Tribe Happenings: There is a lot of blame to pass around
Some news, notes and thoughts from my Indians notebook…
So who is to blame?
The Indians went into Detroit this past weekend and were swept out of the Motor City. They played hard and were setup to win two games late, but due to the timely heroics once again from Tigers hitters they lost both games in excruciating fashion.
The hangover from that sweep carried over into Monday night’s game in Houston as they lost 3-1. The aftermath is a current four-game losing streak that has all but certainly taken the Indians out of postseason contention. They are still mathematically alive, but barring a miraculous 13-0 finish and a lot of help, they are done.
Now that the season has more or less been considered over, the immediate reaction is to look back at what went wrong and what prevented them from having the success that many wanted from them this season.
After the Indians went 92-70 last season and made the playoffs, the hope was that they would take a step forward this season, but it never happened. They battled inconsistency in the starting rotation for most of the first half of the season and also had a few wrinkles in the backend of the bullpen that they needed to iron out early on. The poor defense singlehandedly had a hand in at least a half dozen losses in the first month or so of the season and has been one of the worst units in all of baseball. The offense has all kinds of trouble thanks to a half dozen or so players underperforming along with some questionable lineup construction on a nightly basis from the manager.
All of that led to an up and down season. It wasn’t the year many hoped for, but they should still finish over .500 and the future certainly looks bright with a good, young rotation to go along with a solid to above average bullpen and a lineup with three established stars and a few other good role players. I wrote last week how this was a transition year, a season where they had so many question marks that needed answered and mostly were answered. I evenpredicted before the season that they would take a slight step back and go 84-78.
So in the end, this team did not really disappoint in my eyes as the season played out pretty much as expected. But that doesn’t mean that we should accept a .500 or slightly above finish. It means that the team did not do enough to build off of last season’s playoff showing.
So who is to blame for the team taking a step back this season? There are a lot of candidates:
The Starting Rotation
In the first half of the season the starting rotation ranked 13th in the American League in ERA (4.49), 2nd in K/9 (8.6) and 11th in WAR (6.5). They actually pitched much better than their ERA suggests as they had a 3.51 xFIP which ranked 1st in the league, but the unit still underwhelmed thanks to their inconsistent outings, inability to consistently pitch deep into games and several changes to the makeup of the rotation. They found their groove in the second half as they currently are 3rd in ERA (2.98), 1st in K/9 (8.8), 2nd in WAR (8.0) and 1st in xFIP (3.18), a huge reason for their second half turnaround.
It is hard to fault the rotation for the team’s struggles this season considering how well they have pitched of late, but they certainly had a hand in the sluggish start to their season and 47-47 record at the All Star break. They are the least to blame, but some better outings earlier in the season may have saved some overuse of their top pen arms who have struggled a little late in the season.
The bullpen was a good unit in the first half of the season ranking 3rd in the AL in ERA (3.08), 4th in K/9 (8.8), 8th in WAR (1.5) and 6th in xFIP (3.61). They also had 11 blown saves (8th) and a 69% save percentage (8th). But they were also 2nd in innings pitched (309.1) where by comparison the Tigers pen threw the least amount of innings (251.2). That heavy workload was a byproduct of the inconsistency in the rotation in the first half and a defense which only made things worse.
The heavy amount of work in the first half looks like it finally caught up with them in the second half as the bullpen is 9th in ERA (3.39), 7th in K/9 (8.4), 11th in WAR (0.6) and 7th in xFIP (3.48). The performance measures only slipped a little, but it is in the moments that really count where they took a step back as they lead the AL in blown saves in the second half (11) and have the worst save percentage (45%). Going strictly by results and performance in the second half alone, the bullpen arguably is the most to blame – especially when you consider they singlehandedly blew four winnable games over the past two weeks alone.
The defense has been awful all season. They have 111 errors and .980 fielding percentage this season, and there are several other misplays or missed routine plays that were not recorded as errors or plays a capable defender should make that were not made and affected the outcome of games. Defense can be hard to quantify, but looking at things from a statistical standpoint via the advanced metrics at Fangraphs, they Indians are dead last at 15th in the AL in UZR (-65.9), 14th in UZR/150 (-9.3) and 15th in defensive runs saved (-74).
