August 1, 2014

It Should Never Be Like This Here In The AL Central

In case you turned your eyes away from the train wreck that has become the baseball season in Cleveland, let me update you on what has transpired.

The Chicago White Sox, The Detroit Tigers, and the Indians have all spent turns in first place this year. It seems almost unfathomable that the Tribe was in first for even a day, let alone 40, but it actually did happen. That kind of tells you all you need to know about the White Sox and the Tigers, doesn’t it?

From the now infamous July 26th Indians comeback win against Justin Verlander and the Tigers to now, the Tribe has been an irrelevant laughingstock. On the other side of it, the White Sox and the Tigers have been “trading punches” in their quest to win the division. I say “trading punches” in gest of course, because neither team seems to want to be the representative in the playoffs. Frankly, neither team deserves it.

This weekend essentially tells you all you need to know about these two teams.

The White Sox, held a two-game lead over the Tigers and headed to Anaheim for a series with the Angels. Not only did they get swept, they were borderline non-competitive, scoring five runs in three games. This came after back to back losses in Kansas City, including a shutout at the hands of the great Bruce Chen.  That’s five straight losses for the collapsing Sox.

Then there are those Motor City Kitties with their slow pitch softball lineup and ginormous payroll. They are easily the most disappointing AL team west of the Boston Red Sox. Their schedule the rest of the way is nothing but Minnesota and Kansas City. Talk about a layup, right?

After taking down the Twins 8-0 Saturday behind Doug Fister, the Tigers knew they could take over sole possession of first place with a couple of home wins in Sunday’s day/night doubleheader.

However, the Twins thrashed Max Scherzer 10-4 in the afternoon tilt, and then failed to score for the last nine innings of a 2-1 extra inning loss in the nightcap. Best of all was watching closer Jose Valverde take the loss after giving up the go-ahead RBI single to ex-Indian Jamey Carroll.

Neither team seems to want to take this sad sack division. Neither team even deserves to be in the playoffs. And you know something, it makes me crazy.

I’ve said many times that the best thing that former owner Dick Jacobs ever did was demand that the Indians be moved into the newly formed Central division, away from the Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, and Orioles. Almost 20 years later, nothing has changed – the Central is the weakest division in baseball. You don’t need much to compete. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at how the Indians of the past two seasons have hung around the top through the All-Star break with minimal offense and and a bottom five payroll. Yet here we are, watching the White Sox and Tigers trip over themselves to the finish and the Indians have the worst record in the AL.

That’s what’s so frustrating. We all had high hopes for the season and if the pitching had sustained itself, they could still be right there with the Tigers and the Sox. Instead, we are looking at possible changes with the Manager, General Manager, and the team President. That is not even mentioning the fact that the Indians have no top tier, ready to contribute high-minors players ready to join the fray next year. The “influx” of talent this September looks like a 4A convention (sorry, Russ Canzler does not excite me. If he were a real prospect, Tampa Bay doesn’t DFA him in Spring).

There are holes in at least three rotation spots, first base, left field, DH, and soon to be right field when Shin-Soo Choo is dealt this winter.

It shouldn’t be like this. This division is unbelievably winnable, even with a low payroll. Watching the Sox and Tigers only re-affirms to me that their must be sweeping changes in the front office. Fan support is at an all-time low. Disdain for ownership is at its peak. Most people just falt out don’t even care anymore.

It should never be like this when you are in the AL Central. Never.

 

  • DK45

    For the record, my understanding is that Dick Jacobs did not exactly “demand” that the Indians move to the Central — in face, he wanted the Tribe in the AL East (more revenue) and was talked out of it by John Hart and Mark Shapiro. See http://content.usatoday.com/communities/dailypitch/post/2010/04/how-the-indians-almost-moved-to-the-al-east/1

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    As soon as the people responsible for this disgrace of a season explain it to Paul Dolan I’m sure there will be sweeping changes. ;-)

  • Steve

    “It should never be like this when you are in the AL Central. Never.”

    Yes, this year is mid 90s bad for the ALC, but let’s not pretend it’s always been like this. The White Sox and Twins became more than competent at the turn of the century, and the Tigers realized they were in a big market a few years later. Yes this year is bad, but the ALC had turned into a fairly strong division at the same time the Indians started to miss the playoffs (not a coincidence).

  • mgbode

    the mid-90s had the Tribe and White Sox (some years) as good competitive teams. this year is inherently worse than anything in the 90s from the AL Central as there is not one team that is truly worthy of being a playoff team (even with the expanded playoffs).

    agreed on the early turn of the decade. the Twins, White Sox, and later Tigers all have made it a competitive division at times. But, the Twins prove TD’s point. You can have a competitive team over multiple seasons on a lower budget than most other divisions.

    now, let’s hope that we don’t have a rotating division format as was mentioned last year as a possibility.

  • historycat

    When they did exactly nothing at the trade deadline, didn’t trade to win now or build for next year, that’s when the team gave up. Look at the stats after the trade deadline, 2 different teams.