So before last night’s date with King Felix Hernandez, beleaguered Indians manager Manny Acta and team trainer Lonnie Soloff met with the media. I am sure they had a blast discussing all of the great news they had to share (sarcasm font needed). In all seriousness, there is legitimately nothing positive going on in and around the Indians organization right now.
On the field the team has become an abject disaster, bereft of an offense while not knowing if their starting pitcher on any given day will go eight innings or make it out of the third. They have exactly three relievers they can count on. It’s enough to give any manager agita.
Acta and Soloff sat there and told the media that oft-injured CF Grady Sizemore had yet another set back and will not play in 2012. Apparently he has been experiencing right knee soreness during his rehab. In other news, the sky is blue, water is wet, and the Ubaldo Jimenez trade has been a failure.
“It’s sad,” Acta said of Sizemore’s injuries. “I won’t call it disappointing. I’m just sad for the human being that he is, and the type of player that he is. Especially for me, because one of the things that attracted me the most to this job was Grady Sizemore, being able to have a player that was going to help me win ballgames by himself.”
This is not on Sizemore either. The guy gave the Indians everything he could, but his body is just broken. Yet GM Chris Antonetti decided it was a great idea to sign him as “Plan A” in the outfield, give him $5 million that he wouldn’t have sniffed anywhere else, and did so IN OCTOBER. It is not like he had any other suitors who were offering more than incentive laden one-year deals. The prudent thing to do would have been to wait until January or February and then make a decision on Grady. Trust me, he was still going to be out there and if he left, so what. It has been proven that he wasn’t going to be ready.
It was the first in the long line of dominos that caused the 2012 season to become a train wreck.
Next of Soloff’s list was announcing that starting pitcher Josh Tomlin, who had been sent to the bullpen and eventually to the disabled list with elbow pain, will indeed need Tommy John surgery and will miss the 2013 season.
“In Josh’s case,” Soloff explained, “dating back to his time in junior college up until last August, he’s probably had four or five episodes of ligament sprains. He’s done well in each instant over the short-term.
“Even at the present point, it’s not disruptive. It’s just to the point where it’s lengthened enough where it becomes what is termed ‘insufficient.’ An insufficient ligament begins to just not do its job.”
I feel sorry for Acta. I really do. If you have ever crossed paths with the man or seen him at a public speaking engagement, you know what a terrific and impressive guy he is. He is smart, witty, and has the right kind of demeanor to manage in the big leagues. By all accounts, his players love him. But after last night’s 5-1 lackluster loss in Seattle, the team’s seventh straight and 20th in their last 24 games, I just don’t know how Manny is going to survive this.
You can see Acta desperately trying anything to win. He’s been trotting out Brent Lillibridge every day in a different spot, while giving his regulars like Jason Kipnis, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Michael Brantley “rest days” as the DH. He’s tried Jason Donald in left and at third. He’s moved Ezequiel Carrera to the leadoff spot one day, and put him back down to ninth the next. Then last night, when he actually got a quality start from Roberto Hernandez, he pulled the plug too quickly.
The score was tied 1-1 in the seventh. Fauxberto was in the midst of pitching a gem and matching Felix Hernandez pitch for pitch, but then he walked Michael Saunders to open the frame. Kyle Seager followed with a single, just the second hit Fauxberto had given up in the game. The first was Eric Thames’s solo homer in the fifth. But with two on and nobody out, John Jaso laced a ground-ruled double just out of the reach of Lillibridge in left-center to give the Mariners a 2-1 lead.
Fauxberto had thrown just 72 pitches and given up three hits. It is not as if Acta has stellar arms in the pen to call on in this situation, yet out of the dugout he came, calling for righty Esmil Rogers. While Rogers has the power arm and Acta was looking for a strikeout, Hernandez had been great. All Manny was doing was making an attempt to stop the bleeding and try to win the game. But no matter what moves he makes these days, they seem to backfire.
He clearly was over thinking this decision, especially considering the failed squeeze bunt in the top of the seventh with the lead run on third with one out.
“I thought it was the perfect count,” Acta said of the squeeze. “No guts, no glory. You’ve got to try to do something.”
Rogers came on to face Jesus Montero. Did he get the K he needed? Did he get a ground ball against a drawn-in infield? Have you been watching the Indians over the last month?
Montero tattooed a three-run bomb to left-center field. All Acta could do in the dugout was sit there and shake his head while close to 40,000 Mariners fans in their mustard yellow shirts screamed for more. The 20o televisions sets in Cleveland still tuned into STO all clicked right off.
“The ball took off so quick,” Montero said. “I was like, ‘Where’s the ball?’ And the ball was in the stands.”
The Mariners and Indians are two teams going in opposite directions. Seattle has won seven straight, 15 of 16 at home, and are 25-13 since the All Star break. The Tribe has lost seven straight, 17 of 18 on the road, and are 10-28 since the All Star break. These are vintage Eric Wedge and Manny Acta seasons. Wedge is known for slow starts and strong finishes. Acta’s teams the last two seasons in Cleveland have done the exact opposite.
But again, what is Acta supposed to do with this roster?
At least those of us who for some reason are masochists and still care enough (too much?) to stay up late and watch these west coast swing games, today’s Tribe/Mariners tilt takes place at 3:40 PM. If Zach McAllister can’t come through with a victory, then the losing streak would reach eight games with the New York Yankees coming to town for a three-game set over the weekend.
In a word….YIKES.