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Second Thoughts Game #77: Indians 8, D'Backs 9

Second Thoughts Game #77: Indians 8, D'Backs 9
Carlos Santana rounds the bases after his 11th inning homer. (Photo: Fox News)
June 25, 2014
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The Cleveland Indians lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night (Wednesday morning) in a 14-inning affair that saw the Indians tie the game in the 9th, take a two-run lead in the 11th and ultimately lose in the 14th. I will be the first to admit that I didn’t/couldn’t stay awake for the game that didn’t end up concluding until after 3am EST.

  • Carlos Santana continued his torrid month of June, in which he has slashed .371/.480/.710
  • Terry Francona ended up using all nine of his relievers on the 25-man roster
  • Indians hitters struck out 17 times, but walked 7 times
  • Indians pitchers gave up 19 hits and 9 walks (28 batters is good for a WHIP of 2.00)

Obviously, this was a thrilling game that turned frustrating. Bryan Shaw blowing a two-run lead in the 11th is not what you would expect as he is likely the second best reliever behind Cody Allen.

The man who gave the Indians that two-run lead is none other than the Indians’ Carlos Santana. He has been a one-man wrecking crew since his return from injury in late-May. His wRC+ (a stat used to compare the runs-created among players) is a staggering 234, meaning that he has provided 134% more runs than the league average player. Only the great Mike Trout has been better in the past month at +237.

Carlos Santana’s season has been beyond strange. Seen as being in a slump all year, he has only recently crept back above the Mendoza-line and is now hitting .214 on the season thanks in large part to his four-hit effort Tuesday night. He only has 51 hits on the entire season, so he accounted for nearly 8% of his hits in just 1.4% of his games played thus far. This can be hard to fully-appreciate, so I’ll try to say it another way: If Santana had gone 0-for-5 instead, his batting average would be back at just .197. Nearly halfway through his season, Carlos changed his batting average by 17 points in a single game.

But, getting base-hits really isn’t Santana’s game. Afterall, he is only a career .249 hitter. He is all about getting on-base, and he has done that just about as well as anyone this year. He leads all of baseball with an 18.6% walk-rate. He walks 3% more than Joey Votto and 6% more than Jose Bautista. The fact that Santana is able to draw so many walks despite his inability to successfully put the ball in play is truly remarkable.

He is swinging less (35.7%) than his previous season averages around 39% and he is making the same contact (80%) as he has in years past. His power is definitely intact as his 17.9% HR/FB is above his career norms and portends the peak power years one would expect from a batter in his age-28 season.

Everything is lining up for Santana to have a truly remarkable second-half and he should end up with more homers and RBI than any season in his history and with the best on-base percentage of his career. It’s weird to say, but there is every reason to believe that Santana’s 2014 season (one in which his batting average was below .200 for the first 75 games of the season) will be his finest yet.

The Indians will look to end their four-game losing streak tonight as Corey Kluber takes the mound againstChase Anderson. The Indians need to close the remaining 17 games before the All-Star break with at least 10 or 11 wins to give management the confidence it needs to go out and acquire some parts for the stretch run. Heading into the All-Star break with a losing record is bad news in an American League that is so tightly bunched. Chasing a few teams is okay, chasing half of the AL is a difficult task.

