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

When Tribe Does Spend, Results Aren’t There.

One thing all baseball fans can agree on is that the Cleveland Indians are not a free spending organization.

For whatever the reason, the Tribe’s payroll is usually in the lower third of the American League, and much of that is due to the size of the television market.

The Indians can’t charge the same rights’ fees for local broadcasts, both TV and radio as teams located in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Boston.

So, the Tribe needs to spend their limited funds wisely.

The big problem is they simply haven’t.

The Indians’ highest paid player right now is Nick Swisher, who is suffering through a terrible season, and even last season, didn’t produce at a high level.

Before Swisher, Cleveland highest paid baseball player was Travis Hafner, who had a series of injuries after his last 100 RBI season in 2007, making the reported $10-13 million he was being paid an albatross across the organization’s back.

If you aren’t or are unable to spend with the upper echelon of payrolls in the sport, it is a killer when the players you make a major commitment to don’t live up to expectations.

You can’t lay all of the blame on Swisher either. The Tribe’s second highest paid player is Michael Bourn, who has battled hamstring issues all season long, and to be truthful, hasn’t performed like an all-star either.

We have always said that it isn’t about spending money for the Dolan ownership; it is all about spending wisely. Going out and overspending isn’t good for any franchise; look at the Braves with B.J. Upton.

If they don’t work out, these signings cause a lot of questions for the management. If Swisher were making half of what he is currently earning, or if he were on the last year of his contract, do you really think Terry Francona would continuously write his name in the lineup day in and day out?

Upton is currently hitting .212 for Atlanta (608 OPS), yet he has appeared in 106 of the 114 games the Braves have played.

Swisher’s 615 OPS figure is the lowest of any everyday player on the Indians. Not exactly a big bang for the buck.

As for Bourn, we didn’t like the signing at the time, and to this point we are proven correct. He has never been an elite offensive player, posting an OPS of 704 before signing with the Tribe.

His best asset on offense was stealing bases, having led the NL in that category three times in his career, including 2011, just two years before he arrived in Cleveland.

Since putting on Chief Wahoo, Bourn has stolen just 30 bases, and has been caught 15 times in almost two full seasons.

If you want to blame ownership for not spending money, then you also have to put heat on GM Chris Antonetti and president Mark Shapiro for blowing it when the Dolan family hands them a bag of cash.

When you have limited opportunities, you have to take advantage of them. The Indians’ organization has dropped the ball in that respect.

What can they do going forward? They may have to deal one of the two and pay some salary to improve at their respective positions.

Whether or not the ownership would sign off on that is debatable.

Unfortunately, these mistakes probably mean there will be less big spending in the future. Instead of getting it right, they will just avoid making the commitment.

Just another reason that it’s great to be an Indians’ fan.

MW

Hoyer or Manziel? Whoever Can Win Should Play

The exhibition football season hasn’t even started yet and already there seems to be a quarterback controversy involving the Cleveland Browns.

Veteran Brian Hoyer has his supporters within the Browns fandom, and of course, there is a tremendous amount of buzz surrounding rookie Johnny Manziel, aka Johnny Football.

The incredulous thing to us is the Manziel supporters seem to be willing to suffer through another 4-12 and 5-11 campaign in order for the former Heisman Trophy winner to gain much-needed experience.

For a franchise that has lost the number of games Cleveland has over the past 15 years, that is ludicrous.

Who should start for Cleveland in the opener at Heinz Field against the Steelers?  The player who gives them the best chance to win and get off to a good start.

Remember, the Browns have won their season lidlifter just once since returning to the NFL in 1999, so a victory in week one would be rarefied air indeed for the franchise.

The notion that Manziel should start no matter what is crazy.  If he shows in the pre-season games that he deserves to be under center for the first offensive play of the regular season, then fine, let him start.

There is no hidden agenda for Hoyer here, and we believe the coaching staff doesn’t have an affinity for either QB at this point.

