Don’t look now, but the Indians are on the verge of completing one hell of an accomplishment, if you want to call it that. After spending somewhere around 40 days in first place earlier this season, they now find themselves in the improbable position of finishing in last place in the AL Central. Ya, you read that right… last place. In case you were wondering, the Royals and Twins still play in the Central so when you think about it, that in and of itself makes the accomplishment that much more impressive. So much for that whole playoffs or bust thing they were talking about during spring training.
What hurts the most though is the fact that the Tribe’s new home in the cellar isn’t the result of the Royals and Twins becoming world beaters and turning in two months of the best baseball we’ve ever seen. Instead, it’s been the Indians who have had two of the worst months of baseball in franchise history. We’re talking Municipal Stadium type of baseball here. It’s been that bad.
But how do they fix it? What can they do to right the ship so to speak? Is there anything they can do?
The Tribe’s front office and ownership would like you to believe that what happened this year is simply a case of bad luck, that things aren’t as bad as they necessarily seem. That my friends… is bull crap. If anything, things are worse than they appear and the only way to rectify the situation is with a massive overhaul both in terms of the talent on the field and in the philosophy of those running the whole damn thing. Here’s a list of examples for what’s wrong, because as always, who doesn’t like a list?
1. The team has quit on Manny Acta. You can tell by the uninspired way they’ve played that they could give a crap what Acta has to say any more. And why should they? He doesn’t hold them accountable for anything, he doesn’t show any sort of emotion other than “Meh, it’s just baseball. The Sun will still rise tomorrow,” and he’s allowed one of his best players to mouth off repeatedly to the media. Throw in just how poorly he’s handled key situations and personnel decisions and it’s a picture perfect exapmple of when a manager should go.
2. If the players have in fact quit on Acta, than they majority of them need to go. They were still in the thick of things when this epic slide started and they didn’t do anything to try to stop it from within. Where is the players only meeting? Why didn’t some of the veterans call out the youngsters? Well, that’s because there are no veterans on this team for the most part and the few that they do have, Hafner and Kotchman, were either always hurt or worthless. Cut the fat, bring up the best players from Triple A and start the whole thing over.
3. The front office put together this mess thinking that they could out Oakland A the Oakland A’s. That’s almost laughable. While the A’s lead the wild card race and have already assured themselves of a record above .500 the Indians are flirting with the worst record in baseball. Why are Mark Shapiro and Chris Antonetti still employed? They were the only people on the face of the planet that thought resigning Sizemore, bringing in Casey Kotchman, and going to battle with Shelley Duncan, Jose Lopez, and Johnny Damon would actually work. How is that possible? How can they not see what everyone else sees?
4. Ownership’s lack of willingness to spend has finally come to the forefront. It’s not even as if a team needs to spend at the level of the Yankees and Red Sox to compete. It helps, but it’s not necessary. What is necessary, however, is being willing to invest money in players who will legitimately fill positions of need. Using what little money they do have available on players that are washed up or injured is a waste of resources. So what if Josh Willingham wanted a third year. Give it to him and worry about it later. If he keeps performing they way he has been you get two quiality years, one crap year, and then you’re done. In other words, you get what you pay for and the Dolans are getting exactly what they paid for out of this collection of “talent.”
The bottom line in all of this is that everyone within the organization needs to be held accountable. Someone needs to be fired, or demoted, or traded away if for no other reason than to wake everyone else up. There’s no fear of failure. As is the case now, everyone has been given a vote of confidence by ownership so that means we’ll get to endure this crap for another year in 2013 and then more than likely again in 2014… and 2015… and 2016. Basically, until the Dolans decide they’ve had enough and sell the team.
Until then, expect more bargain bin free agent signings, lackluster management, and frustrating season after frustrating season…