No matter how you slice it the defense has been nothing short of abysmal this season. While other cross sections of the team have struggled at times this season, the defense has been the one constant all year which has hurt them. The combination of errors to go along with their inability to make a play on elusive groundballs that an average defender would make has really hurt the pitching staff and ultimately their ability to win consistently. This by far is the one area of the team that needs a massive upgrade this offseason.
The lineup has struggled with consistency all season as they will show spurts of good play, but often struggle to sustain their performance. They never really got hot for an extended period of time like a lineup will often do at some point.
In the first half the lineup scored 4.4 runs per game and had the 5th most runs scored in the league (417). They ranked 7th in batting average (.256), 7th in on-base percentage (.323), 8th in isolated power (.141) and 9th in WAR (9.7). In the second half they are down to 3.8 runs per game and are 10th in runs scored (211). They are 6th in batting average (.253), 5th in on-base percentage (.313), 9th in isolated power (.131) and 7th in WAR (5.9).
The cross section by halves makes the lineup look not too bad, but looking it over the whole season you see an average to slightly below average group as they are 7th in runs scored (628) and 10th in WAR (15.6). Injuries have no doubt had an effect on the performance of the lineup, but they had way too many players like Jason Kipnis,Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher and others have down years that it was tough to overcome. This is another area of the team that needs some significant retooling in the offseason.
Manager Terry Francona is a heck of a manager and has won two world championships, but even he had a negative impact on things as well. No one will ever question the way Francona handles his team on and off the field, and while he does tend to overuse his top pen arms he does a pretty good job of managing a pitching staff. That said, there are some things he does with the over reliance and allegiance to his veterans or with the construction of the lineup which to me has negatively impacted a few games this season.
Francona’s undying loyalty to the Ryan Raburn’s and Jason Giambi’s of the world or going after veterans likeChris Dickerson in-season and David Murphy in the offseason to me is something that has hurt the team a little this season. It takes some time for a young player to get a legit chance with him as he has refused to give someone like Jesus Aguilar an extended look this season – a guy who could potentially fill one of their biggest needs which is right-handed power. He’s given some looks to other young players like Jose Ramirez and countless pitchers, but in those cases he was almost forced to play those guys after Asdrubal Cabrera was traded and how thin the Indians are in the pitching department when it comes to suitable alternatives.
Francona has also put together some run adverse lineups. He had the struggling Jason Kipnis hitting fifth until recently, he keeps putting low on-base guys and hacker types like Jose Ramirez and Mike Aviles in the two-hole and he has had Yan Gomes and Lonnie Chisenhall hitting in the sixth through eighth spot in the order for most of the season. Are his options limited? Yes, the Indians have few alternatives to those spots in the order and they have other spots where players are underperforming, but a lot more thought can go into the makeup of the lineup than he has done this season.
There is no rule that says a middle infielder with little pop has to hit second in the order, but that’s what Francona continues to do. There is no rule that says a former All Star has to hit in the top five spots in the order, but that is what he has done with Kipnis for most of this season. It just comes down to his over-the-top loyalty to his players, something that works for and against him and is something he needs to get a little better at balancing.
The Coaching Staff
It is hard to place much blame on the rest of the coaching staff. Pitching coach Mickey Callaway has been unbelievable with the job he has done with the pitchers the last two seasons. He is a gem and a guy the Indians may have a hard time keeping in the not too distant future as teams begin to consider him as a managerial candidate.Sandy Alomar Jr and the rest of the staff have also done a solid job, though the one guy who could have some blame thrown his way is hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo because of the struggles and inconsistency in the lineup this season, but he does not appear to be in any danger of losing his job this offseason.
The Front Office and Ownership
Coming off a playoff appearance, the front office really did not go out of their way to put the team over the top going into this season. Yes, I am fully aware of the limitations they were working with from a payroll standpoint and they only had so many available dollars to spend last offseason. I wrote about it countless times last offseason. It was the unfortunate reality after their spending spree the previous offseason. But it is hard to sell winning when you let two of your top three starting pitchers and one of your top pen arms leave via free agency and do little to replace them.
Now, obviously the Indians believed in their young arms and that belief is paying off and they have been proven right; however, while they went through the growing pains of a young staff early this season it may have ultimately hurt their chances to make the postseason this year. They inexplicably let Aaron Harang go for nothing this spring and could have really used him early in the season while they sorted things out with the rotation.
