According to reports on Friday prior to the Indians game against the Kansas City Royals, Cleveland manager Manny Acta said he wasn’t worried about the Tribe’s offense – or lack thereof.
And while the Tribe offense did perk up on Friday afternoon in an 8-3 win, Acta’s lack of concern is exactly what concerns me.
Jack Hannahan currently leads the team in batting average… Jack Hannahan is also the number nine hitter who primarily earned his spot with the team for his defensive skills.
Shelley Duncan is second in average. Shelley Duncan is about to lose his job to Johnny Damon. Johnny Damon, while not a risk or danger signing, is not going to boost the team’s offensive output with much significance. Are you sensing the pattern here?
The point is, the Tribe offense certainly is worrisome. After all, isn’t the lack of offense the primary reason Justin Masterson doesn’t have a win yet? Or what about Ubaldo, who allowed just one hit in his seven-inning start the following day, but received no run support?
Isn’t this just reinstating the fact that good starting pitching only gets you so far?
Where’s Jason Kipnis? I feel horrible for the kid, as he currently posts a .120 average. But the other concern is his six strikeouts and the fact that he seems completely lost. Acta reportedly said Kipnis is “in-between” his swings. But shouldn’t this have been addressed during spring training, where guys are supposed to work on changes and adjustments?
Shin-Soo Choo? Is hitting 5-for-22. And how about Michael Brantley? While I’ve yet to jump on his bandwagon in the first place, his .156 average and .497 OPS as a lead-off hitter has me shaking my head more than usual.
I get that it’s only been a week and expecting these guys to hit .330 out of the gate is unrealistic. But to say we’re not concerned about their struggles makes me wonder what goes through Manny Acta’s mind. As much as I hate those who fall victim to knee-jerk reactions (remember the start to the 2011 Red Sox season?), and as much as it drives me crazy to see people jump ship after just a few games, I certainly think Manny Acta should be a little more worried. It’s not fair to the starting pitchers to post a collective team average of .176. And it’s not fair to anyway to minimize the significance of such a problem.
I appreciate Acta’s optimism. Reading tweet after tweet from all of the Negative Neds in my timeline gets frustrating. But to be cliche, there’s an elephant in the room that is too big to be ignored. The Tribe offense is an issue, because there is a lack of solutions. Kipnis remains lost, Hafner has just one home run, and Carlos Santana is hitting just .208 with seven strikeouts.
The Cleveland Indians are looking to contend. But pretending that the hitting issues aren’t a problem is like ignoring an illness that requires antibiotics. I want Acta to light a fire under this team. I want to hear him call guys out, implement responsibility, and prove that measures are being taken to reverse these problems. I want to know that this team has every intention of going all the way through October and that every single action possible is being taken to win.
Optimism is fine, especially in a city as emotionally depleting as Cleveland, but ignoring the problems and pretending they aren’t concerning is like ignoring Bartolo Colon as he’s looming over your shoulder while you eat a brownie. Something needs to be done to alleviate the gaping wound that is the Tribe offense. Johnny Damon is not the answer. Sitting back and hoping that Jason Kipnis will “work through” his slump is not a productive approach. And expecting things to turn around when Grady Sizemore returns is a hopeless fallacy.
Give me a manager who gets pissed off when the job isn’t getting done. While I don’t want to hear whining and agonizing, I do want to hear some noise. Speak up, Manny Acta, and show us all that the Tribe means serious business.