Carrasco helps make pitching decisions harder

It was certainly great to see Carrasco begin to make Terry Francona think about his starting rotation in a slightly different way. It might just be a bit more crowded with some quality than he thinks. There is no denying that Scott Kazmir is making a strong push to crack into the Tribe’s rotation, but Carrasco made a strong statement last night. He said “don’t forget about me”. That quote might not have come out of his mouth but it sure did from his arm.

Carrasco last night showed what every pitcher coming back from Tommy John surgery must show …. Command. It is always the last thing to come back after the surgery and wasn’t all there at first. Even in this outing. But it showed itself as the innings progressed to the point that he actually looked dominant. Now that may seem shallow given the lineup the Giants threw at him, but it is no less impressive if you watched the performance critically.

I had no radar gun so it is not clear what his velocity was to me, but he threw quality strikes in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th innings. This resulted, as it often does, with hitters not able to center up on the ball. Now I know Matt Carson saved damage with a couple of dynamite catches, but don’t we think the Indians outfield will do that from time to time this year?

Of course we should not be deceived, he needs to show this some more. And, if I were making the decisions, I would give him some time at triple A first to keep progressing. But I really feel Carrasco will have a major impact on the Indians this season and beyond. Good for him!

Winners and Losers last night: Winners

Matt Carson with two really fine catches to take extra bases away. He also hit the ball hard. But it is a harsh reality that this 31 year old reserve will likely play in triple A again. But that performance won’t hurt his chances with another team or us going forward.

Delvi Cid for having perhaps his finest moment as a pro with a two out, two on game winning triple. Another young man stuck in mud in the minors but has always had speed.

Rich Hill for continuing his dominance this spring. Tribe needs a solid left hander in the pen.

Carrasco. …. Of course

Lonnie Chissenhall by continuing to smoke the ball despite only 1-3 night.

Giambi. Another home run doesn’t hurt his chances.


Nick Haggadone. Despite getting the pitch he needed to get out of the inning, he skated by after marginal command got him into trouble. He still has a way to go.

Cord Phelps for continuing his maddening propensity for not being able to hit in the clutch in any Major League performance. Even Spring Training has not cured that malady. Also, he again was a part of a marginal play when a pop foul dropped between him and the first baseman. Not all his fault but …..

Ryan Rayburn. Cooled off a bit.

Matt Albers. Any marginal performance is not good for him right now. That’s what it was.

We will see how today goes. Catch ya later.

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Welterweights shine at UFC 158

UFC 158 put Montreal’s own Georges St-Pierre up against Nick Diaz. Finally. It is a fight that mma fans have been waiting for ever since Diaz started mowing down opponents in Strikeforce back in 2008. It is a fight that was announced to the fans, hyped, and later scrapped due to typical Nick Diaz unprofessional behavior in October of 2011. The true story of the night however was the talent of the UFC welterweight division on display.

This all started with Jake Ellenberger against Nate Marquart. What can I say about Jake Ellenberger’s power. He got Marquart up against the cage in round 1 and waited for Nate to throw something. What Nate threw was a left kick to the body which might have been ok, but he did it with his hands at his own waist. What followed was a nasty left hook-right hook combination to the jaw dropping Marquart and ultimately leading to the finish.

What followed the Ellenberger KO may have been the best fight I have ever seen. Carlos Condit and Johny Hendricks put it all on the line for a shot at the championship. Regardless of who won the fight,  the real winner was the fans. Hendricks was relentless with takedowns, securing 12 by my count. These takedowns were greatly assisted by the complete and total aggression of Carlos Condit. The “Natural Born Killer” may be the most well rounded fighter in the UFC outside of Jon Jones. When he puts together striking combinations with his hands and feet, then throws flying knees without fear of getting taken down, he truly is a sight to see. When he gets taken down, he does more damage from the bottom than his opponent and attempts a variety of submissions. This ultimately results in Condit getting back to his feet to deliver even more punishment. Hendricks won the fight according to the judges, and I don’t want to take anything away from him because he fought well with great energy and excitement, but should takedowns without damage win fights? Clearly the fight of the night at UFC 158 and an early candidate for  fight of the year.