But the problem once again lies with the inability to get that last player or two to put them over the top. It happened after the 2005 and 2007 seasons, and it happened once again last offseason. The sore spot right now continues to be their inability to find that last key offensive player, that linchpin to the lineup which brings it all together. Instead, they once again tried to spackle the lineup together by finding a rebound candidate in David Murphy – a player who is an average player and has little impact potential for a lineup in need of an impact.
The Murphy signing was the Indians only real big move in the offseason. There is no question he has helped the culture of the team within the locker room, but his signing did nothing to improve the lineup from a year ago and is still a questionable move considering this team’s ongoing issues when facing left-handed pitching. Meanwhile, the likes of Jose Abreu, Nelson Cruz and Mike Morse were right-handed bats that got cheap or fair deals that would have fit better into the Indians lineup. So even if the free agents were less than compelling, there were certainly options available in the free agent market.
The front office followed up their inactivity in the offseason with a lot of inactivity at the trade deadline as well. In their defense, there was not a lot available in terms of players that could help, but I think many expected a lot more than the Indians simply subtracting the likes of Asdrubal Cabrera and Justin Masterson from the team for a few prospects. It was not a banner year for the front office and they should be under a lot of pressure to make some considerable changes this offseason either to change the makeup of the lineup or to be aggressive and go after that last big piece in the lineup.
In the end, as you can see, there is all sorts of blame to go around. Every facet of the team failed them at some point this season, some more than others.
It would be hard to blame Indians outfielder Michael Brantley for anything this season. He is probably the MVP of the team this season or at worst the co-MVP along with Yan Gomes and Corey Kluber. His emergence should help lock up the three-hole in the Indians lineup for the foreseeable future. That said, he has tailed off in the second half of the season in the power and run production department.
Check out Brantley’s first half and second half numbers below:
Brantley has been remarkably consistent just from an approach standpoint all year putting up great at bats. He’s been the same hitter all season just from the standpoint of batting average, on-base ability and making consistent contact. But the one thing you notice is the dip in his power, which has resulted in a drop in his run production which in turn has had a negative effect on the Indians lineup in the second half.
As far as run production goes, Brantley carried the team offensively in the first half of the season while the likes of Carlos Santana and Yan Gomes have done much more of the heavy lifting in the second half. Brantley is still hitting for some power as his doubles-rate is nearly identical in the first and second half, but it is the absence of the long ball from him in the second half which has had an impact on the team’s ability to generate runs.
I don’t think anyone ever expected Brantley would wind up with around 30 homers this season even after the pace he was on earlier this season. He’s more than exceeded expectations from a power standpoint this season and looks to have established himself as a guy who should hit around 20 homers a season – 15-17 on the low end and 22-25 on the high end. But looking at the way his home run and RBI production has tailed off in the second half even while he is still hitting at the same .320+ clip shows how locked in he was in the first half with the power stoke – and maybe that he was a little lucky.
The Indians are not going to admit the season is done – and they shouldn’t - so changes to the structure of the lineup probably won’t happen for a few more games. But there are a few things I would like to see these final two weeks of the season.
First off, I would like to see them back off the innings for Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Danny Salazar and T.J. House the rest of the way. I am not worried too much about Carlos Carrasco since his innings are low considering he was in the bullpen for most of the season, but I’d like them to limit the use of the other four starters down the stretch and not push them too far in their outings. I’d even just consider a six-man rotation the rest of the way so thatZach McAllister can get a few outings to improve his standing not only with the team but as a potential trade chip in the offseason.
Secondly, I’d like to see the Indians play Jesus Aguilar an extensive amount of games the rest of the way. Yes, he may only get 50 or so at bats these final 12 games, which is not a lot to take anything away from good or bad in a performance due to the small sample size, but a strong finish could be a confidence builder for him and give the organization a better feel for him as a player at this level and potentially make them re-think some things with the lineup for next season.
Last, I’d like to see the Francona continue to mix in C.C. Lee in late inning situations, let Kyle Crockett and Nick Hagadone pitch longer in their outings and not be so limited to just matchups with left-handers, and I’d also mix inAustin Adams more. The likes of Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw, Scott Atchison and Mark Rzepczynski have been used and abused this season with their workload, so I would really limit their use down the stretch to save their arms a little and to also get some looks at some other arms that could factor very heavily into the mix next season.
