Offseason Rundown: Tribe Respond to Talk With Low-Cost Investments in Axford, Marcum

The calm before the storm was actually the calm within the storm. 

Last week, we talked about how that this whole winter meetings thing wasn't the Indians jig to jive to. They're speed is much more what we are seeing this week. It didn't take very long for the winter meetings to end and all the talk to subside for business to pick up.

Because that's how the Indians go about doing their business. 

All this talk all week, oh we'll talk about the talking. But not before we talk about the business that has actually gone down in the past few days. Talk is cheap, and it's even cheaper when it's talk about more talk.

Photo - Getty Images via Yahoo! Sports

There's a lot of great things about John Axford. His name rocks, it's a built-in nickname and moniker for the role of a closer. He's got a fantastic mustache. And while I'm sure there are other things that make him great, those two are the only ones that matter to me. 

The Indians were "rumored" and talked about in having interest in signing a reliever with closing experience. There's still a lot of names out there that have closing experience, so there interest could have spread far and wide.


Offseason Rundown: Hello? Indians! Are You There?

Excuse me if I'm not at all impressed by the deals that some teams have been handing out to starting pitchers thus far in the MLB Hot Stove season.

Targets, who in other years the Indians might be interested in at lower prices. Targets, who became pick-ups for other teams because they went ahead and just did a little more than what we've become accustomed to.

Look, I know there is more money out there with TV contracts and rules changes and all the fun jazz that we have as reasons for inflated contracts or teams spending what you are not accustomed to them spending. Are we really surprised when the hottest free agent, this year Robinson Cano, can take in that much money? It sometimes is a surprise in who that free agent signs with; raise your hand if you saw Seattle as the team doing that deal a month ago.

Minnesota has dished out over $70 million over the course of the next four years for two starting pitchers who, at the end of the day, can be big questions marks. Scott Feldman (from across the hall) got a three year deal.

And here ya go... The Oakland Athletics didn't need to go three years to pry Scott Kazmir away from the Indians, they just needed to give him more money. I would have said that Kazmir signed with the Indians if all he got was a two year deal, because I thought that he would win out if there was a similar offer somewhere else, as long as no one went three years. The Athletics just needed to offer too much money for Kazmir to deny and the Indians to match.


Bro of the Year: Your Bro-Votes Are in for 2013

Ladies and gentlemen, you voted all year. Every month, you elected a new bro, and not once did one guy repeat. There were many nominations, many great performances, but only six different bros.

And so it came down to six individuals, battling out for the greatest bro honor of the year. One of those individuals was not the King Bro himself, Nick Swisher, so it is my humble honor to introduce to you the MC Bro of the Bro of the Year coronation ceremony, Mr. Swish himself...


Offseason Rundown: Gettin' the Platoon Back Together; Smith Signs with Angels

Following the 2005 season when the Indians made an incredible, yet unexpected push towards the playoffs, there was some clamoring for them to do something to take that next step. An outfielder, a pitcher, some bullpen help, whatever. There were positives, but there were still holes and a reason the Tribe missed out following a 93-win season.

If you remember from the Kazmir piece, the Indians signed Paul Byrd that offseason, they also added Todd Hollandsworth (spell it again), and traded for Jason Michaels. That was the extent of their offseason, because do we really need to mention Coco Crisp was traded to Boston for Andy Marte? During the spring, they traded Brandon Phillips (oh no) and eventually the season spiral led them to trading Bob Wickman, Ben Broussard, and Eduardo Perez.

That of course netted them the duo of Shin-Soo Choo and Asdrubal Cabrera for that most successful platoon, which would come into play later, but it also set the stage for a new platoon.


Keeping Kazmir: Indians In Both New and Familiar Territory in Re-Signing Lefty

The Indians have been here before. Yet, they haven't quite experienced this before.

They've put themselves in this position before, but they haven't quite had any opportunity to show us what they are made of in regards to the situation.

So with a team that has become increasingly easier to read in how they like to operate over the years, we've now reached a situation where it becomes difficult to understand how Chris Antonetti and company are going to approach this situation.

Now, the whole Terry Francona involvement, as well as that financial windfall from last offseason have definitely augmented the way that the Indians operate in the offseason and has thrown in some new aspects that disrupt the norm. But the underlying principles of this front office remains the same.

Calculated moves, low-risk high-reward signings, trading when the time is right and trading for less-known commodities, the way that this team operates will never change as long as Antonetti is in charge. There's a way that they go about making their moves.

And one way that the Indians have operated in the offseason even back through the Mark Shapiro days has been how they've signed starting pitchers. The last time the Indians signed a starting pitcher to a free agent deal more than one year (Brett Myers and the one year deal with an option aside)?

Are you ready for this?


Offseason Rundown: Indians Must Restock Bullpen and Reload Rotation

If you have been a regular reader of mine for a long time, you will probably remember how I used to do offseasons in Cleveland. Or you probably don't. I seriously don't remember vividly. I know I used to do some offseason awards and then some other random things that a younger, less-busier version of myself had the ideas to do.

Here's the deal. I'm one man, one man with graduate school, an assistantship, a part time job, big boy chores that you have when you live on your own, and of course, the good old actual life. The thing is, I have time to sit around here and profile players, get a chart laid out, list targets, all that fun stuff that I used to do.

If anything though, I didn't do it to do it, I did it to keep myself in the know. And that was great. I sat down to get started on some of this stuff and then it hit me.

I don't want to do any of that. I also don't need to do any of that. Because here's the thing about this here offseason with the Cleveland Indians. It is sort of predictable. Yet, the parts that you can't predict are usually the ones that I sit here trying to figure out.


Offseason Rundown: Qualified Decisions Loom Large, Indians Ponder Ubaldo, Kazmir, Options

You know what sucks the most about the baseball season ending? This cold weather. Just as baseball ends, the weather gets cold and that to me is symbolism at its finest. When spring gets her, flowers bloom and baseballs come out of them. This is scientific fact. When baseball ends, they explode into falling cold snow.

This is all true. I've studied it using science, so don't try and debate me.

Even more annoying than the cold is the space between news items. I suppose I could sit here and talk endlessly about one thing, but the cold makes me not want to. That's why whatever is going on right now with the Indians and all this flurry of topical items makes me warm.

See what I did there?

