If you read this blog on a regular basis or follow us on Twitter, you might think we feel the Cleveland Indians should forget about this season and start working toward the 2016 campaign.
And you would be wrong.
Why? Because a quick check of the standings shows the Indians are still just 5-1/2 games out of a playoff spot. The truth is, that’s why we keep pushing for the Tribe front office to make some moves, because there is still very much hope, although not with the team as it is currently constituted.
We grew up in the era where a contending team didn’t come around all that often. Okay, it didn’t come around at all. That was baseball in this town from 1969 through really, 1993. There weren’t too many reasons to get excited about the squads that toiled at old Municipal Stadium.
That’s why we can’t bring ourselves to look toward the 2016 season. There is a legitimate chance here is the front office stops looking through rose-colored glasses and sees they need to take action for the rest of the season.
This past week, we read various things about how the Indians are unlucky. They hit the ball hard often, but don’t get hits, Their opponents hit bloopers that fall in, etc.
First, to borrow from the sport that uses an oblong ball, as Bill Parcells says, you are what your record says you are.
And the Tribe is currently four games below the break even mark at 45-49. And that’s a mediocre record.
What gives us hope is the starting pitching staff, which is capable of shutting down teams on a nightly basis. You can say with conviction that Terry Francona’s team in capable of holding the opponents to two runs or less every night. That doesn’t mean they will, but they have starters capable of doing it.
The problem is with the offense, and the baseball fairies aren’t going to come down and sprinkle magic dust on the Indians’ bats and they will finally start to hit.
To the “bad luck” folks, we say this: Is it bad luck that on most nights, Francona writes out a lineup that includes four hitters batting .230 or less, and only three hitters with a mark of over .260.
We know, we know, stat people, batting average is overrated. The league average for OPS is 718. A typical Cleveland lineup with contain five batters with an OPS under the league average. And since you are statistically driven, that would be more than half of the team they put on the field each day.
One of those hitters is OF/DH David Murphy, who the optimistic fan base thought was going to hit .325 all year. Murphy has started to regress to his normal batting mark of around .270, so if the front office were to deal him sometime next week, we would not consider that folding up the tent.
The season is more than half over, so pretty much what you see is what you are going to get from these players. Sure, Carlos Santana and/or Brandon Moss are capable of getting hot, and perhaps Yan Gomes too, but will all three get hot at the same time?
And really, your basing your success on players getting red-hot?
The Indians need to make some moves, even if it is just giving some more young players a chance, if they want to contend for the playoffs.
They are too close to just throw in the towel. Moving on with an eye toward next year will just further alienate an already apathetic ticket buying public.