5 Things That Can Salvage the Cleveland Indians' 2012 Season
The second half of the season has not been kind to the Cleveland Indians. Since the All-Star break, Cleveland is 11-32 with losing streaks of 11 and nine games. They can't hit (27th in MLB in the second half, .231 team average), they can't pitch (28th in MLB, 5.30 team ERA) and if it weren't for the Astros (who are 7-35 since the break), they could be labeled the worst team in baseball since July 13.
There does not seem to be much that the Cleveland Indians can do at this point to salvage the 2012 season. Mathematically, there are reasons to think that they can, but realistically, it is not in the cards.
Sitting 16.5 games out of the AL Central heading into Tuesday's game against the Oakland Athletics, how can the Cleveland Indians salvage this season?
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With a record of 71-56, the Chicago White Sox lead the AL Central. With 35 games remaining over the 2012 season, if the White Sox played near .500 baseball and finished the season 17-18 and 88-74 overall, the Indians would have to go 33-1 in their remaining 34 games to tie them.
Needless to say, with the pitching that the Chicago White Sox have, and even the Detroit Tigers, the Indians really don't have a chance to catch the leaders of the AL Central.
A miracle isn't going to be enough at this point because going 33-1 and hoping that the teams ahead of them play .500 baseball isn't even enough. The Indians would lose every tiebreaker.
This isn't realistic. Not even close.
Win...A Lot. Or...Lose a Lot
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Going 26-8 over the remaining 34 games would leave the Cleveland Indians with a .500 record. To sit at .500 is to sit in mediocrity, though. Why not aim for 27-7?
Well, winning is great and fans can look back at a strong finish in hopes that the 2013 season will bring hope. Unfortunately, hope falls apart, as evidenced by the Indians fall from first place the last two seasons.
The benefit of not being good is the ability to draft better talent. Right now, the Indians would get a top-five pick in the 2013 draft. With all due respect to Tyler Naquin, the Indians' 2012 first-round pick, the Indians are awful at drafting top talent.
Jeremy Guthrie, Michael Aubrey, Jeremy Sowers, Trevor Crowe, David Huff and Beau Mills were the Indians' first-round picks from 2002 through 2007. Lonnie Chisenhall and Francisco Lindor get more time, but the Indians have traded Alex White and Drew Pomeranz, the remaining top picks since 2007.
It won't hurt any less if the Indians get a top-five pick and manage to squander it, as they seem to do each year, by taking the "safe" and "signable" pick; however, if you reach for the talent and get a highly-ranked player, the chances are better.
Regardless, winning is great. It could salvage the season to get to .500, but it isn't realistic, either. Especially when the Indians have a .256 winning percentage since the All-Star break.
So, if winning isn't going to salvage the season, would losing and a lot and getting a better pick a better option?
The Indianapolis Colts may say so.
Look at the Bright Side
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Carlos Santana is erupting in the second half. His .275/.399/.507 line is impressive, as are his nine doubles, eight home runs, 26 RBI and 22:27 K:BB in 142 second half at-bats.
Michael Brantley continues to hit well, compiling a .297/.352/.439 line. With 10 doubles, one triple, three home runs, 13 RBI and a 21:14 K:BB in 148 second half at-bats.
Cody Allen, Vinnie Pestano, Esmil Rogers and Tony Sipp have solidified the bullpen, compiling a combined 1-3 record, a 2.16 ERA over 75 innings and a 62:28 K:BB in the second half. If only the Tribe had relied on Allen and Rogers earlier in the year.
Zach McAllister continues to be the lone bright spot in the rotation in 2012. His 3.59 ERA over eight second half starts is nearly one-and-a-half points better than any other rotation-mate in the second half.
Derek Lowe, Johnny Damon and Aaron Cunningham are no longer on the roster.
There are some things that you have to look at as a fan and see that it isn't all that bad. While the record is that bad, some of the players continue to provide hope. When "there's always next year" kicks in, that is all that you have.
There Is Still Time for a Trade
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While players have to pass through waivers to be traded at this point in the season, it doesn't take away from the fact that August 31 is still a few days away.
The time frame that the Cleveland Indians had to contend is now eliminated. Even the Philadelphia Phillies decided to move on from some of their talent, including Hunter Pence, who they had under team control in 2013. Why not the Indians?
Moving Shin-Soo Choo now saves some disappointment next season. One of two things will happen with Choo: 1) he is be traded, or 2) he will leave via free agency. The longer you keep him, the less valuable he is, as teams aren't going to pay for a full year of Choo in July of 2013. If a team can acquire him now and hold onto him for all of 2013, they would be more likely to part with better minor league talent. You also have the luxury of fewer months having to speak to or worry about dealing with Choo's agent, Scott Boras.
Moving Chris Perez now saves the team millions of dollars in arbitration. Perez is arbitration-eligible in 2013 and 2013 and he already makes $4.5 million. He could be well on his way to making near $10 million in his final year of arbitration due to his 101 career saves at the tender age of 26. Any squad looking for bullpen help right now, and a possible closer next year, could have interest in the mouthy closer. Cincinnati still makes sense given the organization's hope of moving Aroldis Chapman to a starting role at some point.
Asdrubal Cabrera is an excellent player. He is under contract through 2014, and he has been an All-Star each of the last two seasons. However, each team has to have an All-Star, and Cabrera's conditioning and ability to hit all season, not just the first half, has come under fire.
Cabrera is the Indians' greatest asset. While the Indians have no one close to being ready, there are cheaper stop-gaps for the team to pick up in free agency, and the talent that the club would pick up in the deal would be the greatest impact on the organization's future that any deal would could have.
Significant deals aren't likely at this point in the season, regardless of the blockbuster deal between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox. The likelihood of the players above passing through waivers is very unlikely, as well, as their contracts just aren't awful enough for some teams to pass up.
The Hot Dog Derby Could End in a Tie
As of August 15, Ketchup and Mustard each have 20 wins and Onion is right behind them with 19. With 22 home games remaining, someone has to win!
Ketchup and Mustard are the staples of any hot dog, but in Northeastern Ohio, it's possible that Onion could really surprise everyone.
If the Indians really want to keep people happy and salvage the 2012 MLB season in Cleveland, they need to make sure that the Hot Dog Derby maintains this fantastic race as the season comes to a close.
If you don't think this is important and real, then you need to look here. If it's on the Internet, it is real and it matters.
This is what this season has come to...sadly.
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I am not an Indians fan, I am a baseball fan. It is sad to see the hope that was brought to Cleveland with the early success of 2011 and the midseason trade for Ubaldo Jimenez turn into the catastrophe that it is today. For a better read on what could actually salvage the 2012 season, the fans voice is important.
What do you, the reader, think could salvage the 2012 season for the Cleveland Indians, if anything? Would anything that was mentioned make you feel a little better? Can the Tribe do something for you next year or this offseason that would warm your heart as an Indians fan again?
It is nearly impossible to look at the current situation with rose-colored glasses, but someone out there probably can. Many of you probably broke them when you threw them at the television while watching a game, though.
There is always next year. That is the only way to salvage the 2012 season...unless the Mayans were right!