Several former and current members of the Cleveland Indians organization made some news over the last few days. Here’s a quick roundup of some of the minor moves and notes you may have missed.
The Indians surprise many by snatching one of the last big name free agents remaining unsigned, inking center fielder Michael Bourn to a four-year, $48 million contract.
Bourn is coming off of his second National League All-Star season as he …
In Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona’s first season at the helm of the club, he turned a 68-94 team that had finished with the second-fewest runs scored in the American League in 2012 with 667 into a potent run-scoring machine that finished fourth in 2013 with 745 runs and reached the AL Wild Card game.
In each of the last two seasons, the club has tallied 669 runs while moving further and further down the runs scored leaderboard in the league and, in a potentially related factoid, has failed to make the playoffs in either circumstance.
So who pulled the plug on the Tribe’s offense over the last two seasons?
They say it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.
For the past three seasons, the Cleveland Indians have finished just fine. From May to September, they have been one of baseball’s best teams. They have been the team that makes people say, “Nobody would want to play them in October”. Yet, the team has only one Wild Card Game loss to show for it.
And it’s that pesky “start” that’s the problem.
Since Manager Terry Francona was hired prior to the 2013 season, the Indians have shot themselves in the foot right out of the gate three out of three times. It took a miraculous run in 2013 with a ten game winning streak to finish the season just for the Indians to squeak out one game of “playoff baseball” (the quotes are for you, Kenny Lofton). Over the past two years, however, there has been no ten game winning streak and the Indians April swoon has proved too much to overcome.
Remember when Michael Bourn worked with an olympic trainer this winter? Remember when Nick Swisher was going to be a brand new player after having double knee surgery? Remember when Brandon Moss was going to the big power bat the Indians had been looking for since Travis Hafner was in his prime? Whatever happened to those guys?
Oh right, reality set in.
A few seasons ago, the Cleveland Indians moved through the season with the tagline, “What If?”. What if the team excelled to unexpected heights? What if they made it into the postseason? What if everything fell into place just right for a monster season?
Unfortunately, “What If” didn’t have the fairy tale ending that everyone had hoped for.
“What If”, however, seems to fit perfectly into the Indians’ current predicament. They have had a surprisingly strong end of the season and have played with a new energy in the second half (it seems, actually, they have had a new fire ever since Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn found their way to a new team). What if that energy had been there always? What if the team had played this way from the start of the season? There’s certainly a chance that they could be much closer to – or even have secured – a playoff spot than they are now.
What if Francisco Lindor had been called up sooner?