Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Those are Cleveland Indians!

Anyone who grew up in Northeast Ohio in the ’70s and ’80s took the requisite summer trip to Cedar Point.

And as the day wore on and you needed a break, the riverboat ride was a good opportunity to catch your breath and recharge for another run through the park.

The ride featured rather crude animatronic hillbillies and other river folk along the riverbed, and the boat’s narrator provided “witty” commentary throughout the ride.

At one key point, the hillbillies would be engaged in a shooting match with a band of Indians, but the narrator always assured guests not to worry because, “they can’t hit anything, those are Cleveland Indians!”

We thought about that as we watched the current group of Indians stumble their way through the weekend series with San Francisco.

The teamwide offense slump has to be reaching historic proportions. Consider these offensive numbers (according to The Plain Dealer):

  • Orlando Cabrera is 17 for his last 100
  • Grady Sizemore is 17-for-96
  • Jack Hannahan is 19-for-104

Or how about these batting averages by month (April/May/June):

  • Cabrera .283/.230/.197
  • Sizemore .378/.143/.188
  • Hannahan .273/.184/.175
  • Travis Buck .241/.263/.171
  • Adam Everett .375/.200/.125
  • Austin Kearns .139/.257/.182
  • Shelley Duncan .370/.190/.000

Looking at those numbers it’s no surprise that Carlos Carrasco and Justin Masterson combined to give up one earned run over the weekend and both walked away with losses. And don’t forget Sunday’s effort where the Tribe struck out 16 times.

So now what?

Obviously what the team is doing is not working. It’s only been a few days, but replacing hitting coach Jon Nunnally with Bruce Fields didn’t bring a quick turnaround in the fortunes of the batters. It’s going to take more than that.

How manager Manny Acta can continue to give at bats to Duncan, Kearns, Everett, Hannahan and Orland Cabrera on a regular basis is beyond us. We know his options are limited – Albert Belle, Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez circa 1996 aren’t walking through the clubhouse door any time soon – but staying the course no longer seems like a true option.

It’s nice having veteran hitters on the team, but veteran can sometimes be a euphemism for old. Duncan, Kearns, etc., are what they are at this point, we don’t see any reason to believe they are going to start hitting all of a sudden.

If the Indians want to trade for someone, the list of possible available players doesn’t really do anything for us, especially if the Tribe has to give up too much in return.

Seems like a good time to start bringing up the kids from a “stacked” AAA Columbus team. Give Ezequial Carrera, Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall a chance to see what they can do on a regular basis with the big club.

UPDATE: The Tribe promoted Chisenhall on Monday and he had two hits and an RBI against Arizona. Everett, who had one RBI in 34 games, has been designated for assignment. And Orlando Cabrera hit the game-winning home run.

And the circle of life continues

While its unlikely they will be able to single-handedly turn this thing around – witness Cord Phelps and his .216 average – but can they do any worse than the group of non-hitters the Tribe currently employs?

If nothing else, promoting the youngsters will help re-energize a fan base that has grown jittery during the team’s recent 10-21 slide that erased the good feelings of the 30-15 start.

And while you don’t want the team to do something just for the public relations boost, especially since the Tribe is only 1 game out of first place despite everything that’s gone on, if now isn’t the time to do something, when is?

(Photo by The Associated Press)

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