week once in a while I ask for your sizzling hot takes on Twitter and Facebook so we can argue about them because arguing is fun. This is the Hot Take Corner.
Hello there. Remember Trevor Bauer? Some people think trading him was a mistake. If we’re being honest, some people will always think it was a mistake to trade Trevor Bauer. It’s one of the many hot takes we may never see extinguished, no matter how much the data does or doesn’t help him in Cincinnati.
With that in mind, what better way to click-bait you into this week’s Hot Take Corner than to bring up the spectre of Bauer? If you’re only here because a friend hate-RT’d it on Twitter or yelled the URL out his window in anger — thanks for joining me. Tell your friend he should read more.
That, plus a whole lot more was tweeted at me in an attempt to round up talking points for this post. We start with takes from the Anti-Tito Coalition.
Terry Francona is the Dave Dombrowski of coaches— Chris D. Davies (@chris_d_davies) September 17, 2019
Idk if it's even a hot take anymore, but Tito needs fired regardless of how this season turns out.— Jeremy (@jsab4807) September 17, 2019
These are two very different takes. One of them is a really astute observation, which I think lines up surprisingly well, and the other is a knee-jerk reaction that probably wouldn’t solve anything.
Terry Francona as Dave Dombrowski is ... shockingly relevant. Dombrowski is the general manager you go to when your team is on the cusp and you have some prospects you can unload to make a big final run. As the Red Sox proved in firing him shortly after his post-World Series season didn’t go as planned, he’s not necessarily the guy you want to build up a team, however.
I know many will disagree, and that’s fine, but that’s similar to the way I view Terry Francona. He’s the manager I want leading my well-oiled machine to even greater heights. Give him the biggest, wildest personalities you can manage and he’s probably going to keep them all pulling in the same direction and using their established skills to the best of their abilities.
On the flip side, I don’t know how well I trust Tito to take a tattered and/or young roster and squeeze the most value out of it. Sure, you can say that he did that with the 2019 Indians, but I’d argue that most managers would have made it work with the surprising emergence of Aaron Civale and Zach Plesac, and the total dominance of Shane Bieber. Instead of being four games behind with two weeks left in the season, other managers might have played their cards a bit better, bunted a bit less, and they might be closer or even leading the division.
But I also don’t hate Tito or think he’s completely terrible, just like most Red Sox fans probably still think fondly of Dombrowski and the World Series he delivered them. He’s just not the best suited general manager going forward.
And Tito is not going to get fired. Maybe another manager could squeeze out a couple wins here or there, but there’s a valid counterargument to be made:
Tito is the main reason why this season wasnt a complete disaster.— invisible man (@gh0st1ntheshell) September 17, 2019
I don’t have hard numbers to point to what Tito did or didn’t do to help or hurt the Indians because it’s almost impossible to untangle what’s the fault of players and the fault of managers over the course of a season. It’s nothing more than pure gut feels.
So if you feel like Tito is the glue keeping this team together, you are probably just as right I am in the grand scheme of things.
Those demanding the firing of Terry Francona have less long-term memory of the Indians franchise than Manny Acta has hair on his head— Where’s Baldo? (@mattkleinkeys) September 17, 2019
... takes like this never make any sense.
I will never fault anyone for defending Terry Francona, but this is always a bizarre mindset to me. The two types of managers are not Terry Francona and Manny Acta, yet it’s the same argument most everyone seems to come around on.
There’s a reason why Manny Acta and managers like him don’t get many manager jobs in baseball anymore, and there’s no reason to believe that moving on from Terry Francona would mean that the ghost of Manny Acta’s managerial career would immediately haunt the Indians dugout. There are great, forward-thinking managers out there and you can’t be scared to try and find them because your last manager wasn’t great.
Getting rid of Bauer was not a good idea . That's all I'm saying...— Laura (@LauraL2920) September 17, 2019
Regardless of how Trevor performs for the Reds next year, it’s hard to imagine the Indians maximizing the return they got for him. If Yasiel Puig is hot, he might just carry the Indians into the playoffs. Beyond that, Franmil Reyes is a slugger under control for the next four years, and Logan Allen has potential to be another great rotation piece. Trevor Bauer showed flashes of being great in Cleveland, but it’s hard to argue with what they got back for him.
If anything, I think the Indians will miss the analytics and competitive drive he brought to the rotation. Luckily, it appears he instilled that enough in Mike Clevinger and Shane Bieber before he left. With any further luck, those two will pass it on to the next wave of young armsand the cycle will continue.
It’s better if we DON’T make the playoffs. Puts a fire under the front office to make some necessary additions.— natascha-with-a-‘c’ (@songgirl127) September 17, 2019
Unless something changes, the Indians’ plan has always been to spread out their chances of getting into the playoffs as many seasons as possible instead of gutting everything for one big run. A slew of injuries and the Twins roiding out for five months put a damper on it this season, but I’d be surprised to see them get too far away from their plan because everyone on the roster was injured and they narrowly missed the playoffs by a couple games. They’re going to keep taking their lumps in hopes that it all clicks one season and everyone basks in a championship for a few months.