So I suppose that I should stroke this fire that is going on instead of continuing on with my dumb banter. As fun as my dumb banter is.


Offseason Rundown: Tribe Releases Chris Perez, Re-Ups with Jason Giambi

Whoaaaaaa! The Indians do not waste any time when the World Series is over. For the third straight year, they've made some big time decisions shortly after the last official game of the MLB season was played.

And one of them is going to dramatically impact their team and their offseason plan.
Photo - Getty Images via Yahoo! Sports

So with that, let's skip the gibberish and fluff and get right to the meaty part of our first big piece of offseason news because it is quite tasty.


That's right, the Indians have cut ties with their closer for the past few years, Chris Perez in what was an unexpected first move of the offseason. The writing was pretty much on the wall that Perez would likely not be with Cleveland in 2014, but in the manner that this went down is pretty surprising. The Indians wasted no time in cutting ties with their controversial back-end reliever who is due yet another raise in the arbitration process, his final year of it before free agency.

"He was arbitration-eligible again this year and he was due for another raise," Antonetti said. "We had to make some determinations of where our team needs are and how we're going to allocate our resources moving forward."


Rubber Duckie, You're The One! Chief Wahoo, Lets Have Some Fun!

This may or may not be known to you reading this yet. But the Akron Aeros are no more.

Ardent fans of the Indians minor league system are probably aware of the change that was announced a few days ago, and people in Akron are certainly buzzing about it. Outside of Akron through, and unless you are a die-hard minor league fan, you probably haven't heard.

And if you are a die-hard minor league fan, you probably really don't care.

Akron is going crazy though, because owner Ken Babby has changed the name of the Aeros, who've been called such since the team moved into Canal Park in the mid-90's. They were the Indians since they moved to Akron in 1989.

And now starting in 2014, the city of Akron has a new team name...


Bro of the Year: 2013

Are you ready? Got your Aviators? First pumps around?

This is the biggest Bro voting of the year. We've spent the year picking Bro's of the Month, and now, we're picking a Bro of the Year... For all the marbles!


BBA Post Season Award Voting 2013

The time is back to posture for end of the season awards in Major League Baseball. The fun thing about it, is that I have a vote. No not for the Baseball Writers Association official votes for MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, or Manager of the Year awards. Those guys always pick the wrong people anyway. My vote is for the Baseball Blogger's Alliance, a group of bloggers who come together to decide some of the same things the writers decide on.

We vote for manager, rookie, reliever, pitcher, and best overall player. We have names for each award after players who represent that award the best.

Here is my ballot this year. I only vote for the American League as a member of the Cleveland Chapter. I will share the results when they are announced in a few weeks. Feel free to argue, because you probably think I'm wrong somewhere.


Alright, Time to Shake Hands with the Postseason

Traditionally, teams not in the MLB Playoffs shy away from making big headline news-type announcements during the MLB Playoffs. Out of respect for the game and the teams still playing, let the games being played on the field garner the headlines.

Of course that doesn't stop us from making small talk about our Tribe team, because behind the scenes, they are talking, and after their exit a little over a week ago, they have done a little bit of shaking up.

And trust me, there are plenty of storylines that are worth laying out before the offseason officially begins, because as we've learned in the past few years, this team is pretty quick to strike. Whether it is trading for Derek Lowe or trading for Yan Gomes and Mike Aviles, if this team identifies something they want to do, they do it quickly.


Morning Rundown: It Just Stings a Little More

I know that people will congratulate this team for their great season. I'm going to do that eventually in a proper way. I've lived and died with this team all year and I know that it was a great season.
Photo - AP via Yahoo! Sports

But boy is this hard to swallow. The Indians knew the rules they were playing by. They had one chance. They've been playing this type of game (perhaps without the immense pressure) the past ten that they've won. And perhaps it is the one chance that makes it tough. To be one and done. These are the rules, and yeah in year's past the Indians would have been in a position where they'd get at least two more games.

But this is the system that they have to play by now. I think it is great for baseball and the right way to do things.

But boy, is it hard to take. Because you just have one shot, one opportunity to make something happen. And the Indians didn't make it happen like most of us had wanted to believe they would.


The Morning of Wildness: The Night Has Arrived, Cleveland; Indians Prepare for Rays

Not only was I there twice during the posteason, I was there several times down the stretch when the Indians had some heated games against the Detroit Tigers en route to winning the AL Central in 2007.

Nothing is better than that Cleveland crowd when Progressive Field is filled up and rocking. There is no better atmosphere. I will always complain and whine about the lack of support for this team in the attendance war. It is definitely sad when this club can't draw 10K for a game.

2007 ALDS v. Yankees, from right field
But the reason that it is so sad is because we've seen this fan base come to bat. And when they come to bat, they usually hit it out of the park. I know tonight that Progressive Field will not only be filled with Indians fans, it will be filled with loud and proud Indians fans.

It is a little depressing that it takes a solidified playoff game for that to happen, but at least it is there. This isn't a team like Arizona, where there's a struggle to fill the park for a playoff game. This isn't a team like Miami where they don't draw a darn thing during the season.

This is a franchise that once sold out 455 straight games. And while I know and fully understand that those days are not only over, but a different time with a perfect storm of circumstances, you can see that drive. This is a franchise that comes to bat for their team when it counts. I've seen it, I've experienced it, I've felt it.


Bro of the Month: September 2013

This is it people. One more month, one more chance to be immortalized as a serious BRO. Our own little version of Player of the Month takes form for the final time and leads us in to the Bro of the Year voting. However, the Indians are still playing ball.

If they keep playing deep into October, well, Bro of the Month for October may just have to be added.


Morning Rundown: October Bound

Have you ever had so much to say, you simply cannot figure out what to say first or figure out an order to say it all? Part of me wanted to just start off this with a bunch of gibberish. Or CAPS locked yelling nonsense words in between Indians, Playoffs, Tribe, and Oh My GOD mixed around. 

But simply said, this is awesome... Just awesome. And this is all I got for you.

Okay, that's it. Rundown Over, See You Wednesday....

Just Kidding!


Positive Swish: This is It Cleveland

Positive Swish isn't just here in times of gloom to brighten the mood and restore your positivity. He's also here in times of joy and in this case, anxiousness.


