Maybe I’m just the type of person that’s easily annoyed, but there are a lot of things about the 2012 Cleveland Indians that just tend to grate on me. The uncertainty with the starting rotation is one of those things, as the only person that hasn’t practically wet himself on the mound this season is Zach McAllister. As for the rest of them, they’ve had several disastrous games a piece. Enough disastrous games that I’ve managed to see each of them unravel in person at least once this season. (And I’m not forgetting about you Jeanmar Gomez, even though you’re safely tucked away in Columbus at the moment). This apparently contagious disease of being absolutely awful has spread to the bullpen as well, infecting pretty much everyone that isn’t named Joe Smith and Vinnie Pestano. (Chris Perez has been reliable for the most part, but even he’s had his moments). The pitching has been so inconsistent, that it got to the point that I started rolling a dice in an attempt to predict each player’s performance. (One to three means a good day, four to six means a bad day). When I try to rely on logic and statistics to make my predictions, I get burned.
Next you have the offense. The easiest targets are the dynamic trio in left, and Casey Kotchman at first. I think sometimes I find it even more annoying when the star players look terrible, since I expect more out of them. I feel like someone’s disappointed mother when I start yelling, “Michael Brantley is left-handed and can hit left-handed pitching. Why can’t the rest of you? Why can’t you be more like Michael Brantley?” If you think about it, even the best ballplayers, Hall of Fame-worthy ballplayers, fail two out of every three times. Nobody is going to be perfect, nor do I expect them to be. I do appreciate quality at-bats though, when you take an intelligent approach at the plate and don’t go flailing at everything within a 10-foot radius in an attempt to hit the ball into Lake Erie. Use your brain – you don’t have to stand there and take pitches, but if the guy has walked the bases loaded on 12 pitches you may not want to swing at the first thing you see and pop it up to the catcher.
The other day, Will looked at some potential trade rumors and why he did not want to see the Indians make those particular deals. I decided to look at some scenarios (some from within the Indians organization) that I think have the potential to really annoy the heck out of me. That’s not to say that they’re necessarily terrible ideas and shouldn’t be considered under the right circumstances, just that these players could excel at driving me even more insane. (To add in a lame quote my dad or grandpa would make “It’s a short drive.”)
Fausto Carmona/Roberto Hernandez. This one is happening, whether we like it or not. When his suspension is over in early August, we’ll find out once and for all if he was really “keeping in shape” while stuck in the Dominican Republic. I have to say, I’m kind of intrigued by the mystery behind all of this. Will he keep the same uniform number? Will pitching under his true identity finally make him less nuts on the mound? How many chins will he have? Who will get the boot in order to clear up a spot on the roster? Derek Lowe and Josh Tomlin have made me the most crazy lately, but I have a bad feeling they’ll load McAllister onto the Colum-bus even though he’s pitched well. Hey, at least Carmona/Hernandez will fit right in with the rest of the crowd! Who knows how he’ll pitch on any given day? I predict that he’ll allow somewhere between 1 earned run, and 40 earned runs. I also want to be stubborn and continue to call him Fausto, just because I like it and I get very set in my ways.
Francisco Liriano. This is a legitimate rumor; the Twins are interested in dumping him off, and the Indians have supposedly inquired. The Twins probably wanted to get rid of him quickly, while he was still in the midst of a series of good starts. It’s like trying to sell a car where you know the engine is leaking oil and about to explode. Just please, someone, ANYONE take this totally awesome, amazing car off my hands! (As you nervously try to block the puddle of oil underneath from the potential buyer’s view). The wheels fell off on Monday against the White Sox and Liriano only survived 2.2 innings and surrendered 7 earned runs. Just like pretty much every single pitcher on the Indians’ staff, Liriano is completely unpredictable. At times, he has lights-out, no-hitter type of stuff. Others, it’s like he’s pitching batting practice…he’s been driving Twins fans nuts for years. He’d fit right in with the Indians.
Matt LaPorta. Oh Matt…why do you have to be so good at Triple-A, and so mediocre/bad every time you come to the majors? You give people false hope. They see your Columbus stats and think, “Maybe he’s figured it out? Bring him back to Cleveland!” Then you get to Cleveland, and you just flail at the plate. It seems that at least once a week you swing really hard and let go of the bat, and we all watch as it flies dangerously into the stands. (Seriously, if you ever have tickets on the third base dugout on a day that LaPorta is in the lineup, you’re better off wearing a hockey mask). When LaPorta gets into a pitch though, he can hit it a billion miles. It’s just too bad that the rest of his at-bats tend to leave something to be desired.
Bryan LaHair. There was a time when I thought, “Wow, I wonder what it would take to pry LaHair away from the Cubs?” Now I find myself thinking, “Please don’t pry LaHair away from the Cubs.” As Bradley Ankrom points out at Baseball Prospectus, LaHair hit .390/.471/.780 during the first month of the season. I don’t think anyone, myself included, expected a minor league journeyman to maintain that kind of production. As Ankrom points out, since May 1 Kotchman and LaHair have pretty similar production, with Kotchman hitting .264/.319/.409 and LaHair hitting .245/.319/.413. Even if the Cubs were to pretty much give him away (which I doubt) he wouldn’t provide any offensive improvement over Kotchman and his defensive skills aren’t nearly as strong. Kotchman’s plate appearances often make me crazy enough (there are ample weak groundouts to the right side). His saving grace is his defense, and you wouldn’t even get that with LaHair.
Hunter Pence. Last year I was secretly hoping the Indians would find a way to make a trade for Pence. He’s had decent stats this year (.268/.336/.453) but they are well below his 2011 numbers (.314/.370/.502). Things have been pretty miserable with the Phillies so far this year, so maybe a change of pace could do him some good. After seeing the frustration that Phillies fans feel with Pence, part of me hopes that the Indians avoid a deal for him. I just get the feeling that he would drive everyone nuts, particularly on defense.
Alfonso Soriano. This one probably makes me the least crazy, and under the right circumstances I would be on board. The thing that I don’t like about Soriano is that he seems to lack plate discipline and often runs hot and cold as a hitter. When talking with a Cubs fan the other day, the fan joked that while Soriano was hitting in the .280s this season, his OBP was probably also in the .280s. His average has tapered off a bit, and his OBP is a bit higher – .271/.322/.494. Soriano is a right-handed bat, albeit a pricey one – he’s owed $18 million in 2013 and $18 million in 2014 before he hits free agency. Pretty much everyone expects the Cubs to eat a significant portion of salary, but how much? And if they eat a ton of salary, they’re probably going to want better prospects in return. Remember, the reason the Indians were able to pry Carlos Santana loose for Casey Blake is because the McCourts were having all of those financial issues and wanted the Indians to eat his salary for the rest of the season. Soriano is 36 and has been mediocre for much of his tenure in Chicago. The Indians would be stuck with him for the next two years unless they ended up releasing him (which is possible, since Chicago would probably be paying most of the salary).
So there you have it, the deals that would likely make me most annoyed. What’s sad is that I realized a few weeks ago with the Kevin Youkilis extravaganza is that I’m less excited about the Indians nabbing any of these players, and more anxious to play keep-away from their fellow AL Central rivals. Did I want the Indians to trade for Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante? No. Did I want them to end up in Detroit? Nope. That’s become the primary motivator in all of my ideal trade scenarios – HOG ALL OF THE TOYS, NO OTHER KIDS CAN PLAY WITH THEM!
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