Countermanding the Colavito Curse: Part 3 (1964-65)

We’ve completed four seasons with our Rocky-retaining Indians. While we haven’t been bad, and while we’ve been noticeably better than the actual Indians of the early ’60s, we haven’t been a serious contender, and 1963 was, well, a setback.

    Actual Indians        Virtual Indians

    W     L  Pos   Year     W     L  Pos
    76    78  4    1960     80    74  4
    78    83  5    1961     91    70  3
    80    82  6    1962     91    71  2T
    79    83  5T   1963     85    77  5

At this point we’re sincerely tempted to give in to the notion that we’re never going to make it to Pennantland with this formula, and we should therefore more or less “tear it apart” and rebuild. And our considerations in that direction are encouraged by Kansas City Athletics owner Charlie Finley, who’s making serious and generous offers to trade for none other than Colavito himself. Finley is willing to part with second baseman Jerry Lumpe (whom we could really use), plus a couple of so-so starting pitchers.

But tempting though it is, we’ll resist the urge, for a couple of reasons. First, we don’t think Colavito is washed up, and whatever else it would do for us, exchanging Colavito’s presence in the lineup for Lumpe’s would reduce our run production capacity, and we don’t think we can afford to do that.

Second, though it is true that you can never have too much pitching, our judgment is that we don’t need to be expending trade resources to bolster our staff, because our farm system is about to graduate several intriguing young arms (by far the most intriguing belonging to a strapping six-foot-five-inch 21-year-old left-hander named Sam McDowell).

So we’ll hang on to the Rock, and we’ll also stick with Stormin’ Norman Cash. Frustrating though the ups and downs of both these sluggers have been, we remind ourselves that even in their “down” years they’re still both quite productive, and both are young enough to have a lot left to offer. Instead of busting up this nucleus, we’ll re-commit to it, and look to augment it.

1963-64 offseason: Actual Indians’ deals we will make

Sep. 30, 1963: Purchased pitcher Don McMahon from the Houston Colt .45′s.

We’ve commented upon this curious transaction before:

A year earlier, Houston GM Paul Richards had correctly assessed that McMahon, then 32 years old, wasn’t washed up, as The Wizard of Waxahachie had picked him up cheaply and been rewarded with a brilliant 1962 performance by McMahon. But the veteran fastballer had been distinctly more hittable in 1963, and here at the close of the ‘63 season Richards was concluding that McMahon was now, in fact, not worth keeping.

And elaborated:

… for the second time in 18 months, McMahon’s ball club figured he was done. On Sept. 30, 1963, Richards—without question the single sharpest eye for pitching talent of his era — put the 33-year-old McMahon on waivers, and allowed him to be claimed by the Cleveland Indians.

One can question not only why Richards was so quick to discard McMahon, but also why no other National League team claimed him—not just the Mets, the team most obviously in need of help, but some contender looking to bolster its bullpen (I’m looking at you, Giants). Nevertheless, every team let him through, and the explanation may be as simple as their figuring that if Richards, the Wizard of Waxahachie himself, the all-knowing seer of pitching talent, had decided to flush him away, then this guy must really be done.

In his long career, Richards didn’t make many mistakes in the assessment of pitchers, but in this case he committed a doozy. Give Cleveland GM Gabe Paul full credit for taking advantage of it.

We’ll share Paul’s judgment that McMahon is surely worth another chance.

Oct., 1963: Traded a player to be named later to the Milwaukee Braves for infielder-outfielder Chico Salmon. (On April 1, 1964, the Indians sent infielder Mike de la Hoz to the Braves, completing the deal.)

Like the actual Indians, we’ll decide that young Salmon’s bat intrigues us more than giving another chance to de la Hoz, who’d seemed as though he might develop into something special, but hasn’t.

1963-64 offseason: Actual Indians’ deals we will not make

Oct. 14, 1963: Released pitcher Early Wynn.

Dec. 4, 1963: Traded outfielder Willie Kirkland to the Baltimore Orioles for outfielder Al Smith and $25,000 cash.

We have neither Wynn nor Kirkland.

Dec. 19, 1963: Sold outfielder-first baseman Walt Bond to the Houston Colt .45′s.

And we aren’t at all in agreement with the manner in which the actual Indians handled this particular talent.

1963-64 offseason: Actual Indians’ deals we will modify

The actual Indians did this:

Dec. 2, 1963: Traded pitcher Barry Latman and a player to be named later to the Los Angeles Angels for outfielder Leon Wagner. (On Dec. 6, 1963, the Indians sent first baseman Joe Adcock to the Angels, completing the deal.)

