This is getting unbearable to watch. Good teams usually don’t have streaks like this over the course of a season. Sure, every team goes through its ups and downs during the season, but rarely do you see playoff caliber teams endure a streak like the Indians have endured over the past week or so. Just for good measure, there has only been one team in history to win the World Series with a losing streak greater than seven games, and that was the 1953 New York Yankees who had a losing streak of nine games. It’s frustrating for fans to watch, because we all saw the potential this team had during their great stretch in May. Now I’m not saying it’s time to give up just yet. There’s still a long way to go in the season, and there’s still time to turn this thing around. However, I know for sure that streaky teams are rarely ever that successful. Streakiness is never really a good thing in baseball because streakiness implies bad streaks as well. Good teams are able to consistently minimize these streaks, unlike what the Indians are doing right now.
I thought that maybe the offense was going to breakthrough tonight after Carlos Santana hit his big three run double in the 3rd which temporarily gave the Tribe a 3-1 lead. These are the types of hits that the Tribe has lacked during their losing streak. Instead, the Indians went hitless the remainder of the game. A couple things are on my mind with the offense right now.
I still have no idea why Michael Brantley continues to bat in the middle of the order. Dating back to my articles in Spring Training it has never really made sense to me. A lot of people that defend this move talk about how Brantley “never changes his approach” and thus he can hit anywhere in the lineup. This reasoning makes no sense to me. Michael Brantley is a really good player and a very consistent hitter; please do not get me wrong because I’m a big fan of Brantley. However, driving in runs is a skill set in baseball. Michael Brantley has a lot of great skill sets, but being a run producer is not one of them. Santana, Swisher, Reynolds, Giambi…these are guys that have track records of putting up decent RBI totals (even though they might not all be producing during this current stretch). Brantley has never been this kind of player. He only has 11 extra base hits on the season! Brantley’s strengths lie in his consistent approach, ability to take what the pitcher gives him and his eye at the plate. He is primarily a singles hitter, which makes him much better suited for the top of the order or even the bottom third of the order as well. I would honestly rather see Asdrubal Cabrera (when healthy of course) or Jason Kipnis hit in the middle of the lineup than Brantley. I apologize for going on a rampage about this, but this has never really made any sense to me.
The other major thing about the offense I want to mention is Mark Reynolds. Mark Reynolds now looks like the strikeout machine everyone was expecting to see when we signed him this offseason. That’s ok, strikeouts have always been his downfall. The problem is that he isn’t doing anything else to make up for it offensively. Mark Reynolds does not have an RBI since May 29th, which happens to be when he hit his last homer as well. I think Terry Francona needs to bring Lonnie Chisenhall back up ASAP. First of all, Chisenhall is scorching hot in Columbus and seems to have found his stroke. He could also provide a much needed spark to this team potentially too. Also, Mark Reynolds is absolutely HORRIBLE at third base. He has a UZR of -3.5 at 3B this season, compared to a UZR of 1.3 for Chisenhall. I think playing 3B has greatly affected Reynolds’s offensive production as well, and he needs to go back to being our full time DH.
My last major rant of the day is Nick Hagadone. Hagadone really frustrates me, maybe more so than any other player on the Tribe right now. However, the reason I get frustrated watching Hagadone is that this kid has all the talent in the world. I’m really big on his potential and his arm. He has everything you would want for a back end of the bullpen type guy. Terry Francona is almost forced to bring him in at times to match up lefty on lefty with opposing hitters in high leverage situations, as Hagadone is much more likely to get the strikeout than the other Tribe lefty Rich Hill. Hagadone has responded terribly though by giving up a number of crucial, game changing hits by the opposition as he did to Lance Berkman tonight. He has an awful LOB% of 54.1%, which means that he has let a lot of inherited baserunners score as well.
At the end of all my articles I try to leave a sense of optimism with the readers and I’m sure there are times I am successful and I’m sure there are times I am not. However, a silver lining can always be found if you look for it, even in the toughest of situations. If anything, the Tribe has the right people in the clubhouse to keep this team together and fighting. Terry Francona genuinely believes in this team, and he’s let them know this. Nick Swisher and Jason Giambi are two of the best clubhouse guys you can find on a team, and there’s no doubt in my mind that the chemistry of this team will hold at the very least.
If that silver lining wasn’t good enough for you, then I’m about to one up myself…JOHN MCDONALD IS BACK IN THE HOUSE TRIBE FANS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! In all seriousness, I loved “Johnny Mac” back in his early days with the Indians. He was never a significant player, but I always thought he was a class act and went about his business the right way. He also was a spectacular defensive player who was able to make a number of highlight plays whenever he was called upon. Obviously, this is a pretty insignificant move for the Tribe, but nonetheless, I’ll be happy to see him back in a Tribe uniform. Maybe he can bring some luck to our guys right now, because they need it.