As I sit here and watch the Indians hand the Royals (yes, those Royals) another game, I find myself grasping for reasons to look forward to this team’s future. So I will try here to give some reasons why we should still watch the Tribe and, since I am the self-proclaimed All-Knowing Baseball Guru, make an effort to answer some of Ed’s questions from last week. Everyone feel free to pick apart my logic.
Let’s start with reasons to watch:
1. Jeanmar Gomez.
I don’t care what Ed says, I’m excited about this kid. No, he doesn’t light up the radar gun or make hitters look foolish with a Bugs Bunny curveball. He does, however, do one very important thing: he gets outs. Through five starts he is 3-1 with a 1.84 ERA and a nice 1.16 WHIP. Last year at Akron he pitched a perfect game and between the Aeros and Clippers had 12 wins and a 3.30 ERA. The numbers don’t lie, and one number I particularly like is his age. Gomez is only 22 years old and has already shown the aptitude to make the necessary adjustments as he moves up. I know that Scott Lewis put up similar numbers and now isn’t even with the organization anymore. I’m not saying to bet all your chips on Jeanmar, but he’s definitely worth taking a look at.
2. Position Battles.
The reason why I say this is a reason to watch is that usually the competition for a position brings out the best in a player, and I hope this is the case for the remainder of the season. There are a few positions that are locked up, such as shortstop (Cabrera), right field (Choo, as long as he doesn’t get sent back to Korea), and catcher (Santana). Other than that, pretty much every position is wide open, and yes I am including center field. Michael Brantley has made the tweaks he needs and shown that he is a definite option in center. Trevor Crowe has looked great at times, though I think he is most likely to be the fourth outfielder next year if Grady is healthy. Personally, I think Sizemore’s future is in left field, but that is a subject that will require its own post.
On the infield, first base is more than likely Matt LaPorta’s job to lose, and it should be. He has shown flashes of the mashing that attracted Mark Shapiro, and I think there is plenty more to come with this year under his belt. Jason Donald may be the answer at second, but his role will probably be as a utility man with two good looking prospects in Cord Phelps and Jason Kipnis awaiting their opportunities. Third base is a black hole. Jayson Nix strikes out way too much and is a below average fielder, Andy Marte (sorry, Ed) is just too inconsistent, and I don’t think Luis Valbuena should be on a Major League roster ever for any reason, as I have made quite obvious. Again, there are two prospects (Jared Goedert and Lonnie Chisenhall) licking their chops in the minors.
3. If/when it gets better, it will be that much sweeter.
This is simply a “better by comparison” kind of way of looking at things. Not too complicated. When the Indians get back to their winning ways, we will appreciate it that much more after having suffered through these lean years. Maybe this is just me being a blind optimist, but hey, I’m okay with that.
And to quickly answer some of these questions (at least in my opinion)…
Manny Acta won’t use these games wisely, he hasn’t done anything wisely all year. Yes, LaPorta and Brantley have a future in this league. Marte and Nix are not options at third. Donald is fine as a utility man, I wouldn’t even trust Valbuena as a fry cook. I have nothing to say (a rarity) about the bullpen. Talbot and Gomez deserve a spot in the rotation, Masterson is doomed to the bullpen, the jury is still out on Tomlin.
Assuming I’m right (I always do) about these things, 2011 will be a much better year. Until then, just keep gritting your teeth Tribe fans, there are bluer skies ahead.
Tags: Andy Marte Asdrubal Cabrera Carlos Santana Cord Phelps Grady Sizemore Jared Goedert Jason Donald Jason Kipnis Jayson Nix Jeanmar Gomez Josh Tomlin Justin Masterson Lonnie Chisenhall Luis Valbuena Manny Acta Mark Shapiro Matt LaPorta Michael Brantley Mitch Talbot Scott Lewis Shin Soo Choo Trevor Crowe