There are layers of weirdness on display here, all of them regarding what the Angels were attempting to accomplish. It was strange enough to decide to trade away, not just their best hitter, but their only serious hitter, when he was not yet 30 years old and showed no signs of decline. But it was stranger that they would unload him for such modest return (and with Adcock only included as a PTBNL? Really?).

Daddy Wags had his issues, to be sure, but he’d been abundantly popular with the fans and the media in his three seasons in Los Angeles, as well as abundantly productive at the plate. Why the Angels judged they’d be better off by executing this transaction is a mystery.

Our Indians would be only too happy to take them up on the offer, but we don’t have that PTBNL guy.

So instead we’ll do this:

Dec. 2, 1963: Traded pitcher Barry Latman and first baseman-outfielder Bob Chance to the Los Angeles Angels for outfielder Leon Wagner.

Just like Adcock, Chance was very big, very slow, very poor-fielding, and very powerful. Quite unlike Adcock, he had yet to prove himself in the majors, but that was understandable given that Chance was 13 years Adcock’s junior. Chance had compiled terrific minor league numbers, including a Triple Crown-and-MVP performance in the double-A Eastern League in 1963.

Given that the Angels were intent on trading Wagner, this would have been a smarter deal for them than the one they actually made.

As for us, we’ve boldly and definitively plugged the left field hole that nagged us in 1963. We’ve achieved our objective of bringing in a heavyweight new bat to join Cash and Colavito. Suddenly, we believe, we’re starting to look like a contender again.

1963-64 offseason: Indians’ deals we will invoke

Oct., 1963: Released second baseman Johnny Temple.

Actually it was the Colt .45s releasing the veteran infielder at this point. Temple has made a useful contribution as a part-timer for the past couple of years, but we’ve got better and younger options going forward.

April, 1964: Sold pitcher Don Mossi to the Chicago White Sox.

And this 35-year-old veteran will get squeezed off the staff in preparation for Opening Day.

April 9, 1964: Traded pitcher Ted Abernathy to the Detroit Tigers for outfielder Lou Johnson and cash.

The journeyman submariner did well for us in a call-up role in 1963, but at this point we’re seeing more of a use for a journeyman flycatcher. Actually on this date the Tigers traded Johnson to the Dodgers, along with $10,000 in cash, for journeyman reliever Larry Sherry. We won’t let Sweet Lou pass through American League waivers.

1964 season: Actual Indians’ deals we will not make

June 11, 1964: In a three-club deal, traded infielder Jerry Kindall to the Minnesota Twins. The Twins sent first baseman Vic Power and outfielder Lenny Green to the Los Angeles Angels, and the Angels sent infielder-outfielder Frank Kostro to the Twins and infielder Billy Moran to the Indians.

For the Indians, all this amounted to was Kindall-for-Moran. But as much as Kindall’s problematic hitting has frustrated us, at this point we still prefer his defensive capability over Moran’s.

June 15, 1964: Traded pitcher Mudcat Grant to the Minnesota Twins for pitcher Lee Stange and third baseman George Banks.

It was understandable that the Indians were frustrated with the 28-year-old Grant, who’d seemed forever on the verge of stepping forward but never quite doing it, and then was off to a rocky start in 1964. But Mudcat still offered more durability and more upside than the swingman Stange (who wasn’t exactly mowing them down so far in ’64 himself), and Cleveland had no use for Banks. We’ll think better of this one, and stick with Grant.

Aug. 5, 1964: Released outfielder Al Smith.

We don’t have him.

Sep. 5, 1964: Traded pitcher Pedro Ramos to the New York Yankees for players to be named later and $75,000 cash. (On Oct. 21, 1964, the Yankees sent pitcher Ralph Terry to the Indians, and on Nov. 27, 1964, the Yankees sent pitcher Bud Daley to the Indians, completing the deal.)

We’ve discussed this deal from the Yankees’ perspective:

The 29-year-old Ramos at that point was 7-10 with a 5.14 ERA for the Indians, hardly the kind of numbers that would in themselves inspire confidence that he would be of much help in brightening the [New York] situation.

But Yankee GM Ralph Houk looked past that, and saw these peripherals: 67 walks allowed and 267 strikeouts in 318 innings over 1963-64. Houk likely reasoned that a strike-thrower such as that might thrive in the Yankees’ bullpen, and The Major might also have been aware that Ramos’s ERA in 31 relief appearances over that same period had been 3.39, as opposed to 4.11 in his 41 starts.

