Jake Westbrook deserved much better than a complete-game loss. The lineup he faced is right now arguably the worst (or second-worst) lineup in the league, but the way Jake’s pitches were moving, he would have pitched well against any team in baseball. He made just two mistakes. Frustrating, to say the least.
The fan in me really wants the Indians to go on a run the last two weeks of July and make things interesting for the Twins and White Sox, but the realist in me sees the offense propelled by two players who haven’t played a full season in the majors yet (Martinez and Hafner) and two veterens having career years (Belliard and Lawton). Lawton will probably continue to hit, but Victor Martinez is in the midst of a prolonged slump, and Belliard’s numbers are leaning heavily on his hot April. That being said, it’s pretty exciting to see some pieces fall into place. The Lee/Hafner/Martinez/Gerut group is the just the first wave of prospects that the Indians should be receiving in the next couple years. In 2005, you could see Kyle Denney, Grady Sizemore, Jhonny Peralta, Brandon Phillips, and Fernando Cabrera make contributions to the big club. This doesn’t include the returns of Jason Stanford, Brian Tallet, Billy Traber, Ryan Ludwick, and Josh Bard from extended injuries.
As I’ve said before, the Indians don’t have a lot of guarenteed contracts that continue after this season; Matt Lawton, CC Sabathia, and the recently-signed Aaron Boone are the one ones due money next year. Jake Westbrook and David Riske are probably going to get big raises in arbitration, and the Indians have expressed interested in signing Victor Martinez through his arbitration years. But as a whole, the Indians still have a lot of good pre-arbitration players on the roster. So this offseason is the time to open the checkbook and bring in some strategic free agents.