The Indians are entering a crucial part of their up-and-down season. The team has six weeks to distance itself from the rest of the AL Central division for a return trip to the playoffs.
WKSU commentator Terry Pluto says, “Welcome to the real pennant race.”
The Indians are in first place in the division, six games ahead of Minnesota and Kansas City. And, the team has an important week, with road series against against those two teams.
“They could win five out of seven and be up eight or 10 games, or they could have a week to forget. This is a key part of the season.”
Ownership invests big
Pluto says like last year, ownership made another big mid-season trade. Relief pitcher Andrew Miller was the key in last year’s World Series run. This year, the team traded for outfielder Jay Bruce, who hit 29 home runs so far this season with the New York Mets.
Pluto says picking up Bruce’s nearly $4 million salary shows that the Dolans are committed to winning. It lifts the team’s total payroll to about $130 million, the highest in franchise history.
A minority investor
Pluto says one difference has been the team’s new minority investor, John Sherman. “Certainly when a guy comes in with some fresh cash, it helps. [Paul] Dolan told me he runs every decision through Sherman. And they’ve almost become partners.
“And I think Paul Dolan feels more confidence in the front office with the trades President Chris Antonetti has made and in how Manager Terry Francona will use it. This money is well spent. It’s not just buying a guy to buy a guy.”
Party with Bruce?
As for signing Bruce, Pluto thinks it was a good move, especially for morale.
“Bruce brings the personality, much like Mike “Party At Napoli’s” Napoli brought to the team last year.”
“Bruce knows all the Indians guys because he spent most of his career with the Cincinnati Reds and they share a spring training facility. So he’s probably gone out to dinner with these guys. They’ve been hot since they got [Bruce], and I don’t think that’s an accident.
“They’ve had a weird year with some injuries, but they are by far the best team in the Central Division. So really it’s up to the guys.”