Tribe digging a deep hole without a ladder
After being pummeled by the Boston Red Sox in a three game sweep at home, the Cleveland Indians sit in last place in the AL Central, proud owners of a 5-9 record.
While it is too early -- way too early -- to hit the panic button, there are some warning signs that the Indians better watch just how far they fall out of the race, even in April.
In the short sampling we've had to judge this team, it seems the club is not built for a sustained run, due to the lack of consistent starting pitching that is required for such a feat. The inconsistencies on the hill are well documented…an ace without a face, Jeckyl and Hyde impersonations by the entire staff, and basically no go-to-guys in the rotation. All the more reason this team needs to HIT.
Along with many other prognosticators, I looked at the addition of Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher and Mark Reynolds as a huge upgrade, not to mention the potential continued development of young veterans like Michael Brantley, Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis, which together should create a pretty potent offensive club.
But to this point, injuries and ineffectiveness have rendered the lineup impotent.
Bourn was flourishing as the catalyst at the top of the order, and Santana and Brantley were showing signs of becoming the kind of productive players the brain trust was hoping for. So the Indians were mustering enough offense to overcome some poor pitching, even as Swisher and Asdrubal Cabrera struggled to get going in the early stages.
Then the wheels came off.
Both Santana and Bourn went out with injuries, young slugger Lonnie Chisenhall has reverted to his old free-swinging self and Cabrera is still in a funk as the Indians have struggled, scoring three runs or less in eight of their first 14 contests. Oh, and add to that their defense stinks.
Bad hitting and poor pitching does not a winning streak make.
That being said, they've done what they have with very little contribution from the two through four spots in the lineup (Cabrera, Kipnis & Swisher). At least fans can look forward to an offensive improvement somewhere along the line.
But how far down the line can it be? Because, even as it is very early in a long season, the Tribe cannot afford to play so poorly that they get eight to ten games off the pace, due to a solid division and their own spotty pitching will make it very challenging to force their way back into the mix.
The season is still young, and any time you have the kind of turnover in personnel the way this club has you would expect it to take a little time to gel. While I think the pitching situation will play itself out, and the hitters will hit, I would hate to see the Indians get in a position where they need to make a sustained run of any extent.
Because let's face it, the Indians can be good, but it's unlikely that they'll be great.
Its the pitching plus the lack of development in the young guys (who maybe werent as good as we thought) that are doing this team in.
I always viewed this rebuild as a multi-year project, but didn't expect them to be this bad.