Maybe our off-season hopes were raised too high by the hiring of Terry Francona as Tribe manager and the signing of names like Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn to the roster, but the first month of the regular season was not exactly pretty. Not in the least. We had four rainouts (only one of which has been made up) and finished below .500. So not good. Here’s a quick summary of the last month.

Where do we stand?
We finished the month with an 11-13 (.458) record in 4th place in the division. On the plus side, the Tribe has won its last three games and they’ve all been blow-outs. We don’t need 7 home runs per game but scoring more than 3 runs is nice.

What was the biggest surprise this month?
We’ve had to do a lot of roster juggling very early in the season. First our catchers started getting clobbered, with Lou Marson taking a nasty hit and spending time on the DL and then Carlos Santana getting banged up enough to call up Yan Gomes. Scott Kazmir spent some time on the DL, and Michael Bourn is still on it. Jason Giambi started the season on the DL, and Brett Myers is on it now. Corey Kluber has spent enough time on I-71 between Cleveland and Columbus that they’ve named a rest stop after him. Oh yeah, and Matt Albers was placed on the paternity list for a time as well. People go on the DL all the time, but this seemed like an unusually high number of roster changes early in the year. I’d like to think that the stop-and-start nature of the team this month has something to do with the constant roster shuffling plus four momentum-killing postponed games.

What was the biggest disappointment?
Nick Swisher, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Jason Kipnis took varying amounts of time to come around offensively this year. Only Kipnis is still lagging a bit, but he seems to have found his form. Carlos Carrasco clearly not learning the lesson about throwing at people is a close second.

What is our biggest challenge for the rest of the season?
Consistency. While the Indians won their last three games of the month by tremendous margins, there were also 14 games (out of 24 played) in which they scored 3 or fewer runs. It’s kind of like binge hitting.

Bonus question: What did Ubaldo Jimenez eat before his fabulous start on Monday night?
I don’t know, but perhaps he can have it before every start.

10 Comments

  • Jack says:

    FYI: Best. Blog. Name. EVER.

  • Swift says:

    I would also add “What was the biggest satisfaction (opposite of disappointment)?”
    In answer to that I would say Mark Reynolds, Yan Gomes, and Ryan Raburn all being excellent additions.

  • Sean Porter says:

    Don’t forget Mike Aviles and Brian Shaw as good additions too…

  • Steve Alex says:

    Another negative article. Ok, let me be the voice of optimism for a change. The team is only one game below .500 despite having to overcome the following adversity:
    1. 2B Kipnis missed a full week with a sore elbow; 2. SS Cabrera has been out twice with minor injuries totaling a week; 3. C Santana has been out twice with flu and injury totaling a week; 4. CF Bourn has played only 10 games due to a finger injury; 5. Both catchers were out at the same time, forcing the team to play the #3 several times; 6. Due to injury and suspension, the team has already had to use eight starting pitchers; 7. 1B/RF Swisher has missed two games with a sore shoulder. Other than the Yankees, how many teams have the depth and resources to win with that many players out? Not many. But unlike years past where our stars missed months at a time, our injuries are minor and everyone should be back soon. We have 6 relievers who are good enough to close or set up, and our suspect rotation has allowed the fewest hits in the league. We are on pace to hit 200 HR. We have beaten five Cy Young winning pitchers already this year (Dickey, Halladay, Lee, Peavy, Price).

    • Drew says:

      Unless the team had an April like the Boston Red Sox, you have to criticize what it is doing wrong (identify the problems) so that solutions can be determined to correct them. Susan was pointing out that the Indians had a terrible time offensively while Nick Swisher, Asdrubal Cabrerra, and Jason Kipnis were off to slow starts. Some players are slow to start and the coaching staff knows they will snap out of it. Cabrerra certainly has. Swisher is playing around his career averages and Kipnis is looking better. But, I’d also argue that the starting pitching (with 4 earned runs in 4 games in 26 innings 1.38 ERA, 1.04 WHIP), Ryan Raburn and Mark Reynolds all have some regression ahead. The Indians had 7 infield singles last night alone. That doesn’t happen to a team not on a winning streak (Brantley, Stubbs, Raburn, Santana x2, Gomes, and Reynolds). They had 7 HRs 2 nights ago.

      The rotation is still scary to me. Ubaldo will falter again. Kluber had a career game on Sunday. Trevor Bauer showed signs last night of stardom and that he is young and needs more seasoning in AAA. The movement on some of his pitches were downright filthy and he can miss bats. This is a rotation that can realistically set up the team for victory 2 out of every 5 games.

  • Susan Petrone says:

    @Jack: Thanks!
    @Swift and Sean: Yes, all great additions. Perhaps I should add a “What was the most pleasant surprise” section in upcoming months.
    @Steve: I’m one of the most stupidly optimistic Indians around. I talked about the same issues you did–yes, we had to do a ton of roster juggling to accommodate a lot of injuries and the starting rotation has been out of whack. While the last couple games of the month were fantastic, you can’t ignore the majority of the games they played this month, when they just couldn’t score runs. My hope is that the team we’ve seen this week is the one we’ll see the rest of the season. Hell, if I weren’t an eternal optimist, I wouldn’t have followed the team year in and year out for the past 35 years. :)

  • Drew says:

    But look at this:

    Indians Dominate Four Games
    From Elias: The Indians have won their last four games, outscoring opponents by 34 runs over that stretch (39-5). Cleveland last won four straight games by such a large combined margin in August 1948 (41-7, including a 26-3 win over the St. Louis Browns) on their way to winning the World Series.

    #IndiansWorldSerieschamps

  • Swift says:

    I think Steve Alexis has good points about the injuries. But Drew is right and this rotation is still potentially scary. A lot will depend on what Ubaldo does over his next couple of starts.

  • Steve Alex says:

    I guess I’ve just learned not to read too much into April statistics with small sample sizes. A week ago I was ready to send Kipnis to Columbus, and then he started playing better. I wanted the team to cut Raburn and find another 4th OF, and now he’s the hottest hitter on the planet. It is a long season and you have to let the ebbs and flows play out before making any judgments. Mid-to late May would be the time to look at a guy and decide whether he’s helping your team or not. Swift: I haven’t been Stephanus Alexis since taking Latin in High School, but thanks.

  • Michael says:

    What a Debbie Downer. To be two games under .500 after one month with the mostly crappy pitching we’ve gotten from Jimenez, Carrasco, and Myers and the lack of offense from Cabrera, Kipnis, Chisenhall, and Raburn should be considered a pretty decent month. All the little injuries, roster shuffling, and pee-poor weather also contributed to a “not good” month. But as we have seen from the last two Aprils when the Tribe busted out of the gate only to wilt in the summer, I would rather the team to hang around .500 for the first six weeks and start to turn it on when the weather stays consistently warm. True that the rotation (for the most part) is still the biggest sore spot on the roster, but if we can consistently get 5 to 7 innings out of the starters and the offense keeps it close, I feel like we have the best last three of any bullpen in Smith, Pestano, and Perez. So I’m not totally down on this team just yet. We may never have the juggernaut teams like we had from 1995 to 2001 again, but you shouldn’t get down on Tito just yet. Yes he is a fantastic manager but he had resources at his disposal in Boston that the Dolans have not previously been willing to expend here in Cleveland. So if the team finishes around or slightly above (or below) .500 I don’t want to hear the choir saying we have to get rid of Francona after only one year. Remember the old saying — Rome wasn’t built in a day.