Ryan Raburn hyperextended his knee on Saturday and has been out of the lineup since. The knee has not improved so the Indians are considering sending him back to Cleveland to have an MRI to find out what is wrong. At this point, his status for the rest of the season looks very iffy. … Former Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera is hitting .236 with 5 HR, 15 RBI and .737 OPS in 39 games since being traded to the Nationals. ... Former Indians starting pitcher Justin Masterson is 2-3 with a 7.53 ERA in eight starts since being traded to the Cardinals.
Follow Tony and the Indians Baseball Insider on Twitter @TonyIBI. Also, his new book the 2014 Cleveland Indians Baseball Insider which profiles the Indians' Top 100 Prospects and more is available for sale.
I love McAllister throwing 98 mph for 1-2 innings out of the pen. I think he can be our version of Wade Davis and that means you don't have to go out and get another bullpen arm, IMO
I totally agree with you on Kipnis. He has not earned his PT in the field or at the plate and shouldn't be starting.
As for Kipnis, I know many hope the Indians take him off second or reduce his time at the position, but I don't see that happening. They just gave him $50 and they will be patient with letting him snap out of his funk. Now, if the problems continue deep into next season....I think a change is considered.
OTOH, he's hitting .153 leading off an inning and .206 with nobody on base.
That's about the widest discrepancy I can imagine. Maybe he concentrates better with runners on, or maybe he just gets better pitches to hit, but the guy has been productive this year in his most important at-bats. He has the ability to be patient with runners on base and lay off or foul off marginal pitches until he gets one he can handle.
If Raburn hadn't injured his wrist in spring training, we would have had a very productive RF platoon.
Along with Masterson's and Swisher's knee problems, that's mainly what kept the Indians out of the playoffs. We could have survived sub-par seasons by Bourn, Kipnis, and Asdrubal if Masterson, Swisher, and Raburn had just stayed healthy and duplicated their 2013 seasons.
I've been wondering if there is a possibility they'll make a play for Yasmani Tomas. It seems unlikely, but if they are convinced he could be a star...maybe. They could try to compete with the field and offer a 6 - 7 yr deal. It don't think that's the way to go, and they'd never take that kind of risk after the Bourn and Swisher signings. However, they could create a unique opportunity for him and themselves if they signed him to a 3 or 4 yr deal that allowed him to become a FA at the end of the contract. He'd be 27-28 when he hit FA w/ potential at another huge deal. I don't see it happening, but it would be a creative option for the Tribe and Tomas.
However it is done - the team needs to get less "left handed".
I know there is much hate on Aviles - but how many of you guys saw his diving stop and throw to save a hit last night? IMO Kipnis does not make that play. If KIpnis starts like last year, and J Ram starts at SS, then some serious platoon time is needed for Kip.
Francona gave KIpnis every opportunity to snap out of it this year. If Kip does not find himself - he needs to be treated as any other player - he needs to earn his PT.
I prefer the Indians try to get in on Tomas sweepstakes.
Awesome game by Carrasco. He just topped Kluber outing from last night.
I appreciate you bringing some balance to the discussion about Murphy and the Indians' offseason. It seems as though we have a lot of ppl who want to live in hindsight and it's extremely unfair and unfortunate.
If the "real" Kip and Chis are the ones that appeared in 2012 and 2014, and after the ASB this year, then they need to be moved. I've consistently supported Chis, but it's starting more and more to look like the real Chis is the 220./ 280 player who Ks a lot, and not the terror at the plate of the amazing 6 week stretch.
Goes without saying that Raburn and Big G need to be DFA'd released, not resigned...whatever, and that Aviles and Murphy need to be traded. Of the two, Murphy is far more productive, but he still needs to go.
Draft and follow classes are always going to be difficult to evaluate.. The latest version has some hope and some promise. The top two picks (Zimmer and Sheffield) I liked a LOT.. Not so much on the third pick.. I think Mike Papi has a lot of Beau Mills in him.. and should have been passed on in favor of one of the arms the Tribe desperately needs to be developing. (Spencer Adams, Nick Burdi, Matt Imhof and Sean Reid-Foley as examples of arms and I also like Jacob Gatewood, a SS, where Papi was picked). By passing on them, the Indians passed on theee most important and valuable commodity taken from this draft.... but who to pick is an argument for another day/thread..
