Tribe Makes Some Moves, We Wished For More

The Cleveland Indians made a series of trades before the July 31st trade deadline, moving two left-handed bats in David Murphy and Brandon Moss, and they also moved lefty reliever Marc Rzepczynski.

We have no problems with any of the moves, as the deals with open up the roster for some younger talent.

Our regret is they didn’t do more.

The first trade, which sent Murphy to the Angels, is simply a case of the outfielder having a club option at the end of this year, which the Indians weren’t willing to pick up.  So, they moved him for a minor league SS in Eric Stamets.

Stamets is purported to be a good athlete, and excellent defender who cannot hit, batting under .250 each of his last two seasons in the minor leagues.

But really, there isn’t a huge demand for corner outfielders who don’t have a lot of pop.  The only question is getting another shortstop with Jose Ramirez (who can play other spots) and Erik Gonzalez already trapped behind Francisco Lindor.

The Moss deal was a surprise, but the 1B/OF was an all or nothing hitter with Cleveland, and that Antonetti was able to get one of St. Louis’ top prospects made this transaction a no-brainer as well.

The southpaw Cleveland received in return, Rob Kaminsky, is 6-5 with a 2.09 ERA this year in high A, and we hope he goes to Akron.  In his three years in the minors since being the Cardinals first round pick in 2013, he has a 2.15 ERA.

He is said to have a deceptive delivery and hitters have a hard time picking up the ball.  He’s also a strike thrower with just 68 walks in 217 minor league innings.

The return for Rzepczynski was OF Abraham Almonte, who is a .233 hitter in over 300 big league at bats, of which he was struck out in about a third of them.  So, he’s more like a guy who will spend a lot of time in Columbus.

We would have liked to seen the Tribe move OF/DH Ryan Raburn too, and that might still happen before the August 31st waiver deal deadline.  Raburn got off to a hot start, but has been mediocre with the stick since the middle of May.

The front office also didn’t resolve their Michael Bourn problem, so the outfielder who had a mini-renaissance this week (his OPS is up to 600 folks!), is still here and we assume that Terry Francona will continue to write his name in the lineup.

There were rumors that Cleveland was dangling Carlos Carrasco in the deal which would have brought back the impact bat, the team desperately needs, but nothing happened.

At the very least, these moves give the Indians an opportunity to look at some young players, like Tyler Holt and Jerry Sands, just recalled, and lefty Michael Roth, who came up earlier this week.

It also gives Lonnie Chisenhall one last chance to prove he can be a big league hitter.

The reshaping of the Indians’ roster has started.  It’s unfortunate that the weaknesses of this team, that were evident as early as the beginning of May, weren’t addressed sooner.

MW

Tribe Uses Stats to Deflect Criticism

We have been watching baseball for a long, long time, but we don’t dismiss some of the statistical analysis that is somewhat new to the game.

In fact, we were faithful readers of Bill James’ Baseball Abstracts when they first reached baseball fans’ consciousness and we agree with many of the things he first brought to light.  Some of these concepts was the importance of on base percentage, and that OPS is a very good judge of offensive talent.

However, the game isn’t played on paper, it takes place on the field, and so it galls us when we read how the Tribe PR department, front office, and the fans who don’t think they do anything wrong, tell us how “unlucky” the current Indians are.

For example, it’s not bad luck that four to five hitters in the Tribe lineup on a regular basis are hitting under .230.

The biggest debate from the stat people is 1B Carlos Santana, who is revered by the sabermetric crowd because of his ability to draw walks.  Despite his .224 batting average, he gets on base 35.4% of the time.

There is undoubtedly value in that.  Another thing we learned from James is that the game of baseball is played based on the number of outs.  Each team gets 27 of them.  So, Santana has value in that he makes outs just 64.6% of the time, compared to let’s say, Brandon Moss, a player with a similar batting average (.220), but he makes outs 70.8% of his at bats.

However, the Tribe needs Santana to provide pop in the middle of the lineup, which he’s been unable to do. His career slugging percentage is .435, not sufficient enough for a middle of the order hitter.

Therefore, Santana really shouldn’t be hitting in the #4 or #5 spot in the batting order.  Ideally, he would be more effective either hitting in front of someone who can drive him in, so he should be hitting #7 or #8 to get on base in front of Jason Kipnis, or in the two hole so Michael Brantley can get him home.

