Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Indians beat Angels 9-5

A strong offensive performance on a warm and rainy night in Cleveland carried the Tribe to a comeback win. on July 3 against the Angels.

Despite the nine runs, the story was the pitching. Zach McAlister had four shutout innings, blew up in the fifth (with the help of shoddy defense) and recovered.

The focus really should be on the continuing strong performance of the bullpen. Vinnie Pestano continues his great, unheralded setup work.  When they get them, the Tribe can hold a lead.

A decent attendance number of 29,000.  Not good for a July night, but there wasn't going to be a walk-up crowd with the questionable weather.  Not in Cleveland.

By the way, does everyone have the trouble that I do getting the Indians website to load.  It takes forever.  Yuck.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Indians lose to Angels 3-0

Another rough night for the Tribe offense as they amass five hits against Jerod Weaver and the Angels on July 2.  The warm weather hasn't perked up the Tribe bats.

A quick look at the batting averages in the lineup reveals the problem.  The first four hitters have respectable, if not great averages, but the last five are low.  The 5 through 8 spots are flirting with .200 (the Mendoza line, for those that have been around a while) and Jack Hannahan is in at .250 in the nine spot.

The team is without a true leadoff hitter, and has been for many years.  Grady Sizemore had some fine years, but his power was mostly wasted at the top of the order. 

The team wasted a fine pitching performance by Ubaldo Jimenez.  It really can't afford to do that, as he has been very inconsistent.

Where are the Ex-Indians?

The Indians went through a dry period from 2002 to 2011.  They did contend in 2007, as it turns out, a one year wonder. 

Looking at the All-Star ballot for this year, I got an inkling why.  My usual habit is to grab a ballot, choose all the Indians in the American League and flip to the National League and pick ex-Indians for the Senior Circuit. 

According to tradition, I held my nose (in some cases) and picked our current Tribe players.  When I turned to the NL, I had trouble finding any ex-Indians to choose.  Eventually I found Brandon Phillips and Ryan Ludwig.  If there are others, I missed them. 

I took a quick look at the American League:  Two or three ex-Indians there.  The All-Star ballot includes one player from each time, the projected starter from when the ballots are chosen early in the season. 

Therefore, there are only a few Indians from the last few years still starting with any other team in the Majors.  Only a few of the players are still with the Tribe, so most of players who were on hitters on the squad over the last decade are either:

  • not starting with a team
  • in the minor leagues
  • out of baseball

which explains to me why the team has been well out of contention for most of the period.  Where are guys like Ryan Garko, David Dellucci and Andy Marte?  Did I just miss Ben Francisco?

In Major League Baseball, you can’t win without talent.  And the lack of it is evident in the few ex-Indians players that are still around after just a few years.  

Monday, July 2, 2012

Tribe Attendance - The Manager Doesn't Make the Difference

It seems like a fair time to compare the last two Cleveland Indians managers:  Eric Wedge and Manny Acta.  The team's performance has been polar opposites, except they end up in the same place.

With Wedge, the team started slowly every year.  It was a constant complaint, and was used often as a reason the team's attendance was down.  The team was pretty much out of contention every year by May because of the slow starts. 

Even in 2007. the team started slow and then really put it together, compiling the best record in baseball over the last two months of the year to take the division, only to fall one game short of the World Series.

Acta's teams have been the exact opposite, starting fast, and fading quickly when the weather got warm.  We will see if they can recover this year, but the same things that led to last year's collapse are still evident.  And attendance is the lowest in the majors.

The roster is paper thin.  They have only one star player, Asdrubal Cabrera, and he plays at a position, shortstop, that isn't going to carry a team.  The other talented players, Choo and Santana, are still young and subject to long slumps.  The rest of the team is young and barely talented enough to be in the majors.

They aren't any budding Thomes or Mannys in this group.  The pitching has shown promise, but lacks much depth.  Any injuries at all on this team means that role players like Jason Donald are going to get significant playing time. 

So, Wedge vs. Acta?  Though they are different, the results are pretty much the same.