa Kobayashi a few years ago that said he was "Big in Japan." Yeah that wasn't really meant for him and I'm sure Kobayashi got the joke. But Shin-Soo Choo is HUGE in Korea, and that isn't meant to be a sick joke.
Choo wants to play everyday and because of his presence he was able to avoid a scheduled day off in Oakland. Then the media was out to see Choo for the Angels series.
The Angels credentialed 10 Korean journalists for the series, and they all wanted some of Choo's time before and after games. Acta said Choo handles such demands well, and he's also impressed with the way Choo dedicated himself to improve his English so that he can communicate with the local media, as well.
Angels skipper Mike Scioscia said the Indians have a good one in Tim Belcher. The former catcher was teammates with Belcher with the Dodgers for four years, so they know each other very well.
I was disappointed with the way Jake Westbrook finished that game on Wednesday, but he certainly was the Jake of old for the first five innings. Starting to feel for the guy as he has not won a game in two years now. You have to believe the pressure is starting to grow on him to finally break through.
"I'm tired of being part of the problem," Westbrook said. "I feel good about where I am [physically]. I'm just not getting the job done. Hopefully I can find a way to put up zeroes when we need them, not like in the sixth inning there."
Is he just running out of steam at the end of these starts? Is it Paul Byrd syndrome? Acta said his velocity was still there in the sixth and he didn't stay with him too long. Judging by the fact he got the outs he needed after the HR, I'd say he made a mistake this time around. Acta said no one is here to pitch just five innings, he has to deeper and the club is probably doing him more favors in the long run by pushing him this far.
The offense as a whole.... Terry Pluto hasn't lost the faith that they'll still hit.. Neither have I.. Austin Kearns will not be carrying this team too much longer. It has to turn sometime here and maybe May will do it.