If this were a battle, most of the Indians batting order climbed out of the trenches with their hands up before the first shots were fired. While not discounting the talent of the Houston Astros, the performance the Indians delivered over the past four days was a nearly unforgivable mess. Most of the players in that lineup should be ashamed of how they played. Sure, one team wins, the other loses.
Welcome to competition.
What happened over the last 90 hours was not a competition. That was quitting. It was a complete and utter throwing in of the towel before giving it a shot. Now the Tribe’s season is over and it is time to start reviewing what needs to happen. If you think things should stay as is, you’re off your rocker.
Before a vein surfaces on my forehead from recounting what went wrong, let’s start with the positives. Carlos Carrasco showed up. Mike Clevinger showed up. Frankie Lindor showed up. Did all three of those guys tear it up in their respective opportunities? No, but they put forth an effort.
So what went wrong?
To begin with, most of that lineup disappeared. More people saw the Loch Ness Monster over the past few days than they did Indians base runners. Again, I’m very well aware the Astros have a solid pitching staff. I’m also very well aware that this Cleveland lineup should muster far more hits than the anemic amount they had over three games against the defending World Series champs.
With that being said, the Indians’ problems did not occur over the past few days. This has been a season-long affliction. Cleveland was in the weakest division in all of Major League Baseball for 2018. Terry Francona and the Indians should have absolutely decimated the competition. Instead, they couldn’t even squeak out 100 wins. While reaching triple-digit victories is certainly an accomplishment, it should have been expected and easily achieved by our Indians this past season. There is simply no excuse for them to struggle as they did against mediocrity and worse.
Through portions of this season, it has been feast or famine. The Tribe unloads 12 runs on an opponent, then puts up one run a day later. Wash, rinse, repeat. Changes need to be made and that starts at the top. One, goodbye Terry Francona. We certainly appreciate your work while you were here, but this nonsensical behavior of being loyal to players to a fault is unacceptable. Case in point, let’s keep putting Cody Allen in until he gets his confidence back. His confidence?? Time to put your big boy pants on, Cody. When we traded for Brad Hand earlier in the season, I thought for sure he was our new closer. Francona managed to fumble that almost immediately as he continued to rely on Allen to close out games when all he was really closing out was his career.
Step two, adios Kip. Jason Kipnis is a really nice guy…at least that’s what I’m told and I believe it. Too bad this isn’t Tinder. We’re not looking for nice here, we’re looking for ballplayers. Quite honestly, I’ve heard enough of how he’s changed his stance, how he holds the bat, how he grabs rolled-up magazines in hotel rooms to practice his swing and how he dislikes playing center field. Good God in Heaven, man, figure it out already. This isn’t week one out of the minors. Enough time has been spent on boosting his confidence too and I’m over it at this point. Don’t worry, Greg Allen. You had my vote to start.
Step three, fix Cory Kluber. Yeah, I said it. How dare I make such a claim when he had 20 wins this year. If you’ve watched Kluber in 2018, you’d recognize there’s something off about him where he looked like another pitcher on more than one occasion and it carried over to the Houston series. If he’s injured, announce it and stop playing him. Perhaps it was just an off year for him, which could very well be the case. I, however, do not believe that to be the reality as he lost his rhythm with some regularity this past summer and did so against non-contenders like Kansas City. Sorry, folks. Something is up when it happens that much against teams so weak.
As for that batting order this postseason, it was a glaring problem like no other. You don’t have that kind of power and talent fall silent two years in a row without some underlying issue taking place. If they’re disinterested, they need a manager to light a fire beneath them. If they’re unhappy, trade them. Toxicity gets you nowhere. If nothing is wrong, well, this sure was one hell of a bit of irony for nearly the whole offense to collapse all at once. Needless to say, I don’t buy the latter and I also can’t part ways with this conversation without mentioning the magician, Jose Ramirez. Ramirez certainly hasn’t earned that moniker for enchanting fans since August. It’s more so due to his vanishing act in the batter’s box. His batting average and home runs didn’t merely decline, they fell off a cliff.
In short, he choked, just like the team did as a whole this year, just like they did last year and just like they did in Game 7 the year before. The Indians have become the complete opposite of clutch. They didn’t try hard enough and they didn’t want it bad enough. Instead of the exception, this outcome has been the norm, and that is unacceptable. Until next year, right? Not if a few key changes aren’t made. Killer instinct has left the building.