The results by ALL teams from the Rule IV draft are ALL miserable. Every single team fails to the tune of less than 1 player in 7 selected EVER makes a meaningful contribution to the club that drafts them. EVERY TEAM.. Saying the Indians are somehow special and immune to this.. is at best disingenuous.
Could/would Nelson Cruz help this club.. this year.. Sure, if the Indians were locks to contend.. That was far from a certainty.. and remains so after the 2014 campaign. There are a lot fewer questions coming out of the 2014 season.. A lot fewer.. Nelson Cruz?.. he's available again. but it won't be for $ 8 MM.. it will be for 10 times that.. over a much longer period of time.. Being on the wrong side of 30.. and being a FA.. doesn't make signing Nelson Cruz a better option for the Indians & that's the truth..
One thing to note on a Murphy platoon.....he was brought in to rake against righties. He was a career .280 hitter with a .816 OPS against them in his career coming into this season. Yet this season he has hit just .267 with a .717 OPS against them. I think this is a guy who is sliding. Two down years in a row. Three in his last four. He is also a -0.4 WAR player which means he is playing just below replacement level.
That's a Championship lineup if everyone plays to their abilities
I wonder what the Rockies would want though
That's hindsight, no way any of us fans could have known the SP would carry the team the way it has the second half.
I don't argue that he'd been a difference maker, I'm saying that he wasn't an option. The Tribe liked the draft class - bad track record or not - and were not willing to blow a draft pk for him. That is in fact history... Not opinion. Many teams weren't willing to spend the pick to sign him or Morales and Drew for that matter.
In the interview CA did with Jim Bowden, CA specifically mentioned that he wanted a complimentary back to go with Raburn. This might be a case of giving mixed messages or things changing. If the plan was to have Murphy play every single day then the decision is very flawed because Murphy is no longer an everyday player.
players better range or is it all natural ability? I am sure natural ability is most important, but how much better could a player be with extensive training, i.e. how much could he improve his range factor?
I disagree on passing just to take a first round pick. First off, look at this FO record for drafting. Its ugly even if last year was a good draft. Also, we don't know if Zimmer will ever make the major leagues, he is a "prospect". We saw last year when Mark Reynolds was red-hot for 6 weeks he carried the offense. Cruz could have done that this year, especially while this team is struggling to score runs. He also would have taken the pressure off the other guys. There is no doubt in my mind, Cruz would have gotten us to the playoffs with this pitching. Maybe Zimmer helps in 6 years, but I want to win now.
Thanks, that's completely how I interpreted it. He's a guy I have liked for yrs, but not an impact bat. He could be an everyday 3b at some point, but as you said, probably June or later. Fortunately, he will be 23 next all next season - he's still young and should have some development with the bat left. His defense would play right now at the big league level so that's not an issue.
Tony seems to forget that Murphy was suppose to be in CONJUNCTION with Raburn as a platoon. The problem was that Raburn didn't produce, Murphy played too much and Tito refused to give the other guys a chance. It's poor decision making by TITO, not the FO and the fact that Raburn didn't do what he did last year. At the beginning of the year you could've projeced about 25 HR and 100 RBIs beteween Murphy and Raburn. Murphy did his part how about Raburn. It wasn't a poor signing at all.
Idk, Tony mentioned firing Van Burkleo and then mininizes the role that Tito has had with over working his bullpen, not giving others a chance in the starting lineup, rotation and in the bullpen, poor lineup construction. Tony, doesn't want to fire Tito with all that but hinted last year he wanted to fire Van Burkleo. We need some consistency because this is anything but consistent
Great column, Tony! And you made a great point in that Santana has been an elite offensive performer since moving to first base, not to mention his defense there has been very good. With a full season at 1B next year his numbers should be even better.
Gomes has had an incredible offensive season. I would have him DH more next year to rest him and let Perez catch more often. I would give Aguilar a real shot at DH. Move Chiz to right field and put Urshela at 3rd. That improves the defense and adds two right-handed power bats to balance the lineup.
