Tribe Front Office Doesn’t Seem to Believe in Squad

The Cleveland Indians have won the first two games of their weekend series against the first place Kansas City Royals and now sit just 3-1/2 games out of first place in the AL Central Division.

They are the same amount of games out of the second wild card spot in the league, giving them two chances to claim one of the five playoffs spots in the American League.

Supporters of the Tribe are very well aware of this, but it seems the front office and ownership is not.  We say this because there has been no move to add talent to the gritty bunch of Indians.

Despite moves that many fans don’t agree with, including ourselves, Francona should once again be in contention for the Manager of the Year award, as he kept a team that had struggling starting pitching for most of the year, and now can’t score runs consistently in the race as the season hits the final stretch.

The front office appears to be asleep at the switch, though.

As we have said before, we understood dealing SS Asdrubal Cabrera and Justin Masterson at the end of July, both players were not performing to expectations and both were free agents at the end of the year.

However, we did criticize GM Chris Antonetti for not finishing things off by bringing in someone who could help in the short-term.

Yes, people have talked about Zach Walters contributions, and there is no doubt he has had some big hits for Cleveland, but in reality, he is a younger switch-hitting version of Russell Branyan, an all or nothing hitter who doesn’t walk a lot.

Walters does have six dingers for the Indians, but he has also struck out 23 times in 63 at bats, while walking three times.  Unless he changes his approach at the plate, he is not a major league regular going forward.

At the very least, Antonetti could have brought in someone who is an upgrade over veteran journeyman Chris Dickerson, who continues to receive regular playing time despite a .227 batting average (642 OPS).  Since the all-star game, those figures are worse (.175 average, 562 OPS).

As we have said before, you don’t need to get an all-star, if you got someone better than Dickerson, it would improve the ballclub.

To be sure, the starting rotation, led by Corey Kluber, but getting tremendous contributions from youngsters Trevor Bauer and Danny Salazar, as well as a rejuvenated Carlos Carrasco is the main reason for the club’s surge, but had the Tribe lost last night, their starter in perhaps the biggest game of the season would have been rookie T. J. House.

House has done better than expected (2-3, 4.18 ERA), but he’s allowed 86 hits and 21 walks in 71 innings pitched, meaning he’s seemingly always on the edge of disaster.  To his credit, he’s mostly pitched out of it, but wouldn’t Francona be better served putting someone more reliable and with more experience out there?

The front office again seems unwilling to get the team some help.

Don’t you think the players question why the front office/ownership doesn’t believe in this group of players?  Especially when they see other teams adding players for the stretch drive.

Even the Yankees added a left-handed reliever on Thursday in Josh Outman, who they got from…the INDIANS!

What more do you need to see regarding the management’s view of this squad than the fact they helped a team who is competing with them for a playoff spot.

If you have a fan of the Cleveland Indians, you have to wonder about how much the current front office wants to win.

MW

The Time for Lindor is Next Monday

Next week the major league baseball rosters can expand to 40 active players, and the Cleveland Indians will be faced with a very difficult decision, one we think they will make a mistake with.

Their prized prospect, SS Francisco Lindor, could be called up to the big leagues, but we think the Tribe will pass on that at this time and will cite having to add him to the 40 man roster and that he wouldn’t receive enough playing time to justify the move.

In our opinion, the real reason is the Indians do not want to start the service clock on the prized prospect by calling him up now.  They are also hoping that Lindor struggles a little in spring training next year, so they can justify not bringing him up until the time has passed so he doesn’t receive a full year service in 2015.

We believe that is shortsighted thinking, and Lindor should make his MLB debut on Monday afternoon against the Tigers at Progressive Field.  Why?  Because he makes the Tribe better right now.

In 121 games combined at Akron and Columbus, the switch-hitter is hitting .278 with 10 HR and 60 RBI, stealing 28 bases.  He has had contact issues at AAA, striking out 31 times in 144 at bats, walking just six times.

However, up until his time at Columbus, he has had a very good strikeout to walk ratio.

Defensively, Lindor is rated as an excellent defender and could combine with Jose Ramirez to field a dynamic duo with the glove up the middle for the rest of the year and going forward.

