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Indians Indians Archive The B-List: 9/20
Written by Steve Buffum

Steve Buffum

After a pleasant weekend series in which the Indians took two of three, they flew to Minnesota to be clubbed like hippies at a Daley family reunion.  The Twins took the opener 9-3 behind the adequate pitching of Brian Duensing, and not even the hitting heroics of Andy Marte were enough to overcome Jeanmar Gomez’ less-adequate pitching.  In today’s B-List, Buff talks about the purpose of September, the contrast between Tony Sipp and Joe Smiff, and wishes his daughter a happy birthday. 

FINAL 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Indians (62-88) 0 1 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 3 8 0
Twins (90-60) 1 0 0 2 1 4 1 0 X 9 13 0

brantleyW: Duensing (10-2)  L: Gomez (3-5) 

After the sentiment about the Cleveland offense in Friday’s column was proven so anti-prophetic, I have been asked to pronounce that the unemployment rate will certainly not drop below 8% in the next 3 months. 

0) Reflections on the weekend series 

With family commitments and the Time Warner guy being everything you expect from a Time Warner guy, I didn’t get my act together to write up the weekend series, so here are the quick hits: 

Carlos Carrasco is just much better than he was.  Sure, he gave up a couple solo shots in the 6th, but he posted a 6:1 K:BB ratio, still got his ground balls (9:1 GO:FO), spun five shutout innings before the 6th, and won his first major-league game.  Applying the “Are there five starters clearly better than him?” test that I applied to Justin Masterson earlier, I say Carlos Carrasco is part of the 2011 Opening Day rotation. 

Shin-Soo Choo had a redonkulous night at the plate.  He hit three home runs and drove in seven, and I will leave you with this quote from Royals’ catcher Brayan Pena: 

"I tried everything," Royals catcher Brayan Pena said. "I went soft, I went hard away, hard inside. He's the best hitter on their team and you don't want him to hurt you. You pitch around him or at least try to get the guys in front of him. He was pretty much the one who beat us." 

Of course, the Indians scored 11 runs.  One scored on a wild pitch.  The other three runs were driven in by … TOFU LOU MARSON!  Huzzah!  This prompted the Tweet Friday night: 

Choo and Lou and KC gets the wazoo 

Some Tweets are better than others.  By the way, is Lou Marson now hitting .200?  Yes.  Yes, he is. 

On Sunday, Josh Tomlin got into trouble with extra-base hits and allowed Yoon Betancourt to steal home.  It wasn’t a straight steal, as it turns out, but something even more brain-locked: Tomlin faked to third, ran at the runner trying to go from 1st to 2nd, and Betancourt ran home when Tomlin went after the less-important runner.  While it looks terrible, this isn’t really more serious a gaffe than getting doubled off first because you thought there were two outs (Choo) or hitting yourself with a suicide squeeze bunt (Donald).  I’m more concerned about Tomlin’s propensity toward XBH than any momentary lapse. 

Saturday’s game was easily the dumbest of the year, possibly ever.  More time was spent in rain delays than actually playing baseball.  There were FOUR rain delays … although one was for TWO MINUTES.  (They were 3 hr. 40 min. total)  Matt LaPorta hit the second-most shocking grand slam of the year (Marson wins again!).  Masterson looked pretty good.  Germano looked really, really shitty.  Chris Perez got his 21st save.  I went to bed before it ended.  Why they didn’t call the game after 6 innings is completely opaque.  It certainly wasn’t for the benefit of the fans: so many left after the sixth that the cleaning crew was working on the upper deck during the 8th inning.  Dumb-ass game. Glad we won. 

1) The Crucible 

No, not the Arthur Miller play.  You might see Jeanmar Gomez game log and think, “Man, if only he’d been lifted before the 6th, it was still a one-run game.”  This much is true. 

However, after getting two outs in a single in the first three hitters, he’d STILL only thrown 90 pitches.  And while the triple-single-homer combo that followed was certainly not any good, it’s not like Gomez was totally gassed or anything.  He just didn’t execute very well.  He went 2-0 to Denard Span before giving up the triple.  He had Mike Cuddyer down 0-2, but then ended up letting him off the hook. 

It was interesting to see the approach the Twins had right from the start: for a team that doesn’t really cotton to the concept of OBP Uber Alles, each of the six hitters in the first inning watched strike one.  It is to Gomez’ credit that he threw a first-pitch strike to each hitter.  It is less encouraging that he proceeded to walk Mike Cuddyer on FOUR STRAIGHT 0-2 PITCHES, then walked Jim Thome of FOUR STRAIGHT 0-1 PITCHES.  Pitching carefully to Thome with a man on base is prudent.  Walking two guys on four straight pitches each … both with two outs … suggests a certain lack of focus. 

In fact, Minnesota scored ALL NINE of their runs with two outs.  Eight of these runs were off Gomez.  While all due credit must be given to the Twins, who are playing possibly the best baseball in the majors right now (except for the Troy Tulowitzkis), this is just maddening stuff. 

