Watching the Cleveland Guardians right now is not a fun experience for anyone. This is an underachieving bunch, though that might be an understatement given that they sport the game's worst offense by an incredible margin.
But still, even as the Guardians continue to sleepwalk their way through the early(ish) part of this season, there is room for hope that they can turn things around.
For starters, the 2022 Guardians - yes, that same one that eventually won the division - were also 19-23, and even 19-24 before finally kicking things into high gear.
The caveat here is that this year's offense has performed significantly worse so far, but there are moves to be made that could begin to help this team take shape for the rest of the season.
First, the catchers. It's May 18 and the Guardians have not gotten a hit at all from their catchers this month.
You might have heard, but there is a top catching prospect in Triple-A who goes by the name of Bo Naylor. And you might have also heard that Naylor is cruising along in Columbus to the tune of a .262/.401/.525 line with nine home runs, eight doubles, and 32 RBI.
Naylor was up with the Guardians towards the end of last season, but he clearly has nothing left to prove in the minors, and it's only a matter of time before the 23-year-old is back up in Cleveland for good. It's going to happen soon, and it'll certainly help the offense to get, well, literally anything out of its catchers moving forward.
Players like Tyler Freeman and Brayan Rocchio are up with the team as well, though Freeman can't seem to get much playing time and Rocchio might be sent back down to Triple-A when José Ramírez returns from the bereavement list. But it doesn't have to be that way, and ultimately, Rocchio will be up here to stay at some point this season.
So why not now? Much like Naylor, what does he have left to prove in the minors? Rocchio was hitting .338/.396/.486 prior to his call-up, and it's baffling the Guardians aren't desperate to find him playing time the same way they are with Gabriel Arias, who only continues to struggle at the plate.
Entering Thursday, the Guardians sit just four games back of the division-leading Twins, who have plenty of problems of their own. The fact is, the AL Central is looking pretty rough this year, and it's probably not going to take much to ultimately win this division.
There is still so much time to turn things around, but it's not going to happen as the Guardians are currently constructed offensively. Pitching-wise, things figure to get even better soon, as Triston McKenzie and Aaron Civale are nearing their returns, which only adds depth to the overall pitching staff, as guys like Civale, Cal Quantrill, and Peyton Battenfield might find themselves relegated to bullpen roles at some point down the line.
So Cleveland's got plenty of pitching depth, without even talking about top pitching prospect Gavin Williams, who is just waiting - and dominating - in Columbus. And there are some decent prospects who can provide this moribund offense with a shot of life. Though moves don't often happen at the pace fans would like, all of these young players will be key contributors the rest of the way, and could very well be the reason Cleveland finally gets its head on straight.