The Glass is Half Something—Random Thoughts from August
Steve Eby | On 27, Aug 2014
“Things are not always what they seem; the first appearance deceives many; the intelligence of a few perceives what has been carefully hidden.”
PRETEND TO CONTEND:
It’s the end of August and Indians are above .500. They are within a mathematically-realistic shot of the playoffs and have one of the best home records in baseball. Yes, they’re wildly frustrating and wildly inconsistent, but done all of this with just one starting pitcher, historically terrible defense and only two hitters that have produced consistently. When the numbers are looked at, the Indians often look like the worst .500-plus team in the history of mankind.
IN TITO WE TRUST:
So how did we get here? We all know it can’t be luck…such a word doesn’t exist in Cleveland sports. The answer just takes one word: Tito.
When the Browns brought in Johnny Manziel and the Cavs resigned LeBron James, a lot of people—myself, admittedly, included—pointed at the Tribe and said, “your turn.” What took me a minute and what some people fail to realize is that the Indians made their big splash two winters ago when they hired their latest Manager.
Terry Francona has been a godsend for this franchise and is the reason that the team is “contending”. While Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana, Ryan Raburn, Asdrubal Cabrera, John Axford, Justin Masterson, Danny Salazar and Zach McAllister have all disappointed terribly, Francona has managed to get the best out of guys like Scott Atchison, Jose Ramirez and Tyler Holt. Francona is unquestionably the best manager in the game, the best the Indians have had in my lifetime—sorry Mike Hargrove—and is the whole reason for the Indians success.
To amend the words of Helen Cross—Tito is like tinfoil; he shines and covers stuff up.
A SCARY LOOK AHEAD:
So let’s pretend for a second that the Indians fend off the Rays and Blue Jays and then leapfrog the Yankees, Mariners and Tigers or Royals to sneak back into the Wild Card game to face the Athletics or Angels. Let’s now say that the stars align correctly—unlike last year—and Corey Kluber pitches and wins the one-game playoff.
Could you imagine the Indians opening an American League Division Series with Salazar, Trevor Bauer, T.J. House or Carlos Carrasco? What’s worse is that one of those guys would have to pitch two as well. AND ANOTHER ONE WOULD PROBABLY HAVE TO PITCH GAME THREE!
It’s never better to miss the playoffs rather than to make them, but I just can’t realistically see any kind of run—or any wins, for that matter—coming our way with that rotation battling the American League’s best.
For as inconsistent as he has been in the second half, no Indians players stock has risen more in the past five months than Bauer. Sure, his ERA has risen a half of a run over since the start of June, but the rookie has shown enough promise to once again be considered as a major cog for the future. Most fans had written Bauer off after last season, especially when he was banished from their September push in 2013. Bauer now looks to be the front-runner for the number two starter spot in 2015.
It’s hard to complain about the season that Lonnie Chisenhall has had, as he’s morphed from bench player into a regular starter, but I’m going to try anyways.
After driving in nine runs in Texas on June 9 and then dismantling the Royals for the two games that followed, Chisenhall has nose-dived back into his old habits once again. Yes, his batting average sits at a more-than-respectable .290, but that is a .103 point drop from his .393 average at that point. Chiz has ridden a 57 game stretch of a .204 batting average with just a .303 slugging percentage to “reach” those totals.
Look for Chisenhall to be starting-pitcher-trade-bait when this season comes to a close.
AUGUST MVP: Gomes
AUGUST CY YOUNG: Kluber
Photo: Chuck Crow/The Plain Dealer