The Dark Side of the Moon: A 2012 Cleveland Indians review
Another year has come and gone, yet Cleveland is still waiting for its first World Series title since 1948. The team did not come together as planned, but there were still bright moments during the journey. The bright moments kept rolling in after the season, after the team made a huge splash in free agency and on the trading block.
2012 is over, and as we look back on it one more time here on New Year's Eve, it is time for an Indians Baseball (Baseball!) Insider year-end recap piece. To avoid a generic, boring article, however, I framed the year around Pink Floyd's famous The Dark Side of the Moon album.
Why an album released in 1973 instead of an album from 2012, you ask? Because it is one of my favorite albums by my favorite band! This is more fun for me!
Speak to Me/Breathe
Breathe, breathe in the air
Don't be afraid to care
The intro to The Dark Side of the Moon is "Speak to Me/Breathe," a song meant to highlight the dull and pointless moments of life. In a way, that basically sums up everything you need to know about Cleveland's 2012 season. A season of promise quickly turned into a nightmare 68-94 campaign that saw manager Manny Acta get fired.
Yet, things got a lot brighter during the offseason. The hiring of Terry Francona to be the new manager has ushered in a new era of Cleveland baseball and a more aggressive approach from the front office. The team is less risk-adverse now, taking shots with the Nick Swisher signing and the Shin-Soo Choo-Trevor Bauer trade.
Time will tell if these moves work out, but they look very solid right now. This offseason gives the fanbase a reason to hope and not be afraid to care about 2013.
On the Run
Despite not having any words, "On the Run" is a driving piece that represents the anxiety and stress of modern life. It is set in an airport, and at the end, a plane crash is heard. Speaking of plane crashes, what a fitting metaphor for the 2012 Cleveland starting rotation.
The ERAs of Cleveland's main starters are a murderer's row of ugliness, including Justin Masterson's 4.93, Corey Kluber's 5.14, Ubaldo Jimenez's 5.40, Derek Lowe's 5.52, Jeanmar Gomez's 5.96, and Josh Tomlin's 6.36. Zach McAllister *only* had a 4.24 ERA, but he routinely had trouble shutting the door after errors and allowed 5.6 total runs per nine innings.
If you are looking to assign blame for the failed 2012 campaign, look no further than the starting pitching. Things cannot get much worse, but if Cleveland wants to contend in 2013, the front office needs to add more pitching before the start of Spring Training.
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun
The passage of time can bring both good and bad. In 2012, time saw some positives for Cleveland:
- Jason Kipnis established himself as an above-average second baseman and a building block for the future (.257/.335/.379 line, 14 home runs, 31 steals, 3.1 fWAR).
- Michael Brantley proved he could handle an everyday starting job, salvaging some value out of the CC Sabathia trade (.288/.348/.402 line, 2.7 fWAR).
- Asdrubal Cabrera was named to his second consecutive All-Star game. Though he faded down the stretch again, his overall line was still strong (.270/.338/.423 line, 16 home runs, 2.9 fWAR).
- Vinnie Pestano continued to establish himself as a legitimate back-end option (2.57 ERA, 9.77 SO/9) and should close games for the team at some point in the near future.
- Carlos Santana did not have a striking year on the surface (.252/.365/.420 line, 18 home runs, 3.4 fWAR), but he did lead the team in WAR and set himself up for a big 2013 in what will be his third full season.
Yet the passing of time also left its scars on Cleveland. In particular, the last hopes that Travis Hafner could stay healthy were washed from everyone's minds (he only played in 66 games) and his career in Cleveland likely is at an end. Even worse, time robbed Grady Sizemore of being one of the best players in the league, relegating him to hated status among the fanbase for chewing up $5 million of the payroll in 2012.
As the cliché goes, Father Time remains undefeated. He even found a way to turn Cleveland against one of the biggest fan favorites of recent memory. Hopefully 2013 holds more growth and maturity for the team and not any of the destruction it brought upon Hafner and Sizemore.
The Great Gig in the Sky
The mournful, yet hauntingly beautiful vocals from Claire Torrey on "The Great Gig in the Sky" are a soulful reflection on death and mortality. It is insanely sad in actuality, but almost impossible to turn away from much like the 2012 season for Cleveland.
In particular, the 5-24 record of August 2012, the worst month in franchise history was awful, yet it was hard to turn away. There were times when I (and I am sure others) would simply watch to see how Cleveland would blow it this time. The losing streaks were darkly humorous, but thankfully, the month ended and the team should be much improved for 2013.
Money, it's a gas
Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash
"Money" is one of the best known Pink Floyd songs, and for good reason. From the catchy, funky time signature of the verses and seamless transition into the solo section to the bitterly sarcastic lyrics about money itself, the song is one of the best rock has to offer.
For Cleveland fans, money has often been the number one complaint with the team. Last offseason, the only real money spent on free agents was $8 million between Casey Kotchman and Sizemore. With a team that was supposed to be contending in 2012, the fans were rightfully frustrated with the lack of upgrades and the way the Dolans seem to simply "grab that cash with both hands."
