Over this weekend, I've taken a look into the statistics to see how the Indians stack up compared to the rest of the American League. Here's what I found:
Runs Scored - Last (168)
OPS - 10th (.708)
Home Runs - 6th (46)
Walks - 9th (122)
RC/27 - 10th (4.12)
Team ERA - 5th (3.83)
K/9 - 3rd (6.53)
Opp. OPS - 2nd (.685)
WHIP - 3rd (1.23)
HR Allowed - 8th (39)
Starter ERA - 9th (4.63)
Reliever ERA - 1st (2.41)
Obviously those numbers tell you the offense has been bad, although not as bad as the runs indicate. The team hits for power; the biggest problem is getting on base to begin with. Of course having Victor Martinez, Aaron Boone, and Casey Blake in the lineup everyday is going to hurt the team. The addition of Juan Gonzalez in a couple weeks might help a bit, but the current middle of the order has to pick things up offensively, because to this point, a stellar bullpen has kept the team with shouting distance of .500. The pitching has been pretty solid, especially in the past couple of weeks, so there's still some hope, although the White Sox have to fall precipitously in the next couple months for the Indians to have any hope of catching them.
With the Twins and White Sox on the schedule 10 times between now and June 15th, the Indians still can get back into the race. But the margin for error is really slim.
I like to stay away from these types of articles for the most part, but this particular one is a gem. It's by Bill Madden of the New York Daily News, who put before himself the task of determining what ails the bottom third of baseball. Of course the Indians were among the bottom ten in baseball, and his solution? Well, I'll let him tell you:
Shapiro really needs to look at his manager, Eric Wedge, who hasn't been able to inspire this team. A young team with so much unfulfilled talent needs a proven major league manager who can show it how to win - a cache Wedge lacks. Piniella would be perfect, if available. Jim Leyland is right now.
Fantastic! All the Indians need to win is a new manager. And Lou Piniella, currently of the 15-30 Devil Rays, is the perfect man for the job. I'm not a regular reader of the Daily News, but the article actually made Bud Shaw look sane. Talent is what wins ballgames, but when talent isn't present, it's always the manager's fault. And of course it's a lot easier for a columnist to simply blame the manager than actually come up with another way to fix a team's bad play. Some other gems:
On the Pirates:
The management team of Dave Littlefield and Lloyd McClendon is sound, but they'll never succeed with this penurious ownership - a travesty for a great baseball town.
On the Mariners:
GM Bill Bavasi hired a retread manager in laid-back Mike Hargrove last winter - a supposed "safe" pick - and this team has responded accordingly.
On the Reds:
You get what you pay for and Dave Miley, a nice guy who at $400,000 is the lowest salaried manager in baseball, clearly does not have this team's respect.