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Second Thoughts: Playoff outlook on a positive Thursday

Second Thoughts: Playoff outlook on a positive Thursday
August 16, 2013
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The Minnesota series and really the last week and a half have been troubling even if you are a glass half full guy.

Of course one could say the Indians have won three of their last four games to hang around in the wild card race.  Or you could point out that they have won three out of their last ten games, and struggled to take a series against a bad Minnesota team as well as barely avoiding a sweep against the middling Angels.

On the other hand I can do the cliché question approach which sounds like the following: If I told you the Indians would be nine games over .500 and in contention for the wildcard with 41 games to go would you believe me?

And of course this is a rather striking and valuable idea. In fact, if the Indians played only a game under five hundred baseball the rest of the season they would finish at 84-78. A sixteen win improvement is absolutely astounding especially when you consider the manner in which the Indians improved this ball club.

The Future:

I abhor the idea of living outside the present at this moment because of the opportunity the Indians have to make a run at a wild card berth. However, considering the Indians window has become an unavoidable practice of mine which may be derived from the “wait til next year” attitude.

One of the triggers that has led me to consider the Indians future, especially in the AL Central, has been the Royals current surge. The teams are interesting as case studies in terms of attempting to develop a long term competitor.

Of course my space here is limited so comparing the two franchises in depth is an impossibility, however, a few things can be learned from their recent approaches. Particularly the 2012/2013 offseason.

The Royals became frustrated because of a seeming inability to develop pitching which caused them to deal Wil Myers and a plus pitching prospect for James Shields - their biggest offseason addition (although Santana has been an impressive addition). The point being that they in many ways closed their window. Kansas City, specifically Dayton Moore faced a classic split incentive problem where the general manager took a huge risk in order to protect his job security and threatening the long term core of the franchise.

Meanwhile the Indians were able to improve drastically while losing only a year of Shin-Soo ChooTony Sipp(whose absence has been shockingly painful) as well as a couple of early draft picks which has a tangible effect on the bonus pool.

What the Indians have done well is add complimentary pieces that make them competitive while protecting a minor league system that is slowly improving. To date the front office has done an impressive job of threading the needle which is improving the team both in the short term and long term on a limited budget.

Of course they have made mistakes. At least in my opinion they should have attempted to reap value from Asdrubal Cabrera in the offseason as there were concerns entering this season; however, his struggles have been a challenge to predict so this mistake is not entirely glaring.

That is so 2014:

Think about this rotation in 2014: Justin MastersonCorey KluberZach McAllisterDanny SalazarScott Kazmirwith Trevor Bauer working to re-establish his stock as a prospect.

How great would it be to see a rotation that is not dependent on Ubaldo Jimenez?

How great is it to see an entire rotation featuring pitchers with legitimate plus fastballs (McAllister’s might be the weakest)?

What about a lineup that included Francisco Lindor’s defense at short and advanced plate discipline?

What if the Indians moved Asdrubal Cabrera to third?

What if they can add a right handed hitter with pop?

The point being that this opportunity - contention - is just the beginning for this Tribe team and this team is just entering a window that could last for a decent amount of time.

Up Next: Cleveland Indians @ Oakland Athletics, 10:05 P.M. ET

Indians ace Justin Masterson starts what is one of the most important games of the season to date. The Indians have an opportunity to gain on the wildcard leading Athletics and it has to start with your #1. For the Athletics you have A.J. Griffin who is 10-8 with a 3.88 ERA.

This is a huge series for the Tribe. How great is it to watch meaningful baseball in mid-to-late August?

Interact with Michael by email at and on Twitter @MichaelHattery

User Comments

August 16, 2013 - 11:13 PM EDT
I don't think anyone has a problem with Ubaldo's performance this year. The problem most have is they wonder how long until he blows up. He's been dodging and weaving all season and eventually is gonna get caught with an uppercut and fall apart. Also, he's going to be a free agent, and won't be worth the cost to bring him back.
August 16, 2013 - 11:32 AM EDT
1, With regards to Mac's and Kluber's finger injuries, did they throw split finger change ups?
2. Any info on Lindor's back problem? Is it muscle related or spine related/
August 16, 2013 - 10:48 AM EDT
I agree of late ubaldo has been better .
Also watch reynolds go on a tear
Glad gomes getting more playing time tho. He is really good.

Also. I agree , im not giving up on lonnie, but if tribe does i wish they traded for garza, maybe resign him? But this a really improved rotation
Asdrubal at third sounds good, i bet he bounces back. Also lindor at ss would awesome, makes me confident of years to come, and finally, agreement again. This meaningful august baseball is a plus.

Question: can tribe sign who they want this offseason? With myers and reynolds gone 12-13 million for next years books to equal 2013 total salaries, so 13 mill a year? 1 great player. Or 2 6.5 mill players? + ownership may allow for extra money to spend, with team playing well.
August 16, 2013 - 9:57 AM EDT
I know it's popular and even reasonable to claim distaste or distrust for Ubaldo Jimenez as a starting pitcher for the Indians, but, what is so wrong about what he's accomplished?. In his last four starts covering 24 innings pitched he's given up six earned runs? That's 6 innings per outing with an ERA of 2.25. The Indians lost three of those four games.. Overall, Ubaldo has gone to the hill every fifth day (save for the decision to skip him versus the Tigers) and competed to the best of his ability while posting more W's than L's and an approximate AL average E.R.A. for the Tribe while being paid like a fourth or fifth starter, which is what he is...

and this is a guy who you want to get rid of?..

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