Cleveland Indians: Where Do They Go From Here?


It’s not the first time that Cleveland Indians fans have dealt with disappointment. The Tribe has had their fair share of bad seasons. But this one was supposed to be different. After a brief postseason appearance in 2013, and a near miss last season–the bar was set high. Like, World Series high. ESPN experts, Sports Illustrated–even made the cover. But we know how that story goes.

Jason Kipnis recently said the players need to be held accountable. The team even organized a “players only” meeting. It would have been nice to see them come out of that and shell the Kansas City Royals. But they didn’t. They lost at home. Again. When other fans glance at attendance numbers and wonder why they’re so bad, it often doesn’t make sense for the Indians. This year though? Completely understandable. Owners of a 19-32 record at Progressive Field. They’ve dropped seven in a row there. personally, I say go back to calling it “the Jake”. Or Jacobs Field at Progressive Park. Something. Anything for a change.

Before the break, even I was writing that the Indians could be buyers or sellers at the deadline. Following this five-game debacle coming out of the All-Star break they need to sell. The rumors of interest in Carlos Gomez of the Brewers? Stop that. Have you learned nothing of acquiring players with injury histories? Cleveland is turning into a retirement home for ballplayers to live out their Golden Years.

There was a time in baseball–well before it was such a business–that players were traded because they didn’t perform to expectation, because the manager didn’t like them, etc. That’s the kind of accountability this team needs to convey. I’d say ship a guy somwhere worse than Cleveland, but right now that list is pretty small. Only six teams are worse than the Tribe.

You can’t charge what the Indians do, make all these upgrades to the stadium, and then put out a product that has won just 19 games at home. That just isn’t good baseball business.

They’ve called up most of the “ready” talent, although they had to send some that they thought were ready (Jose Ramirez, Lonnie Chisenhall) back down to figure it out. They can’t simply release guys that are struggling because that’s not how the market works in Cleveland. The Chicago Cubs just DFA’d Edwin Jackson after a terrible few years. Think Nick Swisher as a pitcher. But they outright released him at a cost of $15 million. The Tribe doesn’t have that option. And it’s too bad because there a few that it would be ideal for.

The argument against many of the trade rumors we’ve covered is “what do you think you’ll get in return?”. To be honest, it’s a valid question. The pitching staff holds the best value, but even this season it’s underperforming–so that would be a “sell low” issue. David Murphy and Brandon Moss have some appeal, but these are the type of small deadline deals that major sports networks wouldn’t give more than a scrolling news flash at the bottom of the screen. And no one will take on Swisher or Michael Bourn‘s deals. Swisher can’t stay healthy and Bourn can’t play well enough to stay in the lineup.

So here’s a possible solution. If the Indians front office believe Terry Francona and his staff are the right group, and that right now it’s a matter of the personnel and not the coaches–it’s time for a fire sale of sorts. Start building for the future. Pick your building blocks, whether they be rookies with potential (Francisco Lindor, Giovanny Urshela) or a few veterans (Jason Kipnis, Corey Kluber) and start trading for quantity. Start scouting low to mid-level guys of other teams and identify targets and make it happen. 

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Some can see this clear as day, others are oblivious–but this team isn’t going to get any better as is. And I know it would be nice to keep this young pitching staff together as they rebuild–but if you can’t score runs it isn’t going to matter. Yes, I do believe good pitching beats good hitting. But you have to have SOME hitting for that to apply. The Indians simply do not.

The next four days till the trade deadline will signify more than what this season is about, but what the future of Indians baseball is going to be. Fans don’t come to a game just to see a game. They want to see winning baseball. You can’t charge what the Indians do, make all these upgrades to the stadium, and then put out a product that has won just 19 games at home. That just isn’t good baseball business.

I’d make those “untouchable selections” as a front office, and then make it known to the league that the Cleveland Indians are open for business. because things can’t continue as they are. No amount of team meetings, player’s only meeting and coaching can right this sinking ship the Indians are on.

Next: Possible trade destinations for the Indians' Murphy