The Cleveland Indians are not a good baseball team. That is implied by their 51-53 record as of this morning.
It is easy to say the Tribe shouldn’t do anything before the trade deadline because they aren’t consistent and are hovering around the .500 mark.
However, if you look at the American League as a whole, the Tribe is just 3-1/2 games out of a playoff spot and they are pretty much in the same boat as the Yankees, Blue Jays, Mariners, and Royals.
Those teams are around the break even mark too, and they certainly are not phoning in the rest of the season.
Neither should the Indians.
Last year at around this time, the Tribe was five games out of the second wild card spot and they wound up winning 92 games and won a post-season berth.
Now we acknowledge it would be darn near impossible for Terry Francona’s crew to go 21-6 in September again to make the playoffs, but it is incumbent on the front office to shore up the problems that have beset this baseball team since April.
And that would be finding consistency in hitting, and reliable starting pitching.
Reading other sites and listening to fans talk about the deadline, you hear people discussing pitchers like Jon Lester and David Price, two guys likely with higher price tags than the Indians are willing to look at.
However, the reality of the matter is GM Chris Antonetti just has to replace the guys who aren’t performing with players who are better than them, they don’t have to be all-star caliber players.
What we mean is that Antonetti merely has to get a starting pitcher better than Justin Masterson, Zack McAllister, Josh Tomlin, T.J. House, or Danny Salazar. He doesn’t need to get Lester or Price.
That’s how you improve your team.
On the offensive side, he just needs to upgrade over Ryan Raburn or Nick Swisher. You don’t need to get Giancarlo Stanton, not that Miami is going to trade him.
Based on the sabermetric statistic WARP (wins over replacement player), there are three Indian players received significant playing time that are not as good as the average player at their spot–David Murphy, Raburn, and Swisher.
There is no question that Swisher isn’t going anywhere because of his contract, but if you can find hitters better than Raburn and/or Murphy, then you’ve made your team better. And isn’t that the job of management?
Last night, the Tribe handed McAllister a 5-0 lead in a game that needed desperately. He didn’t do the job, which is pretty much something he’s done since his first four starts of the year.
And the game winning HR was given up by Nick Hagadone, a guy who is very familiar with the route between Cleveland and Columbus, and a guy most known for not having a good grasp on throwing strikes.
The night before, the game winning blast was allowed by John Axford, whose performance has ebbed and flowed all year-long.
These are the guys Francona has to turn to when he needs victories? To me, it says the front office isn’t being diligent in improving this baseball team.
If the Indians do nothing in the remainder of the month, they deserve all of the ire and vitriol their fan base will heap upon them. We’ve all seen the warts on the 2014 edition of the Tribe.
Doing nothing just re-emphasizes their lack of trust in the current administration and ownership.