Cleveland Guardians News

Cleveland Indians: Thoughts on a bitter ending to 2019

coreilly
ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 01: Carlos Carrasco #59 of the Cleveland Indians hugs teammate Francisco Lindor #12 after taking the big league mound for the first time since May 30 at Tropicana Field on September 01, 2019 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - SEPTEMBER 01: Carlos Carrasco #59 of the Cleveland Indians hugs teammate Francisco Lindor #12 after taking the big league mound for the first time since May 30 at Tropicana Field on September 01, 2019 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

The Cleveland Indians have been eliminated from playoff contention for the first time in four years. The 2019 season was frustrating, but it wasn’t all bad.

There’s not much left to say that hasn’t already been said. Any way you cut it, 2019 was a disappointing year for the Cleveland Indians.

I’m not going to make any excuses, and neither would anyone within the organization. Every baseball team deals with injuries, bad breaks, and tough luck. Some get through it all, some don’t. I have an endless supply of what-ifs to haunt me through the bleakness of winter, but no excuses.

So the way I look at it, as we head into the first October since 2015 without bonus Indians baseball, we have two choices.

We can choose to second-guess Terry Francona’s decisions throughout the year. Many of the criticisms sent his way are warranted.

We can choose to resent ownership for cutting payroll last winter. The Indians currently employ the franchise’s best player since Jim Thome, and one of the best starting rotations the baseball world has seen in the last 20 years–if not more. Business and finance aside, this was not the appropriate time to pinch pennies if a championship is truly the organization’s top priority.

We can even choose to question the players on the field. They were outscored 24-5 in their last three meaningful games of the season and displayed crippling levels of inconsistency throughout the year.

Or, we can choose to ask ourselves what good any of this bitterness, resentment, or doubt does in the long run. We can choose to remember 2019 as exactly what it was: a frustrating season dotted with some pretty fantastic moments and stories.

Live Feed

Ron Kulpa ejected Terry Francona and Phil Nevin, then had to leave game himself (Video)
Ron Kulpa ejected Terry Francona and Phil Nevin, then had to leave game himself (Video) /

FanSided

  • MLB Magic Number tracker: Complete playoff picture (UPDATED Sep. 15)FanSided
  • MLB Power Rankings: Bull market Braves, Black Monday for the TwinsFanSided
  • MLB Playoff Picture: 3 weekend storylines that could change everythingFanSided
  • MLB Playoff Picture: Predicting every series if season ended todayFanSided
  • MLB power rankings: Ranking the top 10 2022 MVP candidatesFanSided
  • We got to see Shane Bieber and Mike Clevinger emerge as true aces. Bieber in particular underwent a baptism by fire as the only member of the Opening Day rotation to make it through the full season. He was more than up to the challenge, and the Indians would have been eliminated from contention months ago if not for his efforts.

    Clevinger has as compelling a case as anyone to be a 2020 Cy Young favorite. Even with Corey Kluber presumably returning to the staff next spring, it’s hard to imagine the long-flowing hair of Cleveland’s hardest-throwing starter won’t be on the mound come Opening Day.

    We got to watch Oscar Mercado blossom into a reliable everyday player in his rookie season. Is he ever going to be a star-level talent that can carry a team? Maybe not. But he certainly positioned himself as a mainstay in center field for years to come.

    We got to watch Carlos Santana return home in such a fashion that you could almost be forgiven for forgetting he ever actually left. Santana was the Indians’ best and most consistent position player in 2019, a prospect that seemed incredibly unlikely (if not impossible) when the season began.

    He also provided us with what has got to be the most electrifying moment of the 2019 season: a go-ahead grand slam in the 10th inning of a midsummer heart-stopper at Target Field that locked the Indians in a tie for the AL Central lead.

    Sure, knowing what we know now, that doesn’t remain all that big of a deal. But we all remember how we felt when it happened.

    We got to witness a journey that transcends the game of baseball: the journey of Carlos Carrasco from a cancer diagnosis in the spring to the late innings of must-win games in September. Though we could not walk side-by-side with Carrasco on that road or immerse ourselves in the Indians clubhouse, it was evident that the team was galvanized by his courage.

    We saw Jose Ramirez defy the expectations of modern medicine, returning from hand surgery at least one week earlier than anyone thought he could–or should–to try to help his teammates get where they wanted to go.

    The fact that the Indians’ final demise began roughly 24 hours after his legendary grand slam on Tuesday night should not take away from the emotion we all felt in the moment.

    I’m optimistic to a fault when it comes to the Indians, but with a World Series drought of 71 years and counting, hope and optimism are all I really have.

    And so, as disappointed as I am that I’ll have to re-accustom myself to an autumn without the Tribe, and as shocked as I am at how the season ended, I’ll choose to look ahead to next year with faith.

    I think an Opening Day rotation of Clevinger, Bieber, Kluber, Carrasco, and Aaron Civale sounds pretty darn good.

    I think a full season of Mercado, Santana, Francisco Lindor, Franmil Reyes, and post-All-Star break Jose Ramirez sounds pretty great too.

    I think there are some interesting arms in the bullpen, most notably that of James Karinchak. I’m excited to see what a full season of relief appearances looks like with another year to refine his remarkable offerings.

    I think the front office learned its lesson after two consecutive offseasons of standing pat and hoping players like Hanley Ramirez still had something left in the basement. The Twins proved they weren’t afraid to push all their chips into the middle, and the White Sox aren’t far behind. I expect a sense of urgency from the Tribe’s top brass this winter.

    I think Chris Antonetti will finally use the limited resources at his disposal to address the glaring outfield void that has plagued the Indians for virtually every month of the last three years except for August and September of this season. I don’t think the Indians will go into 2020 with Eric Stamets as the contingency plan for a banged-up infield.

    Next. Francisco Lindor's rough series in Chicago. dark

    I won’t tell you how to feel about this season. I’m hovering somewhere in the neighborhood of frustrated, angry, and downright sad myself. But I hope once those emotions subside, we can all remember the good parts about the 2019 Cleveland Indians too.

    facebooktwitterreddit