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Posted by May - 24 - 2013 0 Comment

“You play to WIN the game!!!”
Compliments of FOX/STO

Tribe has completed a quarter of the season, and I think now we can get a feel for this team.  I was going to write this earlier this week, but decided to take in the first game of the Tribe-Tigers series.  Then decided to wait a few days to write this, since the Tribe took it on the chin both Tuesday and Wednesday.  But a few things have stood out to this point and I must discuss it with my two (opps, gained two) FOUR readers. So here is another addition of “Coming in from the Bullpen”!

I start this with a huge “shout out” to my alter ego, Jason “Mr. Potato Head” Giambi.  I was scratching what little hair I have when he was signed.  Two things raised issues with me. One, as everyone knows, is this age.  At 42 he can be the FATHER of some of the guys on this team! Yet, I believe that is one of the many reasons behind his signing.  He can still give needed pop off the bench and speak to his teammates AS a teammate.  If you watch, or have the view to watch, look into the dugout after one of the youngins has a bad at bat. The first to get to him is Jason.  Sits down next to him and quietly discusses something pertaining to the AB.  Sure a coach can do the same thing, but if you have played any sport, you know that a teammate saying the same as a coach, sinks in faster then the same thing said by the coach.  So he has created and played in a new role for this team, elder statesmen, but not a coach.  And that brings me to issue number two.  If any of you four remember, he was in the running for the Rockies Mgr. gig. Yep, just a few months removed from being a managerial candidate, he is on the bench as a player.  Didn’t know what that was going to work out, but right now, doing just fine.  I do wish I did not see him as much in the line-up as the DH as he has been over the past few games, but looks like some circumstances dictated that to Tito.  Bottom line: A-/B+ move by the FO.

Biggest surprise: Tie-Starting pitching and team power.  I was very concerned, as most Tribe fans, about how solid was the SP going to be. Too many question marks to be confident, but at this stage, very excited at the results. Masterson has been just “Nasty”! I know everyone will still say we need an ace to make ANY headway in this division, but I will RIGHT NOW STATE Masterson IS OUR ACE. He is doing just what an ace is supposed to do; take on the other team’s ace; go deep in the game; keep the lead; turn it to the bullie and sit back and watch.  Well he is doing just that and more, like complete games and shut out innings!  Call me a Kool-aid drinker, but everyone will go thru the season saying we need an ace, when we have one in place!  Team power has been a HUGE welcomed surprised.  Last few years this was an overly left handed balanced team.  The line-up CALLED: YELLED; PLEADED for a power bat from the starboard side. Well here comes Mark Reynolds. No I do not expect him to hit in the low .300’s. I know he strikes out, but look closely what he has done.  First as a defined power hitter ( 33 HRS avg over the last 6 yrs + 84 RBIs) I will take K’s!  If he was a slap hitter; gaps for doubles AND had his high K’s I would be bothered. Not here.  Reggie Jackson, Mr. October, was and is know for his home run power. Yet he struck out  2597 times in his career,  the equivalent of FIVE FRICKIN YEARS!!  Do you care? Were you sitting on the edge of your seat in any World Series with Reggie coming to back? Think you were.  No I am not comparing Reynolds and Jackson, I am just putting the K’s into perspective.  Now lets add in the following: Gomes; Raburn; Swisher; Santana (now pressure-less with bats around him); Stubbs in a minor way; and Aviles.  Right handed power.  Not home run power for all, but doubles and more than expected homers!  As of this post the Tribe leads in HRS; 2DBs; Extra Base hits; and slugging %!  Did ANYONE expect that? Damn right YOU DIDN’T!!

Meeting expectations: Bullpen; team speed; and team defense.  Out side of some glitches by the back end last week ( and no I don’t mean tweets written then deleted-or the account) the BP still is the best in the division and close to the best in the AL.  Not every outing will be aces, but more than not, the bullpen from the 7th to the 8th to the 9th, will close the game if they are handed the lead.  And this team has the offense to do that.  Speed-can you tell me when the last time a hit split the gaps in either left or right field? I’ll wait because it will be a while to find one.  Cutting the ball off  and keeping the batter at 1st or not allowing the guy on 1st to go to 3rd, plays a huge roll in station to station baseball that will do wonders for the staff.  1st and 2nd with less than 2 outs is better than 1st and 3rd with less than 2 outs.  It is the little things that sometimes go unnoticed that win games.  Defense-errors are way down from last year, which means a decrease on runners on the base paths.  Also no free outs that will also come back to haunt you.  All-in-all, can’t be more pleased by the D and Speed!

So as the Tribe and Tito go to Fenway this weekend (BTW-HUGE win last night after losing two to Tigers) watch for the areas I pointed out.  Win or split theses up-coming series, will keep the Tribe right where I like them….leading the AL Central!! I’ve got plenty of room to join me on the bandwagon, but there is one requirement I demand…You MUST DRINK the Kool-aid!!

@jnmentor Twitter

Categories: Cleveland Indians

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