Cokin’s Corner, Friday 1/22/16
Yeah, I know. The Cleveland Indians are “small market” and therefore can’t be big players when it comes to signing the big names. And for anyone who still buys that line of bull, all I can say is you haven’t been paying attention. Everyone has money in today’s Major League Baseball. Lots of it, thanks to the revenue being produced the revenue sharing.
The reality is the Indians can’t go ultra-big market like some of their more well-heeled competitors. But there’s no excuse for not getting involved when the timing is right and making that push for one key player who could carry the team into the playoffs.
It’s all about timing, and for the Indians that time is absolutely right now. This is a team with a fabulous starting rotation heading into 2016. Corey Kluber is one year removed from winning the AL Cy Young. Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar are dynamic righties who virtually any other team would love to have in their rotation. Trevor Bauer hasn’t put it all together, and he might never do so. But Bauer as a #4 is pretty damn good, and the Tribe have a potpourri of available options for the #5 spot.
With a rotation that strong, Cleveland is a contender if they can hit a little. Adding one of the meaningful available free agent bats would be huge for this entry. Yet, all I’m hearing is that while the Indians are interested in adding a position player, it has to be affordable. I completely disagree with that mindset.
I don’t know if Yoenis Cespedes has any desire to play in Cleveland. But unless they’ve been told no by his representatives, Cespedes is the guy the Indians should be wooing. The team is fairly well set at three infield positions as well as behind the plate. But with Michael Brantley likely to miss at least a couple months as he recovers from labrum surgery, the outfield is a glaring area of weakness.
If the Indians are serious about contending, they simply have to address that outfield before the season starts. Cespedes would cost them plenty, but their apparent unwillingness to get into that sweepstakes tells me all I need to know.
As it is, with that powerhouse staff, this year’s Indians are a team with an excellent chance to finish at .500 or better, and that’s as the team is constructed today. Add the meaningful OF bat, and there’s no doubt at all in my mind the Indians are a team with legitimate playoff hopes. It’s a shame I don’t think they’re going to do what they need to do to make that possibility a reality.
Thursday was good, so that’s four straight winning nights as the digging continues. I’ve still got plenty of work to do on that count, but it’s nice to have some positive momentum. 3-1 last night with the Portland Pilots the only miss. Friday’s card has some intriguing possibilities, although nothing has gotten played yet.
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San Francisco got things revved up after halftime and ended up with a comfortable win against Santa Clara as the Thursday free play. I’ll jump to the NBA for today’s comp.
857 CLIPPERS @ 858 KNICKS
Take: KNICKS +1
I like to look for patterns in the NBA. The caveat with this methodology is that I have to deal with small sample in-season results. But there have been some nice payoffs going this route as identifying these trends, if you want to use that term, can work nicely if there’s some rationale attached to whatever the premise might be.
With that in mind, let’s examine what the Los Angeles Clippers have done when coming off a game with an elite opponent. Again, this is ultra-small sample, but as it can only really apply to this year’s team, that’s what I have to work with.
Prior to last night’s game at Cleveland, the Clippers had just three previous games against the cream of the crop. They lost all three, twice to Golden State and once against San Antonio. What I wanted to see was how the Clippers reacted off those games and how they performed in their subsequent outing. That’s where this small pattern has shown up. Off the aforementioned three games, the Clippers also went 0-3, with two losses to Houston and a poorly played defeat at Portland.
Now the Clippers are off a game against the Cavaliers, who I would put in the elite category, at least on perception if not reality. Once more, LA came out on the wrong end of the scoreboard. Now they have to wheel back with no rest to take on the Knicks, and I think this could be a tough spot for the Clippers. NewYork is not the most consistent entry in the NBA. But one thing I’ve noticed is that they have a tendency to play to the level of its opposition. So while this team has struggled at times with squads they probably should handle, they’ve dug in and played tough when facing better competition.
The scheduling here favors the Knicks and based on their previous responses off the marquee games, I can see the Clippers below their capabilities this evening. The oddsmakers have priced this where the Clippers might seem attractive to bettors. But I’m going to go the other way and will look for the Knicks to come through with the win and cover tonight.