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The Indians
2005-07-07 12:18
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

As Steven Goldman pointed out in a recent Pinstriped Blog entry, tonight the Yankees begin, in Steve's words, a "punishingly difficult" stretch of schedule that extends through late August. Between now and August 21 the Yankees will face the following:


Opponent2005Upcoming GamesHome/Road
White Sox.68763/3
Angels.619 (.634 at home)73/4
Boston.578 (.632 at home)40/4
Minnesota.56133/0
Cleveland.548 (.568 away)74/3
Texas.51863/3
Toronto.512 (.553 at home)30/3
Tampa Bay7-3 vs. NYY30/3

Cleveland Indians

2004 Record: 80-82 (.494)
2004 Pythagorean Record: 81-81 (.500)

Manager: Eric Wedge
General Manager: Mark Shapiro

Ballpark (2004 park factors): Jacob's Field 98/98

Who's replacing whom?

Grady Sizemore switches roles with Jody Gerut
Aaron Boone replaces Matt Lawton
Jhonny Peralta inherits Omar Vizquel's playing time
Ramon Vazquez replaces Lou Merloni
Jose Hernandez replaces Alex Escobar
Josh Bard inherits Tim Laker's playing time
Kevin Millwood replaces Chad Durbin, Jeff D'Amico and Jason Davis's starts
Arthur Rhodes replaces Rick White
Scott Sauerbeck replaces Jose Jimenez and Cliff Bartosh
Fernando Cabrera replaces Kazuhito Tadano

Projected Roster:

1B – Ben Broussard
2B – Ron Belliard
SS – Jhonny Peralta
3B – Aaron Boone
C – Victor Martinez
RF – Casey Blake
CF – Grady Sizemore
LF – Coco Crisp
DH – Travis Hafner

Bench:

R – Jose Hernandez (IF)
R – Ramon Vazquez (IF)
L – Jody Gerut (OF)
S – Josh Bard (C)

Rotation:

R – C.C. Sabathia
R – Kevin Millwood
L – Cliff Lee
R – Scott Elarton
R – Jake Westbrook

Bullpen:

R – Bob Wickman
R – Bobby Howry
L – Arthur Rhodes
R – David Riske
L – Scott Sauerbeck
R – Matt Miller
R – Fernando Cabrera

DL:

R – Rafael Betancourt
R – Juan Gonzalez (OF)
L – Jason Stanford (60-day)

Proposed Line-up

L – Grady Sizemore (CF)
S – Coco Crisp (LF)
L – Travis Hafner (DH)
S – Victor Martinez (C)
R – Ron Belliard (2B)
L – Ben Broussard (1B)
R – Casey Blake (RF)
R – Aaron Boone (3B)
R – Jhonny Peralta (SS)

After starting the season 9-15, the Indians have been living up to the pre-season hype, playing .617 ball since then and losing just four of their last 17 series (to no less than the four best teams in the AL: the White Sox, Twins, Angels and Red Sox).

The big question about the Indians coming into the season was pitching, but thus far the Indians have the fourth best staff ERA in the majors. No pitcher who has thrown as much as a single pitch for Cleveland this season has an ERA higher than starter Scott Elarton's 4.79, while no member of their bullpen has an ERA higher than Bobby Howry's 3.34. Indian relievers have pitched 252 1/3 innings thus far this season and posted this line:

2.68 ERA, 252 1/3 IP, 202 H, 207 K, 77 BB, 23 HR, 1.11 WHIP

Wow.

The rotation, meanwhile, has been lead by the suprising performance of free-agent Kevin Millwood (3.18, 7.24 K/9) and the emergence of 26-year-old Cliff Lee (3.68, 9-3 in his second full season).

At the plate, the story has been DH Travis Hafner (.318/.422/.596 - .337 EQA), who is essentially David Ortiz in hiding and absolutely crushing the ball right now, hitting .542/.607/1.167 in July with five homers, nine RBIs and ten runs scored in six games. Hafner's two most exciting supporting players have been 23-year-old shortstop Jhonny Peralta (.296/.347/.512 - .287, 115 Rate) and 22-year-old center-fielder Grady Sizemore (.292/.344/.417 - .274). Hafner, Peralta and Sizemore make barely more than $1 million combined, or just more than a third of what the Indians are paying Aaron Boone (.193/.252/.349 - .208).

