The Cleveland Indians have now completed 2/3s of their season, and the last 27 games (1/6 of the season) were a disaster to put the team in the mode of looking toward next season.
1st 27 games: 10-17
Game 28-54: 16-11
Game 55-81: 12-15
Game 82-108: 11-16
As you can see only in that second set of 27 contests did the Indians play good baseball, and in those other 81 games, or half the season, their record is 33-48.
That’s a pace to lose 90 games, which is where the Tribe could be headed at the end of the season. That would be the fifth such season under the Dolan/Shapiro/Antonetti triumvirate, which is one more season than they have been over the .500 mark.
Yesterday’s trade in which GM Chris Antonetti unburdened the franchise of two bad contracts in Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher for Atlanta’s bad deal in 1B/3B Chris Johnson, only emphasized what a disaster this season has been.
Johnson has a .280 lifetime average, but has slumped horribly from his 2013 campaign where he hit .321 with the Braves. He’s a high strikeout, low walk hitter, but has been pretty successful vs. lefties in his career (.313 average, 788 OPS).
And yes, we know, the Tribe pitched in $10 million in the deal to make it happen, so to be sure, we will hear how the ownership is willing to spend money. However, we would prefer that the spend cash to get good players, not to make bad ones go away.
The pitching staff now ranks in the top half of the American League, which was expected at the beginning of the season, but the offense has been putrid, as the Indians rank 12th in the AL in scoring, 12th in home runs, and 10th in batting average. They are 9th in OPS as a team.
Before the July 31st trading deadline, Antonetti started to clean house, moving a slumping David Murphy to the Angels, and a disappointing Brandon Moss, who hit a few homers but little else, to the Cardinals. The Moss deal actually netted Cleveland a pretty good prospect in southpaw Rob Kaminsky.
So, the Tribe is now is spring training mode, trying to see if Lonnie Chisenhall can play right field, and giving auditions to guys like Jerry Sands, to see if he can be their version of Detroit’s J.D. Martinez.
It would not be a shock to see Ryan Raburn moved before the end of the season to a contender to open up another spot on the 25 man roster to look at yet another young player. That’s really all the Indians have left at this point.
They can see if Johnson can take over Raburn’s role in ’16, since Cleveland has to pay him $9 million.
They can see if Jose Ramirez can rebound from a bad start to the year, and become a viable utility player, or re-establish his trade value. Remember he is still just 22 years old.
They can look at potential centerfielders, hopefully this means Tyler Naquin when he comes off the disabled list in Columbus. Tyler Holt got a whopping 20 at bats, so we wonder who will be in center tonight. Hopefully, it’s not Michael Brantley, whose defense is no longer adequate for the spot. It will probably be Abraham Almonte, just acquired from San Diego.
The Tribe owes it to the pitching staff to put a good defender out in the middle of the outfield. So, a promising season has come down to playing out the string and finding out if any of the young players will be able to be contributors in 2016.
This sad baseball season has only one-third of it left. At least for the Cleveland Indians. MW