Baseball’s winter meetings are a beacon in a long winter without the sport we love.
The meetings are filled with activity, rumors, and teams trying to cure weaknesses for the upcoming season.
Except if you are a fan of the Cleveland Indians, who seem to view the conference as a necessary evil.
To be fair (please don’t jump on us Indians’ social media), there is plenty of time for president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti and GM Mike Chernoff to do something to improve the product on the field for the Indians, but it would be nice to get something done now.
The Tribe is trying to sell some six pack tickets for the 2016 season, and to be sure, it would be easier to move some seats if the ballclub generated some excitement.
Instead, we have another year of hearing about improvements to Progressive Field, which the real fan doesn’t care much about.
Look, although baseball is a sport and success is shown in the standings and getting to the post-season, the Tribe is also in the entertainment business and nothing sells in Cleveland like winning.
It is no secret that the Indians need to improve the offense, especially since it appears Michael Brantley, their best hitter, will miss at least the first month of the 2016 season.
And while the front office and Terry Francona have pointed out they don’t want to move one of their starting pitchers, unless they sign a free agent (unlikely), how else will they get the stick they need.
Yes, if you make it to the post-season, you need to have lockdown pitching, however, unless you can score runs, it is difficult to make it to the playoffs.
The Giants have won three World Series in the last six years, but in two of the three other years, they didn’t make the playoffs because they didn’t score enough runs.
They ranked last in the NL in 2011 and 10th in the National League in 2013 in runs scored.
Unless the Indians can get at least one legitimate hitter this winter, Tribe fans can look forward to a lot more 2-1 and 3-2 losses, and folks telling everyone what the team’s record is when they score three runs or less.
All they have done so far is bring in retreads like Shane Robinson (lifetime 615 OPS), Collin Cowgill, who hit .188 last season (633 career OPS), and Joey Butler (742).
That only excites the people who clamor for these low risk type signings, because after all, you might catch lightning in a bottle.
So far, it’s back to the “wishin’ and hopin'” mentality.
That doesn’t sell tickets, and then the front office will wonder why despite three consecutive winning seasons (although last year is kind of an asterisk because of the rainout), attendance continues to wane.
Fair or not, the perception around this city is the Indians aren’t serious about winning.
Perhaps the worst thing to happen to this regime is the Royals going to back-to-back World Series, and going all in to get there each season.
Tribe fans look longingly at the Royals and ask “why not us?” Did they mortgage their future, perhaps. They look at having another 2-3 year window to grab another title.
Why can’t the Indians’ front office look at their pitching staff and realize if they can get to the playoffs they have a good chance.
Instead, they basically do nothing.
Yes, there is still time for the Cleveland Indians to get the bat they so desperately need.
Meanwhile, their fan base, although loyal, keeps getting smaller and more impatient.