When the players cleared the field after the Indians’ 12-3 rout of the Angels of the Wednesday night, the first half of the Tribe’s 2012 season was officially over (yes, people use the All-Star Break as the divider, but that’s not mathematically accurate). Fifty percent of the way through the season, Cleveland stood at a respectable 42-39, just two games away from a playoff spot. So what’s in store for the second half?
In this edition of the Weekly Wroundtable, I asked our contributors—featuring guest panelists Stephanie Liscio from It’s Pronounced Lajaway and Jim Piascik from Indians Prospect Insider—to offer their thoughts on how the rest of the season will play out. Here’s what we all had to say:
Stephanie Liscio (It’s Pronounced “Lajaway”): I think the Indians will continue to bumble along, but so will the rest of the Central. It is possible that 85-90 wins takes the division. If the Indians stay healthy for the most part, and make a few key moves, they could still be in it to win it.
Jim Piascik (Indians Prospect Insider): The Indians are on pace for an 84-win season, so I can have some confidence that they’ll make it to my preseason 88-win prediction. I think that the team is still growing and coming together and will be better in the 2nd half. I do think that the Tribe will make a trade or two, but I’m not sure who they’ll get. Whoever it is, I don’t think they’ll make all of the difference; a lot of what the rest of the season will hold for the Indians will come from within.
Can Johnny Damon play better? I think he might. Will Carlos Santana figure it out? I think he will. Will Ubaldo Jimenez pitch like the ace the Indians traded for? Well, that one is anyone’s guess. Overall, I think the Indians will finish 88-74 and squeak into the playoffs one way or another. That’s what I said before the season and I’m sticking with it.
Lewie Pollis: Call me crazy, but I say the Indians regain the division lead soon and pull ahead for good by mid-August. The Tribe’s current 85-win pace would be pretty bad for a playoff team, but then again they play in a pretty bad division. On paper the Indians might not be the best team in the division, but then again neither are the White Sox. Barring another serious September surge in Detroit that the Tigers probably aren’t equipped for, Cleveland will win the division by default.
Beyond that, I say Shin-Soo Choo and Jason Kipnis continue to heat up, Carlos Santana turns things around, and Travis Hafner reminds all his doubters that his bat still works fine. The Indians will make a trade or two because they have to something, but whatever moves they make will be more about keeping up with the Joneses than really improving the roster.
Katie Hendershot: I don’t think they have what it takes to make the playoffs this year; however, I think that within the Central Division, it’s reasonable to expect them to finish in second place. I don’t expect any big trades taking place, however I would expect the front office to bring in a veteran arm and a right-handed bat. I’m not sure who to expect those players to be, but I don’t think either would be too much of an impact player. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Indians trade Chris Perez while his value is high, meaning that we would see Vinnie Pestano take over as closer.
I expect the second half of the season to go similar to the first, with the Indians alternating between good and bad periods. I think in mid to late August, the Indians will do pretty well, though nothing too big. I think they’ll go out with a weak end in September against the other teams in the Central.
Steve Kinsella: The remainder of the 2012 season will be more of a battle to keep the momentum moving in a positive direction. The team lacks the consistent middle of the order power bat required to sustain the offense, a consistent #4 and #5 starter, and a bridge to get to Joe Smith, Vinnie Pestano, and Chris Perez. Of course, the Indians will address one or more of these areas via trades, maybe a reliever/starter comes up from the system and fills a void, and maybe an injured player (Grady Sizemore) returns and surprises.
As the team stands today we’re looking at a slightly better than .500 team. Chris Antonetti has another chance to put his stamp on the club, probably not as stunning a move as acquiring Ubaldo Jimenez, but an opportunity to build the team for the remainder of 2012 and possibly add a piece or two for 2013 while he’s at it.
Brian Heise: The Indians will continue their two steps forward and one step back routine that we’ve been witnessing for quite some time now. Faced with the decision to either make a move and improve the roster or stand pat at the non-waiver trade deadline, the front office will opt to stand pat, thus enraging fans. The most we’ll be able to hope for is to remain in close contention through August when the Indians finally decide to pick up another teams broken parts at the waiver trade deadline. It won’t be enough to make an impact.
Injuries will continue to be a problem and the offense will sputter to the finish line carried by an exhausted pitching staff. By the time the season ends, the Indians will be passed by the Tigers and fall into a third place tie with the upstart Royals. Meanwhile, the White Sox will clinch the division. In fact, everyone will be throwing up as we watch the White Sox dog pile on top of one another at the end of game 162. Their come from behind win combined with a Tigers loss just moments earlier will give them the division crown.
Merritt Rohlfing: I’ve decided to pin my hopes for this Indians team on Travis Hafner. After seeing him since his return from the DL on Tuesday, so composed in the box, that quick, tight swing and that power we miss so much, I remembered what an offensive terror he is and how much better he makes the lineup. Pronk is needed in that 4-hole. He’s shaken the injuy bug, I got a feeling.
My prediction therefore is bold as brass, that he’ll stay healthy and the Tribe will win the division in the last week with that home series against the White Sox. Final record: 89-73, and at least five playoff games. Oh, also the Indians will probably make a push for Josh Willingham because it’s just tradition at this point. No word on whether it will happen though.