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The Glass is Half Something—Random Thoughts from the Month of June

The Glass is Half Something—Random Thoughts from the Month of June

| On 29, Jun 2013

“We know what happens to people who stay in the middle of the road…they get run over.”

–Aneurin Bevan

Don’t worry about trying to make sense of this team.  It’s a lost cause.

WAITING FOR THE NEXT STREAK

As stated in the previous TGIHS, the Indians are tough to get a good read on.

They are a team that is going to have stretches of baseball that make fans think that they are a World Series contender and also have stretches that are incredibly frustrating.  They are built around some streaky power hitters and starting pitchers who have all shown inconsistencies in the past.  Throw in some bullpen injuries and you have a formula for some very rough ballgames.  –Steve Eby

I couldn’t have said it any better myself.

The Indians stuck to their formula of inconsistency during the third month of the season, proving once again that we should have no idea what kind of team we’re looking at.  The Tribe started the month of June as hot as your favorite summertime popsicle, dropping eight games in a row after winning on the first of the month.  The Tribe then turned on the switch in the place where they have never been able to turn it on—Texas—and won 10 of their next 13.

In conclusion, when the Indians play like garbage…don’t worry…the next hot streak is coming.

When the Indians are playing well…don’t get too excited.

BLAZIN’ BRODY BAUM

Putting your dog’s name on a parcel of marijuana and then pleading not guilty is a lot like saying the dog ate my homework.

Nobody believes that you are innocent.

Chris Perez has long been the most blasted and therefore the most defended Indians player for a long time.  Nobody has received more criticism for doing their job fairly well than Perez and I have mostly stuck up for the Tribe’s closer.  I am probably done doing that, however, as Perez again had a bad month…and he didn’t even get activated until the last week.

Perez was busy making more negative headlines again in early June when I decided that I wouldn’t stick up for him anymore.  It’s not that I think he is a terrible pitcher; it’s just that I don’t think he’s worth the effort anymore.

The term “clubhouse cancer” probably doesn’t apply to Perez, because I’ve never really heard a teammate complain about him.  The real problem with him is that Perez is a giant distraction who only generates negative attention.  Whether Perez is whining about the fans, whining about the Browns, cussing out Oakland fans, complaining about the organization or having weed sent to his house, the guy simply isn’t good enough to put up with this anymore.

Sure Perez is a two time All-Star and the Indians bullpen is basically crap right now, but Perez is not really having a good season anyways.  The shelf life on a closer is normally short and Perez’s distractions can’t possibly be making him better.  I’d say it’s time to cut ties and move on because Perez is going to get somewhere around $8 million next season if the Indians keep him.

Future Indians Hall of Famer Albert Belle was a distraction similar to Perez, but his performance on the field certainly justified keeping him around.  Perez is nowhere near as valuable to the Indians as Belle was, making him expendable like super-distraction Milton Bradley was when the Tribe traded him for Franklin Gutierrez in 2004.

Bradley, meanwhile, seems to still enjoy the negative press.

MAFIA MELTDOWN

The bullpen mafia protecting leads is about as effective of a strategy as hiring Steve Urkel to be your bodyguard.

I really only trust Cody Allen anymore.

Maybe Bryan Shaw as well.

I’m probably being a little unfair to Matt Albers and Joe Smith too, but Albers was crap at the beginning of the season and Smitty has given up some BIG runs lately.  Fan favorite Vinnie Pestano has summoned his inner-Bob Wickman since moving to the closer role and, just like his side-winding teammate Smith, he has also been doomed by big earned runs.

It’s really amazing what a turn for the worse this bullpen has taken this year.  They were the strength of the team for the past few years and none of the big names have really changed, other that Tony Sipp and Rafael Perez.

LONGING FOR SIPP AND RAFFY

For as scary as the right handers have been for the Tribe, the lefties have been even more of a nightmare.  Regular lefties Rich Hill and Nick Hagadone have sucked to the tune of 56 games, 0 saves, 45.0 IP, 31 ER, 6 HR, 27 BB, 46 SO, 6 WP, 6.20 ERA.  Add in part timers Scott Barnes and David Huff and the bullpen lefthander stats get worse; 65 games, one save, 56.2 IP, 43 ER, 9 HR, 31 BB, 61 SO, 7 WP, 6.82 ERA.

