This weekend Kansas City concludes their final roadtrip of the 2012 season heading to Cleveland. The Royals (70-86) and Indians (65-91) square off for the last time in what’s been a cantankerous season series at times during the year.
We took a couple of minutes to catch-up with Lewie Pollis, who is the senior staff editor at Wahoo’s on First.
Kings of Kauffman – What has it been in the second half for Cleveland? The team was in the thick of it at the All-Star Break but why did they go bottom up?
Lewie Pollis – Really, everything that could go wrong has gone wrong. As a team the Indians have hit .239 with a .667 OPS since the All-Star Break, and they’ve got a team ERA of 5.16—looking at OPS, it’s as though the Tribe’s lineup is made up of nine Luis Valbuenas while they’re turning opponents into a team of nine Curtis Grandersons. Injuries and the exhaustion of the season have taken their toll, not to mention that at least a dozen players are having significant down years. The apathy and defeatedness snowballed quickly, especially in a clubhouse run by the low-key Manny Acta.
KOK – Who are the young players that have made the most of their September call ups that we should get to know?
LP – Unfortunately we haven’t seen a whole lot of positive signs from the gaggle of quasi-prospects and Quad-A players who’ve gotten the call this September. Russ Canzler has probably been the highlight, hitting .307/.325/.467 with three homers in 77 plate appearances—that’s not great, but for a team starved for first base production we’ll take it. Matt LaPorta also has a hearty .333/.355/.467 line, but that’s in only 31 plate appearances and it’s fueled by a .429 BABIP. The Indians seem to have basically given up on him.
The most intriguing pitcher we’ve seen is David Huff, who’s been bouncing back and forth between the minors and the majors for four years now. He started to put things together last year, and in 16 September innings he has a 2.25 ERA and a 12:3 K/BB ratio. I’m probably in the minority of Tribe fans on this, but I could see him as a dark horse candidate to win a rotation spot next year.
KOK – Do you sense that the April bad blood between these teams still exists?
LP – To be honest, I’d forgotten about that until now. I can’t imagine we’ll see any more flare-ups this weekend. One of my writers, Merritt Rohlfing, wrote a great post earlier this month about the Tribe’s lack of passion—it’s hard for me to picture this clubhouse holding a grudge over almost six months, especially after the miserable few weeks they’ve been slumping through.
KOK – Today the Indians fired Manny Acta and will be led by Sandy Alomar Jr. the rest of the season, is he the guy no matter how Cleveland finishes?
LP – I don’t think the last six games will really make that much of a difference in the decision-making process, but Sandy has to be frontrunner. He’s a popular managerial prospect around the league, he’s been a leader in this clubhouse for three years, and he’s one of the most popular sports figures in Cleveland even though it’s been 12 years since he last caught for the Tribe. I don’t think it’s a slam-dunk (I’m hoping we somehow land Terry Francona), but Alomar is the heir apparent and it’s probably a good bet that the Indians will go with him.
Here is the other side of the conversation
Probable Starters this weekend (All Times Central) –
Friday 6:05 pm, Will Smith (6-8, 4.88) v. David Huff (2-0, 2.25)