Morning Rundown: Minnesota Meltdown for Closer Chris Perez

Hehehehehhhh.... Nervous laughter creeping in. It was a ticking time-bomb of nervousness last night. The senses were heightened though because it went from completely not a game, to a really scary moment, especially since the Twins had the ability to walk off.

That shouldn't have happened, but it did. So it happened and you'll have to live with it. The only important thing is the Indians won. Well, not really, because there is a lot of importance of what happened, because it impacts this team going down the stretch.
Photo - Getty Images via Yahoo! Sports

W: Bryan Shaw (7-3)
L: Andrew Albers (2-5)
S: Joe Smith (3)

I had some people, telling me to defend Chris Perez after "that one." As if I'm his defense lawyer and he just committed a grade-one felony. Look, I don't revel in defending him. And I don't do it because I'm a Chris Perez apologist or because I enjoy it, or because I want to. I've defended him when it has been necessary and right to defend him, and I've bashed him and criticized him when I've felt it necessary to do so.

There's no defending a horrible outing either. A complete meltdown if you will. What happened Tuesday? That wasn't even close to a meltdown. That was a blown save, and that was bad. It wasn't boo-worthy, despite what you may think. And neither was last night, because we've been over what is boo-worthy in my book.


Morning Rundown: And to the Final Stretch We Go

If it really is going to take just 89 wins to win the second AL Wild Card, like I thought it would. Man, the Indians are in the drivers seat. I guess I underestimated the final schedules and how these teams were going to play. Tampa is on fire, absolutely crushing it. Texas had that skid, but even in that, they've turned it around somewhat (thanks Astros!) and are still just a game back, keeping pace as much as they can.

I guess I also underestimated the Indians ability to completely run right through their last two opponents. Granted, we're talking about the two worst teams in the American League, was six wins over all of them realistic? I mean, perhaps, but odds are, you aren't winning all six. Maybe five.

They did just that and now set themselves up in a four game sprint. Win 'em all, you in. Simple as that, and there's no reason to not win them all. The Indians are the best team in baseball in September record-wise, and that's impressive with the way some teams have been playing.


Morning Rundown: Giambi!

There's a lot of people on board. I hope there is more after last night. If you aren't, you probably just aren't that big of a baseball or Indians fan.
Photo - Getty Images via Yahoo! Sports

That's okay... But for those of us who are here and living with this team in the now. Boy, there's some magic, you can definitely feel it.

W: Bryan Shaw (6-3)
L: Addison Reed (5-4)


He said it better than anyone could have put it... This is the stuff you dream about.

If you turned off the TV after Chris Perez's meltdown...ehhh. It would be hard to blame you. But have ye no faith? The White Sox were probably thinking in the absolute back of their minds, "What is going to go wrong here, because we haven't touched this team all season?"


Morning Rundown: Smooth Brantley Helps Sweep of 'Stros, Apply Pressure in WC Race

I feel bad that my first (and probably last) game of 2012 came in the final homestand in September. I really do. I feel even worse I couldn't make it to more games. But that is the life of a grad student, at least this one...

Man, it was worth the wait though. I've been dying to make it. Trying to figure out ways all season to make it work financially to no avail. So when I got tickets as a gift, I was elated. Not many years I can make it an undefeated season in terms of games attended. So, I'll take it!

W: Corey Kluber (10-5)
L: Erik Bedard (4-12)

This was playing when I took my seat yesterday at the ballpark.


Morning Rundown: The One Where Matt Carson Runs for Mayor...and Wins

All I can replay in my head this morning is, "Who is Karim Garcia..."

Photo - Indians via @Mark Shapiro
Why? Because I keep replaying Matt Carson's hit. Like, who is Matt Carson? Really, we don't know the guy. It isn't a slight on him like "Who is Karim Garcia" is on Karim Garcia. And Karim Garcia might be a fine gentleman.

And we know Matt Carson is, based off what people say. But we don't really know him. All we know is that he came up with one of the biggest hits of this 2013 Cleveland Indians season.

W: Bryan Shaw (5-3)
L: Rhiner Cruz (0-2)

So let's learn a little bit about the guy. Didya know he is 32 years old? Did ya? Cause he is. Yeah he's a oldie, but young in major league years. He attended BYU, rawr, cougars.

He was a Yankee draft pick in 2002, in the fifth round. He's from California.


Morning Rundown: Tribe Missteps Lead to Royals Series Win

Step away from the ledge. I know last night was a kick to the gut for you. From 7:00 PM on you were probably feeling pretty upset and torn up. The Browns trade away what most would consider their best offensive weapon, essentially hitting the submit button on the 2013-2014 season. And then the Indians go out an hour later, in a situation where many are hoping they finally latch onto a wild card and bring a sense of hope to a city that is reeling and..

WHO in the blue blazing hell am I kidding? Everyone was talking about Trent Richardson and raising a fuss. It's still the same group of us here watching this team, living and dying with every pitch and play. Let's go.

W: Bruce Chen (8-3)
L: Danny Salazar (1-3)

I've watched it as many times as STO has replayed it.


Morning Rundown: Tribe Chip Into Vaunted KC Bullpen for Comeback

I have a little bit of a sore throat this morning. Normally I'd blame my allergies, which are not fun to deal with at this time of the year. But I know exactly why there's a little raspiness.

I did nothing short of scream in my motor vehicle last night. You see, I wasn't able to be home for a portion of the game, so I naturally listened to it on the road in my car. That is never a good thing, because when I'm in that confined space, I'm more likely to yell and holler at the game. It didn't help that so much was on the line.

If I'm at my apartment? Oh no, don't worry, I'll let out a "COME ON!" or something of the sorts. But in the car? Forget about it.

W: Cody Allen (6-1)
L: Wade Davis (7-11)
S: Chris Perez (25)


Morning Rundown: Tribe Can't Claim Wild Card Spot...Yet

They don't call him Big Game James for nothing. They also don't call it a strike ZONE for nothing. There was a multitude of things last night. This is playoff baseball though, so no excuses. Onto the next one today, but let's take a quick look back at last night.
Photo - Getty Images via Yahoo! Sports

W: James Shields
L: Scott Kazmir

I know I said no excuses, but that's why I have to lead off with this.

HOLY SMOKES was that umpiring crew all-around horrible last night. Look, umpire's have their own strike zones, that's fine. Not one is the same. But at least make sure it is same the entire night. That's all a hitter and a pitcher asks for.