The guess here is that Hoyer is starting against Detroit this Saturday night and will play with the first team offensive unit with Manziel playing with and more to the point, against, the second teamers.

We also think the following week against the Redskins, the roles will be reversed, and the rookie will go with the first team offense against the Washington starters.  As a matter of fact, that’s the fair way of doing things.

After those two outings, head coach Mike Pettine will make a decision before the third exhibition contest, the dress rehearsal if you will.

We understand the feelings toward both players.  Hoyer is a hometown kid, and he sat and watched and worked with one of the sport’s all time greats in Tom Brady while at New England.  He’s going to do a professional job.

Last year, he got an opportunity to start three games and the Browns won all three, although in his last start he was hurt and Brandon Weeden got the bulk of the action in a victory over Buffalo.

Hoyer’s second start, a workman like win over the Bengals at home, is more the type of game we would expect to see from the former St. Ignatius and Michigan State star.  The Browns used a ball control offense and a tough defense to dominate Cincinnati.

Manziel is obviously the flashier of the pair, and fans want to see the guy who took college football by storm the past two seasons.  He will probably make a lot of great plays, but the potential for some colossal mistakes because of inexperience is there as well.

Mike Pettine has a defensive background and those coaches generally try to win games with that unit.  They don’t like quarterbacks to make mistakes which put the defenders in bad situations.  That would seem to give Hoyer the edge.

However, the games will start this week although they obviously don’t count.  So, if one of the two plays very well and the other doesn’t, the decision will be an easy one.  If both Hoyer and Manziel play well or play poorly, then we believe Pettine will go with the veteran to minimize errors.

Either way, the guy who gives the Browns the best chance to win should start.  The franchise needs to start putting numbers in the win column this season.

JD

Disconnect Between Tribe and Fans Grows

The Cleveland Indians’ organization just doesn’t get it.

They don’t get the ever growing disconnect between the front office and the fan base.

Yes, the current team is flawed, they are a .500 team with over two-thirds of the schedule in the books.  On the other hand, there are plenty of teams in the same boat, so as this is written they somehow are just four games out of a post-season berth.

They continue to operate under the premise that was stated by the current ownership many years ago, that is they will spend money when people start showing up to Progressive Field.

Compare that to the buzz surrounding the Cavaliers, who likely will put a title contender on display at Quicken Loans Arena, and the Browns, who drafted the most talked about rookie in the NFL last May.

They are shiny pieces, attractive to the eye.  The Indians are like a gray sweater.  They simply just don’t, or perhaps don’t know how to make a splash with the area’s baseball fans.

They made two good baseball decisions this week, trading two players who will be free agents this fall, and who weren’t producing as expected for the club either.  They picked up two young players who may help the Tribe in the next couple of years instead of letting them leave for nothing.

Still, the fans expected them to take a shot at making the post-season for the second consecutive year, a feat not accomplished by the current ownership or management team.

Instead, they claimed they couldn’t or weren’t willing to get a deal done.

Team president Mark Shapiro, GM Chris Antonetti and the Dolan family are good people, well liked by the media in northeastern Ohio.  Therefore, there wasn’t really much of an outrage when other teams around the Indians in the standings made move to improve their teams while the Tribe didn’t.

There seems to be an agreement between Shapiro and Antonetti and the ownership that the executives won’t bring up the lack of cash available and the Dolans won’t hold them accountable for the lack of success.

We even heard a member of the media floating the ridiculous contention by the organization that Tampa Bay wanted Danny Salazar, Carlos Santana, and Francisco Lindor for former Cy Young Award winner David Price.

Really? What did Tigers’ president Dave Dombrowski do, hypnotize Rays’ GM Andrew Friedman to convince to accept just Drew Smyly, Nick Franklin, and an 18-year-old prospect?

The fact of the matter is, there haven’t been enough results by this regime since the turn of the century.  Just three playoff spots, the first done with holdovers from the division and pennant winners of the mid-90’s, and one of those a one game wild card game.

