Tuesday, July 14

Nice - three straight days without the Indians

I looked, but I wasn't able to find the crying Chief Wahoo graphic.

Needless to say, this first half has been almost impossibly bad. Consider that all four of the FCF writers picked the Indians to take the division, and here they instead sit at 35-54, 14 games out of first and dead last in the American League. Granted, we're all homers, but there was some general optimism nationwide about the Tribe headed into this campaign, enough that it was at least reasonable to pick them to win the Central. It's hard to imagine a team underperforming expectations any more than this year's Indians.

For comparison, consider that I started watching baseball in 1986, before several of this site's authors were even born. The Indians went .519 that year yet somehow finished 5th of 7 teams in the Al East. They spent 17 years in a 7-team division, of which 1986 was the 10th. Here's where they placed:

7th: 4
6th: 9
5th: 2
4th: 2
3rd: 0
2nd: 0
1st: 0

That's horrible. They were so bad that they made an awesome movie about how futile the franchise was. They were a blight. Why am I bringing this up?

Because the 2009 Indians are still the worst Cleveland baseball team I've ever seen. They are horrible. There is nothing good about them except, possibly Shin-Soo Choo. They're completely unlikable, they're starting to turn on each other and the management, they're constantly inventing ways to lose (6 games behind their 3rd-order Pythagorean prediction), and I've already been to three rain-delayed games. This sucks. It's been a long time since I had to look this far forward to the Browns posting their annual complement of 5 wins.

But, hey, we get three days off, and we can use them to make a cursory look into the numbers to see why they're so bad, even though we pretty much already know.

We've slipped to 5th in runs scored, which is still respectable, especially for a club with a team OPS+ of just 98. Very little has changed since we last looked at the data. We have two and a half good batters:
- Choo (OPS+ 129, OBP .403)
- Victor Martinez (OPS+ 121, team-leading 14 home runs)
- Travis Hafner (OPS+ 142, but only has played in 41 games)

That's it. Ryan Garko is a bit above average but not really when you consider where he plays in the field, and we wisely dealt a consistent performer in Mark DeRosa before he got hurt. Grady Sizemore is up to 99, but an on-base of .324 is not nearly good enough for him. I can't even talk about the rest of the team's batting - it's too annoying. We don't even put up good at-bats anymore. Speaking of which, am I the only person who's noticed that Rick Manning and Matt Underwood only call an at-bat a "good at-bat" if it involves more than 6 pitches and ends in a walk? Not only that, but they excitedly label every such plate appearance as a "good at-bat"? And that, as I just realized, a walk is in fact not an at-bat at all? And that this is a bad baseball team?

Our second half rotation will be: Cliff Lee, Tomo Ohka, David Huff, Jeremy Sowers, and like one start from Carl Pavano. Is there any point in continuing this article?

A couple of subpar outings have dropped Cliff Lee to a still-easily-team-leading 129 in the ERA+ metric among starting pitchers. Rafael Betancourt and Matt Herges have been OK out of the pen, and Tony Sipp has been valuable (ERA+ 162). Everyone else is a total nightmare except the oft-injured Aaron Laffey. Our fire starters, other than Lee, with the most starts, have an average ERA+ of 72. Seventy-two. The bullpen isn't much better, because even with Lee, the team ERA+ is a putrid 83+. This isn't my computer and I don't want to ruin the keyboard, so I'm going to stop now.

Go Tribe, I guess.

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