Cleveland Indians fire hitting coach, look to turn around recent struggles

Share

asdrubal-cabrera-indians

It’s safe to say the Indians have hit a major brick wall in the month of June. After starting 32-20 through May, the Tribe is just 6-11 in June thus far. But with Interleague for the next 12 games, the team is in the perfect spot to turn around their struggles.

In a surprise move to try to turn the tables, the Tribe fired hitting coach Joe Nunnally, replacing him with Bruce Fields. The Indians mid-season struggles have been mainly offensive, and were apparently bad enough to let go of their hitting coach. Through 70 games, the Indians have just two hitters, Asdrubal Cabrera and Travis Hafner, hitting above .300.

And the best projected players that the organization believed would carry this team in 2011? Grady Sizemore is hitting .243, Shin Soo Choo .237, Carlos Santana .222, and Matt LaPorta .242. Despite this team’s hot start, the offense has struggled throughout the season. The team is not in the top-10 in any offensive categories, and the team average has fallen to .251, good for 19th in the MLB.

Several players have been outspoken against this decision to release Nunnally, including Choo and Cabrera, who both attributed much of their hitting success (or for Choo, his lack of more failure) to the hitting coach.

Choo said he was disappointed in the move because the Indians are still in first place, and he didn’t see a reason to fire Nunnally. If the Tribe continues at their current pace, however, the first place lead, and any chance to get back on top of the division, will likely fade as summer goes on.

So despite the players’ feelings, management felt it was time to move on. And with a pivotal stretch of Interleague play and series against the Yankees and Blue Jays leading up to the All-Star break, the management may have made the right move. If the Indians are going to turn things around, it has to happen before the break.

And it started, luckily enough, with a 3-game series sweep (or 2-1 finish) over the bottom of the barrel Pittsburgh Pirates. It gets tougher after that, with series against the Rockies, Diamondbacks, and Giants, the top three teams in the NL West, all three at or above .500.

Some of the worry of the Indians may be overstated – the Tribe is still in first place in the Central – but with the Tigers, Twins, and White Sox picking it up lately, the Indians offense must improve. Tribe manager Manny Acta cited strikeouts as the main reason for the hitting coach change, as the Tribe reached the 500-strikeout mark for the season against the Pirates.

The teams’ most noticeable struggles have been scoring runs, however. In the series’ against the Rangers, Twins, and Yankees, the Tribe went 7 for 75 with runners in scoring position, an absolutely abysmal average. As the old adage goes, you can’t win if you can’t score runs, and the Indians have embodied that lately.

But hope remains for the Tribe. As Choo said, the Indians do still have the lead in the division despite serious struggles recently. Though this team is likely not as good as its 30-15, MLB leading start, the team is almost certainly not as bad as this recent stretch either.

The runs will come. Hitters like Choo and Sizemore won’t stay silent all season long. They will hit hot streaks, and the offense will bounce back from is struggles. Perhaps most importantly, the Indians confidence is back. After making it a regular deal earlier in the season, the Indians most recent win against the Pirates came in the last at-bat, with a walk-off home run for rookie Cord Phelps.

The dramatic wins aren’t done yet for the AL Central leading Cleveland Indians. And don’t think that first place in the division is done either.

-Jamie Arkin

Comments

  1. PROMOTE-FREE says

    A CARLOS SANTANA FANCLUB WAS CREATED ..
    IF YOU LIKE SANTANA JOIN OUR FANCLUB!!!
    http://carlos-santana-fanclub.blogspot.com/
    WE PROMOTE FREE YOUR BLOG , YOU’LL FIND A SPECIAL AREA WITH THE BLOGS WHO WILL PROMOTE.
    INCREASE YOUR BLOG TRAFIC FREE , IF YOU HAVE ANY SANTANA ARTICLE , VIDEO OR SONG.
    NOW FREEE FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE ANYTHING ABOUT SANTANA!!!

Speak Your Mind