Use the savings from Masterson's and Cabrera's contracts (approx. $20 million) to get a right-handed power bat in left field. Move Brantley to center. Bench Murphy, Raburn, Bourn, and Swisher. Yeah, that will be very tough to see tens of millions rotting on the bench. But if Francona is too loyal to aging, injury-prone, unproductive veterans, Antonetti needs to step in and make those decisions, even if it means releasing some guys and eating their contracts.
.220 BA, .272 OBP, .611 OPS
For comparisons sake: Kipnis: .230, .295, .610
Chisenhall has been as bad as in his past 3 seasons after the break. His first half this season is the outlier.
I'd try to deal both this offseason
I think the Indians did the right thing by not losing a pk to sign a rental. This team was not on the brink of the WS this past offseason. If we are honest about where the club was, this was a transition yr from the start. I've heard sometimes you take a step back to take a step forward, I think that applies here. The emergence of Gomes, Brantley, and to some degree Chisenhall. Prospects developing... Bauer, Ramirez, Crockett, Holt, Aguilar, Adams, Price, Perez, Hagadone, House. The rotation seemingly coming together...Kluber, Bauer, Carrasco, Salazar and House. The bullpen... Allen, Shaw, Atchison, etc.
Overall, a very good season and a lot of reason to be excited about next yr. Obviously, some moves are coming. I think if the pitching holds up, another bat or two are added, starting pitching depth and another backend bullpen are added this team could be AL Central contenders for several yrs to come.
If the Indians sign Nelson Cruz... they don't draft and sign Brad Zimmer..and probably not Justus Sheffield..
The performance of FA's for the Indians on a one year deals like the one for Cruz says "lose" for the Indians..
It's not like the draft and sign guys are vastly superior.. either way
David Murphy.. This might come as a shock to some, but, I was involved in an argument (yes.. me) regarding the value of David Murphy via projected results.. The foil (some stat-geek named Filihok) was convinced that my projection was way off.. I suggested that David Murphy, a life time .270/.330/.425 hitter would be more of a .290/.350/.450 hitter AT progressive field (and only progressive field). This was based on a theory best summed as "Home Cookin" or horses for courses. The thought was, David Murphy needed to play every day the Indians were home.. period...and he'd hang those kinds of numbers.. As the end of the season approaches, he's not far off those numbers... IOW..he's performing as expected for a $ 6 MM a year veteran. David Murphy is part of the solution.. He'd be more of a solution if he could hit better away from Progressive Field.. IDK why he can't.. but he can't...
Overall, in MLB, runs are off about 22 to 28 per team, on average or about 4 % to 8 %. The increase in the use of defensive shifts.. the strike zone being a weee bit bigger.. the overall velocity of the pitching staffs (mainly bullpens) being higher..etc.. all contribute to a slow down in runs scored. The Indians are not the only team not scoring enough runs.. The Indians starting pitching, having been so good, has kept them in just about every game save for two short & painful stints.. the west coast trip in April and the Tigers back to back series..
Claiming the Indians missed on Nelson Cruz or Jose Abreu is true. Michael Morse is marginally better than David Murphy without the injury history.. Call it a miss as well.. CA's crystal ball was unable to project that Abreu would become the game changer that he is. He's an incredible talent..best young talent in the entirety of Chicago-land...
The use of limited resources to acquire free agents has never been a strong suit of the Indians.. and shouldn't be.. The Indians have resources in the form of young talented middle infielders that can and should be used to acquire the pieces that will fulfill the teams needs going forward.. In the end, it's the only way this club can compete.
And yes.. that does include Francisco Lindor..
Brantley, Santana and Gomes are a good core in this lineup. Chisenhall is probably close to that core too. And obviously Kipnis when he is right......but they have a lot to do to get this thing figured out. Guys like Murphy are wasteful signings. No reason to pay that kind of guy, an average to below average player, $12 million over two years. He by all means is not the problem with this lineup, I know that (he's had a solid year), but the point is it is signings like his which don't really help.