Could Lindor be ruined by coming up to the bigs and failing?  Of course, anything is possible, but the folks at Baseball Prospectus feel the 20-year-old’s make up is off the charts.

Look at his progress at AAA. He’s hitting .278 in the state capital, but to get there he overcame a slow start.

As for playing time, we have a perfect solution.

Right now, Chris Dickerson is still receiving an inordinate amount of at bats with the Tribe, and Terry Francona could easily move the current DH, Zach Walters to RF, and give Jason Kipnis some DH at bats (before moving his to another spot), in order to give Lindor some at bats.

Therefore, the question would be could Lindor do more with the bat than Dickerson, who has hit .179 since the All Star Game. Based on that figure, we are pretty sure he could.

He and Ramirez would also add some much-needed speed to the Cleveland lineup.

As for the service time issue, do what Tampa Bay did with Evan Longoria and Houston did with Jonathan Singleton.  That would be signing him to a long-term deal right away to take him out of the arbitration process and a little beyond.  He would have to be interested if offered a 8-10 year deal before playing a month in the major leagues.

The added bonus would be finding out if he can play in the big leagues now, allowing the team to make the appropriate plans in the winter.  We don’t doubt he can, but it doesn’t hurt to make sure.

It will also create some buzz around town too.  Baseball fans have been waiting for the shortstop to arrive and it may put a few extra people in the seats at Progressive Field with Lindor’s debut.

The guess here is the Tribe will take the safe route with one of the game’s best prospects.  That’s the path they normally take.

KM

Doubt Browns Defense, Offense Will Look Like They Did Vs. Rams

If you look at the final score of Saturday night’s pre-season tilt between the Browns and Rams on Saturday night, you will be disappointed if you are a Browns’ fan.  A 33-14 defeat at home cannot be considered encouraging.

While nothing happened in that game to make a supporter of the brown and orange say the Browns should make the playoffs this season, a couple of things jumped out at us during the contest that gives us reason to shrug our shoulders and say that it is not the end of the world.

On defense, based on everything we have heard from Mike Pettine and defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil, the Browns’ defense will be an attacking unit.  Without Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden and last year’s starter Buster Skrine, the defense was anything but aggressive against St. Louis.

It appeared to us the Browns played a lot of zone coverage and the Rams’ quarterbacks drilled them for playing passive.  Would it have been a different story with Haden and Skrine?  We think so.  It would have also put first round draft choice Justin Gilbert on St. Louis’ secondary receiver, which would have also helped the schemes.

It was a good learning experience for Gilbert, and he will get better for going through that on Saturday.

Being able to find receivers quickly because of the zone coverage also meant it was more difficult to mount an effective pass rush.  That said, Armonty Bryant still was able to make an impact, harassing Rams’ passers while he was in the game and his hit on Sam Bradford caused a season ending ACL tear for the former first overall pick.

When the Steelers have the football on September 7th, our guess is the Browns will play press coverage on both wide receivers and will get after Ben Roethlisberger in passing situations.

Yes, there was poor tackling up front on a few runs which led to nice gains, but we trust that for the most part, the Cleveland defense will be one of the better units in the NFL with two solid cornerbacks and the ability to rush the passer.

On offense, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan ran the football just 15 times for the game.  If the Browns only run the ball that few times on a regular basis, they will be in for a long season.  We believe the coaching staff would agree with that.

Shanahan is trying to get his quarterbacks, both Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel ready to go, and he’s also figuring out which wide receivers will make the final roster.  So, he is passing the ball, probably more than he would like to.

The offensive coach has a history of running the football in his other stops around the league, and quite frankly, there is no reason to beat up Ben Tate during meaningless contests.  He is trying to get rookie Terrence West some reps, but when the whistle blows for real, we can see Cleveland running the ball 25-35 times per game, unless they fall way behind.

We envision the offense being a ground oriented attack with the quarterback using play action to move the ball down the field.  This style will also shorten the game, and keep the defense fresh.  And when Tate has been given the ball thus far, he has run it effectively.

