Chris Assenheimer: Fans must have known Tribe start was too good to be true

June 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

It appears Indians fans were right to stay away from Progressive Field, not buying tickets and concessions nor into the team’s surprisingly successful first two months of the regular season.
You called it fans, the Tribe definitely doesn’t look like it’s for real – not anymore, at least.
What’s been holding the Indians back as of late is an anemic offense – without an injured Travis Hafner and with a slumping Shin-Soo Choo – that has struggled mightily with runners in scoring position.
Nearly everyone was a regular contributor when the Tribe flourished offensively over the first month-plus. Now, no one contributes. The hits and runs have all but dried up – Cleveland was shut out again Saturday (4-0 to the Yankees) – the fifth time in 15 games.
When the Indians do hit,  they can’t pitch. As manager Manny Acta put it after a recent loss: “We just can’t seem to put it all together.”
Truth be told, the Indians have been a mediocre bunch for close to a month. The rest of the Central Division was just playing poorly.
That’s changed, as both  Detroit and Chicago have caught fire to close the gap on the first-place Indians. The Tigers trailed by just a game through Friday, while the White Sox were 5½ games back.
So, maybe the fans who refused to frequent Progressive Field when the team was the best in baseball were on to something. They thought the Indians were merely posing as a first-place team, and at this point, it looks like they’re right.
The Indians have already squandered baseball’s best overall record and home mark, as well as the best record in the American League. With two more games left in New York, followed by a three-game series in Detroit, it seems a foregone conclusion that the first-place standing is up next.

Fausto’s follies

Fausto Carmona is looking like the pitcher who was banished to the minors a couple years back. His latest debacle was a four-inning effort Friday in which he allowed six runs in an 11-7 loss to the Yankees.
After an abysmal effort on Opening Day, it appeared Carmona had righted his ship with a flurry of positive outings, but he’s back on the skids with a 3-8 record and 5.71 ERA in 14 starts.
The Indians need all the help they can get and have received little from Carmona, who has arguably been the worst pitcher in the rotation during his first season as the full-time ace.
Carmona has been labeled a head case in the past and has lived up to that advanced billing on a number of occasions throughout his career. He appears to be settling into the role again.
So what to do? The Indians can’t send him down to the minors again, mostly because there is no one there that gives them a better chance to win.
They could skip his spot in the rotation, but what good will that do? Will Carmona get the message that he needs to pitch better? I think he already knows that.
Carmona isn’t going anywhere, unless he is traded to a contender at the All-Star break, and then he will undoubtedly flourish, as nearly every player does after leaving Cleveland. The Indians need to fix their broken ace or suffer the consequences.

Surprising switch

Orlando Cabrera wasn’t the only one shocked by the promotion of second baseman Cord Phelps, whose arrival means a platoon situation and less playing time for the veteran Cabrera.
While it’s true Cabrera has struggled in the field and at the plate recently, he is a favorite of Acta and probably the biggest and most influential leader in the clubhouse – a mentor to shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera.
Choo and Carlos Santana were allowed to play through slumps – Choo’s still doing it – but the Indians weren’t willing to allow Cabrera the same luxury. It doesn’t make much sense right now.
If this was for someone that was tearing it up in the minors, or for top prospect Lonnie Chisenhall, then all right. Phelps was having a nice season at Triple-A Columbus, but nothing that demanded he be called up.
Yes, the Indians need offense, but Phelps, a nice player with a potentially bright future, isn’t the answer. This seems like someone had a quick trigger finger, and one of the few veterans on the roster is paying the price as a result.

Weekly Power Poll

1. Philadelphia Phillies: Even when they don’t hit, their stacked rotation will always give them a chance.
2. St. Louis Cardinals: With Albert Pujols back to his home run-hitting form, the Cards are dealing.
3. Boston Red Sox: From worst to first, the Red Sox are rolling behind one of the best lineups in baseball and a top-shelf rotation.
4. Texas Rangers: The Rangers look like the team that represented the American League in the World Series
5. New York Yankees: The rotation is thin, but the Yanks keep outslugging the competition.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

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