Indians

A’s 3 Indians 0: Small Attendance, Smaller Offense

Roberto Hernandez

If you were one of the alleged 13,018 in attendance last night, I salute you. You are a real diehard. The rumor is the Indians season ticket base is about 8,500 or so. When STO made the not so wise decision to show overhead or long view shots of Progressive Field, it looked as though there were 3,500, maybe 4,000 tops in the stands. The Dolan family, Mark Shapiro, Chris Antonetti, and the rest of the front office should prepare themselves for crowds like this not only the rest of the way, but into next season. When the product on the field looks like it did last night, or for the last five weeks for that matter, can you blame people for not wanting to come?

The Oakland Athletics, a team constructed the same way as the Indians (i.e. low payroll) rolled into town as one of, if not the, hottest teams in baseball. Look up and down their lineup, and it won’t impress you. Their biggest name is Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes, who is essentially toiling in anonymity because he plays in Oakland. Next to him, the biggest name you know is Coco Crisp. The difference between these two teams is simple – the A’s have terrific young starting pitching, while the Indians don’t.

Brett Anderson, the best young starter in the organization, is back after last season’s Tommy John surgery. The lefty was making just his second start of the season. Usually it takes a pitcher coming off TJS some time to find their groove again. Then again, said pitchers are never were lucky enough to face the Indians right-handed heavy lineup late in a season.

I’m not even trying to be funny here, but watching the guys Manny Acta has to put in his lineup past his top five night in and night out is a downright embarrassing. No wonder nobody is showing up to the park these days. Last night’s bottom four was Shelley Duncan, Brent Lillibridge, Matt LaPorta, and Lou Marson. Remember back to 1995, the glory year which is something we will never see again in this town (and you “Jacobs Field era” Tribe fans need to come to grips with that fact), the bottom four was Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, Sandy Alomar, and Paul Sorrento.

This is essentially like comparing my basketball prowess to that of an NBA player. OK, that is overstating it a tad, but it sure seems like an apt comparison.

Anderson had a perfect game going into the fifth inning, and allowed just two hits over seven innings on his way to his second victory. Relievers Ryan Cook and Grant Balfour finished the job retiring six of the seven Indians they faced. It was fitting that Balfour struck out the side in the ninth.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the mound was Roberto Hernandez, who allowed three runs on four hits in two and a third before leaving with a an ankle injury. Josh Reddick, a young corner outfielder who was available for a trade this offseason and the Indians passed on, crushed his 26th homer of the season. Cespedes, a guy the Indians kicked the tires on this winter as well but deemed too rich for their blood, doubled off of Fauxberto twice. Really, that is all you need to know.

Fauxberto’s ankle is not supposed to be serious, but then again, what does it really matter. Lefty/Tom Brady doppleganger Chris Seddon replaced Hernandez and didn’t allow a run in four and two-thirds of two hit ball. Cody Allen pitched the final two innings in similar fashion.

SIDE NOTE – I am considering going with “The Assassin” for Allen’s nickname. In the iconic rap song “Don’t Believe The Hype” by Public Enemy, one of the last lines is “I’m going to my media assassin, Harry Allen, I gotta ask him.” This is what this season has come to. Coming up with nicknames for rookie relievers who weren’t on my radar screen three months ago. Eerily similar to 2002 when my brother and I decided that hot-headed Tribe rookie starter Ricardo Rodriguez should be nicknamed “The Duke.”  The other similarity to 2002 is that the Indians were horrible.

But I digress.

All the Tribe could muster in this one was two hits. Somewhere, Harry Doyle was saying “two hits, that’s all we got two G-D hits!” Really, they only had one, Lillibridge’s double in the sixth. Replays showed that Michael Brantley should have been called out on his infield single that broke up Anderson’s perfecto in the fifth.

Duncan and LaPorta, two guys who are essentially the same player, were a combined 0-6. LaPorta K’d twice in three at-bats. It still amazes me that so many Tribe fans wanted to see this guy again. As if you forgot that he fishes for breaking stuff low and away and doesn’t have the bat speed to catch up to Major League fastballs. I actually feel bad for LaPorta. He is a good dude who just couldn’t live up to being the answer.

Duncan is still on this team because he is beloved in the clubhouse and by Acta. They could have easily DFA’d him, and rightfully so. He is 31 years old and is hitting .202. He doesn’t have a future with this club, but they are doing him a favor. Once the rosters expand this weekend and the other “savior” that so many want to see (Russ Canzler) arrives, Duncan won’t be seeing much if any playing time. Might as well keep Shelley around as a mentor the rest of the way.

Speaking of Canzler, I get tweets all the time asking me why he hasn’t gotten his shot and that he can’t be any worse than the Duncan’s, Kotchman’s, and LaPorta’s of the world. Here is the thing. He came over essentially as a DFA guy from Tampa Bay, an organization that prides itself on developing young talent, bringing them to the majors and watching them grow. They just don’t give up on real prospects. If he was anything more than 4A, he’d still be in Tampa. Not to mention, if he were a legitimate option, don’t you think the Indians would have tried him months ago, considering they are the worst offensive team in the American League?