There is no question Saturday’s game wasn’t enjoyable to watch, but it doesn’t mean that’s what the regular season will look like.

Until they lay an egg in a game that counts, just relax and keep repeating “the game doesn’t count, the game doesn’t count”.

JD

Things That Wouldn’t Surprise Us About The Tribe

The Cleveland Indians are hanging on by their fingernails at a possible post-season berth.  They sit five games out of the second wild card berth, and our opinion is you have to be within five on Labor Day to be a real contender.

And in doing nothing at the trade deadline to add a significant piece to the current roster, it appears the front office is starting to look forward to the 2015 season, as the Indians are currently the second youngest active 25 man roster in the major leagues.

So, even though we haven’t officially given up on this season, we have started contemplating what will happen with the 2015 edition of the Cleveland Indians.

It wouldn’t surprise us if:

Jason Kipnis moved to third base.  The Tribe brass has hinted they would like to see a keystone combination of Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez because of the defensive upgrade it would provide.  If that happens, then Kipnis would have to find a new position.

Logically, Kipnis would move back to LF, his college position, but Cleveland’s best player, Michael Brantley, is in that spot.  So, we wouldn’t be surprised if GM Chris Antonetti either traded Lonnie Chisenhall or moved him to another spot (RF?) and put Kipnis at the hot corner.

We understand about the defensive movement of players seeming to have an adverse effect on the ’14 Tribe, but if this is done early enough, the players involved could come to spring training playing their new positions and be ready for Opening Day.

Nick Swisher bounced back.  It is no secret that the Indians’ big free agent acquisitions before the 2013 season haven’t worked out, but of the two players (Michael Bourn being the other), Swisher is a better bet for a comeback in our view.

First, it is likely Swisher will be a DH, keeping his ailing knees away for the pounding of defensive play.

Second, Swisher’s 2014 season is an anomaly.  Although, he didn’t drive in a lot of run last year, he still banged out 22 HRs, on par with his career numbers.

On the other side, Bourn’s numbers seem to be in steady decline.  He’s never been a great offensive player, but his stolen base numbers continue to drop and he’s not an effective leadoff man anyway because of his low on base percentage.  If he can’t steal bases any more, then he should be hitting at the bottom of the order.

We aren’t saying Swisher is going to hit .280 with 30 homers, but he could hit in the .250 range with a lot of walks and 20+ dingers.  That wouldn’t be bad.

Terry Francona decides he’s done.  This is a long shot to be sure, but Tito’s had problems with his legs over the years, and there seems to be a little disconnect between himself and the front office, which is the reason he came here in the first place.

While it appears Francona has slipped into the veteran manager’s viewpoint of trusting only veterans, that seems to be in conflict with the front office’s desire to give opportunities to players like Tyler Holt and Ramirez.

Perhaps it is the other way around and it is Francona who would like to play the youngsters, but his continued play of Chris Dickerson says otherwise.

Again, we believe this is a long shot to happen, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it did.

In another week, when the rosters can expand to 40 players, we may start to get an idea of what the 2015 Cleveland Indians will look like.  We could see Lindor arrive along with Jesus Aguilar and maybe 3B Giovanny Urshela and of course, a boatload of bullpen arms.

Here’s hoping the current players can put that off by getting on a hot streak over the next week.

MW

 

Cavs Give Everyone Reason for Extreme Optimism

We realize that the average Cleveland sports fan has no real sense of success, so they don’t understand how to handle it.

This has become particularly evident in regards to the city’s basketball team, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Since the regular season ended, another non-playoff campaign just like everyone since the departure of LeBron James, nothing but good things have happened to Dan Gilbert’s franchise.

First, despite overwhelming odds, the Cavs got the first pick in the NBA Draft.  Cleveland had the ninth worst record in the league, with just a little over 1% chance to get the pick, yet it came up for them.

Unbelievably, the next great thing that occurred was James returning to the franchise, still the best player in the sport, and this made the wine and gold an instant playoff team, and a contender for a title, even if nothing else was done.

