The Glass is Half Something—Random Thoughts from the Month of July
Steve Eby | On 27, Jul 2013
“Almost everyone’s instinct is to be overconfident and read way too much into a hot or cold streak.”
BACK AND FORTH OF JULY
I feel like a frozen record, being stuck on repeat, but the streakiness of the Tribe continues to control this team.
The Tribe took a 15-5 stretch into the beginning of July and then proceeded to lose six of eight. Four straight wins took the Indians into the All-Star break, only to lose four of six against two terrible teams off the bat. It has been the recipe all season; don’t expect it to ever change.
I think what is so surprising with the recent stretch is just how PATHETIC and UNFUNDAMENTAL the Indians have become. Through Wednesday’s 10-1 beatdown of Seattle, the Indians have made nine errors through six games. The nine errors have led to five unearned runs and the Indians have lost their four games by a combined total of four runs. Only Monday’s loss to Seattle was not due to poor defense, as taking away unearned runs would have either tied or given the Indians a lead in the other three games.
Catch the ball please.
To make matters worse, the offense has lost its spark as well, batting a pedestrian .240 with runners in scoring position since the break. If you take out Wednesday’s (comparatively speaking) Ruthian 6-17 performance from the Tribe, the RISP average drops to a Reynoldsian .181. Clutch hitting has been the calling card of this team all season and they can’t afford for it to go away.
HAVEN’T WE SEEN THIS MOVIE BEFORE?
I got a chance to talk to Nick Swisher last month and the man is awesome. He’s really excited to be a Major Leaguer, excited to be a new father, excited to be an Indian, and probably gets excited to go to the dentist. I really like Swish as a person, and I have been ignoring his subpar output all season because of it, but he has just been downright disappointing as a ballplayer this season.
Through 85 games, Swish has put up the following numbers:
.242 BA, 10 HR, 32 RBI, 80 SO, 7 Errors, $11 million
Through 85 games last season, castoff Casey Kotchman put up the following numbers:
.232 BA, 9 HR, 36 RBI, 34 SO, 4 Errors, $3 million
Not good enough.
Those batting numbers are way too close for the money that has been paid and Swisher needs kick it into gear. His bat has been bad and his glove has been too. He is without question the biggest disappointment of the season and Swisher has been getting way too much of a free pass because he smiles a lot. Sixty million dollars is far too much to pay for Casey Kotchman and a cheerleader. Moving him to the second spot in the order needs to be just temporary as well—the Indians pay him to drive in runs.
Speaking of overall badness, I have never so quickly fallen in and out of love with a baseball player as I have with Mark Reynolds.
Back in April, I wrote an article praising everything Reynolds did; posting that he had taking the city of Cleveland by storm. I said that “Mark Reynolds is a beast and Tribe fans have got to love it.” In addition, I called Reynolds “the most feared hitter in the lineup” and gave him a catchy nickname of “Hurricane Reynolds”.
Open mouth, insert foot.
Since Praise-Reynolds weekend ended, the Tribe’s right handed slugger has been nothing short of a disaster. Reynolds has slugged his way to a .171 average with a mere 4 homeruns and 15 RBI. The numbers are bad enough, but when you add 81 strikeouts and compare them to 25 walks, the stats become downright embarrassing.
July has been even worse.
Even with the two base hits that he recorded this past week, Reynolds is sucking to a tune of .106 with no homeruns and one RBI for the month. He has walked six times and has struck out a crazy 21 in 47 at bats. It has become so bad, that most fans are just amazed when he makes weak contact.
For the record, 20% of his hits this month are surprise bunt singles as well. I currently cringe every time that he grabs a baseball bat.
With the overall patheticness that has been Reynolds and—to a lesser extent—Swisher, the Indians could certainly use some help in the batting order as well as on the pitching mound. A guy who can take Reynolds’ spot in the order and be a significant upgrade would certainly help…and it doesn’t even have to be an All-Star—just an upgrade.
I believe that the rest of the Yankees team refers to Soriano as a “young whippersnapper”.
BULLPEN HELP TOO
According to the MLB Network Radio Twitter handle, Indians President Mark Shapiro is quoted as saying, “we could use some help in our bullpen, we need to improve in the area where there’s the least depth on the trade market.”
I agree with Shappy that the bullpen is a disaster and needs retooled, but indicating that nothing may be done is ridiculous.
EVERY PITCHER THAT IS OUT THERE IS BETTER THAN RICH HILL.
Go get one Mark/Chris.
One report out of Chicago said that the Cubs were asking for Lonnie Chisenhall in exchange for “prized rental” Matt Garza. A lot of Indians fans balked at such a ludicrous request, knowing that Garza will be a free agent in just over two months.
For me, a Garza/Chisenhall deal would not have been such a terrible move for the Indians to have made, considering that Chiz has had about a dozen chances to prove himself as a Major Leaguer and has consistently proven to be only mediocre. Garza, meanwhile, would have fit wonderfully in the rotation with Justin Masterson and company, forming a pretty damn good trio at the top of the rotation when you consider how awesome Scott Kazmir has been of late.
This of course will remain nothing but a dream, as Garza was just traded to the Rangers this week.
KAZMIR, KIPNIS AND BOURN
Every time that I write an edition of TGIHS, I always feel a little bad because I feel like the negative emotions come out much easier than the positive ones. It seems that the beginning of every one of these is a hate-fest and the feel-good stories don’t come until the end. Maybe next month I’ll change…but probably not.
On the bright side of things, Michael Bourn continues to impress the heck out of me and Jason Kipnis is STILL on fire. Kipper is on a three month stretch like I haven’t seen in Cleveland in a while and he is nearly single handedly carrying the offense right now.
The most help he is getting otherwise has to be coming from Bourn, who I still feel is the Indians best player. Bourn is fast, clutch and never seems to take a play off…unless he’s taking a day off. Bourn seems to get more scheduled “off days” than any regular position player on the team and I don’t really understand why. Bourn is a catalyst and a beast. Get him in the lineup daily.
Speaking of beasts, Kazmir is absolutely the man. I have been on the Kazmir bandwagon since long before they signed him and man was I right. I have seen a lot of talk about Kaz turning into the number two pitcher that the Indians so desperately need—and I say he is turning into more than that. Despite Masterson being admittedly masterful, Kazmir has been better and (bold prediction time) will be the best starter on the team from the All-Star break on.
Stock up awards go to Bourn, Kazmir, Kipnis, Chris Perez and Carlos Santana. Perez has been outstanding in the month of July, working nine innings in nine games and allowing only one run. He is six for six in saves and finally has given the bullpen a trustworthy arm to go to. It cannot be overstated how important that is to this team.
Santana, meanwhile, has quietly been putting together a consistently good offensive season.
Stock down goes to Asdrubal Cabrera, Chisenhall, Jason Giambi, Vinnie Pestano, Reynolds and Swisher. Cabrera and Chisenhall are having terrible months defensively and Pestano is a freaking mess on the mound. I can’t be the only one who feels that Giambi should find his way to the disabled list for the rest of the season, either.
JULY MVP: Perez
JULY CY YOUNG: Kazmir
Photo: Getty Images