I'd love to know the percentage of teams that were just one game back of the lead in their division and still went full "sell" mode at the deadline. Especially since the team just came off a season where, as the youngest team in baseball, they beat the Rays in a series and took the Yankees to the brink of elimination. Punting on a season where you are getting a career year from Josh Naylor and another top tier performance from Jose Ramirez sounds crazy.
But that's what the Guardians did. They tucked their tail between their legs and sold. And then the very same night the clubhouse let the front office know exactly how they felt about that selling by getting no hit by Framber Valdez.
Now I fully understand it's not as easy as just saying the Guardians were one game back and sold talent. They actually made some really smart moves to jettison dead weight, free'd up log jams in the middle infield, and somehow pulled an escape act that Chris Angel would be jealous of by dumping Josh Bell on Miami.
And that division they were one game back in? Yeah it's probably best described as "The Somalian Sprinter" of MLB.
So I'm sure the players felt a little abandoned by the front office. How could they not when the only additions they made were a power bat who won't be at the major league level until next year in Kyle Monzardo and another middle infield prospect Khalil Watson who struck out in 36% of his single-A plate appearances last season and has has some, let's just say questionable character issues.
MLBTradeRumors.com - Watson, a 20-year-old infielder, was the 16th overall pick in the 2021 draft. The high school product was widely regarded as a top five to ten player in the class on talent, only dropping to the middle of the first round because of a lofty bonus demand.
His first two full seasons in pro ball haven’t gone as anticipated. Watson struck out in nearly 36% of his plate appearances in Low-A a year ago, hitting .231/.296/.395 over 83 games. He also missed some time last season on a team-imposed disciplinary absence after a confrontation with an umpire.
I'm sure that will go over well with an organization that hasn't been able to handle anyone with so much as a personality in the last decade. But once again I get why the front office made those moves. And quite frankly the clubhouse can be mad all it wants but the reason the front office punted on this year is because that same clubhouse has played like complete and utter dog shit.
The amount of guys underperforming on the Guardians this season is staggering. Even Steven Kwan and Jose both took a long time to get going. So long that it felt like the season was already a wash offensively.
Then you had a pitching rotation where the top three guys all went down for significant parts of the season and your only healthy veteran arm was Aaron Civale. A guy who had trade value that will never be higher than it was in this exact moment. They had to move him.
And I haven't even mentioned the bullpen which inexplicably just forgot how to pitch in high leverage situations.
But the FO's hands aren't clean either. They are the ones who signed Mike Zunino and Josh Bell, a duo that would have been the worst free agent acquisitions this offseason had it not been for the Mets glorious flameout.
Then you add in Tito Francona, who is easily having his worst managerial year in a Cleveland uniform, snapping at beat reporters for daring to question why Myles Straw (a guy who is batting just .233 with a .299 obp and .593 ops) is not getting pinch hit for in huge spots late in games and it's a mess all around.
No one can argue with the fact Tito is a Hall of Fame manager and the team probably wouldn't be as good as it was last year without him. But you also can't argue with refusing to take Ahmed Rosario out of the shortstop position when you're stocked with highly touted MI prospects and he is the second worst defensive player in baseball. You can't argue with the fact he seems to be refusing to put Bo Naylor, the obvious catcher of the future, in a nearly every day role because he wants Cam freaking Gallagher to be behind the plate.
And you also can't argue with the fact the Guardians have somehow been no hit more often than they have won playoff series in Tito's tenure in Cleveland. Just an absolutely absurd stat that makes me want to punt a puppy into the Cuyahoga river.
All of this is just a long-winded way of saying this season fucking blows and I can't wait until it's over. Anything and everything has gone wrong. But that's always a risk when you have to thread the needle financially the way the Guardians do. Fans hate it (and rightly so) but it's the reality of baseball in Cleveland.
The insane part is they will still have a shot at winning the Central because it's so historically bad. They could literally have the worst record of any team that has ever won a division.
That's what I'm rooting for now. I want that distinction. I want chaos. I want the team to make rings to celebrate it. I want the organization to be embarrassed but also at the same time realize that they really aren't that far away. Maybe that way they will stop kicking the can down the road and go for a championship for once. And I won't have to watch Guardians twitter burn after another fucking no hitter is thrown against them.