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In Cleveland, hope dies last

Archive for the category “Lonnie Chisenhall”

Tribe needs a consistent Lonnie Chisenhall in 2015

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Detroit TigersFor the majority of our life as a Cleveland Indians fan, the franchise has been bad (or worse) far more than they have been good.

But there has generally been one position that has consistently been a bright sport the Tribe – third base.

Starting with Buddy Bell in 1973, who hit .274 and played Gold Glove-caliber defense (even he wasn’t recognized with an actual Gold Glove) for seven seasons, through Toby Harrah and Brook Jacoby, the position was solid, if unspectacular for the better part of 17 years.

The Tribe hit what could be described as the golden era of the position in 1994, when the team started a nine-year stretch where the hot corner was manned by Jim Thome, Matt Williams and Travis Fryman, During that time the Tribe made the playoffs six times and won two American League pennants.

Since Fryman’s retirement following the 2002 season things haven’t been as prosperous, but the likes of Casey Blake, Aaron Bone, Jhonny Peralta and Jack Hannahan had their moments.

Which brings us to the 2015 season and Lonnie Chisenhall.

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Delayed Gratification

The Cleveland Indians cleaned up some roster questions on Tuesday, optioning Lonnie Chisenhall and Matt LaPorta to Columbus.

Neither move should come as any big surprise, although there is the requisite grumbling from some fans about the move to start the season with journeyman Jack Hannahan at third base over Chisenhall.

Chisenhall hit just .205 during spring training, however, with 16 strikeouts and only one walk in 16 games. Chisenhall needed to hit to win the third base job as Hannahan has a major edge when it comes to defense, something the Indians are going to need plenty of if the offense struggles to score runs as expected.

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Have the Cavs quit on the season?

We knew it was going to be a long year for the Cavaliers as the team goes through the beginning stages of the rebuilding process.

And we know because of injuries and trades the team has been forced to give significant minutes to several players who may not be ready yet (or ever).

But that doesn’t excuse the team’s continued lack of effort on the court.

“I’m really starting to question what type of heart we have as a basketball team,” coach Byron Scott told The Plain Dealer following Sunday’s loss to Oklahoma City. “If you are a competitor, no matter what the situation is, no matter what the year has brought, you’re going to come in and compete every single night. We haven’t done that the last two games. That’s my biggest question: Do we have enough guys in that locker room right now that have heart and some other things to go out there and play the way they’re supposed to play?”

That’s not good, especially since Scott has been preaching that message since the start of the season. And if the players start falling into bad habits now, it will take that much longer to break them out of those habits when this team is ready to start winning again.

Is the team just playing out the string with 17 games left in the season?

“I’m hoping they’re not thinking that way because we’re not thinking that way,” Scott said. “We’ve got to come in every day and try to figure out a way to keep these guys motivated and keep these guys working. I’m hoping they’re not all looking at the schedule and going, ‘OK, April 13, the season’s over and we can take a deep breath and enjoy our summer.’ I don’t necessarily put that past a bunch of the guys on the team right now, but I hope that’s not the case.”

Hopefully Daniel “Boobie” Gibson is right when he says the team still cares.

“I think they really care about winning and playing the right way,” Gibson told The PD. “It’s a matter of when you want to play the right way, you have to know how to play the right way. We have a lot of young guys, and it takes time. It takes time to learn what it takes to play at this level. I think sometimes it might come off that way [lacking heart], but I think guys on this team really care.”

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Looks like we’ll have to wait a while longer for the Lonnie Chisenhall era to begin at Progressive Field.

Chisenhall was among seven players the Indians sent back to the minor-league camp on Tuesday, ending the third baseman of the future’s attempt to have the future start now.

“Lonnie has had a very good camp, but he has some development to do,” Tribe general manager Chris Antonetti told The Beacon Journal. “He needs to be a little more consistent against left-handed pitchers and do a better job of knowing the strike zone. Defensively, he is still learning the nuances of third base after being a shortstop.”

That’s probably true, but we can’t help shake the feeling that delaying the start of Chisenhall’s service time on the Major League level played a large part in the decision.

”That definitely is not the case,” Antonetti told The Beacon Journal. “We meet at the end of every season and talk about each of our guys. Every person thought that Lonnie had further development to do. If he was that far advanced, he would already have been to Triple-A.”

Whether it played a role or not, it’s evident that under the current reality of baseball’s payroll discrepancies questions about service time are going to be a part of the Tribe’s decision-making process.

It would be great if the team could make decisions based only on baseball, but that’s not our Tribe in 2011.

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Good luck to the University of Akron, who will take on Notre Dame in their opening game of the NCAA Tournament on Friday.

The Zips lucked out as they could have been scheduled to play the Irish on St. Patrick’s Day on Thursday. Now they catch the Irish on Friday, when the Notre Dame players may be a step slow from being meat-deprived because it’s Lent.

As for Kent State, they will open up NIT play Tuesday night at St. Mary’s.

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