The organization is also guilty of using small sample sizes to deflect criticism.  They are quick to quote that a certain player has had success over something like a 10 game stretch.  Big deal.  Most decent major league players can stretches that long where they appear to be pretty good.

The reality is you have to look at the season as a whole.  Now, if you want to say a player got off to a slow start, and over the last 60 games, they are having success, we will listen to that argument.

The only statistic that matters is the winning percentage of the team.  And right now, the Cleveland Indians are failing in that regard.  No team gets to move up in the standings because the numbers show they aren’t as bad as they appear.  It’s akin to putting lipstick on a pig.

Here’s another statistic we like to use:  In the 14 years that Mark Shapiro and Chris Antonetti have been in charge, the Indians have four seasons over .500 and two playoff appearances.  Guess what?  Not good.

Are some of the hits by the opponents lucky?  Perhaps.  On the other hand, right now the starting pitchers are putting this team in a hole on a nightly basis.  Last night, they were down 3-0 after the first inning.

Saturday night, they were losing 5-0.

Thursday, it was 4-0 after four frames.

This team’s offense doesn’t allow them to come back, so it is incumbent on the starters to put some zeroes on the board early.  Is there any statistic that covers that up?

The entire organization needs to examine itself and look at different ways of getting it done.  It’s not working right now.

What Tribe Should Do In The Last Two Months

It is more apparent than ever that the Cleveland Indians need to do something about this roster as they head into the July 31st trading deadline at the end of the week.

The Tribe needed a good start to the second half, as they had nine games against the weaker squads in Major League Baseball (Cincinnati, Milwaukee, and the White Sox) and to this point are 3-5 against them.

Cleveland has demonstrated nothing to hang your hat on in the second half.  The offense has been deplorable, the starting pitching has collapsed, and while the defense is better than the horrific first two months of the year, it still makes key mistakes at the most inopportune times, and the pitching staff cannot pitch around them.

The front office is asleep at the switch, seemingly refusing to address any of the problems this team has, and make no mistake, they have been around since day one of the season.  And we have to take Terry Francona to task as well, as he hasn’t made any adjustments to what he has either.

This is a team with little home run power, yet he still sits back and plays for the three run bomb.

Look, the Indians’ hitters don’t strike out a lot, so why not send runners every once in a while.  And SS Francisco Lindor, who stole nine bases in AAA, has attempted just one with the Indians, and that was in his first big league start.

So, perhaps the front office can improve the current roster by trading some of the veterans on the roster.

The obvious duo is the platoon tandem at DH in David Murphy and Ryan Raburn.  Now, before you say these are two of the team’s better hitters, let’s look inside the numbers.

Over the last 28 days, Murphy has hit just .184 with a home run and seven RBI (569 OPS).  In the same time period, Raburn has batted just 22 times, hitting .182 with three runs batted in.

Of course, that hasn’t stopped Francona from continuing to hit them both in the clean up spot on a regular basis.

Moving those two players and removing Michael Bourn from the roster would give GM Chris Antonetti three roster spots to work with.

That would enable the organization to find out if Jesus Aguilar and/or Jerry Sands can contribute to the team going forward, and also give Tyler Holt and/or Tyler Naquin some big league experience.

Naquin would be the most intriguing because he is the best prospect of the group, but Sands knocked in six runs in his 24 at bats here, which is three less than Mike Aviles for the entire season.

We are tired of hearing the argument that Bourn has to stay because of the amount of money he is owed by Cleveland.  It’s a ridiculous argument.  No player, repeat, no player should get at bats because of what they are making.  YOU HAVE TO PAY HIM ANYWAY!  There is no need to have him decrease the team’s chances of winning.

Why aren’t we hammering Nick Swisher for the same reason?  One, he’s not on the roster right now.  Two, he’s only had 101 at bats this year.  If he is reactivated and he still is not doing anything, then he will draw the same ire as the centerfielder.

Of course, Antonetti said earlier this week that he is still confident in the team he opened the season with.  Either he is dumb or a liar, because if you watch the games, you couldn’t possibly come to that conclusion.

This team’s only chance, and it gets slimmer by the day, is to make these chance and hope the younger players come through.

And if they don’t, then at least the front office knows who can contribute in ’16 and who cannot.

