If one wonders why the Tribe can’t garner extensive interest from the average fan, listen in to this casual text conversation with my editorial board. These are hardcore Indian and Cleveland sports fans. As you will see I did enter into the conversation minimally, but the other two carried the discussion. MY is a gal and BA a guy. That might make the read more interesting.
MY: Well, we need a starter bad. Do we dare use Carmona again?
BA: No on Carmona … don’t know if bad is word I would use .. either way … nothing we can do about it until off-season
MY: Tomlin has settled down but UGH
BA: Well he has let up 4 runs or more in each of his last 5 starts or something (about Tomlin pitching in game tonight)
MY: I meant tonight
BA: Yeah I know … doesn’t mean anything
CWinsJim: We do need another starter for sure. But NO to “Hernandez”
MY: WAIT….. I meant Carrasco LOL OMG not “Hernandez” lol. Is he still pitching?
MY: That was what I meant. In my defense same beginning letter LOL
BA: There is 0 reason to try Carrasco as a starter
CWinsJim: Not at this point that’s for sure. I do agree.
MY: Yeah, I think that too but Tito doesn’t use him enough anyways.
CWinsJim: Carrasco is actually very good in the bullpen
MY: For example, Tomlin struggles anymore and he should be in there. When was the last time Carrasco pitched?
BA: Zero … season is over and you two are way too hard on McAllister … Your best bet is to hope he finds it … before injury last year he easily looked like #3 starter
MY: Season isn’t over. 2 1/2 out of Wild Card
BA: Yeah ok … Kidding yourself if you think we making playoffs
CWinsJim: I do have confidence in McAllister and I do hope that he finds it. We just don’t know right now.
BA: No other option but to hope he finds it … unless you know some stud in minors.. I don’t know about that.
MY: I mean honestly, they probably won’t but they have a chance. Kluber, Bauer and Salazar could be a great 1 2 3 punch down the stretch. They have a great bullpen. If Swisher doesn’t play again we have a chance lol.
CWinsJim: Look, rather than predicting the future, let’s just let this play out. There’s no need to make any major move at this point I don’t think.
MY: Our competition is NY, Toronto, Seattle, and KC. I like House too… just hate putting an L down every 5th day
BA: So what happens …. u pitch Kluber in wild card game … say we win … likely … then he doesn’t pitch until game 2 or 3 in the next series .. same as last year .. Stars would have to all align to have a shot. .. Just unlikely
MY: Unlikely I agree but it could happen. Well, with defense like tonight they won’t make it.
BA: Unless we win the division, making the playoffs is pointless false hope. Be good from financial perspective so hope it happens.
MY: Lol, I don’t think they beat the Tigers but Price has already let in 2 runs tonight.
BA: Guess that is my point … We don’t have a valid shot at doing anything until we beat the Tigers
MY: Probably right but making it again would be nice for the young guys
BA: What young guys? Basically same ones as last year? Ramirez unlikely to be on the team when playoffs happen … if it more than 1 game, good for starters I suppose. Is pitching in the playoffs and getting rocked better than not getting there? Not sure. .. Interesting discussion anyway
BA: I think last time Carrasco pitched was tonight (after Carrasco enters game)
MY: I mean winning that Wild Card game would mean a lot since they lost it last year. Good to get that experience again.
BA: I more so think playing in an actual playoff series is valuable … anyone can win a 1 game playoff … why I think it is stupid … All about money.
BA: Was already hard enough for a Wild Card team to beat the best team in the AL … now they have to do so without their best starter beginning the series .. or at least likely not having best starter.
MY: True, I see your point.
So there you have it. The conversation starts with the Indians needing a starter. That fizzles out when we realize that there are no real options except retreads of what we have already seen. Moves to the Indian’s chances for making the playoffs and that maybe as long as Swisher doesn’t come back we have a chance. Then to a discussion of the futility of the Wild Card game and Wild Card team in the current system. Quickly transitions to a realization that if the Indians can’t beat the Tigers there isn’t much point to all of this and MAYBE it could be valuable for the Indians to just be in the playoffs as long as it is a real playoff series.
Aside from some of the humor in the early part of this post, my main reason for presenting this conversation was to try and paint a picture of the current mental state of the Cleveland Indian fan. We want to believe. We want the team to succeed. But, in the final analysis, there is no real confidence from even the most avid Indian fan that the team can compete. If that is how the avid fan feels, you can imagine what the casual fan is thinking.
So, no matter how the Indians brain trust tries to spin it and the Indians ownership claims a desire to compete, the fans have no confidence that the Indians can compete with the big boys except for a random unexpected year every now and then. The fans were totally ready to believe after two off seasons ago when ownership spent money on Swisher and Bourn. However, ownership needed to follow that up this off season. When that didn’t happen, the fans were in a “show me what you got” mode. If they had played better early, the fans would have responded. When they didn’t, you can see the result.
Most fans do commend the ownership’s commitment to signing our young players to longer term contracts a la the early and mid 90s. However, there will be a need to significantly deficit spend to get this team over the hump. Without a potent, powerful and skilled middle of the order right handed bat, the Indians will continue to beat themselves up trying to score. Without at least one more solid starter, the team will always be reaching for that ring but missing. This can be done relatively cheaply if you get really lucky. What would the Indians look like now if they had signed Nelson Cruz and Scott Kazmir in the winter? Those players could have been had with shorter term commitments so that the dollars would not be leaking out for multiple years. In my opinion you could sub Baltimore’s success with our season.
So, while all is not lost, more needs to be done to make the Indians legitimately competitive. Drafting better combined with strategic signings would certainly help.