Well, heck, we can read a stat sheet just as well as Ralph Houk: if the Yankees could imagine a re-purposed Ramos thriving as a specialist in their bullpen, we can imagine him thriving as a specialist in ours. Moreover, in early September of 1964, our Indians won’t be effectively out of the 1964 AL pennant race, certainly not far enough out of it to justify selling off a potentially key contributor to a key competitor.

So we’ll keep Ramos, and therefore it will be in our bullpen that Ramos delivers the lights-out September he actually delivered for the Yankees.

1964 season: Indians’ deals we will invoke

July 18, 1964: Sold pitcher Dick Donovan to the St. Louis Cardinals.

We have a 23-year-old right-hander named Luis Tiant who’s 15-1 with a 2.04 ERA in triple-A, so we’ll make room for him by bidding farewell to this 36-year-old.

1964 season results

Wagner is the only significant addition, but he’s the sort that can make a difference. We anticipate that with him on board, and with the benefit of injury-free seasons from catcher John Romano, shortstop Dick Howser, and center fielder Vic Davalillo, we will present an improved offense. And if either or both of Cash and Colavito bounce back to their earlier form, we could feature a seriously dangerous offense.

On the pitching side, the key change will be the introduction of the rookie McDowell to the starting rotation. We’ve taken pains to be patient with this extraordinary prospect, allowing him full seasons at each succeeding minor league level, not rushing him to the majors. Now he looks ready for big league success.

  Pos   Player         Age    G  AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR RBI  BB  SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS OPS+
   1B   N. Cash*        29  144 479  79 122  15   5  22  73  70  64 .255 .349 .445 .794  120
 2-3-O  W. Held         32  118 364  47  86  13   0  18  45  43  88 .236 .328 .420 .748  108
   SS   D. Howser       28  141 510  81 133  19   4   2  35  63  30 .261 .335 .325 .661   86
   3B   M. Alvis        26  107 381  48  96  14   3  18  53  29  77 .252 .313 .446 .759  109
   RF   R. Colavito     30  160 588  86 160  31   2  31  94  84  54 .272 .365 .490 .855  137
   CF   V. Davalillo*   27  137 512  57 141  24   2   5  45  31  64 .275 .312 .359 .672   87
   LF   L. Wagner*      30  147 559  70 142  18   2  27  87  52 101 .254 .319 .438 .758  110
  C-1B  J. Romano       29  106 352  46  85  18   1  19  44  51  83 .241 .345 .460 .805  123

   UT   C. Salmon       23   86 283  38  87  17   2   4  22  13  37 .307 .338 .424 .762  112
   MI   L. Brown        24   96 223  20  51   8   1   8  22  15  38 .229 .276 .381 .657   82
 OF-1B  W. Bond*        26   74 181  19  44   5   2   7  24  13  33 .243 .302 .409 .710   97
   C    J. Azcue        24   69 181  13  49   6   1   3  20  11  25 .271 .310 .365 .674   88
   MI   J. Kindall      29   85 153  10  28   3   0   3   8   9  51 .183 .229 .261 .490   37
   OF   L. Johnson      29   77 147  15  38   5   1   3  10   5  26 .259 .297 .367 .665   85
   C    R. Nixon*       29   73 130   8  30   6   0   1  14  11  22 .231 .297 .300 .597   68
   OF   A. Luplow*      25   50  68   6  13   2   0   2   6   5  19 .191 .247 .309 .555   54

        Others                   52   2   5   1   0   0   2   3  16 .096 .145 .115 .261  -26

        Pitchers                415  37  71   6   1   6  29  19 161 .171 .202 .231 .433   21

        Total                 5578 682 1381 211  27 179 633 527 989 .248 .313 .391 .705   96

        * Bats left

        Pitcher        Age    G  GS  CG   W   L  SV  IP   H   R  ER   HR   BB   SO  ERA ERA+
        S. McDowell*    21   40  33  11  16   9   1 249 187  72  65   11  132  254 2.35  153
        M. Grant        28   39  32  11  12  15   1 228 244 112  93   32   62  118 3.67   98
        J. Kralick*     29   30  29   8  12   7   0 191 196  79  68   17   51  119 3.20  112
        P. Ramos        29   49  19   3   7  11   8 155 157  86  79   19   26  118 4.59   78
        L. Tiant        23   19  16   9  10   4   1 127  94  41  40   13   47  105 2.83  127
        D. Donovan      36   10   8   1   1   4   0  53  60  28  27    6   10   28 4.58   79