KM

Despite Criticism, We Think Tribe Still Has a Chance

If you read this blog on a regular basis or follow us on Twitter, you might think we feel the Cleveland Indians should forget about this season and start working toward the 2016 campaign.

And you would be wrong.

Why?  Because a quick check of the standings shows the Indians are still just 5-1/2 games out of a playoff spot.  The truth is, that’s why we keep pushing for the Tribe front office to make some moves, because there is still very much hope, although not with the team as it is currently constituted.

We grew up in the era where a contending team didn’t come around all that often.  Okay, it didn’t come around at all.  That was baseball in this town from 1969 through really, 1993.  There weren’t too many reasons to get excited about the squads that toiled at old Municipal Stadium.

That’s why we can’t bring ourselves to look toward the 2016 season.  There is a legitimate chance here is the front office stops looking through rose-colored glasses and sees they need to take action for the rest of the season.

This past week, we read various things about how the Indians are unlucky.  They hit the ball hard often, but don’t get hits, Their opponents hit bloopers that fall in, etc.

First, to borrow from the sport that uses an oblong ball, as Bill Parcells says, you are what your record says you are.

And the Tribe is currently four games below the break even mark at 45-49.  And that’s a mediocre record.

What gives us hope is the starting pitching staff, which is capable of shutting down teams on a nightly basis.  You can say with conviction that Terry Francona’s team in capable of holding the opponents to two runs or less every night.  That doesn’t mean they will, but they have starters capable of doing it.

The problem is with the offense, and the baseball fairies aren’t going to come down and sprinkle magic dust on the Indians’ bats and they will finally start to hit.

To the “bad luck” folks, we say this:  Is it bad luck that on most nights, Francona writes out a lineup that includes four hitters batting .230 or less, and only three hitters with a mark of over .260.

We know, we know, stat people, batting average is overrated.  The league average for OPS is 718.  A typical Cleveland lineup with contain five batters with an OPS under the league average.  And since you are statistically driven, that would be more than half of the team they put on the field each day.

One of those hitters is OF/DH David Murphy, who the optimistic fan base thought was going to hit .325 all year.  Murphy has started to regress to his normal batting mark of around .270, so if the front office were to deal him sometime next week, we would not consider that folding up the tent.

The season is more than half over, so pretty much what you see is what you are going to get from these players.  Sure, Carlos Santana and/or Brandon Moss are capable of getting hot, and perhaps Yan Gomes too, but will all three get hot at the same time?

And really, your basing your success on players getting red-hot?

The Indians need to make some moves, even if it is just giving some more young players a chance, if they want to contend for the playoffs.

They are too close to just throw in the towel.  Moving on with an eye toward next year will just further alienate an already apathetic ticket buying public.

MW

Lack Of Pop Biggest Reason For Tribe Hitting Struggles

You may guess that the Cleveland Indians might be among the leaders in the American League in leaving runners on base, and you would be correct.

In fact, they lead the AL with 670 LOB to this point in the season.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because it shows they do indeed get base runners, they just lack the ability to get a hit to score them.

Second in that category is the Boston Red Sox, another team who is having problems putting runs on the board, but the next two teams in leaving runners on are Oakland, who ranks 7th in runs scored, and New York, 2nd in the AL in runs per game.

One statistic to look at in examining Cleveland’s problems is slugging percentage, which is the ability to get extra base hits.  The Indians rank 4th from the bottom in that category, ahead of only Seattle, Tampa Bay, and Chicago in the junior circuit.

Those three teams are also the same trio that are behind the Tribe in average runs per night.

Cleveland does hit plenty of doubles, they are second in the AL in that stat due to the presence of Jason Kipnis (tied for the AL lead) and Michael Brantley (4th in the AL), but the absence of the long ball is hurting the ability to put up runs.  The Indians are second to last in dingers ahead of only the White Sox.  Chicago’s inability to hit homers is really telling in that they play in a home run friendly park.

Thank goodness for the acquisition of Brandon Moss, who has hit 15 bombs this season, despite his struggles at the plate.  Otherwise, Terry Francona’s squad might rank last in home runs.

What this means is that on most nights, Cleveland needs three hits to score, which might be easier if their team batting average wasn’t .249, and on usually they have only three hitters with averages over .250 in the lineup:  Kipnis, Brantley, and David Murphy.