So what does the title mean?  Well, this is kind of what September is for, right?  We’re not going to lose 100 games.  We’re certainly not going to influence any pennant race.  So the rest of the month is totally about developing the skills the team needs to be better in 2011.  Play Lou Marson at catcher often?  You bet: get him the chemistry with the pitchers and give him a chance to end the year on an offensive high note.  Lead off Mike Brantley?  Of course.  Not only is this necessary, but heck, Brantley had a 19-game hitting streak and has been good out of the slot.  Let Jayson Nix play more third base?  Okay, I’m a little less excited about that one. 

But it DEFINITELY means that you have to evaluate Manny Acta’s decisions about when to pull starters and which relievers get used through this lens.  Might it have been prudent to pull Gomez with two outs in the 6th because Span has a sizable platoon split?  In a pennant race, maybe.  But shoot, if this team were good enough to be in a pennant race, Jeanmar Gomez wouldn’t have been on the friggin’ mound.  No, you let him learn how to pitch to major-league hitters the fourth time through the order even when you don’t have your best stuff.  That Gomez did poorly doesn’t mean he shouldn’t have been out there.  On the contrary, one could argue that it shows that he NEEDED to be out there.  (To some extent, this is true of Tomlin on Sunday as well.  Carrasco was simply pitching a lot better than either guy on Friday.  Masterson’s game was stupid beyond belief.) 

2) A contrast in styles 

Coming in to relieve Gomez was Tony Sipp, who promptly walked the first two hitters he faced.  He then finally retired a hitter to appear more effective than a tungsten bracelet.  He threw 6 strikes in 14 pitches, a ratio of excrement on a stick. 

Joe Smiff produced this sequence: 

Cuddyer: Strike (looking), Strike (looking), groundout to Smiff 
Plouffe: Strike (looking), Strike (swinging), groundout to Smiff 
Young: Strike (looking), Strike (looking), Strike (swinging)

Yes, Minnesota led 9-3 in the bottom of the 8th, but … well, I liked that sequence very, very much. 

3) Through the Looking Glass 

Given the start against left-hander Brian Duensing, Andy Marte produced a stat line straight out of Never, smacking an RBI triple, a bases-loaded RBI single, and drawing a walk.  Of Cleveland’s two runs, Marte drove in two of them, one with two outs.  He was one of two Indians to get a hit with a runner in scoring position, going 1-for-1 as the team went 2-for-8. 

Interestingly enough, even through the looking glass, Andy Marte still looks fat. 

4) Déjà vu all over again 

Asdrubal Cabrera had to leave the game with an injured wrist.  I don’t know the nature or severity of this injury, but I was not all that thrilled with Cabrera’s first arm injury and would be happy to avoid any more of that, thank you very much. 

5) Ignorant Schmoe Alert! 

In all my nodding in approval at Drew Sutton’s ability to step in as an inexperienced AAA guy and play good defense while getting a few hits, it completely escaped my notice that this is not some yoot we’ve been nurturing up through the ranks, but rather a guy we picked up off waivers from Cincinnati in order to more fully stock our collection of nickel-plated schmoes in Clumbus. 

By the way, congratulations to the Clumbus Clippers for winning the International League crown: you have proven that no one’s retreads and never-weres are better than the Cleveland Indians’ retreads and never-weres. 

Anyway, Sutton was largely there because we called up Donald and Valbuena after Cabrera was hurt and Peralta was put on the block.  And now he’s here largely because Donald hurt himself on the worst bunt in the world.  It’s nice that he’s been able to provide a .313/.353/.375 line to the Tribe, and I do like the solidifying effect he has on the infield.  He’ll probably see some more time now that Cabrera isn’t 100%. 

Is this a player with a role to play on the 2011 Tribe?  Well, he doesn’t have the potential pop that Nix has at 3B, and that spot’s being held for Chisenhall anyway.  He’s better than Valbuena, but so what?  He probably shouldn’t beat out Donald for the 2B job that will likely become Jason Kipnis’ soon anyway. 

So, yeah, it looks like Sutton’s a guy who can help defend the Clippers’ 2010 title.  Nice guy to have in storage, though. 

6) Open Question 

Hey, Jayson Nix!  You took a Size Four Collar with a Tinfoil Hat (3 Ks) against the left-handed Duensing and the Merrye Bande of Twins Relievers.  If helping pad the lineup against a left-handed pitcher while Travis Hafner is on the shelf with a sore shoulder and chronic left-handedness isn’t something you can do well, what IS? 

7) Stats Corner 

Of the players on the active roster, Drew Sutton’s SLG of .375 is the 7th-highest.  This is exactly the team-average SLG.  His OPS of .728 is 4th-highest.  Drew Sutton is the baseball equivalent of cream of celery soup.  He is our fourth-most productive hitter. 

In last night’s lineup, Sutton’s OBP of .353 was second-best.  The gap between the top OBP in the lineup (Shin-Soo Choo) and the 3rd-best OBP in the lineup (Asdrubal Cabrera) was 82 points. 

Of the “counting stats” games played, AB, PA, R, H, 2B, 3B, HR, total bases, RBI, BB, K, stolen bases, caught stealing, here is the list of them that Shin-Soo Choo does NOT lead the team in: 


If he hits one more triple, this list will be null.

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