July is just about over. The dog days of summer or coming to an end and fall baseball is right around the corner. Fall baseball means pennant races and intense divisional match-ups. The Cleveland Indians are in the middle of one of those divisional match-ups this week. The Detroit Tigers and the Tribe have split the first two games of their pivotal four-game series. The next two games will have a major impact on the rest of the season and if a team can win both of them, they’ll have the inside track on the AL Central title.
Has a homer, my bet is on the Indians. This is a team who came within one game of winning the World Series last year, one J.D. “freakin’” Drew home run, one stop sign at third base from the title of world champions. (I think we can all safely assume they would have beat the Rockies if they finish off the Red Sox in five games.) They have learned from that lost opportunity. They have matured from it. They thrive from it.
C.C. Sabathia is on a role and looks like he will win his second Cy Young in a row.
Travis Hafner is back to the Pronk of 2005-06 and finally earning that contract he signed before last year.
Victor Martinez is providing great protection for Hafner in the clean-up spot. He is smacking the ball over the yard and at this pace he’ll be the greatest power hitting catcher of all time.
Jhonny Peralta has made everyone forget Omar Vizquel at shortstop. His new trim appearance allows him to get to balls up the middle and in the hole that he has never been able to get to before. But his weight loss hasn’t affected his power.
Asdfjkl;ble Cabrera has shown there is no such thing as a sophomore slump for him and that he’ll be a slick fielding, hit-for-average second baseman (or shortstop) for many years to come.
Grady has been Grady in centerfield (second gold glove in a row coming this year) and has been the most consistent hitter at the plate for both power and average.
Franklin Gutierrez is a gold glove caliber outfield and is coming into his own at the plate. His .270 average and 16 homers show that he’ll just continue to get better.
Ben Francisco has come up and done a nice job taking over for the retarded David Dellucci. His hot streak to start his year (something like .380 in his first two weeks) has cooled of some but he will be a fixture at a corner outfield spot for years.
Shin-Shoo Choo has been great as a four outfielder and has all the potential in the world.
Ryan Garko has been a little disappointing at first but not as disappointing as the Andy Marte experience at third. But that’s why the Indians have a great GM. Shapiro made a great trade by shipping Andy Marte off to Atlanta for Mark Teixeira. His bat and presence could be the difference in that one game that stop the Indians from winning the World Series last year.
Fausto Carmona has developed into a solid No. 2 starter and has show he is as durable as Cal Ripkin.
Jake Westbrook does what he does every year; solid pitching and will win 13-16 games.
Cliff Lee has rebounded from a horrible 2007 back to his steady 15, 16 game winner and beyond.
Kobayashi is as lights out in the set up role as he is at eating hot dogs.
So are both Rafaels.
And Joe Borowski is giving everyone heart attacks but has only blown four saves and is on pace to beat his save total from last year.
The Indians bullpen is lights out from the 7th inning on.
This team has it all; talented veteran leadership, promising youngster, better than quality starters and a rock solid bullpen. They are building from last year’s disappointment and this could be, might be, just may be… I don’t want to jinx it but… the year Cleveland finally wins a major championship.
Oh, Sorry. I just fell asleep. Looks like my hands were still typing while I was dreaming.