Despite their involvement in various trade rumors the Cleveland Indians refrained from pulling the trigger on any big deals as baseball's non-waiver trade deadline passed Tuesday, July 31. Entering July 31 the Tribe remained amidst a gray area, sitting at 50-52 and trailing AL Central front runners Chicago White Sox by five-and-a-half games. Consequently Cleveland's contending status became questionable, leaving many people wondering if the Indians might sell off their top players.
Right fielder Shin-Soo Choo and all-star closer Chris Perez remained amongst the talent rumored to go elsewhere, like I mention in my article "Trade Deadline Rumors Speculate Cleveland Indians as Sellers: A Fan's Reaction." By keeping their best players the Indians basically embrace a weird contention purgatory as the 2012 season continues.
Abstaining from any big trade deadline moves indicates Cleveland's big wigs still believe in the era of contention brought forth by last season's trade deadline blockbuster netting the Indians starter Ubaldo Jimenez. The era of contention I refer to forecasts the Tribe as credible playoff hopefuls through at least 2013. Seeing how 2012 played out so far, one must question the forecast's accuracy.
Management and players counter the doubts with a talking point, "We haven't played our best baseball yet." During his post-deadline press conference general manager Chris Antonetti reiterated the point. When addressing whether the Indians could stay within the AL Central race for 2012 Antonetti stated, "Our success is going to be largely predicated on how the guys who are here perform. If they perform to their potential, to their abilities, then we have a chance to be competitive and make a run in the second half."
Now I try to maintain my optimism but I reached the point where I need to ask, what exactly is the Cleveland Indians' potential? Besides a few noticeable exceptions, the Tribe doesn't sport players containing impressive big league resumes. Lacking proven potential enables cynicism to run rampant.
Okay, time to return to my optimistic efforts. If worst case scenario plays out as consecutive losses to the Kansas City Royals Tuesday, July 31 and Wednesday August 1 indicate, Cleveland continues their 2012 downward spiral. On the bright side the Indians likely free themselves from several hefty contracts after the season, triggering an opportunity to add new essential pieces to the 2013 roster. Call me naïve but I still want to believe in the current era of contention.
Zachary Fenell fell in love with the Cleveland Indians during the 1995 season when the Tribe powered their way to the organization's first World Series appearance since 1954. While the Indians lost some allure since the 1990s you will still find Zachary watching the games on TV, listening to them on the radio, or best yet taking in a game from the stands at Progressive Field.
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