The numbers are unacceptable.  Something desperately needs to be done and it’s not like the Tribe would have to give up the house in order to trade for a decent lefthanded reliever (unless of course they trade TJ House).  Noting the problem, the club has signed lefthanded veteran JC Romero this month, but so far he has only been a contributor for the AAA team.

KAZMIRIAN OPTIONS

With Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco supposedly ready and waiting for a chance to join the rotation long-term, Zach McAllister nearing ready to rejoin the team and Ubaldo Jimenez, Justin Masterson and Corey Kluber in the middle of what are turning out to be very nice seasons, the Indians suddenly have a surplus of solid starting pitching.  This had kind of left Scott Kazmir as the odd man out…that is, until Kazmir pitched himself back into the picture on Tuesday when he took a no hitter into the seventh inning.

Considering Kazmir’s up and down season, the Tribe could consider giving him a shot in the bullpen to see if he can harness his inner Tim Lincecum and consistently get batters out in short spurts.  Having Kazmir pitch in the role of either Hagadone or Hill would certainly be an upgrade, but Kaz would definitely hate this decision as he has been better than most people expected.  Keeping Kazmir happy may be a moot point, however, because Kazmir is quite possibly one and done in Cleveland anyways.

With Kazmir’s “resurgence”—or at least being far better than he was for the last few years—some team is going to give him more money than you probably would think at the end of the season.  He is a solid, left-handed starter who had a very good track record prior to falling off of the Earth for three seasons.  Some team with starting pitching woes or a contender who needs a fourth or fifth starter will likely spend more money than the Indians would/should give Kazmir, considering that they have other options that would be arguably as good and would cost far less money.  Considering this, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Indians are searching for a trade partner by the end of July. There is no doubt that Kazmir’s dominating performance against a good Orioles lineup has bought him more time in the rotation, but sticking around for the long-term may not be in the stars.

ALL-STAR TURNAROUND

Two months ago, I danced around calling Jason Kipnis a disappointment as a player.  Since then, Kipper has proved me to be kind of stupid.

From the posting of that article through Thursday’s loss to the Orioles, Kipnis posted a .318 batting average with 11 homeruns, 16 doubles, three triples, 42 RBI and 13 stolen bases in 56 games.  Those numbers have boosted his average from a dismal .170 to a very good .288.

Kipnis has gone on a two month tear that the Indians have not seen from a second baseman in a long time.  He should not and will not start during the All-Star Game, but his numbers should merit some heavy consideration from AL Manager Jim Leyland to be Robinson Cano’s backup.  The fact that Kipnis opposes Leyland nearly 20 times per season should help his cause as well.

CITI FIELD BOUND?

The other Indians that deserve All-Star considerations include catcher Carlos Santana and starting pitcher Justin Masterson.  Both have put up All-Star type numbers at their positions and I feel strongly that Santana will be Joe Mauer’s backup.  Masterson, on the other hand, probably has to win a few more starts in order to make the squad.  He’s still got a few weeks to do it and it could possibly get done, but I’d say Masty’s chances are about 50/50.

SPEAKING OF SANTANA

Awesome hitter—not a very good catcher.

Santana is also not a very good first baseman and Mark Reynolds is kind of a terrible fielder too.  The problem is that the Indians basically employ three DH’s on their roster when you add Jason Giambi to the mix and there are too many errors/passed balls when both Reynolds and Santana are on the field together.

The bottom line is that one of those two should be the DH on a daily basis and Giambi will probably not be on the roster very much longer.  I foresee a Dave Winfield 1995-like “injury” putting him on the shelf for most of the season.  The Giambino has been better than expected, but may be more valuable as an “eighth coach”.

STOCK UP

Stock Up awards go to Allen, Mike Aviles, Michael Brantley, Michael Bourn, Kipnis and Kluber.

Brantley might be the most underrated player in the game.  That dude is getting to be really good.  Thursday night’s debacle excluded, Kluber has been a huge surprise.  He was one of my least favorite players heading into the season and has been excellent thus far.

Maybe next month Jimenez will be allowed to make this list.

STOCK DOWN

Stock Down’s belong to Giambi, Hagadone, Hill, Perez, Pestano, Reynolds and Swisher.

I kind of feel bad putting Swish on the list because of all of the positives that he brings to the table.  His glove is pretty good, his attitude is amazing and his leadership ability is uncanny.  The problem lies with his slumping bat and his batting average that is consistently in the .230’s.  That needs to come up at least 20 points please.

JUNE MVP: Kipnis

JUNE CY YOUNG: Kluber

Photo: Associated Press