Moss is on pace for over 20 dingers in 2015, but he’s the only Tribe hitter who is on pace to reach that plateau.  Carlos Santana is the only Tribesman in double figures at the moment, and he has just 10.

Look at what happened Saturday night, when the Indians hit three homers.  They scored nine runs.  It makes it a lot easier when you can get three runs on one swing as they did on the long balls by Brantley and Yan Gomes.

And the way the lineup is constructed, you have Kipnis (.405 OBP) and Brantley (.371) hitting at the top of the order, and the batting averages of the players following them (excluding the Murphy/Raburn platoon) on most nights are usually this:  .222, .222, .220, .231, .229.  Yikes!

And Murphy is a guy to keep an eye on.  He’s a lifetime .275 batter, currently hitting .307.  Over the last month, he’s dropped to .255, which means he is regressing to his normal statistics.  That’s not going to help.

It is doubtful the Tribe can do anything about the power at this point.  Perhaps bring up Jerry Sands again or maybe Jesus Aguilar, who have the ability to hit some home runs.  Could GM Chris Antonetti find some better hitters for average on the market?  It’s probably more likely than getting someone who can hit 25 homers, so maybe that is possible.

Francisco Lindor is starting to hit a little better, but that only helps the top of the order, which isn’t really the problem right now.

It’s not as simple as the guys in the lineup getting better.  It’s flawed right now.  The guys with the low batting averages aren’t just having bad years, they don’t hit for high averages.

If the Indians want to generate more offense, they need to correct that problem.

KM

Why Doesn’t Anyone Ask the Tribe???

We get that it is far different covering a major league professional sports team now than it was, say, 20-25 years ago.

The executives and the manager/head coaches don’t like answering pointed questions, mainly because the players, who have come up in an atmosphere of coddling, don’t like to be criticized in the media.

That leads to politically correct responses, and probably a conversation behind close doors with the parties who earned the coaches’ ire.

So, we understand that it is not in the beat writers’ best interests to ask Terry Francona, GM Chris Antonetti, or team president Mark Shapiro tough questions, particularly ones that they have no desire to answer in public.

However, here are some things that deserve answers from the management.

Why Does Michael Brantley Continue to Play Centerfield?  Brantley’s numbers as a LF and a CF aren’t very different, he has an OPS of 788 playing in the middle of the outfield compared to a 797 figure in LF.  However, it is clear to us that Brantley’s defense is not up to par in center, and his power numbers are off dramatically (70 points) from a year ago.

Covering more ground in a more demanding defensive position likely puts more pressure on his back, which has been bothering him all season.

When last year’s all-star doesn’t play the field, when he’s used as a DH, his OPS is 860, a figure very comparable to 2014’s 890.

With the offense struggling mightily, doesn’t it make sense to put one of the Tribe’s primary offensive threats in a less demanding defensive spot?

Is There a Need For a Situational Lefty in the Bullpen?  The pure numbers say Marc Rzepczynski is doing a solid job, with 23 strikeouts and 10 walks in 17-2/3 innings.  The stat guys will point out he’s got a good strikeout to walk ratio.

On the other hand, last season, the man they call Scrabble allowed left-handed hitters to bat just .180 against him, with an incredibly low 441 OPS.

This season, those figures are a .234 batting average against, the OPS has risen to 640.

Worse, Francona seems to have lost some trust in the southpaw, bringing in Cody Allen in today’s game with lefty swinging Joey Votto at the plate with a man on and two out in a 3-1 game.

Last year, Tito would’ve definitely went with Rzepczynski in that situation.

Do They Really Need Eight Relievers?  This ridiculousness has now gone on for about a month.

We know Francona likes to keep his relievers fresh, but now that the starting pitching has stabilized, there is no need to carry that many guys in the bullpen.

There simply isn’t enough work.

The guys who can be said to be taking up a roster spot that could be better utilized are “long” relievers Jeff Manship, Ryan Webb, and Austin Adams.

If ALL of those pitchers are used more than one in a seven game span, it would be shocking.  Adams came into the game Friday night, and quite frankly, we forgot he was on the roster.

Again, with the offensive struggles the Indians are going through, wouldn’t an extra bat on the bench make more sense?

