Monday, April 11, 2011

Sizing Up the Competition: Indians & Royals

It’s a little strange for me to keep having to tell myself that it’s only 9 games into the season and that we’re not in first place because we’re trailing to the Indians. And the Royals are tied with us. Should I be worried? Well, the Indians swept the Red Sox, so I would think that’s saying something if they are beating the big-budgeted Yankee rivals. Because they also swept the Mariners, the Indians are on a 7-game winning streak. I’m sincerely impressed. And, yes, worried. If you look at the Indian’s roster, no huge names stand out, other than Carlos Santana, but I have a feeling I’m thinking of the wrong Santana.

To be honest, their starting rotation sounds like a mess, with 5 right-handed pitchers who were named “defective” by the teams’ own writers ( Here’s what the same writer has to say about their ace, Carmona: “Back in 2007, Carmona looked like an ace-in-waiting. Now he looks more like a middle-of-the-rotation guy ... Of course, on this particular staff, he's an ace”. Other phrases to describe the Cleveland starting rotation? The “time was ripe to give up on the Masterson-as-a-starter experiment”, “a serviceable placeholder in the rotation”. And the White Sox have certainly beaten up on the Indians’ pitchers (particularly on Opening Day when they were pummeled by 15 runs). How, then, are these pitchers leading a team to victory?

I suppose the hitting could be a factor. 7 of their 13 active players at hitting above .300. Of course, so is Mark Teahen, so that can obviously be deceiving. Maybe we can be optimistic and say this is a fluke and the Indians are coasting as long as they can before they crash and burn. Or maybe they’ll keep on pace for 126 wins this year.

And then there are the Royals. From Ball Star ( “Most teams don’t trade away a former Cy Young winner in his prime, give the opening-day slot to a guy with a 5.60 career ERA, trade their most complete position player for an unproven 24-year-old right-hander — and expect their rotation to be improved.” And another optimistic description: “Which part of the Royals will be more improved* this season — the offense or the starting pitching? *We may want to phrase this, ‘Which part will be less worse?’, but anyway…” Who would have thought the Royals had anything worth living for after trading Zack Greinke? Especially since the AVG leaders on their team are (excluding Billy Butler): Wilson Betemit, Alex Gordon, and Chris Getz in that order. How do you feel about yourself, Josh Fields? All the White Sox leftovers (Aside from Alex Gordon who I desperately wished would play for the White Sox to no avail) are doing better than your cleft chin! But I digress.

It seems that the Royals are, much like the Indians, running on fumes and waiting for their luck to run out. So where does that leave the Sox? Their 6-3 record is not shameful by any means. The team (bullpen aside, but even that seems to be improving) is looking solid all-around, probably a few weeks from regaining Cy Young winner Jake Peavy, and the offense is everything we thought it would be on paper (minus a week off for Adam Dunn).

I have no answers to these questions, but 153 games to figure it out.

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