After losing the first three games of a four game set against the Baltimore Orioles, the rats are jumped off the S.S. Tribe very, very quickly.
There are people even saying that perhaps the Indians should now be sellers at the July 31st trading deadline instead of trying to improve the team.
As horrible as the Indians have looked since the All-Star break, and they have been bad, especially on offense scoring just 31 runs in 10 games with 19 of those occurring in two contests, they remain just 4-1/2 games out of first in the AL Central Division, and a mere 3-1/2 games off the pace for the second wild card spot.
A few people have mentioned how many teams the Indians would have to climb over to get the latter spot, but that would only hold water if there were a couple of weeks remaining in the season. However, there are more than 60 games remaining, more than enough time to pass a number of teams.
That’s why GM Chris Antonetti cannot start trading his most marketable people in the next eight days. In fact, he still should be looking to help the current roster, because it is obvious the Indians cannot make gains in the standings with its current personnel.
While everyone wants the team to make a huge splash, dealing for an all-star type player, that may not be necessary. Improving the roster could involve cutting bait on players who haven’t been productive for the Tribe from day one.
That would mean finding replacements for the deadwood currently on the team, guys like Casey Kotchman, Aaron Cunningham, Jack Hannahan, and yes, even Travis Hafner. Replacing two of them could have an impact.
The same would be true getting another starting pitcher, even replacing one with someone from Columbus. Who knows? You might just catch lightning in a bottle.
The other night saw a rumor saying the Indians were close to getting Phillies OF Shane Victorino, a free agent at the end of the season. That’s not a sexy pick up, but Victorino is a switch-hitting outfielder, who has been productive in the past.
Let’s say the Indians get him. They would no longer have a need for Cunningham because Victorino is a CF by trade. Victorino could play LF for the Indians, upgrading the OF defense.
It strengthens the bench because Johnny Damon or Hafner would no longer be in the lineup everyday, and it adds another right-handed bat (and a productive one, he’s hitting .318 with a 981 OPS vs. lefties) when facing a southpaw.
And it would also allow Michael Brantley and Shin-Soo Choo to get an occasional day off, keeping them fresh.
It would also lengthen Manny Acta’s batting order, where production ends after the cleanup hitter usually bats (although with Carlos Santana starting to hit a little, it would be after the 5th spot).
It’s one smaller type move, but it should make a decent impact on the team.
Plus, it would also show the players that the front office believes in them, and is concerned with winning baseball games.
Two or three more moves like that could make an even bigger impact, and we’ve been advocating making these subtle moves for over a month.
Yes, the White Sox have lost five straight, but look at the immediate impact Kevin Youkilis made upon his arrival. By the way, does anyone else think it’s odd that the Red Sox wanted either Josh Tomlin or Zack McAllister from Cleveland, but accepted Brett Lillibridge (since released) and Zach Stewart (in the minors) from Chicago?
We’ve always thought you are in the race if you hit Labor Day five games or less out of first. There’s still five weeks or so before that holiday and the Indians have a smaller deficit.
It’s not the time to sell right now. Antonetti needs to help his team, not take it apart.