Thursday, April 02, 2009

GameDay Chatter: Grating Expectations

During the 2009 season, the Twins Radio Network is going extend their broadcasting after each Sunday game to include a couple of hours or Twins sports talk with Jack Morris and Chris Atteberry. And yes, this means your Sunday's are completely shot to hell.

This show is going to include a weekly 'rant' by a GameDay writer/blogger called 'GameDay Chatter'.
Since we were a little pressed for time this week, I wrote up this one, and you'll find a draft of it below. If you're interested in hearing the audio, or talking with Morris or Atteberry about it, be sure to tune in on Sunday.

Grating Expectations

At the risk of offending the baseball gods, is anyone else smirking when they hear that the real AL Central favorite this year is the Cleveland Indians? Admirers will point out that the Indians record after the all-star break. And their run differential. And that they were devastated by injuries and had a productive offseason.

It sounds good until you realize we’ve heard all this before. This will be the Indians fifth straight year as at least a co-favorite in the division, and they’ve made it to the playoffs just once. Last year they were so dismal that they folded at the beginning of July, trading away CC Sabathia. Who they didn’t replace during that “productive” offseason.

Which, by the way, looks a lot less productive than it did in January. Acquiring Mark DeRosa from the Cubs was supposed to initiate a shift in player positions that would tighten the Indians infield defense and provide a little extra offense. Except that manager Eric Wedge hasn’t shifted the players, so they essentially have three infielders now playing out of position.

And their new closer, Kerry Wood, is universally considered one of the top closers in the American League, provided his arm holds up. Now that is aweso……hold it. What was that last part? You see, Wood hasn’t had a perfectly healthy year since 2002. His first spring training appearance was mid-March because – wanna guess - he was hurt.

And I haven’t even mentioned the injury-ridden back of the rotation. Or the fact that last year’s ace, Cliff Lee, is posting a 12+ ERA while begging for a long term extension. Uh, how’s the arm feeling, Cliff?

The Indians are a good baseball club in a division full of good baseball clubs. I’m not saying they can’t compete. But they have plenty to sort out. And maybe we should let them meet modest expectations before we crown them king.

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