Indians Not Ready For A Pennant Race
By Mike Brandyberry
Your schedule might say the Indians have two months left in the season, and the trade deadline is a day away, but the Tribe’s season is over. There will be no playoffs. Hopefully, the team will not make another trade in the next 24 hours.
When the Tribe was off to their 30-15 start, I remember everyone considering their, “What If,” scenarios. What if the Indians just played .500 baseball? What if Shin-Soo Choo gets out of his slump? What if Grady Sizemore gets healthy? What if Carlos Santana’s bat comes around? The team will be in the playoffs.
A little problem along the way, none of those things have happen. The Indians have played 14 games below .500 since their fast start. I don’t think that was in anyone’s “What If” scenario. The team wakes up this morning to find themselves 52-51 and two and a half games behind the Detroit Tigers. They are only a half game ahead of the Chicago White Sox for third place. Granted, the team has played through numerous injuries, but the train is off the tracks on this season.
The Indians are only 5-9 since the All-Star Break, a stretch in the schedule that had only three games against teams with a winning record. After the final two games with Kansas City this weekend, the team goes on the road to Boston and Texas, followed by a return home to play Detroit. Not exactly the ten game stretch a team needs when they are struggling.
Last night’s 12-0 defeat to the Royals may have been rock bottom for the team. It was the second time this season a starting pitcher lost composure after allowing home runs. Fausto Carmona intentionally threw at the Yankees in June. What Carlos Carrasco did last night, throwing at Billy Butler’s head after giving up a grand slam, can only be perceived as bush league. If I was a teammate, I would have had a tough time running to Carrasco’s aide, if I had to dig in the batter’s box this weekend. If I was Kosuke Fukudome, I would wonder what I had gotten myself into.
Speaking of Carrasco’s teammates, how come no one has called a player’s only meeting in the last two months, while the team has squandered ten games in the standings? How come Travis Hafner or Sizemore has not tried to pull the team together? Orlando Cabrera is rumored to be a team leader, but has complained when he had to split time with Cord Phelps, and now Jason Kipnis. Hey OCab, how about getting an on base percentage of .300, before complaining about splitting time with a rookie? Not the sign of a leader, complaining about playing time.
The trade deadline is just more than a day away, and the Indians are still working feverishly to add to the team for a second half push. Many fans will be critical of the front office if they don’t do something else, but why should the team mortgage even mediocre or very young prospects, when the team on the field lacks the mental make up and leadership for a second half surge?
It’s time to acknowledge this team was not expected to contend this year. They’ve suffered numerous injuries. Their offense is pathetic and the only reason they still can even see first place is because they play in the worst division in baseball. Instead of trading for another mediocre piece, it’s time for the Tribe to consider trading Orlando Cabrera or Jack Hannahan to a team needing a bench player, so Lonnie Chisenhall and Kipnis can play every day.
It’s time to go back to the original plan for the 2011 season and develop the core of this team for a playoff push in 2012, because this team is no where near ready for the spotlight and pressure of a pennant race.