User Comments

Tony
June 25, 2014 - 11:49 PM EDT
I am on the double posting thing. We had a site upgrade to improve the look on mobile and tablets.....but the comments and a few other things on the backend have been affected. Should be resolved on Thursday.
Bob
June 25, 2014 - 10:31 PM EDT
The double a triple posting is due to the system. Tony needs to fix it. It looks like it doesn't post and then asks for another security code
shy
June 25, 2014 - 10:15 PM EDT
You guys are all double and triple posting. I think you've been infected w waittilnextyearitis and are all jacked up in denial about it. Let it go. Send Shaponetti your doctor bills.
Ryan
June 25, 2014 - 8:08 PM EDT
Francona lost the game when he pulled Atchison in a tie game after only 11 pitches. The pitcher's spot was up to leadoff the tenth, so in other words, he burned Allen in the 9th inning of a tie game, with the bottom of the DBacks order up KNOWING he would need to remove Allen in the 10th. What a short-sighted way to use your bullpen when you have no idea when the end would come and your previous pitcher shut down the the previous three hitters on 11 pitches. Especially when you are on the road and if you are lucky enough, will need a closer, which lo and behold you needed in the 11th. This was an indefensible move.
Ryan
June 25, 2014 - 8:07 PM EDT
Francona lost the game when he pulled Atchison in a tie game after only 11 pitches. The pitcher's spot was up to leadoff the tenth, so in other words, he burned Allen in the 9th inning of a tie game, with the bottom of the DBacks order up KNOWING he would need to remove Allen in the 10th. What a short-sighted way to use your bullpen when you have no idea when the end would come and your previous pitcher shut down the the previous three hitters on 11 pitches. Especially when you are on the road and if you are lucky enough, will need a closer, which lo and behold you needed in the 11th. This was an indefensible move.
Charlie
June 25, 2014 - 6:54 PM EDT
Sorry for triple! posting....dang
Charlie
June 25, 2014 - 6:52 PM EDT
CL Who: I understand the frustration, but House is not Masterson, regardless of recent performance.

Trading him now is selling at his low-point, and forfeits the Tribe's likely compensation pick at the end of the season. The compensation pick, combined with the performance over the rest of the season is worth far more than whatever they could get in return for Masterson, both in the short and long-term.

If you really want to call it a day: you could save some salary by trading him now for assets far away: but good management doesnt sell assets at their low point, while conceding defeat when they are just a few games out of the playoffs.
Charlie
June 25, 2014 - 6:51 PM EDT
CL Who: I understand the frustration, but House is not Masterson, regardless of recent performance.

Trading him now is selling at his low-point, and forfeits the Tribe's likely compensation pick at the end of the season. The compensation pick, combined with the performance over the rest of the season is worth far more than whatever they could get in return for Masterson, both in the short and long-term.

If you really want to call it a day: you could save some salary by trading him now for assets far away: but good management doesnt sell assets at their low point, while conceding defeat when they are just a few games out of the playoffs.
Charlie
June 25, 2014 - 6:51 PM EDT
CL Who: I understand the frustration, but House is not Masterson, regardless of recent performance.

Trading him now is selling at his low-point, and forfeits the Tribe's likely compensation pick at the end of the season. The compensation pick, combined with the performance over the rest of the season is worth far more than whatever they could get in return for Masterson, both in the short and long-term.

If you really want to call it a day: you could save some salary by trading him now for assets far away: but good management doesnt sell assets at their low point, while conceding defeat when they are just a few games out of the playoffs.
C L Who
June 25, 2014 - 6:04 PM EDT
Thanks for the comments, Charlie. As a 50 year Tribe fan, I hope you're right.

As for Masterson, I think the team is in a tight spot. His history is to rotate good and bad years. Assuming the tendency of teams to overpay, even vastly overpay sometimes, for pitching remains a constant this offseason, my guess is that Masterson gets a multi-year offer that the Tribe can't match or beat. Then he's gone. Of course, the QO won't be a factor in that situation and the Tribe will pick up a draft pick as compensation.

In one scenario, Masterson finishes the year on an upward trend ending with an ERA around 4.3. He probably will still get the multi-year offer. Meanwhile, is he really going to create many more wins than, say, House?

In another scenario, Masterson labors through the rest of the season in the same way he is doing now. Now Tribe has to gamble on making a QO and having him perform poorly in 2014 if he accepts it, or letting him sign elsewhere. Meanwhile, he wouldn't be contributing to many more wins, if any, than House.

this is a long way of saying that in my opinion, the Tribe this year will finish at about the same spot....whatever that ends up being....with him or without him, and the right business and personnel acquisition decision is to trade him now.
Charlie
June 25, 2014 - 5:08 PM EDT
CL Who: appreciate the thoughts, but the fact is that Masterson has been a quality pitcher for the better part of the previous four years. Even in his worst years, he has been a ~2win pitcher, which equates to about $12M/year if you go by the old $6m/win rule of thumb. Considering that Masterson was a 4-win pitcher the previous year, has sustained his higher k-rates and has a career-worst LOB%, I predict that Masterson still ends up better than 2.5wins this year and easily merits the QO. Barring injury, he will 100% be offered the QO and he will decline and go on to receive a multi-year deal worth north of $10M/season. Starting pitchers that throw 200 innings a year, and have 4-win season in their very recent history are commodities. Edwin Jackson never had a 4-win season, never struck out as many guys as Masterson and signed a 4/$52M contract....two years ago!