The bottom line. Russ Canzler = Shelley Duncan = Matt LaPorta.

Coming up with good material regarding this team on a day to day basis is not easy, folks. But I will keep grinding for you, like our old friend Eric Wedge always wanted.

(photo via Scott Shaw/PD)

  • MrCleaveland

    It’s broke. Fix it.

  • mgbode

    we have much better hitting overall compared to the As and Ms. I’d take our lineup as a whole over either of their lineups. But, yeah, our pitching is terrible compared to either one as well.

    the silver lining is that our pitching is all pitching below expectations and we can hope for a modest rebound effort next year. at least, that’s what I have to keep telling myself.

    masterson,mcallister, ubaldo, carrasco, SP5

    I refuse to put anyone in the SP5 spot for now. I’m hoping we go after the Blanton’s of the world (though he’s in Dodger land now and they’ll likely just match whatever we offer him and he’ll stay there). Internally, we don’t have much of anyone that I think deserves it (including Carmona-Hernandez).

  • mgbode

    and to be slightly fair to Brett Anderson, he sure looked good against the Twins too. still, just seeing LHP who is not completely terrible meant picking him up and starting him against this team we have going for any fantasy baseball player.

  • mgbode

    oh, and on LaPorta, I was fully in favor of giving him a last shot at LF coming out of spring when our other options were Duncan, Cunningham, and signing Damon. when he started struggling even at AAA though, that was the end of LaPorta. He won’t be back next year and he’s just proving why now.

    the sad thing is that I wasn’t really wrong to want a different answer than those 3 in LF to start the season and you weren’t wrong to not want to give LaPorta another shot at MLB. I really wish one of us was blatantly wrong that time. sigh.

  • TSM

    I was at the game last night with my son who is in from out of town and a die hard Tribe fan. I mentioned that it was like a flashback to my childhood in the 60’s with a crowd consisting of family & friends. No problem with crowds, parking or lines of any type. Got terrific seats for about 1/4th the face value. The team looked listless. Don’t know what Acta can do given the lack of talent on the team. Our only hope is to get lucky with acquiring and developing some young pitchers. Time to trade Chris Perez and Choo in the off season and get some young talent in here.

  • MrCleaveland

    I checked out the game on TV about the 7th inning. I thought I could hear John Adams breathing.

  • Garry_Owen

    Right. We can laughed at for wanting to see LaPorta get another shot, but what’s funnier? Giving LaPorta a shot, or watching the same crap lineup day, after day, after day, after day?

  • Garry_Owen

    Why so amazed, TD? I guess we could have jumped on the Antonetti bandwagon of misplaced hope that the guys in the lineup would just play “to their potential,” but that would be equally “amazing.” It’s a Hobson’s Choice – but wanting to see LaPorta get another shot is no more amazing or mind-boggling than the fact that Damon and Duncan were platooning in LF for a “major league” team. What other options were/are there?

  • mgbode

    that’s funny like a sad clown

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Take a break Bob DiBiasio Jr. we get it.

  • Woods

    After watching last night’s game I asked myself a question. Should the Indians pick up the 6 million dollar option on Hernandez/Carmona next year? What about Jimenez?

    I can see a wholesale turnover of the team before next year with Choo, Perez and Cabrera being dealt for prospects.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Lillibridge is so awesome he’s playing every day!

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    You needed last nights game to ask those questions? Jimenez is a different story he’s safe.

    As far as seeing a wholesale turnover I don’t see it. The same people who were at the controls will be again and after the two years of one failed move after another who thinks they can flip the switch and do a better job now? That and I seriously doubt anyone with the Indians has the imagination or foresight to make the player decisions needed. I do agree however that something big has to be done.

  • TD

    very valid…. however its the devil you know (LaPorta) vs the devil you don’t (Damon).

  • Garry_Owen

    Right. Isn’t the saying, “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know”? Ergo, LaPorta is better than Damon? (Okay, let’s not get too carried away. Sorry.)

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Btw that was a joke – I tease – mgbode is the little red headed step brother I never had! 😉

  • Woods

    Been away from my summer rental house where I have the MLB package on DirecTV. I have been spared from watching the tribe for 13 weeks straight. I count myself lucky. Have followed WFNY, Cleveland.com and the Diatribe through this season’s disaster.

    To answer my own question, I would cut bait on Hernandez and take a flier on Jimenez and hope he turns it around so he can be traded at the deadline next year.

  • Thanks for continuing to come up with good material…question is, can you continue to do it through 2013?

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Roberto Fausto Carmona Hernandez wasn’t worth bringing back before he was busted for identity theft which is why I asked. But yes you missed absolutely nothing in fact you were spared by just getting to read about it.

    I wouldn’t bring Hernandez back but that doesn’t mean the Indians won’t. As far as Jimenez goes I think he still has another year under contract but I can’t see how if he didn’t the Indians could afford (ironic) to not bring him back. They’ll need a starter plus it would tarnish that trade and everything that went with it further.

  • Time to cut bait with Fauxberto and Ubaldo. Pricey and two headaches. I’ve seen enough.

