As the 2013 season seems to be going down the drain, here are some things we think about the Cleveland Indians.
While we aren’t ready to put a ribbon on this year because the Tribe still sits just 4-1/2 games out of the second wild card spot, despite a forgettable trip (at least so far) to Atlanta and Detroit, some things have happened in the last month that make us want to comment.
Even though he hasn’t won his last two starts because of the lack of hitting, Ubaldo Jimenez is making us change our minds about bringing him back to Cleveland. The two sides have a mutual option for ’14, and while most of the season it appeared it would be the Indians that wouldn’t want to pick it up, it may now be Jimenez that declines.
The right-hander made some mechanical adjustments recently and seems to have regained some life on his fastball. In his starts vs. the Twins and Braves, he routinely was hitting 94-96 MPH on the gun, a jump of 2-3 MPH.
Not coincidentally, he struck out 10 hitters in both games.
He’s having his best season since his 19-8 record in 2010 with Colorado, and with the price of pitching these days, if the Indians might be well served to pick up the option and add a year or two.
We wouldn’t go longer than three years because of the inconsistency that Jimenez has shown in his time in Cleveland, and that may not get it done. Still, if he finishes the year pitching like this, you have to try to bring him back.
Other interested find amongst this offensive slump is that Terry Francona may have found another relief pitcher in Carlos Carrasco.
As a starter, Carrasco seemed to over analyze things which caused him to think too much, and he looked like a victim of the “million dollar arm, ten-cent brain” syndrome.
On August 9th, Francona put him into a game against the Angels to save the bullpen and Carrasco threw five scoreless innings. He started against Minnesota five days later and was hit hard.
Since then, he’s been used strictly in relief and in three games has thrown 5-1/3 scoreless innings, even earning a win in the 14 inning victory vs. the Angels. Without the four days off in between starts and perhaps worrying about the results, Carrasco has thrived when he doesn’t know when he’s going to pitch.
He wouldn’t be the first successful relief pitcher to wash out as a starter.
With the hitters not coming through, the everyday players are getting a lot of criticism and the two free agents signed in the off-season, Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn are taking some heat.
Let us say this…giving a player big money doesn’t make them a better player.
We’ve discussed Swisher before. He is having an off-season, but in a normal year, he’s a .270 hitter who walks a lot, and hits 25 HR and knocks in 80-90 runs. Paying him a lot of cash isn’t going to make him a 35 HR, 120 RBI player.
The same is true with Bourn. He came here a great defensive centerfielder, but not a prototypical leadoff hitter in that his lifetime on base percentage was .336. He is down to .320 in 2013 because his walks are down (70 in ’12 and only 31 so far in ’13), but he’s not a Kenny Lofton type of leadoff man, getting on base close to 40% of the time.
Maybe he should change his approach a little because he strikes out a lot (a career high 155 times last year), and make more contact to take advantage of his speed, but he’s having a pretty typical Michael Bourn season.
You can’t be all over him for that.
All in all, it isn’t over yet for this year’s edition of the Indians, but it is starting to get late quickly.