Found July 31, 2013 on Waiting For Next Year:
Everyday when the tweet rolls through my timeline about the Tribe lineup, I instantly have to take a look and dissect it. Which starter(s) are sitting today? Is anyone batting out of their typical spot in the order? Is there a tough lefty on the mound keeping someone out of the lineup? Even though I still look at it daily, there’s far less anxiety when I do it this season. No longer are there “giveaway game” lineups getting marched out there with a pathetic backup catcher, light hitting middle infielder, and a one-dimensional fourth outfielder. Instead Ryan Raburn, Mike Aviles, Yan Gomes, and Jason Giambi are giving the Indians an advantage right now that few other teams in the league have: Every single game, the Wahoos are marching a lineup out there without a hole in it. This economical and well-executed bench is helping the Tribe win at the margins, and in a tight AL Central and Wild Card race, it could make all the difference. Just how great was that trade with the Jays?! Aviles AND Gomes for Esmil Rogers (who, granted, could be used in the bullpen right now). Raburn with his success would be playing almost everyday on a good chunk of teams with all of his success (I mean a .908 OPS and 11 homers in 60 games is FANTASTIC!). Giambi in his current role as a clutch pinch-hitter and part-time DH against right-handers is perfect because of his power and leadership if nothing else. Gomes continues to hold up with more and more consistent playing time, both offensively and defensively as his ability to throw out runners and handle a pitching staff seems superior to Santana’s. Aviles has provided flexibility at third, in left, and in the middle infield while being solid at the plate. He’s also hitting .306/.350/.417 in the month of July (45 at-bats). You’ve heard several guys on this team mention the “1 through 25″ thing, and while it may be a bit of cliche, it seems like this team really takes it to heart and believes it. I mean, look around the league. Who has a better bench than the Indians? Formerly (before last night’s trade), the Carp-Iglesias-Gomes trio in Boston was arguable, some of the National League contenders have one bopper on the bench (like Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and Arizona) because they only have 8 position players in the lineup daily, and Detroit has Matt Tuiasosopo as a really nice fourth outfielder that’s hitting over .300 (and now Iglesias before the Peralta PED hammer drops), but after that, so many teams just don’t want to play the end of their roster more than the bare minimum. There’s plenty of teams out there (including some in contention) whose Sunday afternoon end of lineup reads a lot like Lillibridge, Cunningham, Damon, Donald, Phelps, LaPorta, Rottino, Lopez, and Canzler (and holy crap, that’s just from last season!!!!!) Let’s look back at the last time the Tribe had this good of a bench. When was it? In 2008, Jamey Carroll, Shin-Soo Choo, and David Dellucci were bench players that provided a decent amount of production for that 81-81 squad. The bench in ’07 of Trot Nixon, Jason Michaels, Kelly Shoppach, Josh Barfield, and Ben Francisco had its moments. Still, I think I have to go back to the 2000 Indians bench to find a comparable group.(For recall purposes, the infield of Thome-Roberto Alomar-Vizquel-Fryman all played 155+ games. Sandy was catching, and Kenny and Manny were still in center and right. That meant that Richie Sexson got the most starts in left and Russell Branyan among others getting time at the DH slot. Diaz put up similar numbers to Sandy that season and played quite a bit for a backup. Segui hit well over .300 while alternating between first and DH. Jolbert Cabrera was what you needed to fill in around the infield. When Justice was healthy, he was in the lineup. Even Enrique Wilson and Alex Ramirez in limited action had solid numbers for that 2000 squad. In three of the last five games in this current six-game winning streak, a member of the bench bunch has gotten the game-winning hit. Yan Gomes had a walkoff earlier in the season. As replacements themselves, this four-man group is currently 40 runs above replacement and 4.2 WINS above replacement. With the mighty slump of Mark Reynolds and the always looming potential for injuries of any length, it appears that playing time for the fabulous foursome is only going to increase. It goes back to flexibility that I talked about just last weekend in what this team can do to win more from within. At one point well into the season, I remember the Indians having the fewest pinch-hit at-bats in all of baseball (and they STILL do with just 30, not to mention they have the highest batting average). But, in the last two nights with Jason Giambi hitting for Mark Reynolds on Monday and then Ryan Raburn batting in Giambi’s spot last night, Tito Francona has pushed the right buttons and in return received two game-winning hits. I’ve been critical of some of Tito’s bullpen and pitching staff management, but he really seems to be right on the money almost every single time with his position players. Of course, this probably isn’t sustainable. Gomes will be an everyday catcher really, really soon (as in, maybe before the end of the season). Giambi’s in what almost certainly HAS to be his last year in the bigs before becoming a skipper himself. Aviles could move into a starting role if the team moves Asdrubal Cabrera at some point in the offseason or next year. Still, it’s fun for this particular run at it, for this 2013 summer and fall, the Indians have 13 sticks to go to battle with when most teams only have 9 or 10. They did it with a veteran pickup, a flier on a busted toy from last year, and a savvy trade, and the Tribe is going to stay in the thick of this thing with that as a contributing factor. (Photo: Tony Dejak/AP)
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Blast to the trees gives Giambi a memorable mark

CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Indians provided a piece of baseball history Monday night, as Jason Giambi became the oldest player to win a game with a walk-off home run. Giambi -- who is 42 years and 202 days of age -- broke the record previously held by Hank Aaron by 45 days. His game-winner was a no-doubt blast, well up in the trees and more than 400 feet just to the right field side...

