What's Wrong with Cleveland? Ask Pittsburgh!!?
"Major League 4: What the hell just happened?"
The "Dog Pound" may loss all its' fur taking advice from the hated city to the right, but Pittsburgh knows how you feel, Cleveland. They know it all to well. Their advice: Get ready for some football, the baseball stuff is a hope, lost and not worth the beer breath.
True stroy. Pittsburgh Pirates fans have been there, and done that before...too much.
During this 10-game slip into mediocrity, every analyst, pitching machine and coach associated, or not, with the Indians has primped, curled and styled this wig of disaster with little reasoning or concrete outcome to show for it. Is it the pitching? Is it the hitting? Is it the coach?
What went wrong!?
The answer is simple and only 134 miles away. Look to the Pittsburgh Pirates teams of the past, when they have had early success and major late collapses, and Cleveland will see their present fate.
The demise most MLB teams endure during the late-months, periodically, can almost always be associated with the success, or failure, of the pitching staff. Pitching killed the 2011 Pirates, and is killing the Indians, presently. What a killer. But, it's not just the pitching. It's the type of pitching, the age of the pitchers and the traded hurlers that make this conundrum of the diamond so bi-unique.
Any fan, coach or analyst with a computer or personal statistician can look up and see the red-flagged numbers for Cleveland Indians starting pitchers, and correlate that with their 3rd (resting)place status. The general argument, thus far, has been the mistaken reliance on a young pitcher like Masterson to run the rotation as a number 1. After a convincing 2011, Masterson has had a setback this season, currently with a 4.78 e.r.a, and a losing record. Like the Pirates failures in the past, sometimes the pressure of August and September in the MLB is too much for a less-experienced player. Mix that with Masterson's battery mate, Carlos Santana, who has also struggled in year-two, and Indians fans may have partial blame for the skid. However, as it goes with young talent, sometimes it's better they get the brain-mites out sooner, than later.
So does that mean experience is what Cleveland needs? Enter Derek Lowe.
Derek Lowe has been a game-proven pitcher and deserves the respect for what he did in his career. But, retrospective and honorary players, still playing, is what gets a manager fired. Lowe, behind a dismal 5.82 e.r.a, has featured a sinker-ball this season with floaties attached, so the ball won't sink. Instead, it goes airborne and attacks fans like flies on Cousin Eddie's rib-roast.(Vacation. See it) The experienced-effect can be counter productive if the player doesn't perform, up-to-par. So goes the case for Derek Lowe. Indians brass may have brought him in with the idea of teaching, and that's great, but you still have to pitch, and at least win a game or two. Players on the wrong side of old, losing games and blowing leads like they are twenty-one, again, never works. Sound familiar, Steel City?
Then the Ubaldo project...
At a 5.29 e.r.a and a complete lack of his stuff from the short-stay with the Rockies, Ubaldo Jimenez has been the Mike Hampton of the new decade, minus the injuries. Once equipped and bolstering amazing, electric stuff in a difficult pitchers park, if there ever was one, Coors Field, Jimenez has been nothing but a flop for the Cleveland Indians. The herky-jerky motion does nothing when the ball is placed right down the shot, with zero movement. Oh yeah, it leaves the park via the pigeon-burner express way. Taking a risk on such a trade, previously, was just that, a risk. And, the risk has not paid off, or provided even a minor spark to get the Indians through a difficult crunch-time towards extra baseball. It's no secret, and Cliff Lee isn't the only example of the Indians making poor trades. They do not make the best deals, especially with pitchers.
The top-four Indians pitchers have combined for 28 of the 50 wins this season, and the collective e.r.a will need several no-no's to bring it remotely close to 4.00. (The first-place White Sox would only need three of their pitchers to match that total.) With the Tigers hitting and pitching, well, and the White Sox keeping solid ground, the Indians may want to worry about not finishing behind Minnesota, or Kansas City, as their ultimate goal for 2012.
It is a hard truth to swallow when a Cleveland fan looks back only several months to a hot team, getting hotter. However, times change and so do pitching situations. Yes, the hitting has not been great for the Indians, too, but it's a huge task to provide five-plus runs a game in order to win. That's where the pitchers have put the team, in a hole. Like the Pirates of yester-year, pitching, both starting, relief, young and old, is what took the dream season and turned it into a nightmare.
Here's to Browns football, Cleveland.