I’m frustrated. Really frustrated. Quite possibly the most frustrated I’ve ever been with the Indians. That’s saying a lot considering how many disappointing years Indians fans have had to deal with, especially in the last five years.
In 2008, the Indians looked like legitimate World Series contenders coming off of a 2007 season where they were only one game away from the World Series. But that team fell flat on its face and C.C. Sabathia was traded in July. Then, the Indians still had high expectations in 2009 due to the emergence of Cliff Lee and Shin-Soo Choo, but that team also fizzled and Lee and Victor Martinez were also traded off, which signified a complete attempt to “rebuild.” The second half of 2009 and all of 2010 were rough to watch, but we were sold on the idea that the Indians had amassed a lot of young talent that would be ready to contend in 2012 and 2013. Outside of a first fluky 45 games in 2011, that team was average at best. Which finally leads us to 2012.
For the last 3 years, Indians endured pretty bad baseball, but we endured it because 2012 was supposed to be our coming of age. A young, talented team of Justin Masterson, Shin Soo Choo, Carlos Santana, Jason Kipnis, Matt Laporta, Alex White, Drew Pomeranz, Ubaldo Jimenez, Michael Brantley, Lonnie Chissenhall, and Chris Perez was supposed to make us playoff worthy for the next two years, and maybe into 2014. But this season has been a disaster. The Indians failed to take advantage of a gift-wrapped first half of the season, as they were blessed with arguably the worst division in baseball and another slow start by the much more talented Tigers. But the Tribe failed to ever really capitalize on the opportunity. Rather they played around .500 ball, had a few nice series wins, but really never put it all together. Heading into the All-Star Break, things looked shaky. The Indians had fallen a few games out of first, the White Sox were playing better than expected and bolstered their lineup with the addition of Kevin Youklis, and the division favorite Tigers finally seemed to be coming on. But I don’t think anyone could have predicted that the wheels would fall off this quickly. Since the All-Star Break, the Indians are 6-17, have lost their last 9 games, and have been outscored 74-28 during the losing streak. What’s even more embarrassing is that this was the easy part of their 2nd half schedule. The Indians didn’t play one team that was a shoe-in for the playoffs. Six of their next eight series are against the Red Sox, Yankees, Rangers, Angels, and the red-hot Oakland A’s, so expect more tough losses.
Overall, this was just one of the most frustrating years I’ve ever endured as an Indians fan. It wasn’t just that we had legitimate playoff expectations and failed to come anywhere near that, it wasn’t just that we had one of the most embarrasing 10-game stretches that I can remember to essentially bury any hopes we had for salvaging the season, and it wasn’t just that so many guys underperformed (Masterson, Jimenez, Santana, etc.), it’s that for the last 3+ seasons we were sold on the idea that it was okay that we sucked at the time because the plan was for us to compete in 2012-2013. But that hasn’t happened. Not even close. Now we are left with only one more year where we have the core of this team in tact. But the problem isn’t just that we have only one more shot at this thing, it’s that given this years performances by the same core guys, it looks like that shot is now a long one.
This season has been frustrating enough that I am legitimately questioning my Indians fandom (at least for this regime). I’ve been a die hard Tribe fan and have supported them through all of the bad years. I defended the Dolans and Mark Shapiro and Chris Antonetti when my friends told me the Dolans were too cheap for us to win, or that Shapiro and Antonetti are awful GMs that traded away two cy young winners for what’s turned out to be peanuts. But now, I think I’m at a breaking point. The Dolan/Shapiro/Antonetti regime has now only produced one playoff team in 10 years, and after suffering another disappointing year, I think we’re at the point where we can legitimately wonder whether or not this regmie knows what it’s doing.
What I decided to do is write a 5-part series (this intro being part 1) where I look at all parts of the organization to try and see just where things went wrong, not just for the 2012 season, but for this entire era. The breakdown will be as follows:
Tuesday: Part 2/5, Manny Acta and the players
Wednesday: Part 3/5 Player Development, John Mirabelli and Brad Grant
Thursday: Part 4/5 GMs Mark Shapiro and Chris Antonetti
Friday: Part 5/5 Owners, the Dolans