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It’s true that a major league team can never have enough pitching. It’s also no fun to repeatedly harp on a weakness, because it not only becomes monotonous, but also often obscures a subtle truth. And finally, Cleveland’s disappointing season can’t be boiled down to a single problem.
(OK, the caveats are done. Time to get to the rant.)
What cosmic sign needs to take place before Cleveland’s management addresses their chronic lack of pitching? This has been an ongoing question for at least a decade, going back to when the Tribe was a dynasty that could slug the AL Central into submission, and inevitably exited the playoffs early. More recently, despite having plenty of money to spend, they’ve failed to land any difference-making arms in the offseason. Their second biggest free agent signing was released prior to the All-Star break, for chrissakes.
And now, with the passing of the trade deadline, we find yet again that pitching just doesn’t seem to be a priority for General Manager Mark Shapiro. Shapiro wisely cut bait on 2006 and traded away five regulars from his team. Let’s count how many pitchers he acquired, shall we?
Am I taking crazy pills, or did Shapiro make five trades and end up acquiring zero pitchers? In fact, he even traded away a pitcher. All those deals and his team nets a loss of an arm?
When one looks at the Indians lineup this offseason, it’s going to be hard not to fall in love with them, just like prognosticators did the last two years. Their youth, talent, and affordability all scream “UPSIDE!” What’s more, it looks like they’ll add two more talented players next year, with the call-up of Andy Marte and the acquisition of Shin-Soo Choo. The field is filled with shiny newish ballplayers who generate excitement in baseball people.
But it looks like Cleveland’s pitching next year is going to be awfully similar to what they’re trotting out this year. That isn’t terrible, but a team that is ninth in the American League in pitching isn’t a team that can be taken seriously as a division champion, let alone as a pennant contender. And that’s not the bad news for their loyal fan base.
The bad news is that Shapiro either doesn’t recognize this, or doesn’t think he can fix it, or just can’t help himself when he sees that promising infielder in another organization. The bad news it that this is a problem that has been ignored for years, was just ignored again last month, and likely won’t fix itself in the offseason.
But hey, Mark, don’t feel like you have to rush things on our account. It can probably wait until 2012 or so.