July 25, 2014

The Indians at the break: The Bad

Justin Masterson

47-47. .500. The middle. Average. Not great, but not bad. This is what our Cleveland Indians are as we sit here at the All-Star break.

Heading into the season, Terry Francona’s group had to deal with something that was not on the docket a year before; heightened expectations. Coming off of a 92-win, Wild Card season and bringing back essentially the same core group, the Tribe now wore a bulls-eye. They were not going to sneak up on anyone. And they haven’t.

The first half has brought moments of greatness and despair, moments of disappointment and exuberance. Certain guys have broken out, while others have taken huge steps backwards. We’ve seen regression to the mean from a few Indians as well. Hall of Fame Football coach Bill Parcells famously said “you are what you record says you are,” and the Indians are 47-47. All of this has added up to what they are: An average baseball team.

On Tuesday, we looked at “The Good” things the Tribe has done. In part two of our Tribe at the All-Star break series, we will examine what hasn’t exactly gone well for the Red, White, and Blue. [Read more...]

Indians 9, Yankees 3: Two games in one, Perez has the most fun

Roberto Perez

I was all set to have this one written. My main topics were going to be how the Indians defense, easily the worst in baseball, just continues to let the team down and cost them runs the offense usually cannot get back. I was also going to go in on the bats who once again turned a below average starter into Cy Freaking Young. Then came the seventh inning, or should I say the start of the game for the Tribe.

The New York Yankees and their legion of annoying bandwagon fans came out one more time to salute shortstop Derek Jeter in Cleveland for the last time. The Tribe cheesed it up by having former teammates Jason Giambi and Nick Swisher present Jeter with a pinstripe guitar with “The Captain, 2″ on it. Then these folks got the pleasure of watching Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall kick the ball around on their way to a 3-0 lead. Noted superstar David Phelps completely stymied the Indians offense, holding them scoreless on five hits through the first six innings. But things started to change thanks to two unlikely sources. [Read more...]

The return of LeBron James plus Johnny Manziel and Josh Gordon – WFNY Podcast – 2014-07-07

WFNY Podcast LogoAs I said in the podcast, I have a new album coming out this week. My band name is The Company Line and the album is called “Losing My Voice.” It’s available right now for pre-order on Amazon. It’s supposed to be on iTunes and Spotify as well. Please search it out. Please listen to it. Please tell a friend. Please enjoy it.

Here’s the story behind the album.

Here’s a track from it.

Now on to the Podcast.

It was a wild weekend on Twitter with all the sports news. TD and I ran it down.

  • LeBron James coming back to Cleveland?
  • Dan Gilbert’s plane!
  • The practical issues surrounding the Miami Heat rebuilding
  • LeBron facing Pat Riley and what that might be like
  • New song from Craig’s band The Company Line
  • Josh Gordon getting pulled over for speeding and DWI
  • Johnny Manziel rolling up dollar bills. Is it a story?
  • Michael Brantley makes the all-star team
  • The Indians should trade Asdrubal Cabrera and Justin Masterson

 

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Check out this episode!

Dr. Smooth: All Star; #VoteKluber, and gauging the trade values of Masterson and Cabrera

Corey KluberThese are interesting times for our Wahoos. While most of you were on LeBron and Dan Gilbert Plane Watch or worrying about Johnny Manziel’s July 4th in Las Vegas, your local nine was taking two of three from the Kansas City Royals down at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario. Big crowds came out Friday and Saturday as the Tribe split the first two. They recovered nicely to take Sunday’s rubber match 4-1.

The team is kind of in limbo right now. Where are they? Who are they? Is this a contender or a team that should start selling off veteran pieces? 2013 proved you shouldn’t count a Terry Francona managed team out, but the defensive issues and the sluggish bats make you think this isn’t “the year.”

Nevertheless, there is a lot of baseball to be played and the Indians just won a big series against a team they are chasing in Kansas City. There was plenty more going on not just on the field, but off of it as well this weekend. So as we do every Monday morning, let us dive into the weekend that was in Wahooland. [Read more...]

Angels 9, Indians 3: Trout turns Tribe into dogs at Puppypalooza

Josh Tomlin Mike Trout Home Run

This just in: Mike Trout is good at baseball.

“There’s a lot to like about Trout,” said manager Terry Francona said with a smile. “I actually think for his sake they should rest him on Wednesday. He’s got a chance to be a pretty good player. You don’t want to tire him out.”

Sometimes you just have to tip your cap to the one of the in the game and in this one, the Indians just couldn’t stop the Angels phenom in the 9-3 loss. It was Puppypalooza at Progressive Field on Tuesday night, but it was the Tribe who wound up playing like dogs.

[Read more...]