Morning Rundown: What's Left To Say? SUPPORT THE TRIBE!

This is it people. This is freaking it. If you don't make it a point to go down to the ballpark for one of the final home games in the next two weeks, you need to stop this charade. You either support this team or you get off the bandwagon. If you don't have the means, I understand, I don't either. I'm lucky enough to have tickets to Sunday's game. But do EVERYTHING you can. Heck, I might start putting pennies away for a possible postseason game. If you can't be there, throw your heart into it on television and show how much you care. Forget about the Browns. They'll be losing games on Sunday in six weeks in the same fashion that they are right now.

This team is primed for a spot in the postseason. This isn't going to line up any better for a team. They've seemingly caught fire at the right time, have the most favorable schedule out of any team left in the wild card race, and they have the most well equipped manager for this situation.

I'm running the Akron half-marathon in less than two weeks. It is tough and everyone tells me that the last mile is tough. But you know what gets someone through that last mile? That last little bit? The people cheering at the finish line. The people encouraging you, telling you that you can get to the finish.

If you aren't all in right now, I don't know what you need. You asked for more support financially, you got it. You asked for a competitive team, you got it. you asked for everything you've been given so far to get out there this season and show your backing. This team isn't going anywhere this year, they're in the race. It's time to go out and support them to the finish line and let them know that they can do it.

Because damnit, this team can do it.


Morning Rundown: Indians Turn White Sox Black and Blue with Opening Game Mashing

Now that's how it goes.

That's how it goes, that's how your supposed to do it, and that is how you want to handle your business throughout the rest of the season.

You may not win every single game against the White Sox throughout the rest of the season, because there's seven of them and the Indians have already beat up on the hapless Sox all year. But this sets the tone and gets them out ahead where they need to be. You need to handle your business against this portion of the schedule, and that means winning, sweeping if you can, the series.

W: Corey Kluber (9-5)
L: John Danks (4-13)


Morning Rundown: Indians Drop Series to Royals and it Better Be the Last

Excuse me, pardon me, dang is it crowded in here or what?

Five teams, three games... The American League Wild Card is officially a mess, as if it wasn't already. The Indians lost, the Orioles lost, the Rangers lost. The only teams that won were the teams that faced those teams, and they just happened to behind the trio of Cleveland, Baltimore, and Texas. Everyone is within three games of the wild card race.

So....... They talk about the season being a marathon and that is definitely true. But if you ever were to categorize September as the final sprint, you would definitely look at this situation and call it more than a sprint. It's going to be a mad-dash.

W: James Shields (11-9)
L: Scott Kazmir (8-8)
S: Greg Holland (42)


Morning Rundown: Z-Mac Falters After Five as Tribe Offense Searches for Big Hit

Just as quickly as the Indians and Orioles pulled within 1.5 of the crowd and pulled a game away from the Yankees and Rays, the Yankees and Rays came right back within a game after turning the tables on Tuesday.
Photo - Getty Images via Yahoo! Sports

That's why winning the series is important. That's why sweeping would have been awesome. That's why you are grateful the Rays lost last night. Heck, everyone lost!

Turn around, quick noon start today, let's get that W.

W: Jeremy Guthrie (14-10)
L: Zach McAllister (7-9)
S: Greg Holland (41)

Just needed a big hit in this one. Just needed one big hit. The Indians got that run early in the first, with two outs, which had all sorts of positive energy flowing through the game and the situation.

But as the game evolved and the team squandered chance after chance and starter Zach McAllister started to progress through the lineup for the second and third time, I got more nervous. Let's start with Z-Mac.


Morning Rundown: Big Homers and Big U Pull Tribe Closer to Wild Card

Cleveland and Kansas City, Baltimore and New York. You could call it the series of separation on both accounts. The four teams are the four contenders in trying to catch current wild card leader Tampa Bay for the last spot in the MLB Playoffs.

Last night, the Indians and Orioles took huge leaps in that chase, by jumping up within a half a game more and setting both the Yankees and Royals back a little further. There's more work to be done though.
Photo - Getty Images via Yahoo! Sports

W: Ubaldo Jimenez (11-9)
L: Ervin Santana (8-9)
S: Chris Perez (23)



Okay, PHEW!

Where do you start?


Morning Rundown: Indians Hold Strong in Race After Taking Series Against Mets

The momentum of Rally Chicken has worn off. The Indians are two back of the AL Wild Card and thanks to a huge weekend from the upcoming Kansas City Royals, actually 5.5 back of the Tigers in the AL Central. Now they'll just need their own momentum swing to get them through the rest of this month.

They're going to be in the race til the very end. I have to keep preaching it, because this team is still alive and thanks to their schedule, they've got the chance to do damage. That red-hot Royals team though that just beat the Tigers two out of three, they're coming to town for an ultra important wild card swing series.

METS - 2 | INDIANS - 1
W: Frank Francisco (1-0)
L: Chris Perez (5-3)

First off, before this goes any further.

If you were paying attention a few weeks ago, Daisuke Matsuzaka wiggled out of his contract with the Cleveland Indians, left Columbus and found a home in New York.


Morning Rundown: Tribe Uses Own Bird to Take Series from Baltimore

There was a chicken, a 4-0 lead, the return of a super utility player, and some YANIMAL running around like a chicken with his head cut....errr, probably shouldn't make that joke.

The Indians are just a few games back from the wild card and have now surpassed one AL East team in the Wild Card chase. They're just on game behind another and three and a half away from the AL East team that is currently the leader.

Is this team getting it together just in time? Is this the beginning of a a run? Things are starting to feel really good around here. Do you feel really good?

Bawk bawk?!


Morning Rundown: Os for Ubaldo Against O's

Photo - Getty Images via Yahoo! Sports
I had several headlines I was playing with. Just missed out was, Ubald-o, o, He's Magic, U-Know!

And really, that's what he was. Aside from some clean innings of course, there was a whole lot of Big U Voodoo going on. That and some big hits. FINALLY!

No were not back to that again. But the Indians are just a win away from moving up in the wild card chase. So there's that!

W: Ubaldo Jimenez (10-9)
L: Chris Tillman (15-5)

Wait, Chris Tillman is a 15 game winner? Ohhhkay.

