August’s Reflections on the Indians

Jimenez watches as the Tigers continue to score in a weekend series sweep of their division rivals.

The Indians were just involved in a series sweep with the division rival Detroit Tigers, but unfortunately they were the ones getting swept. At one point in the season, the Indians had a seven game lead in their division with fans planning their schedules for October, but now with just over a month left in the season, they find themselves three games back of the team who just swept them.

In the past month, the Indians’ front office did a number of surprising acts that fans haven’t become accustomed to over the past few years. Instead of trading away stars with the idea that they can win with a loaded farm system, the Indians went with a win now approach, making three different deadline deals and sacrificing future prospects in the process.

The most notable move was the Indians trade with the Colorado Rockies for their “ace” Ubaldo Jimenez. The Indians gave up their two minor pitching prospects for Jimenez in the attempt to win now. Jimenez has been underwhelming during his first half month with the team. While he did have an outing where he gave up no earned runs through eight innings of work, he has also had outings of under-five.

Cleveland has also been hit by the injury bug as of late. Just two weeks after coming off of the disabled list, fan favorite Grady Sizemore hurt his leg again while running out a double and is now projected to be back in the beginning of September. Second basemen Jason Kipnis has played very well when on the field, and even allowed the Indians to trade Orlando Cabrera for an outfield prospect at the deadline. Unfortunately Kipnis recently injured his hamstring and will be out for two weeks. This has led to a hodgepodge of attempts to fill in for Kipnis at second base, none of which have worked.

Most recently, designated hitter Travis Hafner hurt his leg again and will more than likely take yet another trip to the disabled list after running out a hit.  Pinch hit specialist Shelley Duncan also came up lame the day before Hafner was injured, leaving another hole in the line-up.

With a week and a half left in August, the Indians have to hope to get healthy and hope for some home cooking. With all of their remaining August games occurring at Progressive Field, the Indians have a chance to rebound from a disappointing trip to Detroit and get right back in the thick of the race for the postseason.

In order to do this, the bullpen must continue their strong play. Lead by All Star closer Chris Perez, the Indians have been able to rely on the majority of the pen to step up in big spots, or even just eat up some innings, when needed. Vinnie Pestano, who always turns heads by is all-out sprint from the bullpen to the mound, has been strong all season. Middle relievers Rafael Perez, Tony Sipp and Joe Smith have also been very consistent throughout the summer and have created a sense of security for Indians fans.

The Indians do not currently have an active player hitting over .300, which has been a weakness all season. Hopefully when the health returns, so will the bats and the Indians can take some pressure off of the pitching staff.

The Indians have the most reliable roster they have had in three years and are doing everything they can with the new win now mentality to make sure they make a play for the Central Division title in 2011. Hopefully the roster expansion that will occur in September will help them find a diamond in the rough who can push them through the final month of the season.

 

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