Indians 4, Angels 3: The Bauer & Carrasco show

Trevor BauerTrevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco deserve equal billing at the top. What they did last night on a hazy summer evening at Progressive Field can be described in one word: gritty. Two of the four guys who battled for the fifth starter job in Goodyear in March combined to shutdown the dangerous Los Angeles Angels in June to move the Tribe to within two and a half games of first place in the AL Central. The 4-3 win was all about these two power arms.

Lets start with Bauer. The 23-year old started the game with a scoreless frame, striking out two, but the next few innings were a struggle. He was staked to a 2-0 lead thanks to Asdrubal Cabrera’s first inning two-run blast off of Jered Weaver, but the old response runs reared their ugly head. In the top of the second David Freese and Howie Kendrick greeted Bauer with back to back singles. Chris Ianetta’s one out double skipped all the way to the wall past Michael Bourn to tie the game at two. But as he would do all night, Bauer got the biggest outs he needed. He retired John McDonald and Kole Calhoun to end the inning. [Read more...]

Red Sox 5, Indians 2: Papi & Lester stymie Wahoos for third straight loss

MIchael Brantley

This wasn’t another one that got away, but the Indians once again shot themselves in the foot defensively which directly affected the 5-2 loss in Boston on Thursday night. During their 9-1 hot streak, the gloves weren’t a hot topic of conversation, despite the fact that they led the league in errors and unearned runs. But during this three-game losing skid, they have committed four errors and botched several other key plays that could have changed the games.

[Read more...]

Royals 9, Indians 5: Poor defense returns as Tribe drops opener in KC

Corey KluberDuring the Cleveland Indians’ previous 10 games—where they won nine of them—one usual complaint when quiet: The poor defense. They floundered to start the season, while averaging an error per game and leading the American League in unearned runs. But in the midst of the recent hot streak, the defense tightened up. It reminded me of a football offensive line. You only really hear about them when they aren’t doing their jobs.

Last night in Kansas City, the iron gloves returned in what would be a 9-5 loss.

Tribe ace Corey Kluber was on the mound and even he could not stem the tide for the ill-timed defensive mistakes. With two on and one out in the third, Jarrod Dyson sent a sharp ground ball right at second baseman Jason Kipnis. It was a tailor-made double play ball even with the speedy Dyson running. Kipnis fired a strike to shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera who flat out dropped the ball. Not in the transfer—he just dropped it. It was Cabrera’s 11th error on the season.

Asdrubal’s drop caused the flood gates to open. The Indians should have been out of the inning, instead, the bases were loaded. Kluber still had a chance to wiggle out of it and looked like he might. Omar Infante blooped a single to center putting the Royals on top 1-0. He was followed by Eric Hosmer, who sent a one hopper to Carlos Santana at first. If he fields it cleanly, he can start a 3-6-1 double play with ease, or fire home for the second out. Instead, Santana bobbled the ball before recovering and stepping on first for the second out. You can never assume the double play, but this was the another that should have been turned to end the inning. Billy Butler’s two-out single to right scored two more runs and the Royals had a 4-0 lead. [Read more...]

Indians 17, Rangers 7: Chisenhall delivers a performance for the ages

Lonnie ChisenhallLast April, after a third consecutive awful start, I famously called for the Indians to cut the cord on the Ubaldo Jimenez experience. Pretty much from that point forward, Ubaldo turned back into the pitcher the Indians had hoped they traded for at the deadline in 2011. On April 2nd of this year, I wondered aloud if we had seen the end of Lonnie Chisenhall in Cleveland. The reverse jinx king may have struck again!

The Indians have given up too soon on prospects before, only to see them flourish elsewhere (Brandon Phillips and Jeremy Guthrie to a lesser extent). They have also stuck with prospects at times for too long after being burned by the Phillips situation (Matt LaPorta and Andy Marte). In additon, their first round drafting has left a lot to be desired since CC Sabathia was taken in 1998. [Read more...]

Indians 7, Red Sox 4: Breaking out the brooms at 2 AM

Asdrubal Cabrera

$1 hot dogs. Michael Bourn Bobbleheads. Johnny Freaking Manziel (and Justin Gilbert too!). Two hour and 28 minute rain delay. Bunting. Strikeouts. Leads. Preening Papi. Comebacks. Replays. Carlos Freaking Carrasco. More bunting. Edward Freaking Mujica. Walk off homer at 2:02 AM.

What did I miss? The details, my friends….the details.

How about your Cleveland Indians, ladies and gentlemen? Left for dead by so many after being swept by the Oakland A’s to the tune of 30-7 two and a half weeks ago, the Tribe has managed to not just gain their mojo back, but a whopping seven games in the standings. After last night’s 7-4, 12-inning win to sweep the Boston Red Sox, the Indians have raced back to within three and a half games of the AL Central leading Detroit Tigers, who are suddenly reeling, losing four straight and seven of 10. [Read more...]