Anyway, Ubaldo Jimenez keeps trying to show us that he's actually reliable and that we should probably start trusting him. But ya know what? I'm good on this side. I'll go ahead and just not fully trust him and let him keep doing what he's doing.


Morning Rundown: Masty Leaves Loss to O's to Double Tribe Sting

Well that was a kick in the teeth. A loss within a loss.
Photo - Getty Images via Yahoo! Sports

So much for luck turning around. So much for finally breaking the skid. So much for everything.

I mean, not to sound doom and gloom. It isn't over. But man, that hurts.

W: Bud Norris (10-10)
L: Justin Masterson (14-10)

Maybe not as much as it is hurting Justin Masterson right now. Both physically with his injury, and with what I'm sure is some disappointment in not having been able to go out there and tough through it and pitch for his team.


Morning Rundown: Finally...Tribe Finds Win Column Against Tigers

It was a game of finally.
Photo - Getty Images via Zimbio.com

You probably thought what I did. What does this team have to do? Sacrifice a goat? Do a rain dance? Ask a Magic 8 Ball?

It had reached a point way beyond one team being better than the other. The Tigers are good, but no matter what the Indians had done this week, even against the Braves, they couldn't catch a break. Magnify it against the Tigers, it just seemed like this was a team that had the Indians number. Even the better team loses once in a great while, even if it is once or twice, especially if they play as much as these two teams do.

So in the last game against the Tigers (for now at least?) this season, the Indians finally broke through. It was a game of finally.


Bro of the Month: August 2013

For the past few years, we've done this little thing around the blog were we've voted for the player of the month, every month.

It had a fancy title, because Manny Acta, the former manager, wore fedoras. It was a play off the idea of the "golden sombrero" only this was something you were okay with being saddled with.

Manny Acta is now gone though, so to continue the tradition of having a Manny Acta Golden Fedora of the Month would be really, weird. And awkward.

So the search began for months after Acta's dismissal as to what would happen. Would we abandoned the concept completely? Would we choose a new person and unique trait about them to represent the award? Would we just call it Indians Player of the Month?


Positive Swish: Undo The Tiger Voodoo, Get Luck Back on Our Side

I can feel some tension arising. Not so much anger or disappointment, but bit of a helpless, "What the heck do we gotta do" type of feeling. Don't worry, I feel it too and so does Positive Swish, so he's here to inject some faith and hope right back into you. Hopefully he brings an Indians win.


Morning Rundown: Tribe Swings Deal for Jason Kubel After Offense Sputters Against Braves

Photo - Getty Images via Zimbio.com
Sorry for the run of inactivity lately, I know you missed the rundown in your mornings. But my mornings have been starting pretty early, which never really jive well when you are dealing with a team playing on the west coast. Hard to write when you sleep, eh?

That was last week, this week was a few different things, from the off day on Monday to not feeling well Tuesday, things have just been hectic around these parts. But I'm back and ready to go for this stretch run. And we've got a lot to talk about.

W: Kris Medlen (11-12)
L: Ubaldo Jimenez (9-9)
S: Craig Kimbrel (43)

Are the Indians struggling offensively or the Braves that good of a pitching team?


Morning Rundown: Tribe's Chase Gets Harder

Who would have thought it is Ubaldo Jimenez that was claiming a spot in the rotation and showing he is worth keeping in that spot and Kazmir showing some vulnerability?

The Indians are now in an interesting position. They're 4.5 back and coming off a series with a team that is leading the spot they're chasing. It wasn't a total failure and if the Indians can find a way to pull of a sweep, you'll take a 6-3 road trip. And even if they win two, 5-4 isn't so bad either if you can go home and finish out the week strong against the Twins.

A lot of people want to lament the fact that the team just lost this series. A lot of people are calling them dead, but I guess I just don't get it. This team is above .500 and with two wins will match last year's win total. This team isn't dead. This team is so much further ahead than last year's team. This is a new era. There's faces that weren't around last year, a manager who is new and bringing a fresh attitude and new set of accountability due to the respect he commands.

I feel like a broken record. But if you think this is the same old story, and you aren't enjoying this summer, then man, why are you watching this team with a miserable outlook?


Morning Rundown: Double the Comeback, Double the Heart-rate

The Indians are giving a whole new meaning to the phrase "Keep on Keeping on" with their latest win. Beauty of all this, is that a win is a win, that is a win.

You can get out-hit 17-12. You can blow a save. You can have your starter not get out of the fifth inning. You can have your top two hitters in the order go a combined 2-for-12 with six strikeouts and no runs scored and a caught stealing.

But you can do all that and still win a game and if you do win that game, none of that really matters in the end.

And the Indians did all of that in this game, but still won.

They won with grit and determination. It is almost as if they are running on spit and shoelaces. I don't know what that means, but it sounds gritty and as if it was strung together, but effective and that it gets the job done.

The Indians are the McGyver of baseball wins right now.

Spit and shoelaces.


Morning Rundown: Z-Mac Back on the Attack for Tribe

Just more proof that Andrew Albers deserved a lot of credit for what happened on Monday. The Indians came back out on Tuesday and were able to get some things going.

Those games happen, those performances are sometimes ones you just can't anticipate nor stop. There was a little uneasiness with the loss because it knocked the Indians down to third thanks to a Royals win.

But fear not, for the Indians get back in the win column, Kansas City finds out what it is like to face Jose Fernandez, and the Indians are back into second and even gaining a little bit on the Tigers after their loss. Not to mention, they're not too far out of the wild card race, with a big series coming up against one of the leaders.

Gear up for an early start today and then what will be a little bit lengthy period of no Tribe baseball.


Morning Rundown: Canada Guy and Twins Defense Blank and Dazzle Tribe

Nothing. I mean, just, nothing. You can't do a single solitary thing about good pitching and defense.
Photo - Getty Images via Yahoo! Sports

When you have them both, you are going to win games. They didn't even do much offensively. They got two big hits that scored all their runs and that was all the Twins needed. The Indians didn't play a bad game. The Twins just played a really good one.

W: Andrew Albers (2-0)
L: Danny Salazar (1-1)

And those are games you can stand to lose, even if they are against a team that is out of any sort of playoff race and is not really playing for much other than to further the experience of their young players and build their team up.

Does it feel good? No of course not, but it feels a lot less painful than some of the losses last week when the team booted the ball around the infield and there was a whole lot of sloppy play going on.