Here’s my perception-based hot take: If the Indians were an absolute dumpster fire, I think fans would have been more forgiving of this season given the injuries. Like, yeah it makes sense they’re 25 games back in the division, look how many players are injured! But because they’ve consistently been so close to being great, only to be undone by more injuries, there’s a perception that they’re just a mediocre team; not a great team constantly being injured.
The Indians don't need to embrace modern training methods. Hitters should continue hitting down and not forward; pitchers don't need to critique their pitches with modern technology.— НПЦ (@kleymo1) September 17, 2019
Ok, Ty Van Burkleo’s burner account.
trade Lindor to the Dodgers for Gavin Lux and prospects— John C.K. Tan (@agingphenom) September 17, 2019
It’s not going to happen, and please god don’t let it happen, but this is the kind of trade that would make me okay with seeing Frankie go if he’s going to go anyway. Lux is going to be a stud at second base, and if you skim a couple other top prospects off the top, so be it. If the Indians truly have no intention of giving Francisco Lindor the 24-year contract I drafted up and faxed them, then they might as well get something for him.
I still think I’d rather keep in Cleveland for every second possible, though.
Mike Freeman is the next Jose Ramírez— Ian (@DougIanherty) September 17, 2019
A toiling utility player who bursts onto the scene and way outplays his expectations? Sure.
Of course Freeman is never really going to be José Ramírez, but it’s a fun little parallel. Freeman is already 30 and the peripherals just aren’t there like they were for José. If they were, Freeman would have gotten his chance a long time ago. Regression is already coming for Freeman and it’s clear that his .381 BABIP isn’t going to hold forever, even if he’s probably going to start every single game the Indians have left in 2019.
The Indians should push the limit, win 91 games and make the wild card game. Then they should win the World Series so I can win my Under 91.5 season win totals bet, and we all pop the champagne— Nick Juskewycz (@NickJuskewycz) September 17, 2019
Do it for Nick, Indians. Have a heart.
The Indians will be in rebuild mode next year I hate to say it— Blake Bussing (@99DoubleB) September 17, 2019
I subscribe to Merritt Rohlfing’s theory that this was a secret rebuild year for the Indians. Sort of like a rolling rebuild where they never completely tank but have a couple down years once in a while. Maybe this wasn’t meant to be a total down year, but the injuries gave them cover to make the Trevor Bauer trade and get some great pieces for the future in Franmil Reyes and Logan Allen.
Next season the Indians will have a healthy rotation, a further developed Oscar Mercado, a healthy Bradley Zimmer (whatever that’s worth), a healthy José Ramírez, and hopefully a start to the season that doesn’t feature Eric Stamets and Max Moroff in the same lineup. I’ll watch Merritt eat his hat if the Indians are in full-blown rebuild next year.
If the Indians had not let Hector Rondon go in the Rule 5 draft, we would have won the 2016 WS.— TronJavolta (@tmjpjlc) September 17, 2019
Cool, add it to the pile of regrets.
Also in 5 years we will look back at our trades since 2009 and the one we will hate the most is Leonys for Willi Castro— TronJavolta (@tmjpjlc) September 17, 2019
I love this thought exercise, mostly because the Indians won’t have many regrets like this. If Leonys Martín doesn’t have to battle for his life last season, maybe we look back at the trade more fondly, but his time in Cleveland couldn’t have possibly ended on a lower note. He was terrible on the field, Francisco Lindor yelled at him in the dugout — it was a whole thing.
Meanwhile, Willi Castro has the potential to be special even if he still needs time to get there. If Castro burst on to the scene and carried the Tigers to some kind of respectability, there were be immediate and tremendous regret for the Indians. Luckily that didn’t happen, so if Castro ends up being good in a couple years — oh well. The Indians took their shot with Martín and it didn’t work.
I guess you could throw Yandy Diaz in here, but his trade brought back Carlos Santana and the potential of Jake Bauers. Can’t hate that too much.
If Oscar Mercado can’t duplicate his rookie success, there’s a chance that one of Conner Capel or Jhon Torres could come back to bite the Indians. Capel is on the cusp of making the majors, and Torres has torn up the rookie league as a 19-year-old. That trade looked like a laugher once Mercacado started to figure out major league pitching, but the Cardinals were playing a smart long game.
If Julian Merryweather can come back healthy from Tommy John surgery, he might look like a steal for the Blue Jays. I still stand by the Josh Donaldson trade as a brilliant move, though. Getting a potential MVP talent for a pitcher that was superfluous anyway? Chef’s kiss.
It just didn’t work out.
The batting order should simply be ranking the players by OBP.— Richard Kallenbach (@RichardKbach) September 18, 2019
Honestly, it matters so little that you could probably do that and no one would notice.
Actually, I take that back. If you did it, players would probably not like being “moved around” the lineup so much and I bet you’d notice them play worse.
If it wasn't for that storm, the Indians would've swept the Twins [DUCKS]— Indians UK (@uk_indians) September 17, 2019
Cool, add it to the pile of regrets.