The Cleveland Indians are struggling.
Optimistic people will tell you they are only 3-1/2 games out of a wild card spot, thanks to the bunched up American League standings, but watching them play tells you it doesn’t look like they can put together any kind of winning streak soon.
The defense is atrocious, the hitting is mostly weak, and right now, three of their starting pitchers have an ERA of over 5.00.
That isn’t exactly a recipe for success.
The past weekend series against Oakland can be set aside in this discussion because it could just be a matter of playing a team when they are red-hot, which the A’s are. Still, the Indians’ difficulties have been going on all season long.
Are their any solutions for GM Chris Antonetti and manager Terry Francona?
The simple answer is not really. The Tribe needs the veteran players with track records to start playing to those career numbers. Because there is no immediate help in the farm system and Antonetti isn’t the type of GM to make rash deals.
This lineup isn’t scoring runs and it probably isn’t going to as long as Carlos Santana bats .150 and Nick Swisher bats .200. Those two players have to get it going.
As for the people who want the latter out of here, Swisher has no trade value right now with the way he is hitting and playing defense, and his expensive contract.
One move Francona can make is to start moving Swisher off of first base where his defense has been terrible to be nice. Put Santana back at first, a position he is more familiar with, because perhaps learning a new position has affected the switch-hitter’s batting.
Getting Jason Kipnis back from the disabled list will no doubt help the hitting, although Mike Aviles has done a fine job at 2B in his absence. With Kipnis back, Aviles can go back to the part-time role he excels at.
After a hot start, he has slumped a bit, which is the norm for the veteran. He hits best in a limited role.
The Indians consider Jesus Aguilar a marginal prospect, but his right-handed bat is needed by the big club, which is overloaded in terms of guys who swing from the left side.
As for the pitching staff, Trevor Bauer is getting the start tonight, replacing Danny Salazar. However, Zack McAllister and Justin Masterson need to start pitching better as well.
The struggles of the starting rotation are definitely affecting the bullpen, which is starting to show signs of wear and tear.
If something happens to one of the starters, and Masterson is looking like a guy with a sore arm (loss of velocity and command), right now, Salazar is the only option, and he did not pitch well in his first AAA start.
Losing Scott Kazmir and Ubaldo Jimenez without replacing either one in the off-season has robbed the organization of its depth at starting pitcher.
So, there aren’t many alternatives except to play better. No one wants to hear that among the fans, but we can’t see any blockbuster deals on the horizon, mostly because the Tribe doesn’t have anyone with huge market value.
Asdrubal Cabrera is an above average major league shortstop and Francisco Lindor is Cleveland’s best prospect, but the former is a free agent at the end of this season, so you won’t get much in return.
If you deal anyone else, there isn’t a player to replace him.
That’s what happens when you don’t draft well for a decade.
So, Tribe fans have to hope the veterans get back to their usual levels or it will be a long summer.
Either way, it’s not the best scenario if you are a baseball fan in Cleveland.