Morning Rundown: Hold the Shovel Tribe Won't Be Buried Yet

Closer's blow saves. Mariano Rivera has done the Indians no favors this weekend blowing two saves against the Tigers. On Sunday he let up a two-run lead after Miguel Cabrera homered and then Victor came back few hitters later to tie it. It marked his THIRD consecutive blown save in the week.

Chris Perez blew one save and the world was ending. He came back on Sunday to nail the comeback win down. Mariano Rivera will come back next time and figure it out and he'll go on to save a bunch more games before his career ends.

Both guys close out games for a living. Both are prone to mistakes and bad outings. Both will blow saves. Rivera has blown five saves this year. I'm in no way saying that Perez is a better closer, all I'm trying to prove right here is that closer's blow saves. It happens. Before we melt the world down, let's let things play out.

Because the Indians proved they have a lot of fight left in them after Sunday's huge comeback and there is a whole lot more of enjoyable baseball left to witness.


Sunday Grazing: Goon Squad, The Closer, and Remembering Nimartuena

You probably don't want to put up with my ridiculous Sunday Grazing after a week like this one. A week without a win thus far, I wouldn't blame you if were over it.

Thing is, maybe Sunday Grazing is just what you needed. I certainly feel like I need it. With all the animosity that has been built up over this team the past week, I myself would like to take a step back and just breathe in some fresh air.

So, that's just what I'm going to do.

Sunday Grazing, a little bit of an outside the diamond look at the Cleveland Indians.


Morning Rundown: End of a Tribe Series But Not a Season

Going through this, here's something that I've kind of found really funny, especially with the Browns first game on Thursday night and the preseason starting for football.

When this Indians season started, there was little care, perhaps even some disdain towards the team. Yeah they were active in the offseason and whatever, but there were a lot of fans dis-interested and still in that "prove it to me first" mentality. But now with the recent surge, a lot have come back and even the ones who were still around were getting excited. Heck, I'm excited, how could you not be the way the team has been playing?

But, a large portion of people getting excited were jumping from "well whatever, another year another losing season for the Tribe" to playoffs, to World Series. Maybe not saying World Series, but reading comments after his series ended in a total failure, there are people who were saying "The Indians can't hang with the big boys" as if they were expected to all a long.

This team was not very good last year. They were very flawed. They had talent and drive that showed at times, but largely a team that needed fixed in many areas. They got fixed in many areas, but they're still very much a work in progress. They went from a non-contender to a hopeful contender and are still there.

They need more pieces to compete with a team like Detroit, who just has more talent right now. It isn't unreasonable to expect competitiveness, which they were in each of these games except the last one, but it is a little unreasonable to expect a four game sweep and utter domination of the rest of the schedule en route to the World Series.

Which I think a lot of fans were hanging their hats on, and that's a shame, because it feels as if this sweep has almost diminished what is happening in Cleveland with this baseball team.


Morning Rundown: Tribe Still Searching for Perfect Game Against Tigers

I could not sleep Monday night and it had nothing to do with the sunburn that I'm dealing with. I'm going to reveal a behind the scenes trick right now, but I write most of the Rundown the night before it actually goes up. My job requires me to be at work early, so I get up ridiculously early to make sure everything is still good, double-check it, and add in quotes or finish up the game recap.

I had written the Chris Perez essay all before I went to bed. I even spent extra time going back and forth with a few people on Twitter about the secondary issue of him not talking to reporters, which was not a focal point of yesterday's post because that gem didn't pick up much steam until after.

So, I couldn't sleep because I had Chris Perez and the Indians on my mind, is that what I'm saying?

Well, no. I couldn't help think of what I had written. I thought maybe I had acted irrationally and jumped to a gut reaction, despite the fact that I had pegged many others with having done that. Even though we could fall on different sides of the fence, I surely could have been speaking from a point of passion with no chance to cool down about what I was seeing.

I woke up and had started to read what I wrote. And quite frankly, I felt ten times as strongly about it the morning after than I did as I was writing it out. I even went ahead and added in some thoughts and changed some things.

I've stuck to my guns on this. Last night wasn't exactly the bounce-back you were either hoping for or thought this team would give. There was a lot of "this team is resilient" talk and "we'll come out the next night" banter, but really, they didn't. It was your typical game in which the offense faced a good pitcher having a good game, and your pitcher did not show up.

It just happened that Cleveland's pitcher was supposed to be their best and Detroit's pitcher, is, well, their best.


Morning Rundown: A Bad Turn for Tribe Momentum

This is not about wins and losses. People keep saying this is a big series and I think people get lost in their response. Obviously, Francona and the players are going to say "every game is a big series" and "there's more games after to play as well" as your typical cliche responses.

This series is big, but it has nothing to do with the record. Yeah if the Indians lose three of four, it hurts. If they win three of four, it helps, but it's only a few games, there's still more work to do.

But that is exactly why the records, the wins and losses, do not matter when it comes to this series. This is so much more than wins and losses. This is momentum, this is confidence, this is a battle for having a mental edge from August 9th on. You win this series, you shift momentum in your favor. You win this series, you put a ton of eggs in the confidence basket moving forward. You win this series and you have that edge over the other team going forward with just one series left. You set the tone for that series too.

That all being said, this was a horrible turn for momentum's sake. But the good news is that there are three games left. So don't go anywhere.


Morning Rundown: Showdown Begins for Tribe After Wins Over Miami

Several things can happen at this point. The Indians can sweep the Detroit Tigers and take over first place in the AL Central division. That is highly unlikely. The Tigers can sweep the Indians and put the Indians seven games out. That too would seem unlikely the way the Indians are playing. Each team has to win a game in this series.

They could win three of the four and still drive the Indians back, or the Indians could win three of four and pull within a game of first place. Or the teams can split and we are back where we started with just a few more games left before the two teams.
Photo - Getty Images via Yahoo! Sports

I was driving in from Mentor yesterday and on Route 271 there was an electronic billboard. Battle for the Central Divsion, Monday-Thursday. The old English D and the new Block C. This is for real people. Before we can get into that, we have some weekend business to attend to.

W: Scott Kazmir (7-4)
L: Nathan Eovaldi (2-2)
S: Chris Perez (17)


Sunday Grazing: Dreaded Masty, Rally Pies, and Climbing Vinnie

I don't have a weird intro for you this morning. All I can say is, what up? It's August. Things are getting more serious. So maybe there aren't as many Sunday Grazing-type stories or links to share.