The main event between GSP and Nick Diaz was a solid fight with a lot of emotion involved. It was more of the same however for Georges as he held his own on the feet and ultimately controlled the entire fight by staying at kick boxing range and securing numerous takedowns. GSP wins it 50-45 on all scorecards. Whether you love him or hate him, GSP truly is one of the greats of all time in MMA. In every single fight he is in, he dictates where the fight takes place and his opponents appear helpless against him.

Some thoughts, observations and humor from UFC 158:

  • Colin Fletcher should walk to the Octagon with Insane Clown Posse playing in the background if he decides to continue wearing those creepy masks
  • The most significant strike in the entire Ricci vs. Fletcher fight was the kick to the groin in round 1.
  • Best line of night: “Fletcher may very well be the whitest human being I have seen in my life.” Thanks Rogan.
  • Ring vs. Camozzi was about as exciting as folding socks, which is what I did while it was going on
  • Ellenberger went into the fight with Marquart ranked #6 in the UFC Welterweight division, and came out of it with in my opinion, a rematch against Carlos Condit with title implications
  • GSP tossing Diaz around like a rag doll in round 1 was a lot of fun, but it appeared to tire him out which took away from the fight quality in the later rounds

Tribe bullpen strength showing cracks?

I have been continuously excited about the Tribe bullpen for two years. I was sitting on the bleachers at the practice field in Goodyear raving to my friend about Vinnie Pestano’s potential before he ever made a pitch for the Tribe. So my bias is definitely positive when it comes to the pen for Cleveland. I was also happy the front office brought in and traded for several solid potential additions.

I will be watching them all carefully this week because I am slightly concerned for 2013. We all know that the Indians starting pitching is the greatest question mark. But what if the Indians most consistent area for two years starts to crack? I don’t think you need much imagination to figure out the likely result.

Big league bullpens are notoriously inconsistent from year to year. Sometimes even when the pitchers are not changed the results can change. They are built from the back forward. So this year we have seen the closer go down for the second spring in a row and our lights out setup man be “lit up” in the WBC. Now I still am optimistic that the back end will come through in the end but I see some concerning cracks.

Chris Perez was pretty solid all season in 2012, but had some command issues along with some mental focus issues. The mental focus issues were reflected both on the mound and in his off field commentary about fans and management. I have been assured by a close source that his main focus is all about winning. If so, he should be fine. But spring injuries are not always easy to overcome so some questions remain.

Pestano, everyone’s favorite bullpen pitcher for the Tribe, had some quite bothersome command issues to finish last season and the WBC failure looked similar. As I said at the start, I too love Pestano. Spring Training performances generally should be overlooked. But the USA baseball meltdown is more of a psychological concern than a normal Spring Training outing. The key here is that Pestano must let this failure go like any bad regular season performance. It will not be as easy to do as some think. And Vinnie really cares. That is one of his strengths. So I will be watching Vinnie closely and all the candidates for the Tribe bullpen. They need to remain a strength for the Indians to compete in 2013.

I will continue my observations and commentary tomorrow after watching the game tonight.


Welcome to Cleveland Wins !

This blog is not all about Cleveland sports. Although many of the blogs will center around Cleveland professional sports teams, the theme mainly reflects the one headline all of the bloggers on this site want at least once in their lifetime. But despite these emotional roots, this blog will cover the world of MMA and Ohio State sports along with the Cleveland professional teams. I have followed Cleveland professional sports teams since I was a small child (more years ago than I care to admit). I analyze and probe and question. I am a fan at the core and always root for my home teams, but I do not hesitate to criticize or challenge management or players when I view that things are not done the right way. And when they are, I celebrate like everyone else. My fellow bloggers on this site are all very well known to me. They will add breadth and contrary opinions to my own. We are all strictly commentators and not reporters. We leave that to the newspapers.

I sincerely hope you enjoy the blog and will recommend it to others. Even fans of other cities might enjoy some of the MMA and Ohio State content. Welcome to Cleveland Wins!