Cleveland's post-deadline swoon highlights their missed opportunity.
The Indians lost a heartbreaker on Wednesday night, surrendering five runs in the ninth inning (four of them on an Adam Eaton grand slam) to lose 10-7 to the White Sox. It dropped the team to 8-8 in August. They’ve gotten lucky, as their frustrating fortnight has coincided with a Tigers collapse and preserved most of their division lead. They had a 90.2-percent chance to win the AL Central on July 31; they have about the same chance to do so today. Still, this is not what this team had in mind when the front office traded for Andrew Miller. And it might not be happening at all, but for the trade the front office wasn’t able to make.
Roberto Perez and Chris Gimenez have combined to bat .180/.255/.320 during August. In Texas, meanwhile, Jonathan Lucroy is hitting .250/.348/.725. There haven’t yet been serious repercussions, but I believe that the Indians’ franchise fortunes took a nasty, long-term turn for the worse at the very moment when the deal they had put together to land Lucroy fell through.
Terry Francona gets unorthodox, Denard Span gets #ycpb all over everything, David Dahl's young and hot, and beware managerial pledges not to bunt so much.
The Thursday Takeaway
The closer is a decidedly unsexy concept from a hardcore sabermetric perspective. The best reliever on the team, the school of thought says, should be deployed in the situation with the highest leverage, not against the bottom of the order in a save situation that may never happen if some Triple-A call-up blows it in the sixth inning.
Danny Salazar is losing heat, and Max Kepler takes advantage. Meanwhile, Danny Duffy and Kyle Hendricks turn in signature starts.
The Monday Takeaway
The Indians had themselves a mighty fine trade deadline, even after Jonathan Lucroy nixed his ticket to Cleveland. Andrew Miller should fortify the bullpen and Brandon Guyer figures to provide a nice boost to the outfield. With a relatively stable and healthy rotation, general manager Mike Chernoff was able to use his myriad trade chits to patch other roster holes while steering clear of the extreme sellers’ market for starting pitchers.
Then the deadline passed, and game time came around for the Tribe’s August opener against the Twins, and… uh oh.
A poor reliever's poor heart broken; Lindor's a hero; Sabathia makes it easier AND harder to trade him; and Arenado does defense.
The Tuesday Takeaway Vinko Bogataj was forever immortalized as the face of “the agony of defeat” on ABC’s Wide World of Sports. His incredible crash on a ski jump slope in 1970 became forever associated with agony and defeat. It was his misfortune that an entire generation learned to cringe and giggle at.
The Indians head into the trade deadline in first place, but are they really capable of running with the best teams in this year's playoffs?
In 1999, the world was anticipating the Y2K bug, Rachel and Ross had just (accidentally) married, and Enema of the State and The Slim Shady LP were selling millions of records against the backdrop of Napster’s ascent.
The struggling Cubs fail to build any momentum, the Angels win without Trout, and the Indians keep destroying the Tigers.
The Tuesday Takeaway
Last week, the Reds operated as a palate cleanser of sorts for the Cubs. Chicago entered the three-game series against Cincinnati having lost six of their previous seven, and they exited it with a sweep that made it look as if that streak of ugliness was over.
Let’s think outside the box. You know. “The box.” The box that every single motivational speaker and business consultant and hack writer tells you that you need to think outside of, before reaching for one of the acceptable 10 examples of out-of-the-box thinking. (Did you know that Post-It notes were created by accident? All because someone had the idea to think outside of the box!) “The box” is now—ironically enough—a tired metaphor for thinking in ways that aren’t creative. I’m always amused by the fact that people call for “outside the box” thinking, and then never talk about how that’s to be accomplished. The problem is that we are all trapped inside a mime’s box. How do you step outside a box that neither you nor anyone else can actually see?
The Angels win a football game, Bryan Holaday throws a knuckleball, and the Indians fall just short of history.
The Weekend Takeaway
Which sport epitomizes the red-blooded American best: football or baseball? Do we see more of ourselves in Tom Brady’s perfect touchdown spiral or the graceful swing of a Mike Trout home run?
The White Sox hit seven home runs, Kevin Gausman and Carlos Carrasco toss four-hitters, and Jose Altuve goes for the cycle.
The Weekend Takeaway
There are no givens in baseball. A 10-run lead can evaporate under the misdirection of a tired bullpen, a no-hitter can be lost on a misplayed fly ball, and a ninth-inning tie can be broken on a walk-off balk. Still, there are certain markers which, once they are passed, provide a feeling of security.
Notable performances this week from Trevor Bauer, Corey Kluber and Wei-Yin Chen.
There’s no time to waste, as the commander has ordered double-time for this week’s pitching notes. Permission to come aboard.
Kluber has been going through this rigmarole for a year and a half. Perhaps he was fortunate to string together so many dominant starts during his Cy-winning campaign of 2014, but Kluber continues to confound, with a glaring tendency toward disaster starts throughout the past two seasons. The peripherals far surpass the ERA numbers—he has a K/BB ratio of 5.2 over the past season and a half but just a 3.52 ERA to show for his work—and his excellent stuff combined with A-grade mechanics provide a steady basis for command and consistency. Yet he gets bombarded by hits and runs every few starts, and his past two turns serve as exhibits 1A and 1B.