Just like in "Money," however, the front office effortlessly changed into a team willing to spend this offseason, giving $56 million to Swisher, $6 million to Mark Reynolds, and even kicking in $3.5 million to the Cincinnati Reds to seal the deal on the Choo trade.
After this offseason, Cleveland fans really do know that money is a gas.
Us and Them
Black and blue
And who knows which is which and who is who
The left field situation in Cleveland last season can only be described as a quagmire, as nobody played more than 60 games at the position and no one played it particularly well. Shelley Duncan and Johnny Damon played 57 and 56 games respectively, and neither made it through the season with the big league club. The other player who played extended time in left field was Aaron Cunningham. Or Aaron freaking Cunningham as Jim Pete would say.
In the end, left field ended up being an endless stream of faces that did not ultimately make a difference. By the end of the year, whether it was Russ Canzler, Vinny Rottino, or anyone else, it really did not matter who was who.
Any Colour You Like
Supposedly, there is a darker meaning behind "Any Colour You Like," but I see it more as a bright, whimsical moment on the album that can represent anything you want (get it, it can be "Any Colour You Like!"). In this vein, this song is like the minor leagues, where players can still be dreamed on and the harsh reality of the major leagues has not set in yet.
And what a year it was for minor league teams in the Cleveland organization. A short list of the best moments:
- Francisco Lindor surviving his first full professional season, an impressive feat for an 18-year-old in A-ball.
- Cody Allen, who started the year in High-A Carolina, getting all the way to Cleveland and establishing himself as a full-time member of the Bullpen Mafia for 2013.
- Dorssys Paulino making a statement in his first stateside season, posting a .333/.380/.558 line in 56 games between the Arizona Rookie League and Mahoning Valley as a 17-year-old.
- Tim Fedroff making his case for a shot at the big leagues in 2013, putting up a .316/.394/.485 line between Akron and Columbus and hitting a career-high 12 home runs.
- The great up-the-middle combo of Ronny Rodriguez and Tony Wolters who both overcame slow starts. Rodriguez ended the year with 19 home runs in a tough park to hit for power in and Wolters managed to post a solid .260/.320/.404 line after skipping Lake County.
- The Akron Aeros going 82-59 and winning their fourth Eastern League championship in the last 10 years.
The lunatic is in my head
The lunatic is in my head
You raise the blade, you make the change
You re-arrange me 'til I'm sane
The penultimate song on the album, "Brain Damage," deals with the idea of mental illness and dealing with it. At times, many were wondering what was going on in the heads of numerous members of the Cleveland organization in 2012:
- Chris Perez had a wonderful comeback season in 2012 (3.59 ERA, 9.21 SO/9, 2.50 BB/9, 39 saves), but he took turns lobbing shots at the fans, the front office, and ownership, otherwise known as most people involved in baseball. While he technically has every right to say those things, no one would characterize those comments as smart.
- Fausto Carmona found himself caught up in an identity scandal in January when it was revealed his real name is Roberto Hernandez and he was three years older than he said. This led to his arrest in the Dominican Republic and Hernandez missing most of the season. The cause of Hernandez's lies run deeper within the socioeconomic issues of growing up poor in the Caribbean, but the whole situation still was not pleasant.
- Nick Hagadone started off strong after being called up to Cleveland, but he started struggling and saw his ERA balloon up to 6.39. In his anger, Hagadone broke his forearm punching an unknown object in the clubhouse after the game and was placed on the minor league disqualified list. I can understand that Hagadone reacted that way because he cares so much about doing well, but responding as he did only hurt himself and the team.
- Finally, while we cannot know the entirety of the situation, the trade of knuckleballer Steven Wright for faded prospect Lars Anderson seems quite questionable. After watching R.A. Dickey become the first knuckleballer to win the Cy Young, it is easy to see Wright at least getting a real shot at being a major league starting pitcher. Instead, he was traded for the left-handed Matt LaPorta. Even though Anderson was included in the Choo-Bauer trade, that endgame was unknown at the time; the front office traded one of its most intriguing starting pitchers for Lars freaking Anderson (another Jim Pete appearance!).
All that is now
All that is gone
All that's to come
And everything under the sun is in tune
But the sun is eclipsed by the moon
In classic Pink Floyd form, The Dark Side of the Moon ends with a sarcastic quip about how the moment everything is all right, an eclipse comes to ruin it.
But life for Cleveland in 2013 does not need to be that way. 2012 was our eclipse, where everything fell apart. Right now, however, the team has a marquee manager, a big-time free agent signing, a signature trade, and everything under the sun is in tune.
Here's to a better 2013!
If you want to follow Jim on Twitter, he’s @JimPiascik. If you want to e-mail him, you can do so at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to read his Master's thesis on college athletes and Twitter, you can do so here.
The 5-24 record in August would fit nicely in the Eclipse section.
Great piece, I loved it.
Thanks for this
Sums up being a Tribe fan.
You have great taste in music, PF, DT, rush. Good story too. Go tribe
Well done my friend...and Happy New Year...