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Smoke Signals Over the Cuyahoga (formerly known as the DiaTRIBE) #1: Among the Living

Well, that didn’t last long. Who would have thought that a 5 minute search on Google, or whatever your search engine of preference is, would have yielded that “DiaTRIBE” was already taken by another blog. To add insult to injury, it’s made up of fairly well-composed and thought out posts! The audacity! Enough carrying on about a silly blog title. You’re not that invested, are you? Nah, and neither was I at the time. Self-deprecating humor, it’s still a thing and I still do it.

Let’s be forthright. In spite of a new and very capable manager and some pointed roster changes, I’m staying realistic in keeping my expectations low. I’ll get more into this at a later time as the season draws near, but I want to make that statement because in spite of it, there’s still time and room to keep making interesting and creative decisions with what the team has to work with and what’s out there within reach.

Most of the lineup appears to be set for the time being. Am I content with it? Not in the least, but between what was dealt in trades and the cash ponied up in avoiding arbitration, there’s little chance of the starting nine changing between now and the beginning of the season barring an unforeseen circumstance – namely injuries. The one block in the lineup card that’s still blank, or at least written in pencil, is the one upon which any and every team in the American League hangs the heart of their lineup on if they’re even at least halfway competent. Of course we’re talking about the designated hitter.

You know all the names that have been bandied about before even reading this. Carlos Santana, Mark Reynolds, Nick Swisher, all of whom I expect to get ABs there outside of their respective positions, Chris McGuiness, Mike McDade, Ryan Raburn, Mike Aviles, and Tim Fedroff, most of whom were addressed in the previous entry. I’ve even floated the idea of acquiring a player like Justin Smoak of Seattle, ousted by their recent acquisitions of Kendry Morales and Raul Ibanez’s return, or even Brandon Belt in San Francisco if the price is right. In short, no one has a clue for sure. The prospect of the DH being split between several players on the team as it exists presents the possibility of taking away ABs from other deserving players and the worst case scenario of eating a plural number of roster spots. In summary, the designated hitter should not and must not be a platooned position for a team that’s still a productive bat away but lo and behold, that’s precisely what it’s shaping up to be.

As harrowing of a management decision that looks to be, the sting is far less than what the rumor mill’s been spinning lately. With no takers on the market and the organization desperate to reinvigorate the fanbase, both Jim Thome and Travis Hafner have been tossed around as possibilities to be the full-time DH in Cleveland once again. I don’t need to run the numbers for you whether that’s in statistics or contracts or payroll. They’re already out there and you’re likely privy to them. My grievance isn’t solely with the front office taking a hard look at them, but with the rest of the fans, too. This applies far more regarding Thome than Hafner, but it’s indicative of how so many of both casuals and even die-hards still pine for the stars of that era and cling to their nostalgia of that great run the franchise had in the second half of the ’90s. Conversely, simply overlooking how either the vast majority of those players have been out of the game or are still hanging around and have sharply declined in their skills to the point of no longer being deserving of a starting place in the lineup. Unless it just happens to be ours in which case, hey, open arms! This has given the FO an excuse to pursue lesser players for pennies on the dollar and gives the bleacher crowd the opportunity to break out their faded t-shirts and replica jerseys, pony up for overpriced beer, and kick their feet up at a home game for a few hours while having the audacity to STILL complain about how great things used to be for the N-teenth time. That’s an utterly ridiculous exercise in futility, folks. I understand the product and the players on the field hasn’t given us much to cheer about in recent memory, and fewer things are more irritating than refusing to give or accept criticism on professional and personal levels, but we passed the turnoff too far back and who knows when or where the next exit’s coming. Another statue in front of the stadium or another bobblehead giveaway doesn’t validate holding an up-and-comer back from the Show to placate the “remember when” crowd, nor should a fan worth their salt allow themselves to be satisfied so simply.

Yes, that’s quite a couple layers of skin to peel off just to address merely one issue and I’ll concede the argument that it’s a non-sequitur, but does it not bear repeating?