Indians 8, Orioles 7: Wahoos win another marathon

Lonnie ChisenhallThese last two games may have taken two years off of my life.

The Cleveland Indians, who can resemble the Bad News Bears at times, have come back from the dead with a vengeance. They improbable sweep of the Detroit Tigers at Progressive Field may have kicked started their season, which looked all but dead on Sunday night. The series finale was a 13-inning stunner that had everything. The bullpen was so completely fried thanks to a two-inning start from the since-DL’d Zach McAllister that reinforcements were needed. But it wasn’t just as simple as recalling a guy or two.

They had no starting pitcher for last night’s game in Baltimore. Justin Masterson had to be called upon on short rest because the Columbus pipeline didn’t offer an immediate solution. Veteran journeyman Mark Lowe was summoned as well and would no doubt be the first guy out of the pen no matter the situation. The obvious call up – C.C. Lee – was sent down within the last 10 days and could not come back up. Rookie leftyKyle Crockett, whom the Indians wanted to have stay up for the long haul, was the only real option to send down, had to go as well. A starter would be needed for Friday night’s game and that would be T.J. House. Who knew that House almost would have to come on in relief Thursday.

It was a gigantic mess. The Indians desperately needed a strong and potentially deep start from Masterson on three days rest. Early on it looked as though they may have gotten it. But by the end of another 13-inning marathon, Justin’s efforts would be long forgotten as the Tribe pulled out another crazy extra inning win 8-7. [Read more...]

Indians 11, Tigers 10: The sweep that came via…The Balk-Off?

Asdrubal CabreraJust when you think this team is out…They suck you right back in.

The 2013 Cleveland Indians were dubbed “team streak” at times. Nobody could be colder and then immediately rattle off seven in a row the way they did. Let us not forget that Wahoos had to win 10 straight to close out the season to make the playoffs and actually accomplished the feat. This year’s version is nowhere close, but the last six days have been somethin’ else.

“A few weeks ago, we really didn’t show a whole lot of fight,” David Murphy said. “The type of day that we had, nobody is going to say die. Nobody is going to throw in the towel. Nobody is going to throw away at-bats. Everybody is going to go up there and fight until it’s over.” [Read more...]

Indians 6, Tigers 2: Bauer outshines Verlander as offense delivers

Trevor BauerOn paper, this one seemed like a mismatch. But as a wise man once said “that’s why they play the games.”

Coming off the series opening win a night earlier, the Indians turned to rookie Trevor Bauer to take his first trek through the rotation as a regular. On the other side was Detroit’s Justin Verlander. While the two-time CY Young award winner is still one of the best pitcher’s in the game, the Tribe has had decent success against him in his career. But nothing in the past would come even close to what the Wahoos did to JV in the first two innings in the 6-2 win.

Trailing 1-0, Asdrubal Cabrera – the hottest Indian not named Michael Brantley – got things started with a one out single. Brantley kept things moving with a single of his own. Next up was the new cleanup man against right-handed pitching (at least on this night), Lonnie Chisenhall. I have been banging the drum for the #FreeLonnie movement for weeks and with the offense struggling the way it has been, Chiz has rightfully been moved up in the batting order. Lonnie came through with the third straight single, this one driving in Cabrera to tie the game. David Murphy grounded into an inning-ending double play, but the Tigers and Verlander were on notice. They weren’t messing around. [Read more...]

Indians 15, Blue Jays 4 : It’s alive…ALIVE!

Carlos Santana

Every once and a while, the scuffling Cleveland Indians offense awakens with a big game as they did two Friday’s ago when the battered the White Sox around in a 12-5 win at Progressive Field. Then they came crashing back to earth with five runs in the next three games. But on that night, it was a badly needed and welcomed sight. Last night in Toronto gave off that same kind of vibe.

The bats rose to the occasion with season highs in runs (15) and hits (22) — five each from David Murphy and Lonnie Chisenhall —  in the blowout win inside of Rogers Center. You know what is crazy? The 15-4 final shouldn’t even have been that close. [Read more...]

Tribe Weekend Recap: Axford axed, Tito’s affinity for the bunt, and Cabbie’s revenge

Nyjer MorganIt was just another ho-hum weekend series in Tampa. Your Cleveland Indians may have finally turned the corner after taking two straight series from division foes in Chicago and Minnesota. Two poor outings from the closer turned a potential 7-0 homestand into 5-2. Still the Indians looked to have possibly righted the ship.