Unlike James’ first tenure here, he started actively recruiting for the Cavs, and told all-star forward Kevin Love that they should team up and try to win titles in little ol’ Cleveland, Ohio.

So, GM David Griffin apparently has packaged this year’s first round pick, Andrew Wiggins and last year’s pick, Anthony Bennett sending them to Minnesota to bring Love to the Cavs.

The Cavaliers will now feature their own big three of James, Love, and two-time all-star Kyrie Irving, and are the favorite to win the Eastern Conference and advance to The Finals for the second time in history.

They’ve also added veterans Mike Miller, James Jones, and Shawn Marion, all with championship rings to add support for Cleveland’s all-star trio.  And they may also add another well-accomplished veteran in Ray Allen soon.

Still, fans are complaining, worried that the team still needs a big man, someone who can block shots.

Let’s put it this way.  If the Cavs suited us up with James, Love, and Irving, along with another member of the Cleveland blogging fraternity, they likely would make the playoffs.

This team is a definite title contender barring injury as currently constituted.

They have Irving and Matthew Dellavedova at point guard.  At the wing spots, they can put James, Dion Waiters, Miller, and Marion on the floor.  They will have Love at power forward and Anderson Varejao at center, or they can bring the latter off the bench, and use Tristan Thompson, who averaged almost a double double last season as a starter.

It is true that the last move to make would be someone who can block shots, and based on the moves made already, we have no doubt that Griffin will add one to those to the roster.

The Cavs still have several first round picks that can deal as well as some non-guaranteed contracts picked up in the deal that sent Carrick Felix to Utah.

That’s the beauty of the situation that has been created here, not only do the Cavs have James, Love, and Irving, but they aren’t hamstrung in the ability to make moves.

That’s why James structured his deal (two years with an opt out after the first year) the way he did.  He saw what happened in Miami, where the Heat management didn’t want to go over the luxury tax threshold, and the Heat couldn’t add some younger pieces to keep the title train going.

If you aren’t optimistic about this basketball season, you would probably complain about the taxes if you won the lottery.

Some fans will still complain though, that’s the Cleveland way.

JK

Another Bad Performance by Browns in a Game That Doesn’t Count.

It had to be very scary to watch last night’s Browns’ pre-season game against the Washington Redskins.

After all of the positive feeling after free agency and the draft, and fans being optimistic that the Browns have finally turned the corner and are headed in the right direction on the road to respectability, the offense lays a complete egg.

They looked like the Pat Shurmur edition of the Browns, the Rob Chudzinski version, and the Eric Mangini version.  That is to say, it didn’t look good on the field last night.

Both quarterbacks, Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel looked terrible.  They both had problems completing passes and for both, there were plays available.  The Washington defense put more pressure on Manziel than they did on Hoyer, but even with time, the veteran missed open targets too.

The one thing we will say about the offense is they haven’t yet made much of a commitment to the running game, and that figures to be a staple of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s attack once the regular season starts.

We would expect a strong running game and a short passing attack, at least to start the season, because the players are still learning the new offense.  Because if Cleveland wants to put the game on either passer, the way they looked last night, it could be a long season for the Browns.

Going into the camp, we rated Hoyer as having the slight edge over Manziel, mostly due to experience, even as little as he has.  After two pre-season games, neither has taken the bull by the horns and won the job.  Therefore, if Mike Pettine feels the need to make a decision in the next day or two, Hoyer should get the nod.

We would wait until after this Saturday’s game against the Rams.  Let both players play, but don’t do it the same way as they did vs. Washington.  Let Hoyer play the first quarter and bring Manziel off the bench for the second.  Or let Hoyer play the first quarter and a half.  It is likely the starters will play around three quarters in what is the “dress rehearsal” for the opener against the Steelers.

Although Pettine would like to name a starter sooner than later, there is no rule that says he has to.

The receivers haven’t been stellar either, although most of the incompletions last night were passes that were either thrown in the ground or way behind the targets.  One that wasn’t was a throw by Hoyer into the end zone to Andrew Hawkins.  It wasn’t a good pass, as it was behind Hawkins, but he got his hands on it, and it should have been caught.