For their part, the Yankees come into this series on a modest roll, having won six of their last eight and scored in double digits in three of their last four (with a tidy 1-0 victory behind Chien Ming-Wang being the exception in the middle). They'll need to keep their offense clicking to do damage against the Tribe as they'll see Millwood and Lee in the first two games and last-year's break-out Cleveland starter Jake Westbrook (sporting a 1.19 WHIP thus far) on Sunday, with the start Carl Pavano won't make (he was just placed on the DL retroactive to June 28) sandwiched in between.

Between Old-Timer's Day on Saturday and Melky Cabrera's major league debut tonight (he takes Pavano's place on the roster), it should be an exciting series. I'll be in the bleachers for both weekend contests (assuming I break my habit of skipping the Sunday game after Old-Timer's day given the superior pitching match-up in Sunday's game). Moose will look to get back in gear against Millwood tonight following a pair of six-run outings that weren't quite up to par.

Comments
2005-07-07 14:08:16
1.   uburoisc
Wow, what a brutal schedule; that's the season right there. Hafner bad, low and away good.
2005-07-07 14:44:41
2.   Marcus
I think the consensus is that no matter what Melky does, it will be better than Womack. And looky at today's lineup:

Jeter
Cano
Sheffield
Rodriguez
Matsui (LF)
Giambi
Posada
Williams (DH)
Cabrera (CF)

I hope that lineup stays in place for at least this entire series with the Indians.

2005-07-07 15:42:07
3.   Cliff Corcoran
It's a beeyooteeful thing, that line-up.
2005-07-07 16:51:20
4.   alasky
Am I nuts, or is Giambi actually back?
2005-07-07 16:51:46
5.   Marcus
Giambino is back to his old tricks and Melky gets a little overanxious during his first at bat. I'll take it.
2005-07-07 17:17:42
6.   Cliff Corcoran
Alasky, I'm tempted to agree with you, though that ball was only a home run because of Casey Blake.
2005-07-07 17:41:24
7.   Shaun P
Giambi is now at .272/.423/.451, 9 HR and 28 RBI in 194 ABs. Given that the average AL 1B is hitting .266/.339/.442 so far this year (per Baseball Prospectus), I'll gladly take those rate stats.

The best part of tonight's line-up - no automatic out. If Melky can hit better than Womack (no problem), and field center well enough, we may be in business.

2005-07-07 17:46:15
8.   alasky
let us not forget we're still down two starters and half a bullpen
2005-07-07 18:08:20
9.   vockins
This ump is atrocious.

Fortunately the Yankees are rising above. Great game so far.

2005-07-07 18:26:38
10.   Zack
Ump has a wide strike zone, but its fairly consistant at least. I'd rather that than the tiny ones that lead to rediculous game scores.

And can we please not reinforce Sterling's idiocy with the Giambino stuff? Its only slightly better than the (Shudder) BamTino...

2005-07-07 18:36:51
11.   tommyl
Why is Gordon in this game? We have a 5 run lead, maybe we can rest him a bit?
2005-07-07 18:37:18
12.   alasky
push button managing at its best. Why is Flash in the game, honestly? Just because a guy warmed up doesn't mean he HAS to pitch
2005-07-07 18:40:57
13.   alasky
and great, now he's wincing
2005-07-07 18:41:23
14.   alasky
unbelievable...really
2005-07-07 18:41:28
15.   tommyl
and now he's out
2005-07-07 19:13:44
16.   Chucksax
Giambi: It's great that he's on a roll right now, but I'll be convinced with more regular resuls. Tino was on a pretty good tear in May, but has done nothing since. Granted, I had him pencilled in for .275/25/80 in spring training, so I think he's got some hits ahead of him.

Re: Melky - hey, he's not going to hit worse than Womack, and he's not going to field worse than Bernie has. So, I think he's an upgrade. Even if he puts of Womack numbers, he'll probably play better outfield defense.

2005-07-07 19:55:44
17.   Simone
Good win for the Yankees. Nice that Melky got his first major league hit his first game.
2005-07-07 20:00:53
18.   tommyl
Anyone have an update on Gordon?

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