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Indians Indians Archive Wahoo Week In Review: 3/25-4/1
Written by Adam Burke

Adam Burke

Baseball is finally here! It makes the five months of running over pot holes, the constantly salt-stained doors of your car, and the muttering of expletives whenopeningdaycleve05 stepping outside and feeling that frozen Cleveland breeze worth it. The winter wonderhell we endure all melts away when the calendar’s pages finally turn far enough to signify the start of our national pastime once again.

Our poor Indians travel from sunny and 90 Goodyear, AZ to hopefully 40 and as-long-as-it-isn’t-raining-or-snowing Cleveland to open the season for the first time since 2008. Ozzie Guillen is already annoyed with traveling to Cleveland to start the 2011 campaign. I did not realize it was so much warmer in Chicago on April 1. Well, Ozzie, here is my response to you: tu eres un pinchazo y nadie te quiere (to translate: You are a prick and nobody likes you).

The Indians finished Spring Training 2011 with a 15-14 record. I speak for all of us when I say that we will gladly take a .517 win percentage for the regular season. That would be about 84-78. It would show steps in the right direction for the future. Speaking of steps in the right direction, the key Indians bats finished off the spring on a positive note. Choo finished the spring hitting .322. Asdrubal Cabrera hit .364 (with a .600 slugging percentage!). Travis Hafner hit .304. Carlos Santana hit an even .300. Orlando Cabrera tailed off after a hot start to hit a respectable .267.

Some pitchers also finished on a positive note as well. Justin Masterson only walked two batters in his final 16.2 IP while striking out 20. Fausto Carmona rattled off two quality starts and one spectacular five-inning effort in his last three outings.

Other pitchers ended with an outing to forget. Mitch Talbot was roughed up for seven runs in his last spring tune-up. Rafael Perez surrendered four runs in one-third of an inning in his last outing. Chris Perez became light-headed and threw up.

hannahanEither way, the roster is set and the rotation is in order. Travis Buck, Jack Hannahan, and Justin Germano all made the team as non-roster invites to Spring Training. All three deserve their spots. Hannahan became the third baseman by default following the Jason Donald injury, but still hit .340 for the spring. Travis Buck raked from day one and the Indians had a desperate need for a left handed bench bat. Justin Germano has the ability to go multiple innings in relief and was not scored upon in all eight appearances this March.

Rather than look back, as is customary in a column entitled Wahoo Week in Review, Opening Day is a chance to look forward and so that is what I will do. Every year I get excited about baseball season. I wonder if the Pirates and Royals fan base is able to do the same. I cycle through “What if” scenarios in my mind. Ways that the Indians can contend and surprise people.

Much like the last couple of seasons, this year’s team should be judged based on wins and losses. Individual development is the key. The players coming up through the system, the Carlos Santanas, Lonnie Chisenhalls, and Jason Kipnises of the world have helped create a culture of winning in the minor leagues, and that should go a long way to their success. For the guys who are already here, developing their skills, both at the plate and in the field is how to create their identity.

Questions need to be answered and 2011 is a landmark year for those queries. Who is Asdrubal Cabrera? Is he a slightly above average fielder who will hit .280cabrera_up with minimal power or is he a Gold Glove caliber talent who can hit .300, move runners, and have 40 doubles? How good can Shin-Soo Choo be? Is he a perennial .300 hitter with 20-25 HR and 85-90 RBI or is there another level we have not seen? Will Grady Sizemore ever get back to any semblance of the player he was? Is Carlos Santana as legitimate a bat as everybody says he is? Is Matt LaPorta a never was?

For the pitchers, who is the real Fausto Carmona? Can Justin Masterson ever get left handed hitters out consistently enough to start? Does Carlos Carrasco have good enough stuff to be a middle-of-the-rotation starter? Who is the real Rafael Perez? Is Chris Perez a legit, top notch closer? Can Frank Herrmann get outs on a regular basis?

Teams who cannot throw money at their problems have these laundry lists of questions. The sooner these questions are answered, the better off the team will be. They can use their resources and time elsewhere if need be. That is why 2011 is a huge year for this franchise.

Regardless, full knowing all of this, I am fired up for baseball season to return. Whether it’s 40 and cloudy or 85 and sunny, nothing compares to being downtown at the Jake for a baseball game. This is being told to you by someone who loves hockey, generally loves winter, and can sit down and watch any hockey game. There’s something therapeutic about watching baseball. Every game I go to, I may see history. People who say they hate baseball because it is not exciting or it’s too boring for them do not understand the beauty of the game. The efficiency with how the game is played. The skill it takes to hit a baseball dropping six-to-eight inches in a split second, or to hit a 99 mph fastball.

My team may not do those things as well as others, but I never abandon them. Each April gives me a chance to be optimistic. Do I sit here and salivate over Asdrubal Cabera’s .600 slugging percentage in Arizona? Hell no. Do I sit here and look at that and hope that Asdrubal Cabrera can be a 40 2B, 10 HR guy? You betcha. Isn’t that what being a baseball fan is about? There are enough things in life to be pessimistic and downtrodden about. Sports are supposed to be an escape from that. Why bother if you are going to look at Cabrera’s .600 SLG and immediately say, “That’s a fluke. Warm air and bad pitching and so on and so on”?

Baseball is here. Let’s enjoy it.

This week’s transactions: Jayson Nix was sent north of the border to the Blue Jays for cash considerations. This is a suspect phrase to me. Cash “considerations”. Are they going to “consider” sending us cash for Jayson Nix? Because if they consider it long enough, they’re going to say no. Or perhaps they’ll consider that we give them money for taking Jayson Nix.

Anyway, as mentioned above, Travis Buck, Jack Hannahan, Adam Everett and Justin Germano had to be added to the 40-man roster. The Nix trade opened up one spot. The Indians also DFA’d Jensen Lewis last week, sending him outright to Columbus to open up another spot. Trevor Crowe was added to the 60-day DL to open another. The Indians put Jared Goedert on the 60-day DL to open the last roster spot needed. Ah, the business of baseball.

This week’s bold prediction: This week’s bold prediction will be my season predictions. AL East: The Massholes; AL Central: The Pale Hosers; AL West: Texas; NL East: Braves; NL Central: Reds; NL West: Giants.

AL MVP: Adam Dunn; NL MVP: Some guy named Pujols.

AL Cy Young: Jon Lester; NL Cy Young: Doc Halladay

AL Champ: Massholes; NL Champ: Phillies

World Series Champ: Phillies. Their rotation is incredible. In a five or a seven game series where you get Halladay, Lee, and/or Oswalt twice with Hamels sprinkled in, forget it.

One final note: There is not much more I can say or another way I convey what baseball season means to me. I hope it means the same to you. We can sit here and collectively gripe about the economics of baseball, the inflated salaries, and everything else wrong with the sport, but do yourself a favor and sit back and enjoy. Love the game between the lines as best you can. Like I said above, there’s enough stress and negativity in our everyday lives, put baseball in a class of its own.

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