On the defensive side, you have to be impressed with DE Armonty Bryant who seems to line up in the opponents backfield, and a stout defense against the run, led by Phil Taylor and John Hughes.  If the Browns can get opponents into second and third downs with long distance yardage, Pettine will turn loose the blitz hoping to force turnovers.

Remember, that Pettine has talked about the “Seattle model”, meaning a team that wins on defense and with its running game.  Based on the play of the quarterbacks, the head coach has no choice but to use that style.

There isn’t anything wrong with that.  It is doubtful the front office and the coach want to hear about another rebuilding season.  They want to win and win this season.  Until either Hoyer or Manziel steps up and takes the challenge, the Cleveland Browns will have no choice but to win with the ground game and defense.

After all these years, fans shouldn’t care about style points, just victories.

JD

Tribe’s Patience Reaches No Boundaries

We have decided that if we couldn’t perform well at our job, we would want Terry Francona and Chris Antonetti in our corner.

Their patience knows no bounds.  If we performed well for a few months in our position, they would wait as long as possible before deciding we could no longer do the job any longer.

That can be the only explanation for the decisions made by this franchise over the last couple of weeks.

If you have experience, they are the employers for you.

Actually, it started just prior to the All-Star Game when Michael Bourn re-injured his hamstring and management opted to acquire journeyman OF Chris Dickerson from Pittsburgh rather than give an opportunity to Tyler Holt, who was hitting .311 at Columbus.

Dickerson is a career .259 hitter and batted .238 for the Orioles in 2013, and spent the entire ’14 season in AAA until the Indians traded for him in early July.

What we mean to say is, he’s nothing special.

Dickerson hit well upon his arrival and was partially responsible for a win over Detroit when he hit two home runs in one game off Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer.

However, other than those two dingers, he’s had four hits since the midsummer classic.

Another veteran who gets an enormous benefit of the doubt is Ryan Raburn who has also had just six hits since the All-Star Game was played in Minneapolis.  As a point of reference, Tyler Holt, who was sent back to Columbus today to make room for Danny Salazar, had five hits…this week!

As a reward, he took the drive back to AAA.

As we have written previously, we understand the skipper writing Nick Swisher and Bourn’s name in the lineup everyday because they have track records of some success, and the franchise is paying each of them a king’s ransom.  You almost have to play them.  Almost.

But Dickerson isn’t making big money and although Raburn is signed through next season, his deal isn’t for big money.  There is no compelling reason to keep him in the lineup, unless you believe he’s going catch fire the last six weeks of the campaign.

Perhaps Francona and Antonetti both believe that if we jump off the Terminal Tower, we will magically learn how to fly?

The same logic has gone into continually pitching right-hander Josh Tomlin, who has been hammered more often than not since the end of June when he pitched a one-hitter against Seattle.

Tomlin did pitch well against Arizona this week, but it was clear Francona didn’t have much confidence in him since he was pulled after 5-2/3 shutout innings and threw just 59 pitches.

To be fair, the patience did pay off with Carlos Carrasco, but he did a great job in the bullpen when moved there, and earned his spot back into the rotation.  A word of caution, let’s not get carried away by two starts either.

So, when Carrasco was moved to the ‘pen, he was very effective.  Tomlin hasn’t been getting people out for almost two months, yet he still has a spot on the roster, when the Tribe could move up Austin Adams, another hard-throwing reliever, who could help a tired relief corps.

The organization seems to fear giving chances to young players, even though in most cases, the new guys couldn’t possibly be worse than what the veterans are doing.

We believe players like Jesus Aguilar, Holt, Francisco Lindor and others would have more than six hits over the past month.  But management simply won’t give them the chance.

We should all get the second, third, fourth, etc. chances non-producing Tribe players get.  Unfortunately, that’s not how it works in the real world.

MW

This Year, the Bench is Killing the Tribe

One of Terry Francona’s best attributes as a manager is his patience.  We have always said that fans are quick to dispose of players, but GMs and managers can’t pull the trigger on someone after two bad weeks, particularly in baseball, where the season is a six month grind.

