With the Cleveland Indians struggling since their sweep of the Detroit Tigers, the weaknesses fans have been concerned about all year have started to raise their ugly heads.
The starting pitching has been the main culprit, as in those nine games (the Tribe has gone 2-7 in those contests) only Derek Lowe’s performance against Minnesota in which he pitched 6-2/3 innings and allowed one run, can be considered very good.
The struggles of the starters has forced the Indians to play from behind quite a bit, and with their lack of power, that is not a good situation.
The Tribe is 8-18 in games they haven’t hit a home run. More to the point, they are 20-7 when they do hit one over the wall.
The Twins’ series was a perfect example. Friday night, Lonnie Chisenhall and Jason Kipnis went deep in a Cleveland win. There were no round trippers the rest of the weekend, and the Indians dropped the final two games of the weekend.
And of course, the last problem area to show up again is the problem the Tribe has against southpaws. Scott Diamond started for the Twins Sunday afternoon, and the Cleveland bats took a nap, losing 6-3.
However, the roster construction doesn’t do Manny Acta any favors. Right now, there are two players on the pines who are there because they play a certain position. That is their only qualification for being on the team.
Aaron Cunningham is here because he can play CF if something happened to Michael Brantley, and Juan Diaz is on the roster because he can play shortstop.
GM Chris Antonetti hasn’t been able to develop or acquire a legitimate fourth outfielder or a utility infielder.
That is troublesome because it doesn’t give the skipper a lot of flexibility.
Neither player has shown he can hit, particularly with the limited at bats they receive, and on a team that has difficulties hitting left-handed pitching, that’s tough to digest.
Cunningham can play all three outfield spots, but there has to be someone within the organization that can provide better hitting and has the ability to play centerfield.
The same is true for Diaz at SS, although he is here because the guy whose job he has, Jason Donald, didn’t hit, and is having trouble defensively at short in Columbus.
The problem is Acta cannot have any confidence putting either of these guys in a lineup when needed. And if that’s the case, a change needs to be made.
The same problem is occurring in the bullpen with lefty Tony Sipp. The reliever has done a good job the past few years, but this year is struggling.
He came in Saturday with the team trailing 5-4 to face two left-handed hitters, Ben Revere and Joe Mauer. A single and a home run later, the score was 7-4.
This isn’t to bury Sipp, but he needs to go back to the minors to work on getting back to where he was in 2010 and 2011.
Right now, it is doubtful that Acta can find any situation in which to use him except in a blowout situation.
That’s not fair to the manager.
Most major league managers need a 25 man roster to work with, especially those who pilot small to mid-market teams.
Right now, Manny Acta has a 22 man team because his roster is littered with players like the three mentioned.
Maybe Acta’s the one who wants these guys, but that’s doubtful.
The front office needs to upgrade this roster, and the sooner they do it, the better the Indians can hang in the race to win the AL Central.