The front office again dropped the ball at the deadline, acquiring only a utility infielder (like they do every year). This team desperately needed a bat as everyone could see Swish was a mess. Speaking of, according to Eduardo Perez (his former teammate), he couldn't believe how out of shape Swish looked coming out of spring training as it was clear he hadn't seen the weight room in quite some time. Way to hold this guy accountable for his big contract. Talk about stealing money, that was very Keith Hernandez like what he did this season. I am also seeing the same thing with Kipnis. He looks like he has a double-chin already. I am so tired of hearing the "pressure of the contract". They knew what expectations were when they signed it.
Finally, the awful drafts under the Mirabelli era hurt us here as those players should have been at AAA or not have a little experience, yet no one in his drafts made it that far. How bad is depth when you have to trade for Dickerson and Shuck? Yet, Mirabelli gets promoted to VP anyway because he is a friend of the Front Office. No one ever says much about that and to me it is one of the biggest crimes of this organization.
It is important that Santana is miscast as a cleanup hitter because the Indians have no other suitable alternatives. Well, they may have an alternative in Gomes but Francona refuses to put him higher up in the order. Santana would be an ideal two-hole hitter. He's an elite presence in the lineup and one of the top 25-35 hitters in the game.
Bourn is the key to creating $ flexibility next year. Way overpriced but has some value. Must be traded. Shouldn't be a problem to replace his weak offensive numbers. Swish is untradeable I'm afraid.
Want to see naquin given a fair shot in spring.
Raburn has to be let go. Like aviles but avg bat and glove and we'll save a few bucks so he's gone.
Kipnis to OF or trade. Jram to 2d when lindor moves up. Move Murphy too.
Want some youth a leadoff guy and a middle of order bat. That's all!!
Then Indians aren't the only team that missed a chance at JD Martinez. I was hoping they'd claim him, but obviously, for whatever reason they didn't. I'm sure it may have had something to do with the roster make up at the time he went thru waivers.
I think its pretty obvious that Murphy was not the problem this year. I don't see a problem with that signing--we needed an outfielder and (besides Cruz) that was the best option, by far. The problem w RF was that he didn't have a viable RH platoon partner. Thinking that Raburn could be that was terrible decision and he was a disaster from the get go.
Add in non/low-performers Swisher, Kipnis, Cabrera, Bourn, Axford, Masterson (and Santana for a third of the year), and its really amazing that this team is not buried in cellar. That's why I think that Francona did a great job, but I agree that his use of the BP has been very questionable, most of the guys were totally gassed weeks ago.
I give the FO a negative rating for not being more aggressive in the offseason and letting Kazmir go, but give them credit for getting something for Masterson and Cabrera.
September 16, 2014 - 4:29 PM EDT
I also think you are way too hard on Murphy. In over 100 less at bats, 20 less homers and not hitting cleanup he only has 24 less rbi than IBI's favorite switch hitter. The Tribe has a cleanup hitter with 100 walks and over 100 strikeouts. That's over 200 at bats without putting the ball in play and it's hard to drive in runs like that when you only have 100 hits. The Tribe really needs to find some hitters."
Murphy was not the solution but he sure as heck was not the problem. The key problems were plain and simple those getting the big bucks who failed to deliver. ACab, Masterson, Kipnis, Swisher and to a lesser extent Bourn and Rayburn. ACab and Masterson are gone. Kipnis in a fair competition next spring might have to make the team as a utility player (who makes interesting Tweets).
I have said several name players need to go. We need to replace left handed stiffs with anyone who can hit .270 from the right hand side.
What flexibility does Kipnis have? I do not see it. I see Chiz as a RF possibility because he has a great arm. That said, an all left handed outfield next year is unacceptable. And can anyone explain adding another lefty OF in Shuck?
Is Justin Masterson days as a starter over? Would he more beneficial toward the back end of a bullpen going forward? He definitely ruined his FA value this off season. Based on history I dont see him getting more than 1 yr contract at best this off season. Looks like Cabrera might have the same problem. I.m glad the Indians were able to get some value for them at the trading deadline in which I do give credit to the FO.
if i am Dolan, i am furious at the front office as to how this season has shaken out. for years the Dolans have taken serious heat about not spending money, they finally give the green light to do so and it ends up blowing up in their face due to the outrageous contracts given to swisher and bourn.
as a fan, i agree the team is close and there is definitely a solid 3 year window, but i do not put any trust in the front office to make the appropriate moves to get them over the edge.
I also wonder if you see a role for Zach Walters?