Now that the season is half over, I think we have a pretty good idea what kind of team we have this year.
We are solid contenders. We're playing smart and winning close games. MLB.com has a Standings tab and one of the columns is Expected W-L record. Five of the six division leaders have records higher than expected, but the Tribe has the largest difference, 51-32 vs. expected 47-36.
Borowski. At the beginning of the season I was certain we couldn't win the division with him as our closer. So far I have to grudgingly admit he's been pretty damn good. Is he really this good?
Nixon. He's lost more than a step and as a player most of us feel he's a liability. But does his "Gritty Veteran Leadership" qualities in the clubhouse outweigh his liability on the field? I suspect Wedge thinks so.
Hafner. Are his problems physical or mental? He only played 33 innings in the field last year, he's played 91 innings at 1B already this year (101 TC vs. 22 last year). He also got married in the off-season. As a veteran married man (twice even!) I know first hand that a wife can make a big difference in one's life - and it's not always positive. Travis was also 29 when he got married, he has 10+ years of bachelorhood to overcome. Just throwing that out there...
Buck Showalter. Where is he? How has he affected this team and/or Wedge? Has anyone else noticed that this year's Wedge is not last year's Wedge? Until this year Eric has had the reputation of being a quiet (i.e., dull), conservative, non-innovative, and predictable manager. This year he's been less conservative, and more willing to take chances. I don't mind that especially early in the season when you're learning your player's capabilities. I can't help but think Showalter has been mentoring Wedge and it's had a positive effect.
Sabathia. I want this guy to be an Indian for the rest of his career. I don't care how much it costs. Raise ticket prices, hold a bake sale, issue bonds, set up a porn site...whatever it takes. CC has really matured into savy pitcher who has learned that you don't have to bear down on every pitch. Base runners and even a few runs are acceptable as long as you know you have the ability to bear down and end any uprising when you have to. CC will always have a lot of complete games and that is a godsend for a bullpen. Unfortunately I think CC would much prefer pitching in the NL where he can hit regularly - probably in SF near his home. Maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea to let him take batting practice and pinch hit occasionally if this will make it easier to keep him here. I think he's capable of hitting .260 or better with some pop. Lose 50 pounds and I'm thinking George Herman Ruth.
Blake. How do explain this guy? He was such a liability at 3B that we signed Aaron Boone to replace him. Moved back to 3B as an emergency replacement he's playing some of the best 3B of his life now, so good that he's blocking one of our best prospects. Casey is playing for his career now because he knows his playing time will be severely curtailed if poor play at third results in Marte coming back as the regular. Casey HATES sitting on the bench. I've always liked Casey.
The White Sux: they seemed to have caught the same disease we had last year. It's hard on the fans, but I just can't find a shred of sympathy for them. In fact watching Ozzie self-destruct is kinda' entertaining...
What do you think of the 2007 Tribe?