Everything Old is New Again

Purchased RHRP Kane Davis from Camden of the Atlantic League; Assigned him to Buffalo (AAA)

In more ways than one, last weekend was a bit of a throwback. A last at-bat victory, and two blowouts. What’s the difference between last year’s offense and this year’s offense? In a word, patience. The organization’s prime directive of plate discipline seems to be taking hold, judging by quotes like this from Sunday’s recap in the Canton Repository:

“We’re all learning, and realizing that working the count is a great thing,” said first baseman Ben Broussard, who drove in four runs with two singles. “So much of this is experience, and in being comfortable in thinking that, even if they’re not going to give you anything to hit, the guy behind you will pick you up.”

Jody Gerut, even though he had a 17-game hitting streak on the line, took four walks before striking out in the 8th innings. Taking walks should not be the ultimate goal of a team, but instead the plate discipline needed to work the count should. Not swinging at a pitch outside of the strike zone opens up so many more possibilities in an at-bat than merely flailing away at the first pitch. From a piece written by Andy Call, who is the best Indians beat reporter in Northeast Ohio:

“Is it frustrating? Shoot, yeah,” the Indians right fielder said Sunday after he was walked four times, then struck out during a 10-0 victory over Tampa Bay, snapping a career-high 17-game hitting streak. “Job No. 1 is to get a good pitch to hit, and you have to be disciplined enough to stick to your game plan.”

Gerut said he saw only three reachable pitches all day Sunday, two on balls he fouled off during the same sixth-inning at-bat against right-hander Jorge Sosa. Former Indians reliever Danys Baez then struck out Gerut to lead off the eighth inning.

I think we’re seeing a bit of the Indians’ young hitters growing up. They’re the youngest team in the American League, yet lead the AL in OBP, a spot usually reserved for a veteren ballclub. Although the Indians aren’t really mentioned as a sabermetric organization, they do use several of its prinicples. Flying under the radar in this respect can be a good thing; they do avoid many of the backhanded articles written by traditionalist sportswriters who don’t really understand what this sabermetric thing is about. I’ll expound more on exactly where the Indians fit in the baseball continuum in the next couple of days.

Anyway, former Indians gas can Kane Davis is once again in the organization after being purchased from the Atlantic League, an independent league. Davis is probably earmarked to help stabilize Buffalo’s bullpen after its best two relievers were brought to Cleveland. A successful AAA team isn’t really necessary for the organization, as many International League rosters are filled with washed-up veterens who aren’t good enough for the majors. But fielding a good team is important for the developmental relationship between Cleveland and Buffalo. Baltimore neglected Rochester for much of the 1990s, and the RedWings finally bolted for the Twins, while the Orioles were stuck with Edmonton.

And finally, about Cliff Bartosh and Matt Miller. I’m really trying to temper my enthusiasm about them, since both relied on their unfamiliarity to dominate the Devil Rays last weekend. Miller has an unorthodox delivery that you don’t really see much anymore, and this was Bartosh’s major league debut. But Rafael Betancourt had to come from somewhere, so I’m hoping that the Indians have caught lightning in a bottle again. Jack Cressend will have to sneak through waivers, and there’s a good chance that someone will claim him given his success last year.

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