And we haven’t even mentioned questions like “Why is Francisco Lindor still hitting second?” or “Why do we keep playing Mike Aviles in the outfield?” or “What was it that finally made Lindor ready for the big leagues?”

We would just love to hear how the Tribe management would avoid these questions with their normal corporate double speak.

Instead, we will have to speculate our own answers.

MW

Tribe Needs A Fast Start to Second Half

With the second half of the baseball season picking up on Friday night in Cincinnati, here are the standings that any Cleveland Indians’ fans should be worried about.

Houston         49-42        —-
Tampa Bay    46-45         3
Baltimore       44-44         3.5
Detroit           44-44          3.5
Toronto         45-46          4
Texas            42-46         5.5
CLEVELAND 42-46        5.5
Chicago         41-45        5.5
Boston           42-47         6

Those are the standings for the second wild card spot.  And really, since the Twins are a game ahead of Houston, the Tribe is 6-1/2 games behind for a chance to host a wild card game.

That’s a more optimistic viewpoint than looking at the 11 game deficit facing Terry Francona’s team to win the American League Central Division, currently led by the Kansas City Royals.

The entire league is kind of in the same predicament, with the standing very bunched and no one truly out of the chase for the post-season.

And with the second half schedule starting out with three teams currently below the break even mark, starting with three in Cincinnati, two in Milwaukee, and then four at home against the White Sox, this is the time, if the Indians can make a move, to indeed gather some wins.

The question is, do these have the horses to put together a winning streak?

Certainly, they have the starting pitching.  Although it is doubtful that Cody Anderson can continue to pitch like he has thus far, mostly because opposing hitters are hitting .189 against him, and he’s not striking out many, right now, every night Cleveland takes the field, their pitcher has the ability to throw a shutout.

And based on what happened last season from August 1st through the end of the season, Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco are capable of being even better than they have pitched so far this season, and Trevor Bauer is definitely better than he was a year ago.

So, there is some history on Cleveland’s side.

But, the front office needs to improve the offense, and we aren’t talking about banking on a big second half from Carlos Santana and/or Brandon Moss, nor a healthy Nick Swisher bolstering the hitting.  The need to bring in a bat, either from the minors or via a trade.

The Tribe also needs to bolster the bench by simply adding an extra player, because the way the starters are going right now, there is no need for Cleveland to carry eight relief pitchers.

Jeff Manship appeared in one game last week.  Ryan Webb appeared in one game last week.  And Kyle Crockett, just called up to replace Nick Hagadone, who went on the disabled list, pitched once last week.  This proves there is no need to carry an extra guy in the bullpen.

Adding another position player, preferably someone else who can play centerfield, would provide a possible platoon partner for Michael Bourn (not going to beat that dead horse) who is not Michael Brantley.  Brantley’s defense in CF has declined, perhaps because of his back injury, and that added stress seems to have affected his hitting, which the Indians cannot afford.

And if the starters get beat up in consecutive games, you can always go back to Columbus and call up a fresh arm.  That’s what most big league teams do.

However, if the Indians are going to contend this season, they have to hit the ground running starting on Friday night.  They cannot have another two or three weeks where they tread water and hope to have a shot.

Here’s hoping everyone in the organization has a sense of urgency.

MW

It’s Tiring Being a Tribe Fan.

The Cleveland Indians went into the All Star break dropping the last two games before baseball’s vacation to the Oakland A’s.

The usual culprits were involved in the defeats, the bullpen, particularly the situational guys, failed in Saturday night’s loss along with a defensive miscue, and yesterday, it was another anemic offensive display, but at least it was to one of the American League’s best pitchers in Sonny Gray.

After reading some stuff about the Tribe over the weekend, most notably, Marla Ridenour’s interview with president Mark Shapiro in the Akron Beacon Journal, we realized that it is getting exhausting to be a baseball fan in northeast Ohio.

So, here is a list of things we are tired of regarding the Cleveland Indians:

1).  Stop the constant moaning about market size.  It is what it is. There is no salary cap in the sport, so the only people limiting what the ownership spends is the front office.  We know the revenue stream isn’t as big in Cleveland as in New York, Boston, Chicago, or Los Angeles, but figure out another way to get it done.

We get it, so stop bringing it up.  In fact, we would prefer if the management embrace it, and cater to the toughness of the region.

Adopt an attitude of our payroll isn’t huge, but we are going to win anyway.

