Smooth Arrives, Wrong About Wood

Do you want the big news now, or after the housekeeping notes?

You want the big news now? OK, here it is, you’ve been waiting since March for it: 

If you had June 11th in your office pools, you win. Carlos “Smooth” Santana has been called up by the Indians today, and will assume the role of starting catcher.  Smooth was hitting .316 with 13 home runs in 57 games. The Indians said they wanted to keep Santana down to work on his defense, and apparently he learned how to play defense in two or three weeks:

“We had challenged Carlos,” Indians general manager Mark Shapiro said. “It’s clear that his bat had dictated a call-up a while ago. But in the last two or three weeks he has made significant strides in his defensive aspects— his game calling, leading the staff and his throwing.”

Man, that Santana is smooth. What a quick study. Either that, or the Indians actually looked at former starting catcher Lou Marson’s stats (.268 OBP, .530 OPS, 1 home run) and decided that although Marson was leading the league in runners thrown out, playing like a National League club with eight hitters in your lineup really only works in the National League.

So Smooth has arrived. What now? I’ll tell ya: tempered enthusiasm. This kid is not going to come in and set the world on fire right away. We can’t expect him to be the savior of this ball  club and instantly carry the Indians to the playoffs. Because that’s not going to happen. The Indians are a bad team, with or without Smooth. But Santana has absolutely nothing left to prove in the minors, and let’s face it, Marson probably should have been sent down at the end of April if the Indians were actually a contending team. But they are not, and Santana’s service time was more important than Marson’s psyche, so Santana waited, waited until his smoothness could be freed.

Santana’s call up masks yesterday’s walk-off win, or as I like to call it, “Things Ed Was Wrong About: Kerry Wood Edition.” Coming off the 2008 season, I was of the camp that the Indians did not need to spend big money on a closer. I disagreed with then-manager Eric Wedge that it was the Indians’ biggest need. I did offer one caveat: if they could get a guy who was clearly head and shoulders above Jensen Lewis (who had a decent run as closer at the end of 2008) on a short deal, then go for it. I thought Kerry Wood was that guy. He was supposed to be an overpowering strikeout machine who would stay healthier with the fewer innings. When the signing happened, I was all ready to buy a Wood jersey shirt.

Well I will admit it. Kerry Wood has been atrocious as the Indians closer. At this rate, only a team that’s either desperate or dumb would trade for him. While Wood can kiss his vesting option goodbye (I believe he needed to finish 50 games) ,which does make him a little more attractive to teams, the Indians will probably need to eat a lot of Wood’s salary in order to receive a player of value. Before you scoff and say, “The Indians would never do that! They’d rather someone else pay the bill!” Keep in mind, the Indians HAVE eaten most of a player’s salary in order to get a better player recently. The Indians paid most of Casey F-in Blake’s contract in order to receive “Smooth” Santana, or as I like to call it, “The Greatest Trade Ever (No Matter Who the Tribe Got).” I know it may not seem like it, but this team doesn’t always just cut corners.

As for Wood, his numbers tell the story of his season: 9.58 ERA, 1.94 WHIP. He’s given up 11 earned runs… in 10.1 IP. So to everyone who says I’m an arrogant bastard who can’t admit when he’s wrong, here ya go: I was wrong about Kerry Wood. He has sucked.

And coming soon to a ballpark near you: “Things Ed Was Wrong About: Andy Marte Edition.”

Finally, I will indeed be making an appearance on Stache Radio, the Internet radio show for The Daily Stache, which is a New York Mets blog, as the Indians will host the Mets next week. I will be talking Tribe with host and assistant editor of The Daily Stache, Matthew Falkenbury at approximately 11:15 PM EST on Sunday night. Be sure to tune in early (the show starts at 11 and you won’t want to miss a second of me!) as I’m sure Matthew and I will have plenty to talk about after Stephen Strasburg’s second start earlier that day! Also, if you’re hankering to learn more about the Indians’ interleague opponent, The Daily Stache and New York Fan in South Jersey are great places to start, as is our own Rising Apple, where writers Adam Garnett and Brandon Butler have done some good stuff. All are worthy of your time.

Finally let’s end with an addition to the Andy Marte quotebook uttered after last night’s win, when Marte made three errors in the 1st inning:

It was the worst inning of my career. I felt so bad, but now I feel so good – because my teammates picked me up. What a win!
-Andy Marte

Chew on that.

Tags: Andy Marte Carlos Santana Casey Blake Jensen Lewis Kerry Wood Lou Marson

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