June 22, 2004

Summer Fun

As much as the fans and the press have been hyperventilating about the Indians quest to bring their record up to .500, the manager and the team don't seem to have let it affect them as well. In fact, when they finally drew even tonight at 34-34 by beating the White Sox, achieving the .500 record (on the sixth try) was an anticlimax to the anticipation of a budding pennant race this summer. How 'bout that?

After all, what good is the win that gets you to .500 if you lose the next four in a row? What's important is that when the Indians got to the crest of the hill, they could see first place without binoculars. They're only four games out, and if they can stay within striking distance until the All-Star Game, then maybe we'll be the ones trading prospects for veterans instead of the other way around.

At the start of the season, the one thing every Tribe fan knew for sure was that we should trade Matt Lawton to anyone willing to give us a gross of baseballs for him, and do it before those suckers changed their minds. Now what would you do if Brian Cashman of the Yankees came calling looking for a veteran left-handed hitter for their bench during the stretch run? Trade your most consistent hitter, leading base stealer and run scorer without anyone in the picture to play his position? (Ryan Ludwick isn't ready, and as talented as Grady Sizemore is, he has never played in a major league game.)

Jody Gerut is slumping and we're still not sure that Coco Crisp is more than a flash in the pan. Even with Lawton, we don't have an outfield that scares anybody. Without him, we're downright weak out there. Especially now that we're purporting to compete with the Twins and White Sox who are sporting big bats in the outfield.

The most encouraging thing that has happened to this team in a month though, is the performance turned in yesterday by Jason Davis. When your supposed #2 starter has only one win by the middle of June and has looked bad getting there, your whole rotation feels the pressure. The coaches have been working with changing Davis' motion and delivery somewhat, and yesterday's results were impressive. If Davis recaptures his form and can be consistent, suddenly our rotation with Lee, Sabathia and Westbrook looks as good as anybody in the AL. Throw in Jason Stanford (coming back soon?) and we can make a run at it. 86 to 88 wins might win the Central.

If we still don't need binoculars in two weeks, it will be very interesting to see if Dolan will open up his wallet, and if Shapiro has a move up his sleeve to add talent instead of purging it. Whether or not we take it up a notch from here, the team shows signs of getting their fans back. The difference in atmosphere between 15,000 and 30,000 fans at Jacobs Field is huge. Rock the Jake.

Posted by dan at June 22, 2004 1:11 AM