The Glass is Half Something—Random Thoughts from May
Steve Eby | On 28, May 2014
“Wait…I’m starting to suffocate…And soon I anticipate…I’m coming undone…What looks so strong’s so delicate.”
The 2014 Cleveland Indians are so incredibly frustrating. The second I think that they will turn things around (like when they sweep Detroit) they go and lose some more. I understand that baseball is a marathon and that every team is going to lose a lot of games, but it’s the way that they lose that is infuriating. They can’t catch, they can’t throw, they have no bullpen rotation and the rest of the team is wildly inconsistent. Thank God for Corey Kluber and Michael Brantley. I can’t devote this whole article to this team or I’m just going to get mad.
The title contains the words “Random Thoughts”, so here go some random ones.
This past week, Dodgers right hander Josh Beckett continued his roll towards NL Comeback Player of the Year as he fired baseball’s first no hitter of the season on Sunday. The Dodgers then followed up Beckett’s effort by having starter Hyun-Jin Ryu take a perfect game into the eighth inning on Monday, giving them 16 straight hitless innings worked by their pitching staff over two days.
Meanwhile, the Indians have still never fired a no hitter in my lifetime…and I am 32 years old. The last time the Indians had a no-no was Len Barker’s perfecto in May of 1981, or about 33 years and 12 days to be exact. By my estimation (no, I’m not counting them), the Indians have played over 5,500 games since last throwing a no hitter, which is an insanely long time. The only team with a longer drought is the San Diego Padres who have never thrown a no hitter in the franchise’s history which dates back to 1969. Amazingly, the Padres have also never had a player hit for the cycle in their 45 years of existence either.
Why Can’t We Have Nice Things?:
The night before the season started when the Indians turned down Justin Masterson’s contract offer I started to get mad that the Indians were on the doorstep of losing another All-Star to someone in a bigger market or with deeper pockets. It made me think of all of the nice players that we used to have and got me wondering when the last time a good player actually played his entire career for the Indians. A player that is currently playing does not make the cut because his career is not over yet.
To qualify as a ‘good player’ I decided that the player had to at least be an All-Star once. I had a lot of time on my hands that night and I did the research to find that the last All-Star to play his entire career in Cleveland was third baseman Al Rosen, who last appeared in the 1955 All-Star Game. Pitchers Charles Nagy and Ray Narleski were the closest since, but Nagy pitched five games for the Padres at the end of his career and Narleski played one season in Detroit at the tail end of his, too.
The other night, the Rosen trivia question got me wondering where the Indians fell as far as keeping their All-Stars around compared to the other teams in baseball. On another night with too much time to kill, I did the research on all of the teams to find out which, if any, teams can go back further than the 1955 Midsummer Classic and the answer is only one. The last time a Chicago White Sox All-Star played his entire career on the South Side was Luke Appling, who last appeared in the 1947 All-Star Game. Every other team has someone more recent than the Indians, except for the expansion teams Blue Jays, Rays and Marlins who have never done this. None of those teams were in existence when Rosen retired, however.
For those curious, the rest of the list (with the team and final All-Star appearance in parenthesis) goes as such: Mariano Rivera (Yankees 2013), Chipper Jones (Braves 2012), Hung-Chih Kuo (Dodgers 2010), Brandon Webb (Diamondbacks 2008), Jason Varitek (Red Sox 2008), Todd Helton (Rockies 2004), Barry Larkin (Reds 2004), Ken Harvey (Royals 2004), Mark Prior (Cubs 2003), Edgar Martinez (Mariners 2003), Cal Ripken (Orioles 2001), Jeff Zimmerman (Rangers 1999), Dave Nilsson (Brewers 1999), Jeff Bagwell (Astros 1999), Tony Gwynn (Padres 1999), Brad Radke (Twins 1998), Jason Dickson (Angels 1997), Tyler Green (Phillies 1995), Robby Thompson (Giants 1993), Tom Pagnozzi (Cardinals 1992), Alan Trammell (Tigers 1990), Steve Rogers (Expos/Nationals 1983), Mike Norris (Athletics 1981), Willie Stargell (Pirates 1978) and Ed Kranepool (Mets 1965).
Speaking of All-Stars:
Ok, it’s back to the current team. With All-Star balloting in full swing—I hate how they start it in April—I like to look about this time of every year at the Indians who have a shot of making the team. The obvious two are Kluber and Brantley, and they are really the only two that have any shot at all.
For those who watch Brantley play every day, we know just how good the young outfielder is. He’s clutch, has good range, a good arm and is so, so smooth. He makes the game look easy which has something to said for that as well. In fact, when Brantley’s .307 batting average with nine homeruns and 39 RBI (through Monday) is compared to the other outfielders on the AL ballot, there really isn’t much competition. Toronto’s Jose Bautista (.289, 12, 35) is probably the closest while Melky Cabrera (.322, 8, 28—TOR), Adam Jones (.298, 6, 28—BAL), Alex Rios (.322, 3, 29—CHW) and Mike Trout (.279, 10, 34—LAA) are really the only other competition. In my eyes, Brantley’s statistics blow away the others and should be good enough to make the squad.
As far as pitching goes, Kluber has been the unquestionable ace of this staff so far this season by showing great poise start to start and having impeccable command. Last season, nine starting pitchers made the AL squad plus Justin Verlander and Hisashi Iwakuma who were inactive. Assuming this number stays about the same, Kluber (5-3, 3.10, 83K) is currently looking at competition in the form of Sonny Gray (5-1, 1.99, 55—OAK), Mark Buehrle (8-1, 2.16, 40—TOR), Masahiro Tanaka (7-1, 2.29, 79—NYY), Yu Darvish (4-2, 2.35, 71—TEX), Dallas Keuchel (6-2, 2.55, 61—HOU), Scott Kazmir (5-2, 2.56, 45—OAK), Max Scherzer (6-1, 2.59, 78—DET), Jesse Chavez (4-2, 2.61, 61—OAK), Felix Hernandez (6-1, 2.75, 74—SEA), Jered Weaver (5-3, 2.85, 50—LAA), James Shields (6-3, 2.95, 63—KC), C.J. Wilson (6-3, 3.00, 64—LAA), Garrett Richards (4-1, 3.00, 62—LAA) and Phil Hughes (5-1, 3.15, 47—MIN). That’s a lot of names to compete against, so don’t be surprised if a deserving Kluber gets left off of the roster. My early prediction is that Brantley will be the Indians lone representative in Minnesota this summer.
I’m surprised that I made it through without saying much bad. I guess that’s what happens when you avoid reality completely.
MAY MVP: Brantley
MAY CY YOUNG: Kluber
Never have the monthly awards been so easy.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images