Good lord was I excited for 2012 to get here, after such a hot start in 2011 and the disappointment that followed it felt like the pieces were in place to make a real run at the Central Division title in 2012. Shin-Soo Choo, who had been injured for much of 2011 and limited to 85 games of significantly diminished performance, was healthy, Justin Masterson was emerging as a legitimately good starting pitcher, and there was simply no way Ubaldo Jimenez would be as bad in 2012 as he was for us in 2011. On top of that Jason Kipnis had emerged as a potential star at the end of 2011, we were going to get a full year of Lonnie Chisenhall, things were looking up!
I remember following that offseason very closely, desperate for us to make a move. I remember reports that Antonetti was going “big game hunting” at the winter meetings, and then we struck out in attempts to sign Kendrys Morales and Michael Morse. We did, however, end up with the absolute haul of Casey Kotchman and Derek Lowe. Finally, a right handed hitter and a veteran starter, World Series here we come!
Unfortunately there was the small matter of getting past the Detroit Tigers who, after making it to game 6 of the ALCS, decided that the threat of a Casey Kotchman led Cleveland team simply would be too much of an obstacle and signed Prince Fielder to join Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez in what was already a stellar lineup. Oh, and they still had that Justin Verlander guy and some dude named Max Scherzer.
But don’t worry! The Indians made a HUGE splash a few weeks into the season signing former Red Sox and Yankees outfielder Johnny Damon, bringing some much needed “star power” to a mediocre lineup. Unfortunately if you’re detecting a hint of sarcasm in my words over the course of this article, good job! You picked up on it! Because this was a terrible team.
Well, that’s not entirely fair, they actually played reasonably well to start the year, even finding themselves in first place as late as June 23! Unfortunately saying that the wheels came off in the second half is honestly being too generous.
I could sit here and reminisce about Jose Lopez or tell you about how I thought Russ Canzler was going to be the dark horse signing of the century. I’d be glad to talk about the hot streak Matt Laporta got off to in AAA to start the year that made us go “no guys, it’s really gonna work this time!” or I could simply tell you that Zach McCallister was statistically our best starting pitcher by a significant margin with a miniscule 4.24 ERA. No matter how you slice it, no matter what memories you pull from this season, it doesn’t matter. They STUNK. I don’t know how Bruce Drennan survived the back half of the season, seriously.
The good news is that they fired Manny Acta and hired some guy named Terry to take his place.
But we’ll talk more about that tomorrow.
In the meantime, please share in the comments what memories (at least the ones you haven’t repressed) you have of this team!