Francona gives his players the benefit of the doubt, particularly when their track record shows a level of production.  For example, when Carlos Santana was hitting .140 at the end of May, the skipper stuck with him.

Over the last two plus months, the switch-hitter has rewarded Francona’s faith in him by hitting almost .300 and hitting 15 home runs.

This year, it could be that the very thing that endears Tito to his players is costing him ball games.

Francona likes to keep 13 pitchers on his roster because he likes to use his bullpen and he doesn’t want to tax anyone’s arm, so as to not let them become ineffective by overuse.

Last year’s “Goon Squad” has gone from an integral part of the team to a gaping hole on the roster.  And that is a huge problem considering on most nights the Indians only have three position players on the bench.

Ryan Raburn has received a lot of criticism for a drastic fall off in performance and is one of the chief reasons for the Tribe’s struggles vs. left-handed pitching.  Raburn hit .308 with 7 homers against southpaws a year ago.  This season, he’s hitting .188 with all three of his dingers against lefties.

Overall, he had a 901 OPS in 2013, and has a 528 OPS in 2014.

Raburn hasn’t hit all season long, and his manager has kept thinking he would come around, but the reality is, the season has around six weeks remaining and every at-bat Raburn seems to be a waste.

Aviles wasn’t as effective as Raburn in 2013, but he was a valuable reserve, hitting .252 with 24 extra base hits in 361 at bats.

This year, the jack of all trades defensively (he has played 2B, 3B, SS, and all three outfield spots), has dropped to just 14 extra base hits in 262 plate appearances.  His OPS has dipped from 650 last year to 595 in ’14.  If you are under 600, you are a dreadful offensive player.

Yan Gomes was part of that group last year, but he earned his way into the starting lineup.  With Santana now at first base, the backup catcher role has been taken by first George Kotteras, who contributed offensively with three home runs, but wasn’t good defensively, and now by Roberto Perez, a rookie who done okay with 9 hits in his first 31 at bats.

What has made the lack of bench production worse has been the poor hitting of a few regulars, most notably Nick Swisher, Jason Kipnis, and Michael Bourn.  Even if Francona wanted to ease them out of the lineup, there isn’t anyone earning additional playing time like Gomes did last season.

Help could be on the way though.

Jose Ramirez has shown improvement since the trade of Asdrubal Cabrera, but he is pretty much playing everyday now.

Tyler Holt and Zach Walters both contributed in yesterday’s doubleheader, and should get more playing time based on their success against Arizona.

In any event, while many people fixate on the poor seasons by Swisher, Bourn, and Justin Masterson as the reason for the Indians’ inconsistency in 2014, don’t forget to include the reserve players.  They haven’t come close to matching what they did in ’13.

That hasn’t made Francona’s job any easier.

MW

 

Let’s Be Patient on the QB Decision

The NFL pre-season is just one week old, and a raging quarterback controversy as arose in Cleveland, at least among the team’s fans.

Are you with Johnny Football or are you a Brian Hoyer guy?

We have said before that we are in favor of playing whoever can win football games, so we aren’t tied in emotionally to either guy.  We don’t care if the player is famous or from Cleveland.

That being said, we felt nothing really changed after the 13-12 loss to the Lions Saturday night.  If Hoyer and Manzell were even going in, neither did anything to change the status.

Yes, Hoyer did throw high on two plays that could have put the Browns in the end zone.  But, overall he did a solid job working with the first team offense.

Manziel made some nice throws too, particularly a slant pattern to WR Taylor Gabriel where he zipped the ball right into tight coverage.

He made a nice run up the middle for a first down, but still appeared to want to run when he should’ve waited a little longer to make a pass play.  It is difficult in the NFL for a quarterback who likes to run to stay healthy.  Look at Michael Vick and Robert Griffin III.

You also have to take into account that neither Hoyer nor Manziel were against a Lions’ defense that game planned to play against them.

That means there is a lot riding on next Monday’s contest against Washington, because Mike Pettine has said he would like to name a starter prior to the third pre-season game.

If it is a fair competition, then Manziel should start the game and play with the first team against Washington’s best defensive group.  If he shows well, then it is on.