Re: the starting pitching....look to last year! Ubaldo was dead in the water at the All-Star Break, Kazmir was a strong gust away from imploding and Kluber was actually struggling. Then Salazar came in, Ubaldo rebounded, Kazmir endured and Kluber got the results that typically go along with his typical stellar performances. Presto: the rotation was a strength. I'm not ready to write-off the rotation as a fatal flaw.

Re: the bullpen....the Indians are right at league average in nearly every way you can think to look at it. A easy to find and cheap to obtain improvement can put the bullpen back into the upper-third. Overuse is an absolute concern, but new blood has already been infused (Crocket for Outman and Pestano back from AAA). Having a sub-par bullpen is NEVER a reason to abandon a season: too easy/cheap to fix.

The offense has been streaky, no doubt: but streakiness is not a trait, it is a series of occurrences. There is no reason to believe that it will continue to come in clusters. Santana has started to bounce back, Chisenhall and Brantley are having tremendous breakouts, Gomes and Murphy are hitting as expected, Bourn, Cabrera and Swisher are all having huge down years...but have track records a mile long that indicate they should bounce back to some degree. The offense is going to score.

This is a flawed team, potentially they will end up right at 500, but to assume that a fire sale is the only rationale approach is just a plain over-reaction. A hot week gets them back above 500 and all of a sudden giving up some minor pieces to improve the bullpen doesnt seem that crazy.
C L Who
June 25, 2014 - 4:03 PM EDT
I turned in when Ax came in to blow the save.

I don't know about leaving CC in only two innings....but my question is, why not bring him in instead of Axford so we could stop playing after 11? Ax is notoriously unreliable and proved it again. He should be released, or pitch only the first inning of the game to give the team a chance to catch up. Either Terry hates CC bigtime, or he's pressuring the FO to eject Axford by playing him and giving him a chance to lose multiple games. Maybe both?
shy
June 25, 2014 - 3:44 PM EDT
Masterson is sitting around 87-88 w the fast ball, that's ridiculous. And he still can't throw strikes. If he was doing this at Triple A no way would he get called up, so why is Francona running him out there every turn over and over. Actually, if he did what he's doing in Cleveland in Columbus he might get demoted to Akron. Nobody has explained it- either injury or coming off drugs. As long as they keep running him out there and playing the fans for fools, I will not support the team. Who told overweight outta shape Kipnis to try to score on a throwl that beat him by 10feet., esp w Chiz coming up. Mark Lowe , you get what you pay for( except in the case of Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher) The DBacks should have won the game against Axford. The 3/2 he struck out Montero with w the bases juiced was ball 4, not really close.
shy
June 25, 2014 - 3:44 PM EDT
Masterson is sitting around 87-88 w the fast ball, that's ridiculous. And he still can't throw strikes. If he was doing this at Triple A no way would he get called up, so why is Francona running him out there every turn over and over. Actually, if he did what he's doing in Cleveland in Columbus he might get demoted to Akron. Nobody has explained it- either injury or coming off drugs. As long as they keep running him out there and playing the fans for fools, I will not support the team. Who told overweight outta shape Kipnis to try to score on a throwl that beat him by 10feet., esp w Chiz coming up. Mark Lowe , you get what you pay for( except in the case of Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher) The DBacks should have won the game against Axford. The 3/2 he struck out Montero with w the bases juiced was ball 4, not really close.
Tony
June 25, 2014 - 3:30 PM EDT
I agree on the Carrasco move. Why did Francona take him out after just 2 innings and 20-some pitches? Insane. Also, there is too much dead weight with the bullpen right now with Axford and Lowe. And Pestano still has to prove himself. His fastball is still lacking that pop.
yourtribe
June 25, 2014 - 2:10 PM EDT
Do not offer masty a QO. What if he takes it and we are on the hook for about 14 mil next year? Trade him or just let him go. He's another ubaldo
Get rid of ax now.
Try trading swish and Bourn by next year. And eat part of the contracts if needed. Even if u eat half their contracts. U still save over 10 mil a year by replacing them with young guys making little.
With cabby and masty gone that's over 20 mil off books for next year! No brainer.
I want naquin and Lindor here by next June at latest
And get Jesus up here and give him abs on reg basis. If that means dumping Raburn so be it.
And kipnis needs to be moved down lineup and Gomes up some.
Ron
June 25, 2014 - 1:33 PM EDT
MT88 in WI I agree and what was the deal with taking out Carrasco after only 2 IP? Dumb.
MT88 in WI
June 25, 2014 - 1:31 PM EDT
Sorry for the double posting...
Ron
June 25, 2014 - 1:31 PM EDT
I see that Shaw is the first victim of Francona's overuse of his BP. Batters have a 963 OPS in June against him. 9.2 IP 12 H 7 W 6 K
MT88 in WI
June 25, 2014 - 1:30 PM EDT
Generally I favor the moves made by Francona but I pin Tuesdays loss on his bullpen mgmt. didn't agree with Shaw starting a 2nd inning of work when so many others had been used. Would have gone directly to Carasco after Allen finished his work and then had others available if needed.
MT88 in WI
June 25, 2014 - 1:30 PM EDT
Generally I favor the moves made by Francona but I pin Tuesdays loss on his bullpen mgmt. didn't agree with Shaw starting a 2nd inning of work when so many others had been used. Would have gone directly to Carasco after Allen finished his work and then had others available if needed.
C L Who
June 25, 2014 - 1:08 PM EDT
A valid point, Andrew, but I would promote Ramirez to platoon him with Kip.