        D. McMahon      34   70   0   0   6   4  16 101  67  31  27    7   52   92 2.41  150
        G. Bell         27   37  11   0   7   7   2 110 110  57  54   16   54   91 4.42   81
        R. Taylor       26   32   1   0   3   3   3  51  53  26  25    8   19   32 4.41   82
        S. Hamilton*    28   30   3   1   6   4   3  60  55  23  22    6   15   48 3.30  109
        S. Siebert      27   27   9   2   5   6   2 104  95  41  37   10   38   96 3.20  112
        B. Humphreys    28   19   0   0   1   0   1  29  20   9   8    2   11   25 2.48  145

        Others                    3   0   0   2   0  31  32  20  14    3   16   20 4.06   89

        Total                   164  46  86  76 38 1489 1370 625 559 150  533 1146 3.38  107

        * Throws left

The good news is that, by and large, things go about as expected. McDowell proves that the hype was entirely justified, as he bursts onto the scene as the most exciting and successful young Cleveland pitcher since Herb Score, or for that matter, maybe Bob Feller. As for Daddy Wags, he doesn’t have his best year, but still brings the power we were counting on. Our top-to-bottom offense is very solid.

The bad news is that although nothing goes seriously wrong, enough little things go wrong to prevent us from taking the stride forward we anticipated. Our outstanding young third baseman Max Alvis is stricken with spinal meningitis and misses a third of the season. Though many of our hitters do well, nobody delivers a great year, so our run production, while competitive, isn’t among the league’s best.

And while McDowell isn’t the only pitcher enjoying distinct success—McMahon is terrific, and the mid-season call-up Tiant is sensational—a few others struggle to one degree or another.

The result is that yet again, we’re a good team, but not good enough to closely contend. Our 86-76 record (slightly underperforming a Pythag of 88-74) will bring us only fourth place. It’s frustrating. Is there anything we can do to get this ball club just that much better?

1964-65 offseason: Actual Indians’ deals we will not make

Dec. 15, 1964: Sold outfielder-first baseman Tito Francona to the St. Louis Cardinals.

We no longer have Terry’s dad.

Jan. 20, 1965: In a three-club deal, traded catcher John Romano, pitcher Tommy John, and outfielder Tommie Agee to the Chicago White Sox. The White Sox sent catcher Cam Carreon to the Indians, and outfielders Jim Landis and Mike Hershberger and a player to be named later to the Kansas City Athletics. The Athletics sent outfielder Rocky Colavito to the Indians. (On Feb. 10, 1965, the White Sox sent pitcher Fred Talbot to the Athletics, completing the deal.)

Here was our Blockbuster assessment of this, well, blockbuster:

The Indians dealt Romano, John and Agee for Colavito and Carreon. Cleveland in 1964 had been a team with exceptional depth but unexceptional front-line talent, and this was a move in which GM Gabe Paul leveraged that depth to bring in a star. (Carreon was just a backup.)

In the short run it would work out splendidly, as Colavito would deliver a terrific year in 1965, but in the ensuing seasons the decline of Colavito and the blossoming of John and Agee would cause this to be another in the long list of regrettable Cleveland deals.

But, since we never let Colavito get away in the first place, we don’t need to expend young talent to get him back.

Feb. 5, 1965: Purchased outfielder Bubba Morton from the Milwaukee Braves.

We don’t see a need for this minor league veteran.

April 9, 1965: Released pitcher Bud Daley.

We don’t have him.

1964-65 offseason: Actual Indians’ deals we will modify

The actual Indians did this:

Dec. 1, 1964: Traded infielder-outfielder Woodie Held and first baseman-outfielder Bob Chance to the Washington Senators for outfielder-infielder Chuck Hinton.

Held and Hinton were interestingly comparable, remarkably versatile talents with dangerous bats. But though Hinton didn’t possess Held’s infield defensive chops, Hinton was the younger player by two years, and significantly faster, and thus by this point distinctly more attractive. We share the actual Indians’ interest in upgrading our Superdupersub investment from Held to Hinton.

But we’ve already traded Chance, so we can’t replicate this deal.

So we’ll do this:

Dec. 1, 1964: Traded infielder-outfielder Woodie Held, outfielder-first baseman Walt Bond, and pitcher Ron Taylor to the Washington Senators for outfielder-infielder Chuck Hinton.

In place of Chance, we’ll provide the Senators with Bond (who hadn’t been as productive a slugger as Chance, but was a more well-rounded talent) and also include the control-artist reliever Taylor, who’d been sharp in 1963 but gotten hit a little in ’64. This would be a good deal for both teams.

The actual Indians did this:

April 11, 1965: Sold pitcher Ted Abernathy to the Chicago Cubs.

We no longer have Abernathy, but we do have another right-handed reliever who’s emerging as surplus, whom we know the Cubs like. So we’ll do this:

April 11, 1965: Sold pitcher Bob Humphreys to the Chicago Cubs.