  • Woods

    According to baseball reference, the Indians hold a 5.75 million dollar option on Jimenez for 2013 with a 1 million dollar buyout. The following year is an 8 million dollar team option with a 1 million dollar buyout.

    I would pick up the 2013 option and hope he “rights the ship”, but i can see the other side of the argument that says “we can pay Seddon or Gomez a lot less money to be an under .500 starter in 2013”.

  • JK

    I REALLY LOVE THE “WAR ON WOMEN” VIDEO THAT BLASTS THROUGH MY SPEAKERS AT WORK EVERY TIME I COME TO YOUR SITE

  • Harv 21

    “They just don’t give up on real prospects. If he was anything more than 4A, he’d still be in Tampa.”
    So then why even pick up Canzler? Actually, we know the answer, it’s the same reason they annually take a flyers on former high draft picks cut by others. Praying for lightning in a bottle, baby, a guy that maybe just needed that third change of scenery, a spiritual awakening, a new wife, something that makes him blossom like Josh Hamilton when he finally dropped the meth. It’s a swing from the heels that just might connect one day. A puncher’s chance, what you’re left with if you can’t identity and develop your own young talent. But they see Canzler hit only .260. They’ll try someone else next year.

  • JRS19

    In typical Tribe fashion, the following will happen over the next year:
    1. They will pick up the option on Ubaldo and he will suddenly be lights-out. They will in turn trade him to a contender down the stretch for a “prospect” and a Lillibridge type fill-in. Ubaldo will help his new team win the WS and then be in line for a huge FA deal.
    2. Fauxberto will toil away all next season, averaging one quality start per four outings before being DFA’d. He will then be picked up by a contender and win a crucial playoff start.
    3. Sizemore will sign with the Yankees or Rangers and hit 30 HRs.
    4. We’ll trade Asdrubal this offseason for pitching “prospects” that will leave their assignments in Lake County and Carolina by mid-summer to visit Dr. Andrews or Dr. Yocum.
    5. Our lone FA starting pitching signee (thinking someone like Kevin Correia or Joe Saunders) will pitch marginally well enough to ensure us one low-level “propsect” by July 31st.
    6. Dolan promises to embark on a “thorough assessment” of the organization’s failings without acknowledging his failures to spend money or bring in new blood in the FO.
    7. The crowds will be small and uninterested.
    8. Someone will win the AL Central with less than 90 wins, yet the Tribe will still be out of the race by the All-Star Break.

    There are some positives here (Grant’s drafting, Acta’s steady acumen) but Shapiro and Antonetti have worn out their welcomes. The same way Wedge needed to go in ’09 so do these guys, if for no other reason than to provide appearances that the Dolans actually care. If they showed some commitment and a willingness to spend at least a little, then maybe he could lure an older type like a Jocketty or Melvin to come in here and actually field a team with some baseball players, rather than some guys who just play baseball.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I’d agree with your comment the problem is as inconsistent as Jimenez is he’s still better then both Seddon or Gomez plus the Indians will need to have some starters for the season. This is the problem with the minors the pitching, especially starters, is extremely thin. That is unless they can trade away the likes of Choo, maybe Perez and possibly Cabrera.

  • mgbode

    on #2 – the first part of that just happened to Lowe and he promptly lost a game for the NYY last night. have to say that it was the first good thing Lowe has done for me as a fan since May.

  • mgbode

    hey now, my wife and all of my kids may all be red-headed, but I am decidedly “dark” headed 🙂

  • mgbode

    he’s our new Jason Michaels

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I actually miss the Michael’s and Dellucci’s of the world. Wait, what…Damn you Antonetti, damn you to hell!!!

  • mgbode

    Michaels 80 Indians career OPS+ was worse than this year’s Duncan, Kotchman or Marson

    (it is ever so slightly better than Damon, Lillibridge, or Hannahan though – and he was right-handed!!!)

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    HEY HOW DARE YOU BESMURCH THE MYTH, THE LEGEND OF JASON MICHAELS! On a side note you are a sick, sick man with all of these stats. Oh btw wanna come to Boston I’ll find ya a position I got $200+M off the books to try and find some new players. 😉

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    mgbode what’s Shawn Marcum’s contract? Milwaukee has him on waivers and depending I’d kick the tires on him.

  • mgbode

    baseball-reference and Cots both have salary info 🙂
    he’s on an arb-contract for almost $8mil. probably make $11 mil in his last year of arbitration.
    he’s better than anything we can get in FA for that price I would imagine. worst case we flip him (but I doubt the Brewers just give him up. they’d want something back and I’m not sure we’d give them enough. maybe they want LaPorta back 🙂 )

  • mgbode

    it might take most of that $200mil to get me to live in Boston

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I prefer mgbode.com thank you! I’d consider $8M not $11M based on his injury history and yea I realize it would require a trade. I’m calling the BoSox to see what we can do instead. 😉

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I said players not a computer jockey! That’s my diamond-vision!

  • Steve

    And do what exactly? You can’t save any money by cutting them now and you can’t get anything noteworthy in return. There isn’t a good alternative to hoping they can figure it out and regain some value.