The season is all but finished. The Tribe has 5 games left, after last night’s contest against the Tigers was rained out, and they are currently riding a 4 game winning streak that has seen them climb triumphantly out of the last place spot in the AL Central and avoid losing 100 games on the season. Tonight’s double header will see Mitch Talbot throw in game 1, and Josh Tomlin should be going in game 2, the last time either of these young starters pitch this season, although Talbot is listed as the probable pitcher for the season finale in Chicago as well. The Tribe looks to keep rolling and avoid a last place finish in the battle for 4th with the Royals. On to the thoughts and ramblings on the Tribe…
– The Indians won their last game, on Monday, on the back of a 5 run, 3 home run inning. Unknown, well travelled, catcher Luke Carlin hit a big home run, as did Matt LaPorta and Travis Hafner.
– A Hafner and LaPorta sighting on the same day!!! Two mythical creatures rose up from the ashes to bless us with their talents on the same day! The mythical Sasquatch (Pronk) and Yeti (LaPorta – because I couldn’t think of a better one to compare him to) brought home the victory. LaPorta hit his 12th home run of the year, a long solo blast, while Pronk also hit his 12th of the year, a go ahead 3 run shot.
– Pure Rage is still purely awesome, he slammed the door shut Monday night to earn his 22nd save in 26 tries. His impressive 1.75 ERA is just dominating stuff from the long haired closer.
– Vinny Pestano has looked just as good in 2 big league appearances as he did all year in the minor leagues. He has 1 save and has not allowed a hit or a run in his 2 innings of work. My guess is that he is in the bullpen next year at the outset of the season, and will work his way into a set up role for Pure Rage.
– Josh Tomlin showed his stuff in his first ever complete game over the weekend. He only allowed 3 hits and 4 runs as he dominated the Royals.
– It may be foolhardy, but I am already excited for next season. Carlos Carrasco is a big reason for that. Another solid night for him Monday, as he stayed strong down the stretch and has looked like he will have a big impact on this team.
– Brantley’s bat is starting to catch up to the rest of his skills. While his average and OBP have yet to perk up because he struggled so mightily early in the year, he is starting to hit better. His pinch hit, game winning, double to give Tomlin the CG victory this weekend was clutch, and a testament to his improvement. After the All-Star Break he is batting .280 with an OBP of .326, with 10 steals and 59 hits. Only 10 of those hits however are for extra bases, 6 doubles and 2 triples, 2 home runs as well. The power will continue to develop as he does.
– Crazy Eyes Crowe is swinging a pretty good stick the past few weeks. He’s not exactly wowing anyone but he is playing pretty well. In all honesty, if everyone is healthy, he won’t be a bad 4th outfielder. He will always be better than Ben Francisco anyway. It is probably the eyes, they disturb pitchers, but Crowe is actually one of the teams best hitters in late game situations and in clutch situations. At least before the All-Star Break.He was batting .340 with runners in scoring position, and in September he is batting .303 but with only 7 runs scored and 2 rbi to show for it.
– I still think Shelley Duncan should have a roster spot next year. He is a good veteran presence and a clutch player on both sides of the ball. His average and OBP have dipped in the 2nd half as his playing time has gone up, but he has been a solid producer when he has been in the lineup. He will, at the very least, be a good extra outfielder, DH, 1B to give guys a rest, and fill in against lefties. His .277 average and .355 OBP go nicely with his .542 slugging percentage against left handed hurlers. He is batting .279 with runners in scoring position, with 21 rbi, however only 1 of his 11 homeruns have come with runners on 2nd or 3rd, but his OBP and slugging numbers are way above his season totals in those situations. Can he play 3B?
– Why did no extra infielders get the call up after the AAA playoffs ended? I would have liked to see Jason Kipnis or Jared Goedart for a week or so. Drew Sutton did get called up, and hasn’t been bad at all, maybe he will factor in somehow next season.
– Jayson Nix, fresh off of a 2 homer game, has 14 bombs this season. “Baby Ruth” is 2nd on the team with homers, and has hit 13 in 74 games with the Tribe. He does however only have 27 rbi’s, so he should not be in a spot in the order that is a prime run producing spot. But does his performance this year warrant a full year next year, as the stop-gap option while the team waits on Lonnie Chisenhall’s arrival? He is claerly a better option than Luis Valbuena, and he could come much more cheaply than a veteran free agent. This is something we will return to as the free agent picture develops after the season.
– With a rather solid, but power devoid season winding down for Travis Hafner I find myself wondering how the team now views him moving forward. He still appears to be rather impossible to move, and releasing him would be rather unceremonious and might mark the end of his career. I personally would welcome him back if the team could work out something to lighten the financial load he takes on the team. His year has been an interesting one, with 115 games under his belt, he has posted a .275 average. His OBP has been high, .372 and his slugging is at .444. Not quite back to when he was the most feared hitter in the AL, but it is back up in that ball park. The 12 homers he has hit are actually 4 less than last year in 20 more games, as his power seems completely drained. 48 rbi is definitely not a good number for a DH at any level. The one encouraging sign to me is his increases doubles total, 29 this season with 5 games left, when he had 19 last year in 90 games. Things are not looking terribly bright for the once feared slugger, but due to the contract you can probably put some big money on the fact that he will return to Cleveland next year, likely in some sort of platoon situation, unless he rediscovers his power stroke.