Are You Frustrated Cleveland Indians’ Fans?


Does it feel like the Cleveland Indians should be about 10 games over .500?  Do you wonder how they lost series at home to Chicago, Texas, Seattle, and now Oakland?  Were you convinced before the season that if Jason Kipnis had a decent season this team would score as much as anyone?  Did you assume that if Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, and Danny Salazar combined for 26 wins by the All-Star break this team would be rolling? Did you think after the sweep in Tampa that things had turned around, that by the end of July we would be breathing down Kansas City’s neck? 

Guess again.

The five game winning streak that included that sweep was followed by a three game losing streak, then by a three game winning streak, then by a two game losing streak against the worst team in the American League.   So essentially for July they are treading water, with a 7-5 record which is not nearly good enough to gain ground on playoff teams.

The Indians’ starters have posted a 2.55 ERA in the month of July, which should be enough to do more than tread water.  Granted, three of their five losses were to Gerrit Cole, Dallas Keuchel, and Sonny Gray, so it could be that continued good pitching will result in a better record over the long run.  But their other losses were a two-hit shutout by Jeff Locke (4.15 ERA) and Saturday’s debacle against Oakland, which was lost through a combination of bullpen generosity and defensive bungling.

That, it seems, is the real issue.  Everyone loses to Sonny Gray and Gerrit Cole, but when you have an opportunity against a weaker pitcher you have to grab it.   Since May 29 the Indians have lost to Chris Tillman (twice), Bud Norris and Taijuan Walker (twice), none of whom has an ERA below 4.84.  Yet in five starts against the Indians they combined for 32.1 innings and gave up a total of four runs.  There is no way to get those five games back.  Win those games and Saturday’s, and the Indians are a wild card team.

If you’re frustrated, it’s probably because you get that.

Of course, basic math dedicates that nothing is going to come easy when you field a lineup in which five guys have an on-base percentage under .300, as has been the case most of this season.   The odds of stringing three or more baserunners together under those circumstances, which is essential to a consistent offense, are about the same as Donald Trump receiving a good-guy award from Telemundo.  It is reasonable to expect improvement from Francisco Lindor and Giovanny Urshela as they get more comfortable, but that is unlikely to happen next week or soon enough to keep the season from slipping away, and there simply aren’t any great solutions readily available (I actually checked to see how Lonnie Chisenhall is doing before I wrote that – that’s how bleak it is).

Messing with the batting order at a time like this is like putting lipstick on a pig, but some moves seem obvious.  I would have Lindor batting ninth.  It’s easier from a mental standpoint and makes his low OBP less of a rally killer, at least until he starts hitting.  The ideal number two hitter is a high on-base guy with not much power, which, like it or not, is what Carlos Santana is right now.

With Kipnis and Santana at the top of the order, there will be some RBI opportunities for Brantley, Murphy, Raburn, and Moss.  That would at least maximize the possibility of a big inning.  I would not worry about Moss.  He is a streaky hitter, and you just have to wait for him to get hot.  At some point this year he will carry the team for two weeks, and his final numbers will be about what we expected when we traded for him.  That leaves Yan Gomes.  I wish I knew the answer for Gomes.   You’d like to think there’s too much talent to keep scuffling like this, but we all felt that way about Kipnis last year.  Sometimes an injury just ruins your season – and that is probably more likely for a catcher, given the beating his legs take. 

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About ten years ago I bought a really nice riding mower – spent way more than I should have.  It developed an oil leak, and one day the engine just burned up.  It would have cost more to replace the engine than to buy a new riding mower, but I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of it, because I had spent so much for it, and I knew I would look like an idiot when I got rid of it, so it just sat in my garage, taking up space, for two years.

If this story reminds you of Michael Bourn, you know where this is going.  Bourn is as valuable to this team sitting in his living room in Houston as he is in center field.  Actually, given his negative WAR, he may be more valuable sitting at home.  He will make $14 million either place, and if he is sitting at home there will be room on the roster for someone who can actually help.  Who that may be, I don’t know, but, again, a negative WAR means that a random name drawn from a hat, as long as he can play center field, would contribute as much as Bourn.

It’s time to move on.

What do you think Tribe fans, are you frustrated yet?

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