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Indians Indians Archive The B-List: 7/28
Written by Steve Buffum

Steve Buffum

Do you like hats?  I’ve really started to like wearing hats in recent years.  I mean, I’ve always worn a baseball cap when playing Ultimate to keep the sweat out of my eyes, and now I wear it in the pool because my hair is … um … “thinning,” but now I like wearing other hats for stylistic reasons, too.  What does this have to do with the game last night?  Absolutely nothing.  Which makes it superior to the game last night..


FINAL 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Pestilence (64-36) 1 3 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 8 13 0
Indians (42-59) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 8 0

jhonny-walk-offW: Burnett (9-8)  L: Carmona (10-8) 

Well well well well well well welly well well. 

1) On long goodbyes 

There probably wasn’t a bigger Jhonny Peralta Fan than me back in the day.  I was all in favor of Omar getting moved to make room for him.  I thought his minor-league performances warranted some optimism.  I thought his 2005 season was one of the very best a shortstop of his age had put up in my lifetime, and that players who showed so much at so young an age were more likely than most to be excellent players later in their careers.  He was durable with surprising power and looked to be a fixture for a long time.  I thought his extension eminently reasonable and perhaps even on the “bargain” side. 

It isn’t common that you get to use the word “phlegmatic” to describe a baseball player.  “Affable,” perhaps, like Jim Thome.  But “phlegmatic” is kind of reserved for Manny Ramirez.  Except that Jhonny Peralta was phlegmatic as well.  (Note: this is different from “phlegmlike,” a term which would need to be considered separately.)  In his most joyous moments, Peralta would possibly smile.  In his most grueling shame, Peralta would sometime go so far as to bow his head slightly.  If it is determined in later years that Jhonny Peralta has actually had electroshock therapy or was permanently hypnotized or perhaps an alien lifeform embedded in his spinal column controlling his physical actions without engaging the so-called “higher functions” of the brain, how many of us would be truly surprised?  It is ironic that the one player who best embodied the Eric Wedge “not too high, not too low” philosophy was one who infuriated (so far as this was possible) Wedge the most. 

I spent significant time arguing that his defense was not as bad as it looked at times: people tended to remember a glaringly awful play rather than the dozens of everyday plays, and Peralta could certainly “awful glaringly” with the most distinguish awfullers.  But his range wasn’t as bad as it looked, and his arm was very strong, and he ended up getting a few more outs than the normal shortstop with it, which acted to partially offset the number of outs he gave back due to watching the ball roll past him with Jeteriffic aplomb.  In the end, Peralta’s detractors were probably overstating their case as I overstated mine, and Peralta was simply a low-average defensive shortstop. 

With a 2005 bat, this could play just fine.  I used to have the argument about Victor Martinez playing catcher: in my mind, it was clear that Martinez was a huge asset providing his plate appearances as a catcher, because you could add a first baseman more easily.  At first, Victor is kind of Just Some Guy, and then you’re left fielding Kelly Shoppach or Mike Redmond or some other “normal” offensive catcher and your whole offense suffers considerably.  Anyway, I always thought that Martinez’ defensive shortcomings were oversold as well, and that the equation: 

Victor offense + Victor C defense + “regular” 1B > “regular” C offense + “regular” C defense + Victor at 1B 

was pretty obviously true. 

Much in the same way, Peralta 2005 offense + Peralta defense > other SS offense + other SS defense in most attainable cases.  The problem was, once Peralta settled in to the 2008 through 2010 mode, this equation was almost certainly UNtrue. 

Long story short (too late!): this train wreck that was Jhonny Peralta’s Indians career, like most things associated with Jhonny Peralta, took a very long time to develop and wasn’t very interesting at the end.  Jhonny Peralta fell down and could not, or would not, get up.  The net result of this deal is not that I am excited by the arm we acquired, or the $250K (yes, $250K: we are paying Peralta’s 2010 salary, if I read the reports correctly) saved, but rather it clears a place for someone else to get regular playing time in place of a guy who was no longer interesting to watch and certainly not part of the future of the Tribe.  I suppose in a way, the most damning thing I can say about Peralta’s departure is that I have no EMOTIONAL response at all.  I’m glad it’s done, and now I can move on to something more engaging.  Which, again, seems appropriate when speaking of Jhonny Peralta. 

2) ¡Fausto! 


3) The teaser 

I think I can see why Hector Ambriz is so enticing to the Indians’ front office: in 2 1/3 innings in relief of Carmona, more than half of the outs Ambriz recorded came via the strikeout (4 of 7).  Ambriz has 25 Ks in 34 innings, a nice-enough rate, although you’d like to see that closer to a 1-to-1 ratio for a right-handed power arm.  And Ambriz is no ROOGY like a Joe Smiff: he holds left-handers to a respectable .730 OPS. 

Sadly, RIGHT-handers hit a preposterous .371/.430/.729 off Ambriz.  Yes, that’s right: his SLG against righties matches his entire OPS against lefties.  Which isn’t even very good. 

More than half of the hits he’s allowed to right-handed hitters have been for extra bases (8 2B, 1 3B, 5 HR).  The good news is that since the All-Star Break, he has allowed only 6 hits and 1 run (a solo homer) for an ERA of 1.42.  The bad news is that 6 1/3 (IP) is not a significant number. 

Look, is Ambriz better than a mook off the street, a term which here means “Jensen Lewis?”  Probably.  But he’s been passed in the pecking order by Frank Herrmann, and probably Jess Todd, two guys who were about nineteen times as unlikely to contribute in the majors THIS season than Ambriz was. 

Anyway, his home ERA is 2.08, so he has that going for him, which is nice. 

4) Hopeful hope 

Jess Todd did not make a very good impression on me when he first came up, giving up a pair of hits and a run in his first outing and walking two guys in one inning in his second. 

Since then, though, not only has he thrown two nice, scoreless outings, but his control just looks TONS better. He threw 22 of his 29 pitches for strikes, including a first-pitch strike to 5 of the 7 hitters he faced.  With 6 Ks in 5 IP, Todd could be the Actual Power Righty Hector Ambriz is not. 

Note: the hope is based more on the improved control.  The sample size is microscopic. 

5) Ho Hum Dept. 

Frank Herrmann and Tony Sipp each threw a perfect inning.  Sipp needed six (six!) pitches, INCLUDING a strikeout. 

6) Ducks choking the pond! 

The Indians went a brisk 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left nine men on base in getting shut out.  Seven different players failed in this situation, although special mention goes to Jason Donald, who managed to do it thrice. 

7) Taking advantage of an opportunity 

Trevor Crowe will be getting time in the leadoff slot now that Mike Brantley has been given his richly-deserved tin-plated wazoo, and wasted no time going 3-for-4 for a team that managed only 8 hits total.  In fact, Crowe is hitting .309/.364/.420 in July, and choosing a more arbitrary endpoint, is hitting .347 over his last 14 games. 

I am on the record as saying that I don’t think Crowe can hit OR field well enough to be an everyday outfielder.  (I was especially discouraged by his routes and glove in center, where I thought he’d be an asset.)  Even if I’m right, a performance like this would make Crowe a real option as a 4th outfielder.  And if I’m wrong, well, good for Mr. Crowe. 

While I’m here, though: nothing is worse than getting caught stealing immediately in front of a double.  Not happy about that one at all. 

8) Welcome back! 

Luis Valbuena struck out in his only plate appearance. 

Thanks, Luis, we missed ya, bud.

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