Ramirez hits LHP well and batting right is his "power" side although he is a switch hitter. He would also add speed on the basepaths and some plus defense at the 2B position. I like Kip but think he's still ailing......he is slow and sometimes looks like a statue out there, and is not hitting lefties at all this year. The promotion IMO would permit Ramirez to break in and Kip to heal up.
Andrew
June 25, 2014 - 12:45 PM EDT
CL Who... Why promote Ramirez? Sorry, but in the time that he was up with the team, he was awful. Kipnis has been streaky, but he'll produce more than Ramirez...
C L Who
June 25, 2014 - 12:44 PM EDT
Andy -- interesting comment....I'll bet the FO is terrified of that, since the QO is going to be what....14 MM...and Masterson is pitching like a 3 MM guy. Let's hope they trade him now to a desperate team that will pay high.
C L Who
June 25, 2014 - 12:41 PM EDT
Acquiring some parts for the stretch run.......surely you are kidding Charlie! Despite the now dead weight of Swisher and the incredible streakiness afflicting the line up, the offense is producing in most categories, the most notable failure being a decrease in XBH to 31.5% from last year's 34.8%.

With the current rotation and pen, this Tribe team will be extremely lucky to win 81, let alone make the playoffs.

Some modest suggestions: (1) release Axford now and use CC much more; (2) trade Masterson for value to a pitching starved team and do it now; (3) trade ACab for value and do it now; (4) play Swish about half the time and let Aguilar play the other half; (5) put House in the rotation; (6) bring up Ramirez too, and let him fill in for Kipnis until Kipnis is well or more motivated; (6) release Raburn; (7) promote Giambi from DL to coach; (8) more tryouts for the pen from the AAA / AA ranks; (9) move Bourn out of the lead off spot.
Andy
June 25, 2014 - 12:41 PM EDT
I wouldn't be surprised if Masterson ends up being the first free agent to accept the QO if the Indians go that route this offseason. I've thought that going back to his comments in ST about finding some way to hang around in Cleveland a bit longer.
Robert
June 25, 2014 - 12:10 PM EDT
Someone needs to remind Masterson this is his free agent year. Perhaps that is a pressure he is not being able to handle.

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