The Grass Isn't Going to be any Greener for Tito with that Rotation
Tonight, Terry Francona sat in the dugout opposite his old club, managed by his old pitching coach in front of an announced crowd of 9,143 fans. Not to attendance shame the Cleveland fans, but the atmosphere at Progressive Field paled in compassion to anything Francona likely ever experienced in his seven years in Boston.
As Felix Doubront labored through five innings, Cleveland starter Ubaldo Jiminez was a complete shell of himself as he has been since moving to Cleveland. Cleveland's pitching staff was last in the AL in ERA in 2012. Yes, they were actually worse than the Red Sox. Thus far for the Tribe, Justin Masterson and Zach MacAllister have been excellent, while the rest of the rotation has been almost as effective as a Juggs machine. The sample size is small, so while the rest of the rotation can't be this bad, Masterson won't be this
Tito will probably spend a lot of time calling his bullpen.
good. Last season lefties put up a 296/376/450 line against Masterson, good for a 124 OPS+. If he can come reasonably close to his 2011 line everyone on the shores of the Cuyahoga will be pleased.
Rotation help isn't on the immediate horizon coming from the Cleveland system. Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner, two pillars of the last good Cleveland club, were albatrosses their last several years in Cleveland. Free of those onerous contracts, Cleveland did spend in free agency by locking up Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn. Those moves will make the team more competitive. Francona probably wouldn't have gone there in the first place if he was not given assurance that the team would spend some money. Still, the Indians won't likely be able to mount a serios challenge to the Tigers in the AL Central until they can revamp the rotation. In the meantime, Ubaldo Jiminez keeps going out there trying to find the old magic.
While Francona could have undoubtedly have waited for a better managerial job, he had his reasons for going to Cleveland. Francona's father had his best years with the Indians and still has strong ties to the club. After having his character assassinated on his way out the door in Boston, Tito wanted above all else to work with people he could trust. Trusting your superiors personally is all fine and dandy, whether Francona should trust them to build a playoff caliber rotation is an open question.