2).  Stop operating out of fear.  The Indians organization is afraid to make a mistake, mostly in the area of talent evaluation.  It’s why Francisco Lindor didn’t get called up until the middle of June.

It’s why they don’t jettison Michael Bourn.  It’s why Bradley Zimmer, a 22-year-old college player who was the Indians’ first round pick a year ago is still at Class A Lynchburg despite a .305 batting average and 889 OPS in a pitching friendly league.

With veterans, they are afraid of them finding success elsewhere.  With young players, they fear trading them and having them turn out like Chris Archer.

You have a break a few eggs to make an omelet.  The Tribe would rather go hungry.

3). Stop antagonizing the fans on social media.  Sometimes, it’s like they are trying push fans away.  After Lindor was finally recalled, they put out a tweet that if everyone who wanted the rookie in a Cleveland uniform bought a ticket, they would be sold out for the rest of the year.

Perhaps it would be better if they actually played better at Progressive Field.  Their home record is among the worst in the sport.

4).  Go for it when the opportunity arises.  This isn’t to say the Tribe should deal Lindor or one of their young, controllable starters for a rental player or someone on the downside of their career.  However, if you can deal from depth or move a mid range prospect for someone who can make an impact for a half-year or 1-1/2 years, then take a chance.

Like Detroit did last year for David Price.  If the Indians would win the World Series, no one is going to care if the player moved turned into an all-star five years later.  We would still have the trophy.

The front office seems to loathe even considering something like that.  Heck, next year, you might be 20 games out half way through the season.  Take a shot.

5). Stop believing that what went wrong last year will correct itself, and what went right will stay the same.  The test for this going forward will be David Murphy and his option for 2016.  Please, repeat, please do not pick up this option!  Murphy is a decent major league player having his best season in the last five years.  There is a very good chance that next year he will revert to hitting around .265.

There is no reason to pay him $7 million to do that.

Granted, the Scott Atchison deal wasn’t for a lot of cash this season, but we and many others could have told the front office he would not pitch as well in 2015 as he did in 2014.

Don’t their analytics people tell them the same thing?

As long time Tribe fans, we want to have fun following this baseball team, but over the past few years, it is tedious and exhausting.

We just want it to be enjoyable again.

KM

Tribe Will Need to Win Some Games With Their Bats in Second Half.

Our beloved Cleveland Indians are in the midst of another stretch of good baseball, winning 8 of 11 since the debacle double shutout in Baltimore, and now sit just two games below the .500 mark at 42-44.

The starting pitching has carried the Tribe over this stretch allowing just 29 runs in the 11 contests, which nine of those tallies coming in the opener of the current home stand against the Astros.

That means, in the other ten games, the opponents have scored 20 runs, and even those bad in math would recognize that averages to two runs per night.

Even with the Indians’ anemic offense, you can win a lot of games that way.

Which is the problem the Tribe faces going forward, after play resumes next Friday in Cincinnati.  Can they win games consistently when the pitching isn’t overwhelming.

To put together a long sustained streak of success, Terry Francona’s squad is going to have to win some 6-5 or 8-6 games.

When Indians’ pitchers allow five runs in a game this year, they are basically screwed.  Their record is 3-27.  Which, of course, when they hold teams to four runs or less, they are 39-17.

The problem is that they’ve allowed five or more runs in 30 of their 86 games.

As a comparison, the first place Kansas City Royals are 7-20 when they allow five runs or more.  The Astros are 9-21.  The AL East leading Yankees are 6-25, and the Twins, who would qualify for the post-season if the season ended today, are 8-23.

We understand that no team is going to be over .500 allowing over five runs a game, but notice that the better teams in the AL have all doubled the Indians win total in that situation.

And if the Tribe had the six wins these other teams have, they would be 45-41 for the season, and be sitting just 1-1/2 games out of a spot in the post-season.

So, will the front office try to do something to help the Indians score more runs after the All Star break?

As usual, we are skeptical.  Sure, they may try to use the “we are getting Nick Swisher back, and that’s like adding a bat in a trade” line.  Or “if Carlos Santana can get hot, that would be better than making a deal” baloney.

But the reality is they need to do something, and it doesn’t have to be a big splash like trading for a guy like Carlos Gomez, although he is under contract through 2016, and would be a dramatic upgrade in centerfield and a right-handed bat.

