“I’m disturbed, I’m depressed, I’m inadequate… I’ve got it all!”
We’ve spent the last few months talking about how interesting these 2013 Indians would be.
Well, they’re interesting, all right.
In what was supposed to be the ninth game of the season, the Indians were set to use their seventh starting pitcher (Corey Kluber: No. 7 in your depth chart, No. 1 in your heart). That would have put the Indians on pace to use 126 starting pitchers this season (which would of course be a record… but let’s not read too much into that, because I’m sure they won’t actually use more than 100).
Anyway, rain intervened to momentarily pause the merry-go-round, and now it’s Zach McAllister getting the nod in Game No. 9. So… six starters in nine days. That already sounds better, doesn’t it?
Of course, the fun doesn’t stop there. The Tribe has also already promoted two catchers — on the same day, no less. It’s not often you get to see the backup backup backup backstop suited up in early April, so cherish this memory.
You might not be stunned to learn Chris Antonetti hasn’t exactly cherished all the early transaction activity.
“Once the games start, a number of different things can happen,” Antonetti said. “But I don’t think we’ve ever had a situation — in my experience or Terry’s experience — where you lose two catchers in a span of five days. Obviously, it puts a strain on your roster. There are a number of different things we have to work through.”
The Indians tried to creatively work around Carlos Carrasco’s five-game suspension by having him on the active roster at the outset of the season. They didn’t imagine they’d need both Carrasco and Trevor Bauer in the first week and a half, and they definitely didn’t imagine Carrasco would cause another ruckus with a post-homer hit-by-pitch that may or may not earn him yet another suspension (a suspension that would have to be served whenever he makes it back to the big leagues, as Carrasco was already bumped back to Columbus on Wednesday).
Meanwhile, Scott Kazmir is slowly working his way back from an oblique injury and Brett Myers has already given up seven home runs in 10 1/3 innings and Ubaldo Jimenez had a homely home opener and Lou Marson got steamrolled by Desmond Jennings and Carlos Santana’s hot start was stalled by his inability to catch a Chris Perez pitch and Nick Swisher, Jason Kipnis, Asdrubal Cabrera and Lonnie Chisenhall aren’t really hitting yet and… geez… by this point in this paragraph the Tribe’s 3-5 record really doesn’t look so bad, all things considered.
On the bright side, we’ve seen Justin Masterson circa 2011 thus far, while Michael Bourn and Mark Reynolds have arrived as advertised. They’ve had a calming effect amid the chaos.
Actually, Francona — the first to admit, in his words, “If I don’t think positively, who the heck is?” — doesn’t really feel it’s been quite as chaotic as it seems.
“The reason we’re doing these [transactions] is to keep things in order,” he said. “The hope would be things settle down and we go play baseball and see how good we can get. But sometimes you make moves just to keep things in order.”
Some teams thrive on stability, while others develop their identity in the midst of motion. The Orioles, en route to a Wild Card berth, used 52 players and made 178 roster moves last season. They were one of four postseason teams — the Yankees, A’s and Nationals being the others — to lose more than 1,000 days to the disabled list.
So, sure, the Tribe can certainly survive and maybe even be bettered by this spurt of uncertainty.
But if the rotation was a concern going into the season, it is downright alarming right now. Tribe starters not named Masterson have a 6.02 ERA, and stability does not figure to be a strength of that staff. Clearly, that’s not the kind of “interesting” you want to be.
PS: I had the pleasure today of sitting in on a special meeting between Mariano Rivera and about 30 Indians staff members who work behind the scenes. Rivera just wanted to say thank you to the people who make Progressive Field churn. One of the classiest things I’ve seen in baseball, as I wrote here.
PPS: In case you missed these recent stories: On Nick Swisher and Travis Hafner and what they demonstrate about the directions of the Indians and Yankees; On Tito Francona’s return “home” for the home opener.