Until that happens, you have to remember than he played against Detroit’s second unit.  That alone should temper optimism on the former Heisman Trophy winner.

To us, if it is a tie, the edge should go to Hoyer to start vs. Pittsburgh on Opening Day.  Why?  Because it would be easier to replace him with Manziel if the team isn’t successful right off the bat.

Let’s say Pettine starts Manziel and Cleveland starts off 0-3.  Does he replace the rookie with Hoyer?  That is something that Pettine has to consider when naming his starter.

Fans don’t see it that way.  A certain group of people want Manziel to play because of his fame and others want Hoyer in there because it would be a great story to see a hometown kid play quarterback for the Browns.

The dumbest of the fans are the people who would prefer the team go 4-12 or 5-11 with Johnny Football at the helm rather that go 9-7 with Hoyer as the starter.  And there are people who think that.

Haven’t we seen enough losing in the last 15 years?  Remember our initial premise…whoever can win football games should be the guy under center against the Steelers.

Let’s just allow this to play out.  Let either player earn the job.  That will become evident after the game next Monday night.  Until both passers play against a first team defense, really no decision should be made.

The coaches see both players every day in practice.  It is doubtful that this staff, not last year’s, would play someone because of a larger agenda.

Let’s relax, everybody.

JD

 

Improving the Park is Fine for Tribe, Improving Team Would be Better

If you were looking for someone to write a handbook on how to anger your customers, may we suggest the people who run the Cleveland Indians.

Just one week after not doing one damn thing to help a ballclub who, flawed or not, were in the middle of a race for a post-season spot, the team announced they would undertake a major renovation of Progressive Field.

That’s fine.  The stadium is now 20 years old and the Tribe brass doesn’t want it to ignore things so it gets to be rundown like Municipal Stadium, which was basically a dump when the Indians moved out after the 1993 season.

The problem is team president Mark Shapiro said the renovations would be paid for by the Indians.  They want to make sure they improve the “fan experience” at Progressive Field.

We are pretty sure that the “fan experience” would be much better in the team won.  In fact, if the Tribe ever won the World Series and played at the city dump, baseball fans in Cleveland would be pretty happy.

For a franchise that has a history of tossing around nickels like manhole covers, telling your supporters you are going to spend cash on renovating the ballpark instead of getting better players is tantamount to kicking them in the face.

At the risk of having the Indians tell us it is a different situation because football has a salary cap, the Browns told us the same thing last winter.  They were going to make major renovations to First Energy Stadium over the next two years, and supporters of the brown and orange were irritated as well.

Hell with the facility, get us a winning team.

Since then, the Browns have filled a lot of holes through the draft and free agency, and they brought in the most talked about player in college football over the past two seasons in Johnny Manziel.

Suddenly, no one talks about wasting money on the stadium.

It is doubtful the Indians will do the same thing this winter.

The whole removing seats concept also tells you everything you need to know about the Tribe front office.

There is no secret that attendance has been a problem basically since the Dolan family took ownership of the franchise.  We believe it is due to the lack of sustained success (can’t put two consecutive over .500 seasons together), and the perception of baseball fans of distrust in ownership/front office.

Instead of building a team that will fill the seats (and there is interested in the team judging by the local television ratings, which ranks in the top five in major league baseball), the solution from Dolan and Shapiro is to remove seats that they cannot sell.

The Indians need to realize that yes, they are competing for your entertainment dollar, but they are also in the baseball business, one that measures success by wins and losses.  That should be the most important goal for the franchise…winning!

The Tribe prides itself on treating players well, but does that help them attract players to the north coast?  No.

Shapiro does a lot of things the right way, he treats his employees well, he is part of the community, if you go to Progressive Field, it is a great atmosphere for the family.

However, the primary objective for a major league baseball team is to win and win consistently.  This is where the Tribe comes up short.

The Indians’ organization would be better served spending money on putting better players on the field and giving a facelift to a iconic ballpark.

If they could do both, fine. But once again, the priority for the Tribe seems to be off the field things rather than where they should be.

KM