Lonnie Chisenhall inadvertently threw a wrench in the Indians’ 2013 plans when he began the season hitting just .213 through 26 games.
After hitting a mind-boggling .390 with six homers and 26 RBI in 27 games with Columbus, a few things became obvious.
First and foremost, Chisenhall has absolutely nothing left to prove at Triple-A. In 123 career Triple-A games, Chisenhall is hitting north of .300 with 17 home runs and 88 RBI. However, the biggest key to Chisenhall sustaining MLB success is his patience at the plate, which always seems to disappear once he gets called up.
Chris Perez made a rehab appearance tonight with the Akron Aeros as the Aeros faced off against the Trenton Thunder, the New York Yankees Double A affiliate. Blake Wood started the game and pitched one marvelous inning, striking out the side. Perez came on in the second inning and it looked as though Akron would have a big advantage with two quick and easy innings to start the game before giving the ball over to ace Matt Packer. All did not go as planned however, and Perez’s performance left more questions than answers.
Perez took the mound to face off first against Thunder shortstop Carmen Angelini. The at-bat was the mismatch one would expect when a Major Leaguer faces a Double A kid. Perez threw a fastball down the middle for called strike one, blew a fastball by him for strike two, then made him look silly on a nicely executed slider to sit down Angelini. It looked as though this would be a short outing for Perez. Next up was third baseman Reegie Corona who came into the night with a .221 batting average and one home run on the season. He looked confident enough, but this should be an easy out number two.
The Indians wake up this morning at 34-34, experiencing a roller coaster ride that would make most Cedar Point goers blush on the journey that they have traveled.
By definition, the Indians are what make a .500 team. They have inconsistent starting pitching, inconsistent offense—and suddenly an inconsistent bullpen. Most .500 teams are inconsistent, some days looking like a contender while other times looking like a team headed for the cellar.
The gradual decline of baseball as America’s Pastime has been a reoccurring topic of discussion amongst those who follow the sport for many years.
Baseball has not been marketed as effectively as the National Football League, which has capitalized on prime time games, a short 16-game schedule, and a bit of parity from the implementation of a salary cap. Baseball is not dominated by highly publicized and paid star athletes and commercial stars, as with the National Basketball Association. Both sports are easier to play and easier to play in small groups. Throw the ball, catch the ball. Pass the ball, shoot the ball. Throw in some defense for good measure.
Baseball, despite inflating contracts and a shadow of the steroid saga still chasing its formerly good name, is more reminiscent of an older day, when things moved more slowly. The decline of baseball has been occasionally linked to the absence of the fathers from the homes of the present, whether it is because of the ever increasing needs of parents to be active members of the work force to generate income for the home, or because of the overall increase in single parent homes throughout the nation.
Last Thursday, the Indians drafted Clint Frazier with the fifth pick in the 2013 Major League Baseball Draft. If you’re like me, you had never heard of Frazier until Bud Selig announced his name, have never seen him play, and don’t really expect to see him in an Indians uniform until at least 2017. But still…you wonder what kind of player the Tribe has selected.
To call the Indians recent history with first round picks a ‘mixed bag’, would probably be inaccurate, as the Indians have had quite a few awful picks over the last decade. Since the turn of the century, only Jeremy Guthrie (2002) has become an established Major Leaguer and only Jeremy Sowers (2004), Trevor Crowe (2005), David Huff (2006) and Lonnie Chisenhall (2008) have made even a small impact with the Indians. It’s too soon to write off Chisenhall, Alex White (2009) and Drew Pomeranz (2010), but all three have had early career struggles and both White and Pomeranz pitch for different organizations now anyways. Early reports on Tyler Naquin (2012) and Francisco Lindor (2011) have been excellent, but they still are just early reports as both (hopefully) budding stars are still playing Advanced-A baseball with the Carolina Mudcats.
To say the trade the Cleveland Indians made for starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez, nearly two years ago, has worked out well for the Tribe would be quite the overstatement. These days, it would also be an overstatement to call the deal a horrible move.
Just about a year ago, a horrible move is what most Tribe fans were calling the July 30, 2011 acquisition. General manager Chris Antonetti traded promising young starters Alex White and Drew Pomeranz to the Rockies for a struggling, former National League All Star in Jimenez.
The Indians came into the season with a great deal of promise. The front office addressed the offensive struggles with several offensive minded signings in the offseason. The starting rotation however remained a question mark. The Indians have now lost eight of their last ten games after climbing to the top in the AL Central and currently sport the third worst ERA of any team in the American League. The Tribe needs a pitcher to step up and take the rains and it looks like some of the young guns on the Indians staff may be doing just that. Corey Kluber has been one of the few bright spots on the Indians pitching staff, coming on strong after a less than stellar season in 2012. Every start he seems to get better and better and that is just what the doctor ordered for the Indians and their fans.
Tuesday night Kluber threw a gem going eight innings while allowing only one run on six hits. The outing was quite possibly his best of the season, and the seventh time in nine starts that he has given up three runs or less. He looks like a better pitcher; he looks like a more confident pitcher. He is now a guy that gives his team a chance to win when he takes the mound, or at least that’s the way it seems. Whatever it may be, something is very different about 2013 Kluber compared to 2012 Kluber.
There are two kinds of fans, those that support Chris Perez and those that do not. It seems that for as Perez has been calling out Tribe fans, getting into it with fans on the road, ripping the organization or getting booed, someone at DTTWLN has stepped forward to defend him.
Not any more.
After being arrested last week on misdemeanor charges of drug possession, I’m done defending Perez. Granted, Perez is entitled to the same due process and fair trial as the rest of us. His lawyer has already stated that he and his wife will plead not guilty. He is to be assumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Many Cleveland Indians fans seem to share the sentiment that we have all seen this movie before. The hope is that this particular version has some sort of alternate ending we have yet to see, with a much happier end result.
The 2013 Indians team has been streaky throughout the season. When the offense was clicking, the rotation was struggling. When the rotation was solid, the bullpen was struggling. When the bullpen was going strong, they could not get to the mound in a meaningful opportunity with a close game to preserve because the offense and starting pitching would not let it be so. Too few times has the entire machine been functioning on all cylinders.
The Indians just are not playing good baseball right now. There is no real denying of that. But is this a June swoon to be likened to the midseason collapses of the last several years, or just a temporary stretch of bad baseball made worse by a series of slumps, injuries, and unfortunate scheduling?
Thank God that’s over.
Barring a meeting in the 2013 postseason, the Cleveland Indians are finally done with facing Yankee closer Mariano Rivera. The Indians are done facing the Yankees this season and the 19 year-long battle with one of baseball’s best is over. Rivera is unquestionably the greatest closer in baseball history, topping the all-time save list and becoming one of October’s all-time outstanding performers.
In baseball circles it is said you can get a good feel for what a team will be through 40 games. As the Cleveland Indians have proven the last couple years, there are exceptions to that rule. However, it is a generally a good stretch of games to see if a team will be good, bad or somewhere in between as the summer rolls along.
This season’s Indians are again putting the old theory to the test, though not like they have in years past. Both the 2011 and 2012 Tribe were in contention for a division title beyond the halfway points of each campaign. Both clubs crumbled in the second half with young teams wilting under pressure.
The 2013 squad was built with more veterans to better face the strains of expectations to contend. The 2013 squad, to this point, is in contention. As the season hits game No. 60 tonight, though, the identity and realistic expectations one should have are as unknown as they were on Opening Day.