Thursday, August 29, 2013

Contending Tribe seems content to stand pat

"My personality is completely genuine, bro!"
It's been a frustrating month of August for the Indians. The offense has been dire during these dog days, with every mistake the Tribe makes magnified by the lack of production at the dish. As the calendar turns to September, Cleveland seems poised on a razor's edge of contention that could slice them a good one at any moment. But even with the waiver-wire trade deadline looming, all is quiet on the corner of Carnegie and Ontario

The Indians could certainly use help from a player not named Matt Carson. The unbalanced MLB schedule has sent the Wahoos to Atlanta for three interleague games, while Tribe bully Detroit drools in anticipation for a potentially back-breaking weekend series. 

Hell Week began in Atlanta with two losses by a combined total of three runs. Cleveland has been barely hitting as it is, so putting a pitcher in the nine-hole thanks to hipster National League rules has not helped boost the bats. Entering tonight's game against the Braves, the Tribe has scored 84 runs in August, second fewest in the AL.

Watching this team bat with runners in scoring position is agonizing. Nick Swisher may have a klieg-light smile and super-duper positive attitude, but he is slugging just .404 with a paltry 46 RBIs from the cleanup position.

Fanbase whipping boy Asdrubal Cabrera, meanwhile, is scuffling both behind the plate (.686 OPS) and on the base paths. Cabrera, perhaps mulling over a possible U.S. incursion into Syria or Miley Cyrus's outrageous performance at the VMAs, got caught in a rundown last night on what he thought was foul tip by Michael Brantley. The game was tied with a runner in scoring position when Cabrera's brain went on shore leave. Cleveland went on to lose yet another critical game against a quality team.

As pedestrian as this roster can appear, it's amazing the Tribe's still in the playoff race at all. One has to wonder how many times fans have given up on this team as the season progressed. My own ardor was doused like a cold shower after a lap dance during the nightmare four-game home sweep by the Tigers. And yet, here we are with the Indians ten games over .500 and within realistic hailing distance of both the division and the wild card.

Still, it just feels like there's a disconnection with this team when it's time to seriously talk playoffs. It's hard to say if fans believe - the attendance for the last home series points to "no"- but does the front office believe a true run at the post-season is possible?

Inaction during the July deadline and now the August waiver period makes me question whether a playoff push is realistic even in the eyes of Tribe brass. Why else is this front office so quiet?  Contenders Baltimore, Boston, Texas and Detroit, just to name a few, all made improvements to their rosters, while the Tribe, despite an atrocious month of August offensively, have barely been attached to any waiver-wire name out there.

It's true that guys like Jason Willingham, who is struggling through an injury-plagued season, may not be any better than what the Tribe has, but that hasn't stopped some wild card-chasing squads from taking a chance on a risky acquisition or two.

Now we're sitting here with a Tribe team that - wait for it - is counting on "internal options" like ACab and Swish to turn it around after showing nary a glimmer that such an about-face is in the offing. You'd hate to see the Indians finish a few games out without all guns blazing, considering the squishy September schedule and the caveat from ownership itself that a playoff chase may only come a couple of times a decade due to the busted economic structure of MLB.

It's just curious, is all. If the Indians can get through the weekend intact, this club can make up ground quickly with the way it beats up on baseball's bums. You don't have to be a "DOLANS AM LOOSERS LOL!!@#" Internet guy to wonder why the Tribe stands pat while fellow contenders make their move.