Indians Must Remember Both Halves as Season Closes
Laurel Wilder | On 04, Oct 2015
It feels like it’s the same ol’ song and dance: it’s the last weekend of the Indians season, the team struggled and hung on by a thread until the very end and just couldn’t come together long enough to make it. They played mediocre baseball and, although the team is *technically* playing some October baseball right now, it’s not what fans were expecting to start the season and they certainly aren’t games that matter.
I ended last season with an eerily-similar story that looked at the pieces the Indians had in place. On paper, last season, the pieces were all there and looked strong but, of course, the team could not complete the puzzle.
This season, it was almost worse.
Not only were the pieces there – they were widely recognized. Everyone remembers (and probably won’t forget) that Sports Illustrated picked the Indians to win it all this season. To say the Indians couldn’t complete the puzzle is a massive understatement. It was more than that. They seemingly couldn’t even recognize their own pieces. What’s more, pieces that used to fit didn’t fit in the same place anymore, and pieces that were force-fit in seasons past finally burst as insufficient and simply not right for the club.
It was a tale of two halves, neither of which truly fit together smoothly. In the first half of the season, the Indians struggled to make things work. Their pitching outshone other rotations in baseball, but it hardly made up for the shoddy defense and poor offense that was otherwise found on the field.
The second half brought about a new core of players, and changes to those who were still on the roster. The Indians played like a different team, with more heart and vigor, but it still wasn’t enough to propel them into a playoff spot. Which, combined with their first half disasters, would be expected.
Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher are gone. Lonnie Chisenhall is in right field. Trevor Bauer spent some time in the bullpen and made his first start since September 13 on Thursday night, which was hardly a reflection of his more recent mediocre starts. Francisco Lindor is finally the team’s mainstay at short. Giovanny Urshela is a strong third baseman. The pitching is still one of the most dominant rotations in baseball. For all intents and purposes, the Indians should be posed to have a great 2016 – right?
A similar statement was made at the end of last season, though, that the Indians had all the pieces in place for a monster 2015. Corey Kluber won the Cy Young. Everyone just knew 2015 was going to be a fantastic year for the Tribe. Of course, it wasn’t until the end.
The Indians can’t let history repeat itself going into next season. Both Terry Francona and Michael Brantley have said that the Indians need to remember both halves of their season as they close the books on 2015. While it’s important to note that the second half did result from performances of a new group of players, they can’t simply head into the offseason content with that knowledge.
The Indians need to work hard in the offseason to maintain the positive turnaround they had down the stretch this year. Simply knowing that it came from a group of different players will not be enough to replicate those actions next season. If there is dead weight, it needs to be dealt with, and strengths need to be built up.
Next April cannot mirror this year’s if the Tribe wants next October to bring new results.
Photo: Chuck Crow/The Plain Dealer