Jason Giambi Is Not Too Old To Crush A Walk Off Home Run. "...it was orgasmic."

Yes Jason Giambi is very much alive and still playing baseball in the Major Leagues at 42 years old.  Giambi wears the Cleveland Indian uniform and Tuesday night he burst back onto the front pages with a walk-off home run. Your browser does not support iframes. According to the Elias Sports Bureau Giambi became the oldest player to hit a walk off home run. “There’s...

Hawk Harrelson goes silent again after Jason Giambi's walk-off homer

It's been an excruciating season for the Chicago White Sox, with the team buried in last place in the American League Central division and with players like Jake Peavy and Alex Rios now on the trading block. On Monday night, things went from bad to worse when Jason Giambi's walk-off homerun off Ramon Troncoso gave the Cleveland Indians a 3-2 victory over the South Siders...

Jason Giambi's walk-off homer gives Cleveland Indians dramatic win

Jason Giambi is the most dangerous .194 hitter alive. Giambi pinch-hitting to lead off the ninth inning homered to give the Indians a 3-2 victory over the White Sox on Monday night at Progressive Field. It was Giambi's ninth career walkoff homer and 10th pinch-hit blast. According to Elias Sports Bureau Giambi became the oldest player in major-league history to hit a walk-off...

Jason Giambi finds the fountain of youth with a walk-off home run

(Photo: David Richard, USA TODAY Sports) 42-year-old Jason Giambi passes Hank Aaron on becoming the oldest player to ever hit a walk-off-home run in major league history.  It happened in the ninth inning of the White Sox vs. Indians game.  Giambi came in bottom of the ninth inning to pinch hit for Mark Reynolds and took a 1-1 pitch from White Sox relief pitcher,  Ramon Troncoso...

7/30 Recap: White Sox 4 - Indians 7

Player of the Game On Brazil day (read on), Indians back up catcher Yan Gomes has taken home his second Player of the Game in a week. Gomes singled in his first at bat, then walked in a run in his second. In his final at bat, he put the Indians ahead by three with a two run double with two outs in the ninth inning. His final POG score was 4.51 for securing an Indians win. ...

Video: Jason Giambi becomes oldest player to hit walk-off home run since Hank Aaron

Last night was no exception as Jason Giambi became the oldest player to hit a walk off home run since Hank Aaron! Here's the video.

Second Thoughts Game #108: White Sox 1, Indians 6,

Nasty Masty All of the alliteration and end rhyme in the world cannot truly describe how important Masterson has been for the Tribe’s resurgence this season. Obviously, Kluber, Kazmir and Ubaldo’s leaps have been important but with Justin it is beyond the lines embedded in leadership. At the outset of the season as we highlighted key performers it is clear that Masterson was...

Watch: Jason Giambi breaks Hank Aaron’s record with walk-off HR

Cleveland Indians Jason Giambi became the oldest player in Major League Baseball history to hit a walk-off home run, surpassing Hank Aaron, according to Elias Sports Bureau. Giambi was 42 years, 202 days old on Monday, while Hank Aaron was 42 years, 157 days in 1976. The homer 

7/29 Recap: White Sox 2 - Indians 3

Player of the Game In his only at bat, Jason Giambi provided the winning margin with a solo home run and it was enough to win him the Player of the Game as well. The blast was 436th career home run, knocking himself in for career RBI 1,429. Feathers Up The Indians set a new team record today when the scored in the second inning. It was the team's 16th straight game...

Trot Times for July 29, 2013

Three walkoff home runs in only nine games yesterday! What are the odds of that? Even better, how does one choose which walkoff to award Home Run of the Day? Decisions, decisions. Let's get to those trots. Home Run of the Day: Jason Giambi, Cleveland Indians - 22.92 seconds [video] At 42 years old, Giambi is now the oldest player in baseball history to hit a walkoff...

Indians 6, White Sox 1: You can bring your green hat!!

I didn’t get to watch the Indians sweep the White Sox on Thursday afternoon.  In fact, I only got to hear a little bit of it between meetings, so rather than give you a traditional blow-by-blow, I thought we’d talk about a few big takeaways as the Indians extend their win streak to eight games and come roaring into August with sole possession of a playoff spot. Justin Masterson...

Links of the Day 7/30/13

Almost done with September. I mean July. Eddie Lacy came to camp in shape. That shape is “round”  Dumbest interpretation of anything ever.  While this helmet is ugly, the hunting camo look is probably a good one for this part of the world.  SCOREBOARD MLB Cleveland 3, Chicago 2 – Jason Giambi hit the walk off winner. His grandkids loved it.

ARRGHHHHHAAAAHHHHH! GIAMBLES!

This one’s for my buddy Justin – my friend who served as the best man in my wedding. My friend who; inevitably every year calls me during my workday to tell me that ‘the Indians are going to the World Series this year’ when they’re hot, and doesn’t watch them because he’s in his deer stand or some **** when they’re losing. This is the same friend of mine who dead...
MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.