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Today continues DTTWLN’s three week examination of the Indians 2014 season and where it fell short of the playoff expectations established last winter. The staff will examine where the season went wrong and the challenges the front office faces to make the Indians contenders in 2015.
English poet, Alexander Pope said, “To err is human, to forgive is divine.”
Based on the amount of errs committed by the Cleveland Indians in 2014, they have a lot of forgiveness to ask for.
By traditional methods, the Indians were bad defensively in 2014. They led Major League Baseball with 116 errors and a league worst .981 fielding percentage. This is worse than last season’s subpar 98 errors and .984 fielding percentage. In 2013, they made the 11th most errors. In 2014, by almost any measurement, the Tribe was the worst defensive team in baseball. After starting the season with 45 errors in 45 games, they were on pace to become the worst defensive team in the 21st century. Their improvement during the second half made their 116 errors this season the least among teams leading the majors in errors since 2000.
That’s right, they were the best at being the worst.
Individually, Lonnie Chisenhall led all Indians with 18 errors, followed by Yan Gomes with 14 errors (and six passed balls) and Asdrubal Cabrera with 14 errors. Had Cabrera remained the Tribe’s shortstop for the final two months, he likely would have eclipsed Chisenhall, and certainly would have been a tandem in the worst left side of an infield in baseball.
Today begins DTTWLN’s three week examination of the Indians 2014 season and where it fell short of the playoff expectations established last winter. The staff will examine where the season went wrong and the challenges the front office faces to make the Indians contenders in 2015.
This wasn’t the plan when the Indians entered spring training.
After a breakout 2013 season, finishing with a 10-game win streak, the Cleveland Indians were a surprise member of the American League playoffs a year ago. And despite a quick exit after a 4-0 defeat to the Tampa Bay Rays, the Indians had new expectations around the league, with their fan base and in their own locker room.
The 2014 season was a simple theme: Unfinished Business.
Well, isn’t this a surprise.
While it seems like the Cleveland Indians have been here before, it still seems like a shock. Just a month ago after play on July 31, the Indians were 53-55 overall and 6.5 games back in the American League Central Division, stuck in third place. In the two days previous Cleveland had traded Asdrubal Cabrera and Justin Masterson to contenders for young players that may help them now, or into the future.
While Indians manager Terry Francona professed that his team would never quit, it seemed obvious that the Tribe was likely out of contention. They weren’t going into any kind of long, rebuilding mode, but more of an approach to prepare themselves to be competitive in 2015. Cabrera and Masterson were no longer in their long term plans, so dealing them for a piece that could help in 2015 made sense, but a serious contender wouldn’t trade away two veterans.
If you were told that a team had traded away two former All-Stars, their closer, and their former setup man, all within the span of a little over two weeks, it generally is safe to say that the fire sale was in full effect and the hopes for the rest of the season would be on watching young prospects fight for their futures while the team played out their remaining schedule.
The Cleveland Indians did exactly that over the last month and have responded with their single best month of the season. In doing so, they have shrunk the gap in both the American League Central and the AL Wild Card race to just three and a half games.
It is stuff like this that makes baseball such an incredible game to follow.
Other than the rain, it was the perfect formula the Indians have been using to win.
The Tribe took an early lead, manufactured runs and played small ball in a three-run third inning, then rode solid starting pitching and the bullpen to a 6-1 victory over Kansas City on Friday night. Danny Salazar pitched five strong innings, to out-pitch veteran Jason Vargas before a 45-minute rain delay cut his evening short. The scrappy, Indians offense used three hits in the third inning that didn’t travel more than 150-feet each to take control of the game.
Cleveland took the lead in the top of the second inning, courtesy of a bloop and a little blast. Jason Kipnis dropped a shallow single in over the infield with one out and moved to scoring position on Yan Gomes’ ground out to third base. Then, Zach Walters continued to drive in runs, gapping a double to the left center field gap, scoring Kipnis and giving the Indians a 1-0 lead.
James Ramsey is excited to be part of the Cleveland Indians organization. While he waits for his chance to contribute at the big league level, he looks forward to playing a big role in the Columbus Clippers quest to win the International League West Division title this season.
Acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals for Justin Masterson on July 30, the 6-foot, 190-pound outfielder hasn’t stopped hitting since reporting to Triple-A Columbus following the trade.
In a 7-4 win over the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs on August 14, Ramsey went 5-5 with a home run, two doubles, and 5 RBIs. He’s batting .302 with three home runs and 15 RBIs in just 22 games with the Clippers.
“It’s great. I’m settled in,” said Ramsey when asked about his new team. “They have such a great facility and staff here. Everyday I keep learning new things that I love about these guys. The teammates have been great welcoming me with open arms and I think my style of play is attractive to guys after they get to know me and see my work ethic. It’s been fun.”
When injuries mount on the big league roster, who do the Cleveland Indians call?
The Columbus Clippers.
The Clippers have answered that call throughout the year, as is their job. Despite an ever-changing roster, they lead the International League’s West Division by five games with a 73-62 record after Saturday night’s loss to Indianapolis. The Indians, meanwhile, are 65-63 and are seven games in back of the division lead and five behind in the AL Wild Card race.
For some players, the shuttle back and forth between Cleveland and Columbus has been consistent throughout the season. For others, they have taken full advantage of the opportunity and have given their parent club no reason whatsoever to send them packing back down Interstate 71 to the state capital.
What started so pretty, turned ugly in a hurry Friday night.
Carlos Carrasco and Brad Peacock—two unlikely starters to match up in a pitcher’s duel—did just that for five innings before a battle of the bullpens ensued. However, fundamental mistakes by the Cleveland Indians on the base paths and in the field were the difference in victory and defeat. Cleveland squandered scoring opportunities in the late innings before shoddy defense gave the game away, resulting in a 5-1 defeat.
Peacock and Carrasco hooked up in quite a pitcher’s duel that might still be unexpected. Peacock allowed just one hit in the first four innings, while Carrasco’s only hit allowed was an infield hit to Jake Marisnick in the third inning. Peacock—a struggling starter—had only lasted five innings or more and allowed just two runs or less, twice in the last two months.
As a thunderstorm swept through northeast Ohio, cable and satellite dishes may have made Tuesday night’s Indians’ game even harder to believe.
Because if your satellite cut out after Trevor Bauer allowed five runs in the first inning to Minnesota in the first six hitters, it may have been quite a surprise to find out the Tribe chipped away against Kyle Gibson to come back and win 7-5 to take the first game of the series in Minnesota. After falling behind early, Cleveland used three hits from Yan Gomes and a clutch, pinch-hit double from Tyler Holt to score in four different innings for the comeback win.
The Cleveland Indians have a challenging and important weekend ahead of them as they host the American League East’s best, the Baltimore Orioles, in three games at Progressive Field.
The Indians (60-60) maintained their aversion to a winning record by splitting a pair of games with the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday after Mother Nature interfered with more than three hours of rain delays on Tuesday night. Trevor Bauer struck out nine and pitched a career-high eight innings in a 3-2 walkoff win courtesy of a Zach Walters ninth inning homer in the first game of Wednesday’s doubleheader. The two teams needed 12 innings to decide a victor in the second game, and the spoils went to the Diamondbacks on a one-out RBI single, giving Arizona the 1-0 win.
Just as every rose has its thorns, so too does every cloud have a silver lining. In the Indians case, their recent roster moves and adjustments display both. Yes, it hurts to see David Murphy sent to the DL with a strained right oblique muscle, but it’s a bit rewarding to see that Nick Swisher is sidelined with a knee injury. While I wish injury on no one, as Mike Brandyberry wrote earlier this week, perhaps a little less Swisher is what the team needs right now.
Equally as rewarding for the Indians is the opportunity that younger players have to make an impact at the big league level. Tyler Holt and Zach Walters (whom the Indians received in the Asdrubal Cabrera trade with the Nationals prior to the trade deadline) were recalled from Triple-A Columbus on Monday, marking Holt’s third trip to Cleveland this season and Walters’ first taste of Progressive Field. While their time may be limited – it has been suggested that Michael Bourn could be back with the team as early as this weekend – the two young players still have a chance to make their mark on the club before the season is over.