But I'll do my best to find all of the ones possible.

Sunday Grazing, a little bit of an outside the diamond look at the Cleveland Indians.


Bro of the Month: July 2013

For the past few years, we've done this little thing around the blog were we've voted for the player of the month, every month.

It had a fancy title, because Manny Acta, the former manager, wore fedoras. It was a play off the idea of the "golden sombrero" only this was something you were okay with being saddled with.

Manny Acta is now gone though, so to continue the tradition of having a Manny Acta Golden Fedora of the Month would be really, weird. And awkward.

So the search began for months after Acta's dismissal as to what would happen. Would we abandoned the concept completely? Would we choose a new person and unique trait about them to represent the award? Would we just call it Indians Player of the Month?


Morning Rundown: Say It With Me, Cleveland Is a Playoff Team

We've talked about magic, being special, being good, among other things. But now, you can say it with me if you need to. The Cleveland Indians are a playoff team. At least, a playoff contending team. If the postseason started today, on August the 2nd, your Tribe would be the second wild card and in the American League postseason.

If that isn't exciting to think about, then you need to go home and wallow in the sorrow of your misery with the Browns. That may have been a really harsh thing to say, but if that is the case, you probably deserve it.

This team is proving that it is for real. Unfortunately the Tigers and Royals are winning just as much as they are. The good news, they're winning regardless. With the Sox dispatched, the Indians get a nice three game series against the Florida Miami Marlins before the "Showdown for First Place" gets underway next week.

The way both teams are playing, that will probably be a showdown and first place will probably be in the balance, because neither team is losing to other teams right now.

W: Justin Masterson (13-7)
L: Chris Sale (6-11)


Morning Rundown: A Special Kind of Something, Indians Do It Again

There's that word again. It's being thrown around a lot on Twitter and everywhere else even. It's a cool word, especially when you are talking about a baseball team. But it scares the bajesus out of me.

I'm afraid though, I'm going to have to agree with the masses. Not that I don't believe in these Indians, I most certainly do. But, I really don't like using the word "special."

However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to not use it in regards to this team because of what they're doing. They're not just winning, they're showing some unbelievable grit and determination in the way they're winning. They probably could have or should have lost at least one of these past three games against Chicago.

But they didn't. They won, all three of them and have a chance to pull off a sweep. And things really are starting to look really special.

W: Chris Perez (4-1)
L: Dylan Axelrod (3-7)

I now take you to a paragraph I composed in the ninth inning after Corey Kluber was just removed from the ball game..


Morning Rundown: Tribe Sink Sox in Eighth for Sixth Straight

Is there anything willing to stop this team right now? Doesn't look like it. There's just a will to win right now that's undeniable. This team is finding ways to win even when they perhaps shouldn't be. Not hard with a team like Chicago, that's going through a season-long scuffle and just one thing can snow-ball for them.

But there is something else going here. They have a lot of fight and poise in these situations where they need to come through. Luckily, they only needed two situations to come through in and they did it both times.

W: Bryan Shaw (2-2)
L: Donnie Veal (1-2)
S: Chris Perez (15)

Scott Kazmir did not have his best stuff, that was evident early. He had some command issues, but eventually was able to figure it out. He got hit a little early, but then bounced back and was able to at least give the Indians five innings. There was a time that Matt Albers was up early, like real early in the game, and you started to worry.


Indians Acquire Marc Rzepczynski

The Indians made their move for a left-handed reliever Tuesday afternoon a day before the MLB Trade Deadline passed. It wasn't who anyone thought it was, of course. After flirting with the Rockies for Josh Outman, the Indians went out and nabbed left-hander Marc Rzepczynski from the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for minor league infielder Juan Herrera.

The lefty reliever was recently recalled to the major league squad and pitched the past two games, a scoreless frame in the seventh with a strikeout and two runs in 1.1 innings on Monday. His overall major league numbers this year look awful, having surrendered nine earned runs in 10.1 innings with nine strikeouts and four walks.

He was sent to Triple-A Memphis in April after a rough start and compiled a 3.07 ERA in 44 innings with 61 strikeouts, faring much better overall. Versus left-handers in Triple-A, Rzepczynski held hitters to a .207 average with no home runs.

Career-wise, he's held hitters to a .224 average against with just five career home runs given up to lefties. He's certainly someone who fares much better against them than right-handers.

Morning Rundown: The Big Goodbye from the Big G

As much as I would love to see the Indians win the AL Central and topple the Tigers into some shame, let's keep things in perspective. Baltimore is sitting at 58-48, five games out of the AL East. Tampa and Boston seem to be in a war for the division and thus, have a nice hold on a wild card.

Don't look now, but after taking it to Texas, the Indians are very much in the hunt for a wild card. You thought the only route to the playoffs was with the AL Central? Well, look again. The Indians are in the thick of things. If they can get to the dance by winning a chance to partake in the Wild Card playoff game, I would take it in a heartbeat.

But, that's getting ahead of things. While the Indians are just a half game back of the Orioles, they can see a division leader really close up ahead of them. And with five straight, they may be getting closer.

Somewhere, Hawk Harrelson is crying. Or, he's just not saying anything, because you know he's just a poor sport.


Morning Rundown: Baseball Smells Better in October

Out in the wilderness for the weekend and no while I could scrounge for a signal to get my Indians fix, I decided that when service wouldn't push through, I'd be in for a surprise Sunday evening upon my return.

Would it be a good one? A bad one? It wasn't on my mind much. For a bit, I even forgot who was invading Progressive Field. Then I fired up the good old internet to see a stunning headline. Ubaldo...dazzles? DAZZLES?

Then the word. Sweep. SWEEP!?

I'll let you guess what kind of surprise I thought it was.

I had an excellent weekend being incommunicado, sleeping in a tent, flying through the air attached to a wire, and spending my nights by a campfire. But as good as the fresh air smells in the morning, you know what smells the best? October baseball. Not only does it smell good, it smells like it may be closing in.


Morning Rundown: Kid K Grows Up for Tribe, Saves Series

If you are a long time reader of what I do, or at least around last year at this time, right around when the Indians started to nose dive, you may remember this. If you do, you are quite the Indians fan.

