I keep waiting for Indians owner Rachel Phelps to come out and admit that she is purposely trying to run the team into the ground so that she can move the club. I also wonder when Ricky Vaughn is going to come out from the bullpen with this thick black glasses, or when Willie Mays Hayes is going to swipe a bag against the Tigers.
Why would I think that and what am I talking about? I am talking about the 1989 movie Major League, of course, where the ridiculous antics of the ownership of the Cleveland Indians is overshadowed by a group of players who become a solid team, not through talent, but through sheer determination—and the opportunity to see the owner naked when a piece of paper was removed from a cardboard cut-out with every win.
The 2012 Cleveland Indians are a lot like the team from the movie. They were not expected to do much this season due to the Detroit Tigers' acquisition of Prince Fielder during the offseason, but, for a while, the Tribe sat in first place. Then, the lazy, undetermined management of the club set in.
The Indians have suffered throughout the 2012 season with a total inability to hit left-handed starters. They are 10-23 when they face a left-handed starter this season, and they are 29th in MLB against left-handed pitchers, posting an ugly team slash of .222/.304/.345 in 1,184 at-bats.
The issue is that management knew that this was a problem heading into the season, but they did not address it. On July 31, the trade deadline, the Indians were neither buyers nor sellers, deciding to stand pat with the roster that they had at that moment. They still do not have a third baseman or first baseman that can hit left-handed pitching, and they still do not have a left fielder capable of playing every day and making a difference offensively.
However, here is the most mind-boggling aspect of the non-move prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline: Over the last two days, the Indians have designated both Derek Lowe and Johnny Damon for assignment. Neither will net solid returns, and Damon's contract did not allow the club to even trade him. But if they were going to mail it in and use younger players like Ezequiel Carrera, Cory Kluber and Chris Seddon, why did they not sell off talent at the trade deadline?
This team is missing so many pieces right now that they are better served to try for 2014 or 2015, moving back the window that the team thought they had going into this season. However, the decision to rebuild after the non-waiver trade deadline makes you wonder if they have any idea what they are doing in the front office.
What difference is there between being 50-56, as they are currently, and 50-52, as they were at the trade deadline? It is not the players they have right now; it is the players that they do not have—the players they need to acquire to matter and the players they need to rebuild with to become a legitimate contender in the AL Central.
The problem with the Cleveland Indians has nothing to do with Justin Masterson getting obliterated in his last two starts, or Grady Sizemore's back and knees. It has everything to do with the fact that ownership and management has absolutely no clue when it comes to where they are and where they need to be.
So, while we can sit back and watch this season become a disaster, we can look to the fake Cleveland Indians squad from a fictional story and laugh, knowing that they both have something in common:
Ownership is not willing to do what it takes to win.