The Indians’ disgraceful performance Friday night in Chicago felt like a cry for help or a call to action.
It felt like SOMETHING. Because anything is better than this.
The status quo isn’t working. In fact, it’s getting worse, and everyone knows it. The reality: It’s now June, and the Indians are closer to last place than first place in the AL Central.
I mean, come on. Forget about the Twins, the Indians are just trying to hold off the White Sox. Yes, it’s come to that.
The Indians, who won 91 games last year, are just a game ahead of the White Sox, who lost 100 games last year, for second in the AL Central.
The Twins? Nobody in the division is catching them, including the Friday night quadruple-error Indians, who looked like they weren’t particularly interested in playing baseball that night. So they didn’t.
Worse yet, it’s probably going to get worse yet for the Indians. Starting Tuesday, they return home for six games against the Twins and Yankees, who are a combined 39 games above .500.
The Indians? They are languishing at sea level, 29-29, a whopping 10ﾽ games behind Minnesota.
Corey Kluber isn’t walking through that door anytime soon, and even if he does, he’s not a hitter. It’s tough to win a game, as the Indians found out Friday night in Chicago, when you score one run, make four errors and don’t particularly feel like playing.
So we’re fast approaching the point where the grim reality of this Indians season grows grimmer still. They have two options:
No. 1: Keep banging their head against the we-don’t-have-enough-talent-to-do-anything-more-than-what-we’re-doing wall.
No. 2: Do something.
I don’t know about you, but I’m enrolling in the Do Something school. Here’s what I’d do:
CALL UP FIRST BASEMAN BOBBY BRADLEY FROM COLUMBUS: As you may have heard, the Indians are almost last (14th) in the American League in home runs. Bradley leads the International League with 15 home runs, which shouldn’t be a surprise. He’s led his league in home runs in virtually all of his five minor league seasons. He’s also leading the International League in total bases, is second in RBIs and fourth in slugging. He’s 23 years old and has 2,180 career minor league at-bats. Why hasn’t this already happened?
MOVE CARLOS SANTANA TO DH OR LEFT FIELD: One or the other. Doesn’t matter. Just make room for Bradley.
OPTION JAKE BAUERS TO COLUMBUS: He’s been a disappointment, and he has options left. In 503 career major league at-bats he’s hitting .207, and this year he has more strikeouts than hits.
ATTEMPT TO TRADE JASON KIPNIS: The Indians are not going to pick up his $16.5 million club option for next year, and — attention, ownership! — by trading him they would save $7 million of his $14 million salary. He might have some value to a contending team willing to give up a midlevel prospect. Let Mike Freeman handle second base.
PLAY OSCAR MERCADO EVERY DAY IN CENTER FIELD: He’s the only interesting outfielder on the roster, and it looks like he has some tools (hit, run, field).
CALL UP OUTFIELDER DANIEL JOHNSON FROM COLUMBUS: He’s hitting .371 since being promoted from Akron. In 181 at-bats overall, he’s hitting .276 with 11 homers, 38 RBIs and a .920 OPS. Over half of his hits are for extra bases. He’s got a good arm and he can run. Plug him into right field.
CONSIDER TRADING TREVOR BAUER: Might as well get on with the inevitable. The Indians aren’t going to win their division, but Bauer could help another team win theirs. Plus, by trading him before the deadline, the Indians would give the acquiring team 1ﾽ years of Bauer, which should net the Indians a pretty healthy return in talent. It makes no sense to keep him through the end of 2020, then watch him leave as a free agent and get nothing in return. Of course, it made no sense to do that with Michael Brantley, but that was done with Brantley, so what do I know?
CONSIDER TRADING BRAD HAND: He’s having an All-Star season and has two years left on his contract. In 2016, the Indians traded two of their top prospects, Clint Frazier and Justus Sheffield, for exactly such a reliever (Andrew Miller). If the Indians could get a contending team’s top two prospects, it would greatly accelerate the imminent roster rebuild.
ATTEMPT TO TRADE FOR A MODESTLY PRICED VETERAN HITTER: Not in order to win the division, but to increase the chances of being a respectable offensive team. There are still over 100 games left in the season and the offense is nearly unwatchable.
CONSIDER RELEASING LEONYS MARTIN: Nice guy. Great story. Helpful homer Saturday. But since the start of 2017 he’s hitting .227 with a .297 on-base percentage and tons of strikeouts.