Using WAR to Identify Tribe Veterans Not Helping Club

This seems to be an annual thing to write when it comes to the Cleveland Indians and their manager, Terry Francona.

It is about the difference between patience and stubbornness.  Even Francona himself acknowledges that he can be stubborn at times because he trusts the players you have performed for him in the past.

Once again, it seems like Tito and general manager Chris Antonetti have some decisions to make if the Tribe is to remain in contention for the playoffs in 2015.

As the season nears the halfway point, it is becoming apparent that a few players aren’t contributing to the success of this team, and the question is should they be replaced?

Now, we aren’t total proponents of WAR (wins above replacement player) because our opinion is that it is tilted toward middle of the diamond players.  One of the selling points on Michael Bourn when he signed in 2013 was that he had a 6.1 WAR in 2012.

We looked at the stats and said he was a terrible offensive player for most of his career.  His WAR rating was high because he plays centerfield and he was a solid defensive player.

However, within a team, WAR does tell you who is contributing and who isn’t.

For example, the lowest WAR among position players on the Indians belongs to Nick Swisher at -0.6, meaning a player in AAA would be better than him.

The only other position player with significant playing time and a negative in this category is Jose Ramirez.  Which kind of validates the statistic.

On  the pitching staff, the hurlers who have a negative WAR on the season are Bruce Chen, who is now retired, T.J. House, who is currently injured, and two current members of the bullpen.

Those two would be veteran Scott Atchison and Nick Hagadone.

The former is now 39 years old and had an excellent season with the Indians in 2014.  Unfortunately, that was last year.

This year, he’s allowed six home runs in just 18 innings of work, and Francona can’t be comfortable bringing him into a game.  By all accounts, Atchison is a great guy, but he doesn’t appear to be able to be effective anymore.

Hagadone is one of those pitchers who has unbelievable stuff, and he’s left-handed to boot.  Scouts and personnel people always love guys like that.

His problem though is that he can’t throw strikes consistently, and that leads to problems.  He’s given up more hits than innings pitched and has walked ten in 23 innings.  His career ERA is 4.79.  And he will be 30 on New Year’s Day.

The point is this isn’t some 24-year-old flamethrower we are hoping will be able to corral his pitches.  He’s another guy that Francona has to be hesitant to bring into the game.

You can’t tell us the relief corps wouldn’t be better off with Austin Adams (2.38 ERA in 7 games) and Kyle Crockett (five scoreless appearances) pitching in Cleveland rather than Columbus.

Here’s a list of players hovering around a zero WAR, meaning they are replacement players:  Carlos Santana (0.3), Bourn (0.3) Mike Aviles (0.4), David Murphy and Brandon Moss (0.5).

And these pitchers:  Cody Allen (0.1 although he’s been better since the end of April), Marc Rzepczynski (0.0), Ryan Webb and Bryan Shaw (0.4).

This shows there are a lot of Indians who aren’t getting it done, and they need to pick it up if this team is going to start winning.

Remember, once players get into their 30’s, they aren’t getting better.  You can live with Giovanny Urshela and Francisco Lindor struggling a bit, because they will improve.

It’s not likely that Hagadone and Atchison will be better as the season goes on.


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