The Glass is Half Something—Random Thoughts from April
Steve Eby | On 30, Apr 2014
“You find me offensive? I find you offensive for finding me offensive.” -Eminem
Hail to the Chief:
Back in January, DTTWLN posted an article about how the city of Cleveland needs to retire Chief Wahoo, just over a month before the Plain Dealer did the same. The feedback that I saw on the blog was almost 100% negative toward our article, while the PD reaction was close to the same. Our head writer, Mike Brandyberry, asked me in an e-mail if I wanted to write a response, pro-Chief piece to Kevin Schneider’s article and I declined. I told Mike that I simply didn’t care enough about the issue to have any real opinions on it and that I would root for the Cleveland Indians even if they wore a toilet seat on their heads.
Well, after listening to people complain about it for a month after the PD editorial, I have chosen a side even if I am not crazy-passionate like some people.
Chief Wahoo is a cartoon character. He’s an Indian who is smiling. That’s it. Get over it. If you don’t like him then go root for the Tigers.
As a high school English teacher, should I be offended that Boston and Chicago spell the word “socks” wrong? I hate that people are overly-sensitive on this non-issue, so for that I will take the stand behind the Chief.
The Late Show:
How many people stayed up to watch Opening Night in Oakland? Did you make it through the whole thing? Did you have to work the next morning? If you answered ‘yes’ to all three of these questions, then congratulations on being a bigger fan than I am…or maybe, just a crazier fan or worse employee.
Opening Day is a special time of the year for a baseball fan and it’s really a shame that a lot Clevelanders got gipped out of it just because they like to sleep some at night. Let this serve as my open letter to the Athletics:
Most teams have their Opening Day game during the daytime and perhaps it would have been better if you had followed suit. This is an especially good idea when the team that you are playing is located in the Eastern Standard time zone, while your stadium is practically located in the Pacific Ocean. Some of us get up for work at 5:30 in the morning and staying up until past 1:00 AM to watch one of 162 baseball games just seems silly. While all of the jobless and insomniacs give you thanks for giving them something to watch late at night, the rest of us would appreciate it if you could at least start your Opener an hour or two earlier. We would like to watch it too.
Everybody east of the Mississippi River
Before anyone goes nuts and throws in the towel on 2014, this is just a reminder that the Indians posted an 11-13 record last April and were 8-13 at one point. Here’s what I wrote a year ago about the Indians abysmal starting rotation in the first ever TGIHS:
“The Indians couldn’t have pictured their starters performing much worse, could they? Besides Justin Masterson (4-1, 1.85) and Zach McAllister (1-3, 3.52) the starters have been a nightmare. The “big two” are the only two starters with an ERA under 5.00 and the only other one with an ERA under 8.00 is Trevor Bauer (0-1, 5.40), who walked seven Rays in his only five innings of work this season. The rest are a giant cluster of sadness with Brett Myers (0-3, 8.02) actually being the next most effective. Ubaldo Jimenez (0-2, 10.06), Scott Kazmir (0-0, 16.20) and Carlos Carrasco (0-1, 17.18) take home the bronze, silver and gold medals for awfulness thus far.”
That team made the playoffs (no matter what Kenny Lofton says). It’s still way too early to push the panic button.
More Slow Starts:
A number of the Indians hitters are off to slow starts for the season, but really only a few should be concerning. Jason Kipnis started off slow last year on his way to an All-Star season. This April, his numbers are actually much better than they were a year ago and Kipnis usually heats up with the summer sun. Michael Bourn seems to be getting his timing back and perhaps the same can be said of Nick Swisher. I also don’t worry about a veteran like Mike Aviles, who will get his stride back as he gets in the lineup more.
Asdrubal Cabrera is an interesting case because he actually did hit for a stretch this month. From the second game of the doubleheader on April 9 until last Thursday’s game against Kansas City, Cabrera actually batted .302 with a homerun and six RBI over those 14 games. The rest of his terrible month has kept his average down in the lower .200’s, but at least he has shown some life. On the other hand, Cabrera’s overall struggles should at least be somewhat concerning because his ineffectiveness at the plate is rolling over from his poor 2013 season.
More concerning are the bats of Carlos Santana and Ryan Raburn. Raburn is worrisome because he has had extremely bad seasons before. For Santana, however, these are somewhat unchartered waters as he has never really struggled like this before. What is most discouraging is that Santana is doing this while learning a new position, which means that his head isn’t fully into his ineptitude in the batter’s box. Santana seems to have a different agenda, but there are no bigger fish to fry for him than getting back to being a 25+ homerun hitter.
Actually maybe Santana should just worry about how to avoid 3-54 dry spells at the plate.
Starting Third Baseman:
Maybe the time is coming soon where Terry Francona should just move Santana to a full-time DH and backup catcher. He played well in that role at the end of last season and—at least for the moment—there seems to be an even better option than Santana at third anyways. While I don’t expect Lonnie Chisenhall to bat .400 this season, I do expect him to continue being a productive hitter and keep forcing himself into Francona’s lineup.
Chisenhall had fallen out of favor with a lot of Indians fans over the last two seasons, but it wasn’t very long ago that he was the Indians most valuable prospect. Chiz is only 25 years old and has hit at every level of the minor leagues. Perhaps it just took him a little while to get used to Major League pitching, but for at least one month he seems used to it now. Let’s hope that continues.
Obviously, the Indians had seen enough of Carlos Carrasco in the rotation.
On Tuesday, the day finally came that Carrasco was banished to the bullpen where he was actually pretty effective last season (1-0, 1.32 ERA in eight appearances). Alternatively, it is no secret that Carrasco has struggled mightily in the rotation where he hasn’t won a start since June of 2011. To put that into perspective, Orlando Cabrera had four hits for the Indians that afternoon in Arizona and Travis Buck had two hits after pinch hitting for Shelley Duncan in the seventh inning. It’s been awhile.
The Likely Replacement:
Meanwhile down in Columbus, Trevor Bauer is tearing up the International League. Through the weekend, Bauer has posted a 2-0 record with a 0.96 ERA in his three starts for the Clippers. In addition, Bauer also pitched extremely well in his one appearance for the Indians and should be promoted soon. Love him or hate him, Bauer is still young (23 years old) and has extremely good movement on his pitches. He is arrogant and has a thirst to learn as much about pitching as anyone. For the moment, too, he’s also pitching outstandingly well.
Bring the kid up.
The Other Guy:
In case you were wondering, Josh Tomlin is also pitching well down in Triple-A, as the Little Cowboy has posted a 1-1 record through his first four starts with a 2.77 ERA in 26.0 innings.
“Stock Up” awards go to those players that have increased their value in the eyes of the one man committee for this blurb. To achieve a stock up award, you have to prove for a month that you are better than I thought you were at doing your job.
“Stock Down” awards go to those who have proved the opposite of the paragraph above.
APRIL MVP: Murphy
APRIL CY YOUNG: McAllister
Photo: Dan Labbe/Northeast Ohio Media Group