To be fair, the Indians would have made the playoffs as the wild card under the old rules.

You have to go for it when you have the chance.  Now, we aren’t advocating dealing Lindor, who may just be the sport’s premier prospect, for a play who would spend a half season, or even a year and a half in a Cleveland uniform.

However, the Tribe does have middle infield prospects and power bullpen arms that could’ve been used to fill a weakness.

We have said it before, they didn’t need to get Price or Jon Lester, they just needed to get someone better than Justin Masterson, T.J. House, Josh Tomlin and Zack McAllister.

Instead they picked up another middle infielder, who likely will be moved elsewhere and has shown no strike zone judgment in the minor leagues, and yet another left-handed bat in an organization already top heavy from that side of the plate.

After making the post-season and winning 92 games a year ago, a way to bring fans back to the ballpark would have been to make the playoffs again.  Show them that last year was no fluke.

It could happen, but it isn’t likely when you have two shaky starters, and that’s crossing your fingers on Salazar, who has been solid since returning to the majors.

It appears the only team Antonetti improved at the deadline was the Columbus Clippers.  Somehow, the front office doesn’t understand the disappointment of its fan base.

 

Tribe’s Substractions OK, But No Additions Have Us Saying “Huh?”

The Cleveland Indians made two deals before the trading deadline, and we have no problem with either of them.

We do have a problem with the trade or trades that they didn’t make.

Dealing Justin Masterson, who was suffering through a terrible season and can’t put together two solid seasons in row is fine here.  He’s a free agent at the end of the season, and the Tribe wasn’t going to make the qualifying offer, so to get a solid prospect in James Ramsey, a top ten guy in a solid farm system like the Cardinals, is a good move.

Moving SS Asdrubal Cabrera, a player who has declined at the plate and in the field, and is also a free agent at the end of the year also makes sense.

The player coming back from Washington, INF Zach Walters, is a switch-hitting power hitter who strikes out a lot.  He’s listed as a shortstop, but with Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, and Erik Gonzalez in the system, his future is likely at third.

Power hitters are worth a gamble, and again, the Tribe wasn’t going to keep Cabrera anyway, why not take a look at someone with a little pop in his bat.

The problem is GM Chris Antonetti didn’t address the problem areas on his squad, even though the Indians sit just five games out of a playoff spot.

They didn’t address their pitching problems.

Now, we understand the Indians didn’t have the prospects to go out and get a Jon Lester or David Price, and though it would be nice to do that, they really didn’t need to.

They needed to get someone better than Zack McAllister, Josh Tomlin, or T. J. House, and they failed in doing that.

The Twins traded Sam Fuld, SAM FULD!, to get Tommy Milone out of Oakland.  Milone is a better pitcher than any of the three players we mentioned.  But he won’t be coming to Cleveland.

Currently, the Indians are in a race for the second wild card spot, or at least on paper they are, even though the front office obviously doesn’t think so.

Three of the other four teams in the race, the Mariners, Yankees, Royals, made moves to strengthen their teams.  The Indians chose to sit this one out.

Antonetti needed to go out and get someone to bolster his pitching staff, and he failed. Again.

That’s the profile of this organization. They rarely go out and make a bold move, either in the off-season or at the trading deadline.  We guess based on that we shouldn’t be all that disappointed.

However, the Indians seem mystified that the fans in Cleveland aren’t drawn to them.  It’s because of the lack of faith in the organization, and they can’t figure that out.

Earlier in the week, we tweeted that an organization that is 3-1/2 games out (which the Tribe was at the time) and didn’t make a move deserves the ire of their fan base.

And if they did want to create some buzz, they would bring up Lindor and let him play shortstop the rest of the season.  Of course, they won’t do that either.

When you have a chance to make the playoffs, even a one game wild card contest, you have to take the chance because you don’t know when you will get another shot.

Instead, the Tribe will go with their usual strategy of wishing and hoping for guys like House and/or McAllister to come through.

Maybe they should also hope fans will show up at Progressive Field.

MW