Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Indians Bandwagon

Every Tribe fan who wants to believe the hype about the team being peddled by the national media should read Terry Pluto's column in this morning's Akron Beacon Journal. Pluto likes this year's Tribe, but he isn't ready to anoint them as the team to beat in the AL Central. I feel exactly the same way. This could be a very entertaining team with a legitimate shot at the post-season, but only if the bullpen does more than just "hold together."

Improvement over last year's epic relief pitching disaster is almost inevitable, but one of the biggest reasons the Indians were able to rack up 93 wins in 2005 was that their bullpen that season wasn't just okay, it was the best in baseball. Did the team improve its relief pitching enough in the off season to bring the pen back to something approaching 2005 levels? I kind of doubt it.

The Indians' plan to contend for the Central Division crown depends on getting big relief pitching contributions from guys who past their "best when purchased by" dates several years ago. If you're comfortable with relying on Joe Borowski, who only ended up here because he failed his physical in Philly (try saying that three times fast), or Roberto Hernandez, who admits to being 42 years old, well, that makes one of us. Could they come through? Absolutely, but forgive me if I don't start camping out for post-season tickets just yet.

The best part of Pluto's column is his analysis of why the national media has made the Indians the flavor of the month. These guys are infatuated with the Moneyball idea--the thought that pennants can be won on the cheap if your front office is brainy enough. Pluto's take on this is that payroll may not mean everything, but it sure does give a team a "very big eraser." In contrast, for a team to like the Indians to win, everything has to go right. That's not the most encouraging news for fans of a team that already has two pitchers on the DL.

No comments: