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Notes from the Wigwam: Time to step up

Indians have holes to fill and loose ends to tighten up

Notes from the Wigwam: Time to step up
July 22, 2013
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Well, it wasn’t exactly how the Indians wanted to start the second half, but despite losing two out of three in Minnesota, Cleveland didn’t lose any ground in the division race since the Tigers had a similar outcome in Kansas City over the weekend. As of now, the Tribe stands a game and a half behind first place Detroit in the AL Central and is trying to avoid the second half falloff many are anticipating from them this year. The talent level has increased over the last few seasons, but there are still some holes to fill and some loose ends to be tightened.

The trade deadline looms and the Indians have appeared as players in several rumors. Latest reports indicate that the Tribe will be looking to add a left-handed reliever before anything else. However, they could also be shopping for a starter and possibly another bat. Names like Glen Perkins, Oliver Perez, Yovani Gallardo and Marlon Byrd have been brought up in trade speculation amongst local media pundits and analysts.

In addition to plugging some holes via trade, the Indians need some of the guys they already have to start stepping up as they look to hang tight with Detroit down the stretch and make a potential postseason run. The bullpen and the defense, supposed strengths for the Tribe at the outset, have actually been weaknesses, especially as of late.

The Indians have now committed 57 errors as a team in 2013, including four over the weekend, putting them at 5th worst in the league while the bullpen has posted the fourth worst ERA at 4.09. Whether it’s injury, mechanical or mental issues, the Tribe needs to pinpoint the problems and find solutions sooner rather than later while the team is still in the race.

Weekly Results

July 19 @ Minnesota, L 2-3 (WP: Fien, LP: Smith)

July 20 @ Minnesota, L 2-3 (WP: Correia, LP: Hill)

July 21 @ Minnesota, W 7-1 (WP: Masterson, LP: Diamond)

Player of the Week

Jason Kipnis – 2B

3 G, 4-for-11 (.363), 2 R, 5 RBI, 2 HR, 2 BB, 0 K

While there’s no chance of Kipnis winning the AL MVP this season with Miguel Cabrera and Chris Davis playing out of their minds, but he certainly will have to be at least brought up in the discussion at some point if he keeps playing like the way he has for almost the past two months now. Despite a slow start, it appears that Kipnis has made great strides in developing his tools at the MLB level, most notably his ability to consistently hit to the opposite field with power. Both of his home runs at Target Field over the weekend were to the opposite field.

Kipnis can hit for average, drive in runs, hit for power, steal bases and play sound defense at second base to boot. While he did have an error this weekend, an argument can be made that as of right now, while he may not yet measure up in name recognition, Kipnis can stand among the class of the Robinson Canos and Dustin Pedroias of the league. The All-Star second baseman is currently on pace for 25 homers and 103 RBI’s by season’s end. He’s certainly the heart of this lineup for the time being.

A Rough Week

Lonnie Chisenhall – 3B

2 G, 2-for-6, 2 R, 0 RBI, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 K

Chisenhall gets the “rough week” label this week more for what he did defensively than at the plate. While there’s no way of knowing how any game could have gone without a key error, the Tribe third baseman still had costly miscues in each of the first two games of the Twins series and both led to runs scoring.

Chisenhall has never been known for his glove in his time with the Indians organization, having a career minor and major league fielding percentage of .932, he has shown some improvement defensively for the Tribe this season. He has six errors, but that’s in 50 games played. He had six in just 30 games played in 2012 and 10 errors in 58 games in 2011.

Still, the ‘period of adjustment’ is just about up for Chisenhall and he will need to take advantage of the remainder of this season to prove to the team that he’s worth sticking with at the hot corner long-term. He’s shown signs of the kind of player he could be. Now he needs to do it consistently.

News and Notes

  • RHP Zach McAllister will be activated for Tuesday’s start in Seattle. McAllister has been on the disabled list for the past month and a half with a right middle finger sprain. While the rotation has performed better than expected in his absence, McAllister’s return will still be much appreciated. He earned the win in his last rehab start for the Clippers pitching six innings of scoreless 2-hit ball.
  • Matt Garza is off the boards as a potential trade target for the Indians. The right-hander has officially been dealt by the Cubs to Texas in a five-player deal. Chicago gets Rangers prospects Mike Olt, CJ Edwards, Justin Grimm and a player to be named later in exchange for Garza.
  • After 98 games in 2012, the Indians were in third place with a 49-49 record and four games behind the first place Chicago White Sox. They are in second place and 52-46 after 98 games in 2013 and only a game and a half behind first place Detroit. Take that for what you will, but the Indians are in contention well past the halfway point and should be buyers at the deadline. The question now is who’s on their radar and how much are they willing to give up?

Jake Dungan is a communications student at Stark State College and an intern with the Akron RubberDucks. Follow him on Twitter @MajorLeagueJake.

User Comments

July 22, 2013 - 11:12 PM EDT
I would argue that Cabrera's error on Saturday night was far worse than Chisenhall's, especially since Cabrera is the more experienced player.

I just can't get behind this idea that Chisenhall's time is running out. Through their first 500 at-bats Chisenhall and Kipnis actually have really similar stats at the plate. As far as fielding, Chisenhall has 22 errors in 139 games. Buddy Bell played in 154 games in his second season and committed 22 errors along the way.

I'm not saying Chisenhall will turn into Buddy Bell at third base - let's just not get too focused on mistakes from a 24 year old player with very limited MLB exposure.
July 22, 2013 - 9:46 PM EDT
Time to step up for whom? Ownership and the FO have already stepped up IMO. Many of IBI's writers keep suggesting that it is the job of management to spend more money without hope for return on any investment. If you can find any evidence of any correlation between performance and attendance, I would like to see it. Cleveland does not care about the Indians. They show up on occasion for fireworks or giveaways but not the Indians.

It is the fans who have to step up or face a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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