It was not a good trip for the Cleveland Indians. They went 1-4 and had only one game where they scored more than three runs, and of course, that was their only win.
Terry Francona is questioning the “fight” in his ballclub, who seem a little full of themselves based on last year’s World Series appearance.
From appearances, it seems like there are a few players who want to make highlight plays, to get on MLB Network’s “Quick Pitch”, than making the right baseball play.
They seem to have guys trying to hit home runs and make spectacular defensive plays (like trying to flip a ball out of a glove), rather than do what is needed to win, which they did a year ago.
Reading between the lines, Francona bemoaned not having guys like Jason Giambi and Mike Napoli in the clubhouse, so what he was really saying is that he needs his veterans to step up and lead this current group of Indians.
Players like Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley, Carlos Santana, and Yan Gomes have been here since Francona arrived prior to the 2013 season, and they were exposed to Giambi and Napoli and how they helped police the locker room.
It’s time for those four or perhaps someone else to take what they learned from those veterans, and start taking charge of this group.
Perhaps it isn’t in their DNA to be vocal, but they may just have to get out of their comfort zone, because the 2017 Cleveland Indians seem to be in some kind of malaise that they can’t escape.
In the 57 games the Tribe has played this season, they have scored three runs or less in 28 of them, virtually half of the games. There is too much talent on the roster for that to happen every other night.
For example, in Wednesday’s game vs. Colorado, the plate umpire, Jim Wolf seemed to have a tight strike zone. Trevor Bauer walked five batters in less than four innings. However, Cleveland hitters didn’t draw one walk through the first six innings.
The patience the Indians had at the plate a year ago is now sporadic. Some days, they work the count very effectively, on others, they go to the plate like they have an early dinner reservation.
And that’s where the veterans have to stress having the same approach on an everyday basis. Mickey Callaway often talks about how the starting pitchers copy the work that ace Corey Kluber does on a daily basis.
It has to be every game, not just two out of three.
The front office made a statement in 2015 when they traded Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn to Atlanta, and it effect handed the team over to the young veteran core mentioned before.
But if Francona is still referencing Giambi and Napoli, then perhaps they aren’t preaching the grit and fight needed to win consistently.
If they can’t do it, then it may have to fall on the team’s best player, Francisco Lindor, to do it.
The point is, somebody in the locker room needs to step up and set a tone similar to what Napoli did last year. The Tribe may not get going until somebody does.