Welcome to Tribe Talk, where Bleacher Report's Cleveland Indians fans weigh in on the ups and downs of the club each week throughout the season.
This week, as is our custom during the All-Star break each year, we make a departure from our usual format and examine how the first half of the season went for the Indians and assess the state of the team at the halfway mark in general. Then we go home and cry when we see the results.
So here's hoping the Tribe has a better second half than the Tribe Talk panel seems to have predicted here.
I would like to thank this week's participants Dan Tylicki, Dale Thomas, Lewie Pollis, Scott Miles, The Coop, and Nino Colla for their contributions. This discussion is open to all, so please feel free to comment below and pitch in your thoughts on the questions we're addressing this week.
1. Team MVP, First Half of 2010:
Shin Soo Choo - 7 votes
Yep, it's unanimous. Well...duh?
It should be noted that we did receive one vote that read as follows: Jhonny Peralta (just kidding, Choo).
2. Team Cy Young, First Half of 2010:
Fausto Carmona - 7 votes
I know you all secretly wanted to vote for Hector Ambriz. Someone actually did (in jest, of course).
3. Player Who Has Been The Biggest First-Half Pleasant Surprise:
Mitch Talbot - 5 votes
Carlos Santana - 2 votes
Why does Mark Shapiro still have a job? See above.
4. Player Who Has Been The Biggest First-Half Disappointment:
Grady Sizemore - 2
Luis Valbuena - 2
Michael Brantley - 2
Justin Masterson - 1
Travis Hafner - 1
Clearly, no one expected anything out of Peralta.
5. First Player To Be Traded After The Break:
Austin Kearns - 5
Kerry Wood -2
For all interested parties, I'm offering Trevor Crowe free with the purchase of Kerry Wood.
6. Area In Which The Tribe Needs The Most Improvement In The Second Half:
Samantha Bunten: Defense
Scott Miles: Consistency
Lewie Pollis: The Wins Column
Dan Tylicki: Improve? At this point, just let the young guys play and look to next year.
Dale Thomas: Attitude
The Coop: Scoring more runs than the other team...Their offense is offensive.
Nino Colla: Defense
7. Predicted Finish Order For The AL Central:
5. Kansas City
4. Kansas City
5. (sigh) Cleveland
5. Kansas City
4. Kansas City
4. Kansas City
4. Kansas City
5. Kansas City
8. Your Overall Thoughts on the First Half of the 2010 Season in 100 Words or Less:
Samantha Bunten: You have to hand it to the Tribe front office, so far they've managed to put a team on the field that is doing exactly what they said it would do: Essentially nothing.
We were warned about rebuilding, just like we are every year, so the fact that the team is struggling comes as no surprise. Still, a team that was at least supposed to be able to score runs that is third-to-last in the AL in that category is a bit hard to take.
The pitching has been a pleasant surprise though, and will only get better. The defense has been horrendous, but I expect none of us would care much about that if the other parts were working properly.
The Tribe will be better in the second half, but they won't be good. We'll get 'em next year...right?
Scott Miles: A little worse than I expected as the offense, due to injuries and struggles of some youngsters (and vets...Hafner, Peralta), really hampered the team.
Pitching staff has done about as well as can be expected given their inexperience. It's depressing to think that if we were .500, we'd only be 5.5 games out of first.
Lewie Pollis: What’s killing the Tribe this year isn’t the inexperience of our young, developing core (those growing pains were expected), but the complete incompetence of our veterans.
Shin-Soo Choo is the only carryover from last year who has a WAR over 1.0, while Grady Sizemore and Asdrubal Cabrera have negative value—even if you’re not into sabermetrics, that should tell you something.
The massive injuries haven’t helped and you could say it doesn’t matter since we didn’t have a real chance of making the playoffs anyway. But it’s not the Justin Mastersons who are killing this team, it’s the Jhonny Peraltas.
Dan Tylicki: I wasn't expecting much, but our hitting in particular has just been painful to watch, as have been the injuries to our best guys.
It stinks, but Manny Acta hasn't had much to work with. Even if we had Lee and Sabathia now we'd be struggling to see .500.
Dale Thomas: A lot has gone wrong, particularly with injuries. Oddly, it's difficult to say if the Tribe would have done any better if the injuries had not been a factor. The straight-up numbers say 'not so much'.
Overall it's been an horrendous first half. Our defense has been completely pathetic. When a few really bad errors happen, you can gripe about the player(s) for a short while then move on thinking "that will never happen again". However, we've seen error after error after error, by multiple players in multiple scenarios, each looking like something from a tee-ball game with kids who appear to be totally disinterested in baseball. Pitchers, infielders, and outfielders alike, all guilty.
Next comes the offense with a collective batting average of .245, third worst in the AL. The .245 team average in and of itself, doesn't come close to telling the tale. Brantley - .118. Valbuena - .166. Marte - .185...and so on, with our best hitter sitting at .286.
Throw some shaky starting pitchers into the mix, along with shakier relief pitching, and the world's worst closer, and you have the perfect formula for last place. That said, Baltimore and Pittsburgh both have worse records, so in a league of those three teams, the Tribe is the clear series favorite. Somehow this doesn't make me feel any better.
Bottom line: the Tribe has played disgusting baseball without pride, interest in their chosen sport, or any discernible desire to win.
This is exactly what the owner and GM created and insist on defending. Small market, small market, small market, and the nerve to incessantly brag about it like it's some sort of great excuse, or somehow validates their brilliance.
I remember the 1990s. Same city...except we won a ton of games with actual real ball players who seemed to totally enjoy the sport. It always seems appropriate to say Jacobs knew what he was doing... but then I'm reminded that he clearly knew what he was doing when he sold the team at an overly-inflated price to a guy who couldn't afford it, leaving Cleveland and it's baseball fans with nothing but memories of decades past. Blah.
The Coop: I knew the Indians would be horrible, and they are.
There have been a few pleasant surprises (particularly starting pitching) but mostly, the typical disappointments (Hafner, Peralta, Sizemore).
I look forward to seeing the development of guys like Brantley, Santana, and LaPorta in the second half.
I am also thankful that we no longer have to talk about Eric Wedge!
Nino Colla: There has been no shortage of interesting stories and plots throughout this season. It has had more lows than highs but it certainly has been entertaining.
I think the offense is coming around to the point where we can see them pull out of the basement, but the biggest goal should be to get the young guys experience.
I'm not really sure what the first half of this season was about, but we've only scratched the service in terms of answers beyond 2010.