However, dealing for him would be a great move and as a bonus, might get people who buy tickets interested in this team.

Knowing the Indians’ conservative management, they could also simply make some internal moves to help the offense.

First, they could add a bat from Columbus (yes, we are advocating for Tyler Holt again), because with the starting pitching doing well, there is no need for eight relief pitchers.  Guys like Jeff Manship and Ryan Webb are collecting cobwebs in the ‘pen because they are rarely used.

Why not convert them into someone who can play CF vs. lefties, therefore eliminating the need to use Michael Brantley there and also there would be no need to use Mike Aviles in left.

Perhaps it is because of his bulky back, but Brantley is no longer even a decent defensive player in center.  And we believe DHing more often would make him drive the ball more.

Was it a coincidence that Tuesday night as a DH, he had three hits and hit his first home run in more than a month?

The organization also has to be thinking (or at least they should be thinking) that the platoon of David Murphy (lifetime .276 hitter currently hitting .326) and Ryan Raburn, will show some regression at the season wears on.

To be fair, Francisco Lindor and Giovanny Urshela, who have shored up the left side of the infield, should improve at the plate going forward.

At any rate, the onus is squarely on GM Chris Antonetti.  If the Indians can make it to the playoffs, their starting pitching can be dominant enough to carry them deep into October.

But you have to get there.  Your move, Mr. Antonetti.

MW

Our Comments On What Cavs Are Up To

The free agent frenzy in the NBA has come and gone for the most part, and the word has come down today that LeBron James is ready to sign another two-year deal (a one year contract with a player option, much like last year) with the wine and gold.

We thought it would be time to answer some questions about the Cavs and what they have done and still may do this off-season…

The Tristan contract.  Look, there is no question that Thompson’s value to the Cavaliers is much higher than most any other team, because his skill set fits better with a contending team.

We also understand that Thompson is represented by the same firm that handles James, and LeBron wants him back here and wants him to get paid.

So, big deal.  Just do it.

We realize that some older fans can’t understand how James can impact how Dan Gilbert and David Griffin handle Thompson’s contract, but that’s the reality of the NBA these days.

James put himself in a situation where he has a substantial say in the future of this basketball team.

And the Cavs and Gilbert are better off with him wearing wine and gold (or navy blue) and having that say than him being somewhere else.

We are sure Gilbert doesn’t have a big deal with it.

Signing Mo.  Our first reaction was bringing back Mo Williams was that it was no big deal.  Williams is on the wrong side of 30 years old (he’ll be 33 in December), and he’s never been known for his defense, which is key in post-season basketball.

However, he did average 17 points per game after being traded from Minnesota to Charlotte last year, and he likely will not have to carry a large role with Cleveland.  He will be Kyrie Irving’s primary back up, and he can still stroke the jumper.

And it didn’t cost the Cavaliers entire mini-mid level exemption, so Griffin still can spend around $1 million on another free agent.

Williams can provide scoring with the second unit, and on the days where Irving has to miss games.

All in all, it’s a good thing for the Cavs.

Dealing Andy?  The talk of a possible deal with New Jersey involving G/F Joe Johnson in which the Cavs give up Brendan Haywood’s expiring deal and Anderson Varejao have died down a little bit.

However, if the Cavs had a deal to significantly improve their roster and had to give up the long time Cavalier, then so be it.

Look, it’s a business and there is no room for sentimentality.

Varejao’s problem over the last five years has been staying on the court.  In that time frame, he has played more than 31 games just once, in 2013-14 when he participated in 65 games.

When James was in Miami, we advocated dealing the big man in order to get value for him before his worth was totally decimated by the injuries.  He was no longer reliable.

If we had our druthers, and you could improve the team by moving only Haywood, then fine, but if you have to deal Varejao to make it work, then that’s okay too.

James’ Contract.  We are convinced there is no more misunderstood or questioned player on the planet than James.  After agreeing to the deal today, idiots came out of the woodwork complaining about his “loyalty” to the Cavs.

His people told us we was going to do this last year, and to this point, he has been true to his word.  The “one and one” deals are simply to get him the most money he can according to the system every year.

And remember, last summer, he said he didn’t have the energy to change teams again.

Fans who question this are no better than the national media people who said Kevin Love was leaving via free agency this year.

JK