The starting pitching has been outstanding and the bullpen, save for one mustached closer, continued to do stellar work. Yes, the offense continued to leave a lot to be desired, exploding for a game here and there, but for the most part keeping the Indians in close games with their lack of hitting with runners in scoring position. But this weekend in Tampa we saw a better approach in two of the three games. Friday night’s 6-3 and Sunday’s 6-5 wins showed the Indians are capable of the big inning.

Manager Terry Francona is continuing to tinker with his lineup that is missing All-Star second baseman Jason Kipnis. The right combination has been hard to find, but the same guys have been delivering for the most part; Michael Brantley, Mike Aviles, and Lonnie Chisenhall. But lately, others are starting to join the party, namely Asdrubal Cabrera and Yan Gomes. Nyjer Morgan has even continued to show his value with a three-hit Sunday which included a big home run while making his first start of the season next to Michael Bourn in left field. [Read more...]

Indians 9, Twins 4: Asdrubal explodes as Tribe takes third straight

Asdrubal Cabrera

See, this is why Terry Francona is the manager and I just sit here and write about the Indians.

For weeks I have watched Asdrubal Cabrera flounder at the plate, looking seemingly worse and worse each day. Then the next day, his name is right there in the lineup card. Riding in the middle of a 4-21 slump while playing sloppy defense, I begged and pleaded for Asdrubal to get a day off. And there he was again, right in the six hole on Thursday afternoon.  [Read more...]

One month in…Things must improve

Jason Kipnis

In what has been the first month of the season, we have watched our Cleveland Indians kick the ball around the field, hit sub-Mendoza line with runners in scoring position, fail to pitch deep into games, and lose six in a row in California. Other than that, they were great!

Baseball is a six-month trek. It’s a marathon season, not a sprint. How many times have we seen teams struggle out of the gate, only to catch fire mid-summer and get right back into the mix for a division title? I’m not saying this version of the Indians can do that, but they are certainly capable. The core of this team is, for the most part, the same group that won 92 games a season ago. But judging by the first month on the field, you probably couldn’t tell. [Read more...]

Tribe weekend wrap: Swept away in San Francisco

I’m pinch hitting for TD this morning with the weekend Tribe wrap-up. Lucky me, I get to recap three losses!

Cleveland Indians v San Francisco Giants

Despite a strong outing from Danny Salazar, the Indians came up short in their bid to salvage the final game in the weekend series against the Giants.

It was a miserable series for Cleveland’s position players, who were outscored by San Francisco 14-5 over the weekend. In Friday’s game the only players to get a hit were Bourn, Swisher and Kipnis. In the finale on Sunday that list included just Bourn and Gomes. The Yanimal hit the only home run of the series for the Tribe.

The telling stat for the Indians over the weekend? Try 0-for-29. That was the Tribe’s 4,5 and 6 hitters for the weekend. A big giant goose egg for 29. Those hitters were Santana, Brantley and Cabrera. It was really the first rough series for Brantley all season. He’s been very good, and you have to look at the way he was pitched to and see that the Giants decided not to give him anything he could handle. Cabrera and Santana on the other hand have been dreadful and they are bookends for Brantley. No reason to give him anything to hit at all.

Here’s where I go off on Carlos Santana because I have the floor. [Read more...]

Unsolicited Observations: Axford, the Pen, O-Woes, and it’s “Chiz Kid” time

John Axford nails down his seventh save

John Axford has the credentials. He’s a former All-Star and Rolaids Relief Man Award winner. He’s endeared himself to fans by letting the masses choose his entrance music and his mustache is the envy of all facial hair enthusiasts. Most importantly: He’s closing games. For a team whose closer imploded at the end of the 2013 season, that’s the only thing that counts.

Cleveland fans know the front office loves reclamation projects as much as TBS loves airing reruns of the Big Bang Theory. That’s why it’s never a surprise to see a pitcher come to the Indians whose star once shined bright for another team. Last season it was Scott Kazmir; this year, it’s Axford. The season is just 19 games young, but so far the experiment’s been a success. Axford is 7-of-8 in save situations, with a 3.12 ERA.

[Read more...]

On Asdrubal Cabrera, Francisco Lindor and wanting good things too soon

Asdrubal-Cabrera

In life, we often yearn for what we don’t have. “The grass is always greener on the other side” mentality. It happens. We take for granted what is right in front of us. In sports, the same thing often plays out. Fans fall out of favor with certain players, wish for a former star to return, desire another team’s starter or hope for the highly touted prospect to finally arrive.

This is happening right now for the Cleveland Indians, and I just couldn’t take it any longer. It’s not really fair; fans are underrating the player that exists right now. And they’re forgetting just how young a certain prospect happens to be.

[Read more...]