Second Thoughts: Game 159 Indians 15 Royals 3
Sunday has turned into lottery day for the Indians. This is the third straight Sunday where the Indians have not only won, but have beaten a division opponent. You can even add in an offensive explosion to the equation. The last time they lost on a Sunday was a 7-6 loss to the Twins almost a month ago.
This also means that in typical Cleveland Indians fashion, they have won four out of five games, which could cost them at most, three draft slots. In my opinion, this is not a good thing for this organization going forward. I don't think there is any benefit to these victories. I doubt they really make anyone feel any better or any happier. Who is going to say, “Well at least we did well during the last month?” I know it might be early to talk draft, but in terms of this season, the draft is really the only thing that the Tribe's play can still affect.
At the end of the day, it was a fun game to watch thanks to the offense, as the Indians won 15-3.
Speaking of the draft, this was a disappointing season for Luke Hochevar, who was one of the more mystifying players ever to be selected first overall. A year after rejecting the Dodgers as the 40th pick and playing in the Independent League, the Royals came back and took him first over such players as Evan Longoria, Tim Lincecum, and Clayton Kershaw. They followed a similar path a few years later with Aaron Crow, but at least he was not viewed as an overdraft at the time. I doubt they expected Hochevar to have a career ERA over five. Picks like that are a reason why both the Indians and the Royals have been struggling to return to consistent division competitors.
The story of the day was the offense, which exploded for a ten run fifth inning, where thirteen men came to the plate. Every starter managed to reach base on the day either by walk, hit, or being hit by a pitch.
The hitter who did the most damage was Asdrubal Cabrera, who looked like a different player than the one that fans have seen most of the second half. He went 3-for-5 with three runs, four RBI, and hit his 16th home run of the year, which was a grand slam. He is second on the team in home runs and fifth among all shortstops.
Kipnis, Choo, Kotchman, and Hannahan also had multi-hit games. The offense combined for nineteen hits and five walks on Sunday, as they beat up on virtually every pitcher the Royals brought out. They were also 9-for-20 with runners in scoring position, which was another big issue for this team throughout the year. In many ways, Sunday's game offensively was a throwback to earlier in the season when this offense was performing well.
In terms of pitching for the Tribe, Zach McAllister recorded a quality start, and he continues to make a push to nail down a spot in the rotation going into next year. He went 6 2/3 innings allowing only three runs, and dropped his ERA to 4.24 on the season. He might win the dubious honor of being the Indians best starter this year as fans know there has not been much competition for the award. Tony Sipp and Frank Herrmann came out for the last 2 1/3 to close out the game and preserve a win.
The Indians brought in the younger kids and backups on Sunday as thirteen different hitters came to the plate for the Tribe. Things got so out of hand, that even Matt LaPorta got in the game and even managed a double. As the Indians go forward these last few games we are going to see a lot of guys who are trying to audition for roles for next year and prove that they deserve to stick in the majors. Players like LaPorta, Neal, Phelps, and Rottino are all competing to earn a spot with the Indians, or to make sure another team has interest in them for the next season. I think that Neal and Phelps are keepers, that LaPorta is pretty much gone, and Rottino's future is up in the air, depending on what moves the Indians make.
With only three more games left this year, all against the imploding White Sox, the Indians are sitting at 67-92. The question I leave for the fans is this:
Are you hoping that the Indians fight and scrape for 70 wins, or are the majority of fans rooting for a White Sox sweep to end the year with eyes set on a higher draft pick?
In any case, thanks for reading. It's been fun to write about the team this year in spite of the second half collapse. The upside is that after the year that 2012 has been covering the entire spectrum of sports in Cleveland, well, it can't really get that much worse can it?
Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffmlbdraft, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
The funny thing about the Indians this year, after spring training, with Sizemore out, Jimenez' velocity still down, Chisenhall not coming close to beating out Hannahan, Kotchman at 1b and no Carrasco, I figured them for a 65-70 win team. They definitely got there in an interesting fashion. Unsatisfying, frustrating, perhaps ... at least April-June were fun, better than in '09-'10 when they were just immediately out of it. And I still see no reason why they can't compete next year if they address the needs they needed to address last year, just get average 1b, LF and DH, and you pick up 6 wins, Chisenhall over Hannahan and Carrasco over Gomez, a motivated and in shape Asdrubal, another 6 wins ... and the Tigers and White Sox will likely still suck just as much as they did this year
But it's all about next year and the future, so the best thing in the long run would be to get swept so they get the higher draft pick, although there's no guarantee they would end up with a better player.
The main thing is that some legitimate major league players emerge from the rubble; guys that can contribute to a successful season next year. Huff, Kluber, Chisenhall, Canzler, Carrera - it would be great if some or all of these guys earned spots to replace the Duncans, Damons, Hannahans, Tomlins, and Lowes with cheaper and more productive players.