But remember the comparison of last year's losing streak to a festering wound? As gross as that might sound, when you think about it, what happened really was just that.

As frustrating as this team has been this year in situations like this past week of games, never once have I thought they had the capability of becoming the festering wound that they were last year though. Despite it all, this team won't let it fester. Just look at what happened yesterday afternoon against Seattle and in the finale against Minnesota.

Last year's team might be starting at a six-game losing streak. This year's team found a way to make something out of this situation and are now going home off a game in which they look like they cannot be stopped offensively. Just when you may think that this team is not what you were hoping for, they do what you were hoping for but didn't think they could do.


Morning Rundown: Indians Defensively Offensive in McAllister's Return

Team's get hot. You have to deal with it. Remember that schedule we touted so much? How incredibly easy it looked compared to the first half schedule?

That's all well and good, but you know you are going to run into some teams that you are supposed to beat that may be playing good enough ball. It happens, which is what is happening now in facing the Mariners. Are the Indians playing well? Not particularly, but they aren't playing horribly. They're a better team than Seattle. They're just not playing better right now.

You just have to hope at some point the Indians can make up for these losses in another way. If not, then we know what will happen.

W: Erasmo Ramirez (1-0)
L: Zach McAllister (4-6)
S: Tom Wilhelmsen (23)


Morning Rundown: Stalled Offense Lacks Ubaldo Support, Drop Opener to Hot Mariners

Well if pitching ain't the problem. Then I don't know what is.
Photo - Getty Images via Yahoo! Sports

You certainly can't blame two solo shots as reasons to lose. So you must blame an offense that has struggled and sputtered over the course of the past week since the break ended.

W: Aaron Harang (5-8)
L: Ubaldo Jimenez (7-5)
S: Tom Wilhelmsen (22)

I guess you could consider Seattle a hot team. They came into this winning six straight with a reverse record to the Tribe, so they aren't horrible. But you kind of expect more than one run off Aaron Harang and company.

They simply did not make Harang work enough. He was able to get through seven innings, barely breaking a sweat. Seattle's bullpen is the second worst in the American League and the Indians did not get a real good chance to dig into it. Something you have to do when you have an opposing team with a weak bullpen. Even Harang knew the Indians had to go with that game plan, and they still couldn't stop him.


Morning Rundown: Masterson Takes No-Hit Bid Into 7th; Tribe Say No to Garza

Len Barker is still the man. The Indians will have to wait a little longer for a no-hitter. It looked as good of a chance as the Indians have had in a long time on Sunday into seventh inning.

Photo - Getty Images via Zimbio
You have to truly be un-hittable though, with a good mix of luck, skill, defense, and who knows what else.

W: Justin Masterson (11-7)
L: Scott Diamond (5-9)

Justin Masterson did not quite have the right combo.

But for awhile, he sure looked like he could do it. That was until Matt Underwood said something.

No, not really. It was until Brian Dozier had a blooper to center. One could argue Drew Stubbs should have dove instead of slide, but that's besides the point. It is hard to make a split decision like that when you are running as hard as Stubby was.


Sunday Grazing: All-Star Kip, Carmen Electra and Jensen Lewis Edition

I know this is a bit of a somber Sunday as the Indians have come out of the break and have already lost two of those 13 games they have left with the Twins. That was not how you thought things would go. Hold tight though because Detroit has come out just as sluggish. You need to keep it into perspective.

So take this Sunday morning off and just relax. Hopefully Sunday Grazing will help you settle down and take that step back.

Sunday Grazing, a little bit of an outside the diamond look at the Cleveland Indians.


Can the Indians Sustain Success in the Second Half?

At the All-Star break last year, the Cleveland Indians sat at 44-41, three games back of the division lead. They had seemingly stayed afloat with many like to call smoke and mirrors, carrying a negative run differential and benefiting from a surprisingly sluggish Detroit Tigers squad.
Photo - Getty Images via Yahoo! Sports

That should have been no surprise though. They did it in 2011 too, five games up, a more credible run differential with a positive four, and an impressive 27-19 home record.

We now look at this team in 2013, in a rather familiar position. A Cleveland team that is a few games up record wise, very much in the playoff hunt, and looking like a team with some promise after all.

That promise has come crashing down the past few seasons, more spectacularly in 2012 with abhorrent losing streak that effectively cost Manny Acta his job and spurred a revised plan of attack in the offseason.

We've been over that plan. That plan seems to be working.

Of course the question is now simple. Can the plan continue to work? Can this team avoid the same fate they succumbed to the previous two years? Do they have the staying power in 2013 that they didn't have in 2011 and 2012?


Site Update: Back After Break

I know it has only been less than a week since the last rundown went up, but the activity around these parts has been, sporadic. Inconsistent as well. Kind of lame.

And when I've been here, I've been pretty lame. I'll admit that too.

Well, I'm here to tell you, it looks like I'm going to cut that out.

A little bit of a site update for you folks on this final day of the official first half of the season, even though more than half of the games have been played.


Morning Rundown: Brantley Keeps Hope Alive, Saves Bullpen; Kluber Dazzles Again

Two straight losses with some big crowds. A big weekend series against the team you are battling toe-to-toe with for the division. A chance to win over some fans. A chance to put a little fear into the cats from up in the northern part of the country.

Something about game three, with an undefeated All-Star pitching Monday, felt like a win was oh so crucial. No one wants to get swept in four games. Just as they had done to the White Sox not even a week ago, the Tigers were threatened to perhaps step on the throat of the Tribe and crush them before they could even get to the All-Star break.

And then they were saved, somehow, someway. The will to win prevailed, and we can all keep our sanity and hope.

W: Cody Allen (4-1)
L: Al Alburquerque (1-2)
S: Chris Perez (9)


Sunday Grazing: Licking the Phantom Cam and Tribe All-Stars

Usually this is the day we reserve to find out the fates of all the players who have put on a good performance in the first half of the MLB season. The Sunday before the All-Star break is the day that Major League Baseball announces the rosters for this year's summer classic.

Yeah all that happened last night. So naturally, the outrage and calls of travesty all happened last night. Which gives us the perfect fodder for Sunday Grazing, because you know I like talking about All-Stars...Ugh.

Sunday Grazing, a little bit of an outside the diamond look at the Cleveland Indians.