Thursday, May 05, 2011

Cleveland's Clock

Please, I’m begging you, quit trying to make me care about how far the Twins are behind the Indians. It doesn’t matter. Because the Indians don’t matter. At least not yet.

Cleveland started out they year by feasting on crummy teams. They’ve improved to 20-9 – including a recent seven-game winning streak - because they continue to feast on crummy teams. If the Indians are legit, we aren’t going to know it while they’re playing Seattle, Baltimore, Kansas City and a Victor Martinezless Detroit. (By the way, they’re 14-2 against those teams.)

The soonest the Indians can prove they’re legitimate is the middle of June. Currently, they’re on a west coast trip against Oakland and the Angels, then come home to face the Rays. Then they have another chance to fatten up their record before starting a touch stretch at the end of May. They face the Reds and Red Sox at home. Then come the Rays, Blue Jays, Rangers, Twins and Yankees. My prediction? They’re no more than five games over .500 by June 14th.

And speaking of facing the Twins, the Twins have 16 games left to make up whatever deficit they have. Last year Cleveland was 6-12 against the Twins. This year they’re 0-2. The Twins don’t play them again for over a month, by which time they should be (knock, knock) healthier. They also play each other six times in the last two weeks of the season.

So don’t ask me to explain the Tribe’s hot start. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. This division will be decided in September, not April.

So let’s keep it simple: the Twins need to start playing well. In a very winnable AL Central, everything else is just clamor. And that is especially true for Cleveland. How the Indians are doing now, or where they are in the standings, doesn’t matter.


frightwig said...

Records of noted "crummy teams" when not playing Cleveland, so far:

Royals, 14-9
Orioles, 14-12
Tigers, 15-14
Mariners, 14-14

That looks like decent competition to me. Even if some of them fade later, they're playing respectably well when not matched up against Cleveland to this point.

Also, ESPN rates Cleveland's strength of schedule, played so far, at 5th in the AL, behind Boston, Kansas City, Seattle, and a tick below Detroit. (Who has played the weakest SOS in the Central? The Twins, and by a good margin.)

Meanwhile, Cleveland still has the best run differential in baseball. Of course, nobody knows where they might stand in a month or two, but I think they've come by their current standing honestly. Right now, I don't expect them to collapse.

But the Twins certainly have to worry about getting their own house in order before thinking much about Cleveland or even the wild card spot. Taking a pair from Chicago may be a nice start, although a) both games were decided by 1 run, b) the offense apart from Kubel still looked practically dead, and c) the White Sox are looking like a truly crummy team even when not facing the Twins.

Anonymous said...

I'm not saying the Tribe is as good as they're playing now. But you're wrong in assuming the Twins could catch them. A recent Cle radio talk show host said other teams would have to play 20 games over .500 to catch them IF they only played .500 the rest of the season. What hurt the Tribe in the past was the slow starts they would have in April, often falling so far back by June that they never could get far out of the cellar. A fast start makes all the difference.

Brad said...

The key point in all this is that the Twins need to start playing well.

If they don't, it won't matter.

MN said...

The division may be decided in September, but will the Twins factor?

Right now, I'm doubting it.