1964-65 offseason: Indians’ deals we will invoke

Nov., 1964: Sold catcher Russ Nixon to the Boston Red Sox.

Backing up Romano, Nixon has generally performed well for us, but his batting average tailed off in 1964. We have Duke Sims, an intriguing young left-handed-batting catcher, looking ready to play in the majors, so it’s time for us to no longer have Nixon to kick around any more.

Dec., 1964: Traded infielder Gerry Kindall to the Minnesota Twins for infielder Billy Moran.

We declined this offer back in June, only to see Kindall’s never-good hitting sink to career-worst form over the balance of the season. For his part, Moran has hit the skids too, but at this point we’re ready to think we don’t have much to lose by agreeing to the swap.

1965 season: Actual Indians’ deals we will not make

June 14, 1965: Purchased pitcher Jack Spring from the California Angels.

We don’t have room for this pioneer LOOGY.

June 15, 1965: Released pitcher Dick Donovan.

We let Donovan go last year.

June 15, 1965: Traded a player to be named later and cash to the California Angels for catcher Phil Roof. (On Sep. 15, 1965, the Indians sent outfielder Bubba Morton to the Angels, completing the deal.)

We don’t have a spot for Roof, and we don’t have Morton anyway.

Aug. 11, 1965: Purchased pitcher Bobby Tiefenauer from the New York Yankees.

Much as we like this guy, our staff just doesn’t have room.

Sep. 9, 1965: Selected outfielder Lou Clinton off waivers from the California Angels.

No thanks.

1965 season: Actual Indians’ deals we will modify

The actual Indians did this:

March 30, 1965: Purchased pitcher Stan Williams from the New York Yankees.

And this:

May 10, 1965: Traded first baseman-third baseman Ray Barker to the New York Yankees for infielder Pedro Gonzalez.

Both options look sensible to us. But we’ve still got the 30-year-old Pedro Ramos on our staff, and much as we believe he’s a for-real relief ace based on his superb September ’64 performance, we have a Bonus Baby pitcher (Mike Hedlund) consuming a roster spot as we’re tight against final cut-down day, and we know the Yankees like Ramos.

So, let’s do this:

May 10, 1965: Traded pitcher Pedro Ramos and first baseman-third baseman Ray Barker to the New York Yankees for infielder Pedro Gonzalez, pitcher Stan Williams, and cash.

Gonzalez shores up our middle infield depth. The 28-year-old Williams is just a sore-armed project at this point, but he’s worth a triple-A opportunity.

We aren’t thrilled about letting Ramos go, but since we aren’t giving up any of our best young pitchers, the choice must come down to keeping Ramos or keeping Don McMahon. And, promising though the loquacious Cuban’s prospects as a fireman appear to be, we remind ourselves that McMahon was lights-out as a fireman pretty much all year long in ’64, and had generally been among the game’s better relievers since 1957. Moreover, even though McMahon is five years older than Ramos, he still throws harder than the younger pitcher, and has never encountered a hint of arm trouble.

So, reluctantly, it’s, “Adios, amigo,” to Señor Ramos.

1965 season: Indians’ deals we will invoke

May 1, 1965: Sold outfielder Lou Johnson to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Tommy Davis has broken his ankle, so the Dodgers are seeking outfield help, and we’ve got a high-potential rookie named Tommie Agee to assume Johnson’s spot.

1965 season results

The only key acquisition is Hinton. We don’t anticipate a regular job for him at any particular position, and instead we look to leverage his versatility by spotting him wherever makes the most sense on a given day. He’ll provide relief to nearly every regular, and his broad skillset of on-base ability, speed, and power should bring a spark to our offense.

Young pitchers are taking an increasingly prominent role on the pitching staff. We look forward to having Tiant alongside McDowell for the full season. We’re also giving front-line opportunities to 27-year-old sophomore right-hander Sonny Siebert, who did well in a secondary role last year, and 22-year-old rookie left-hander Tommy John.

  Pos   Player         Age    G  AB   R   H  2B  3B  HR RBI  BB  SO   BA  OBP  SLG  OPS OPS+
   1B   N. Cash*        30  142 467  89 123  23   1  30  72  77  61 .263 .369 .510 .879  147
 2-1-O  C. Salmon       24  119 381  43  97  22   1   8  37  17  53 .255 .284 .381 .664   87
 SS-2B  L. Brown        25  112 372  39  94  19   2   7  34  32  53 .253 .308 .371 .679   92
   3B   M. Alvis        27  155 574  69 142  23   2  20  68  45 115 .247 .306 .399 .705   98
   RF   R. Colavito     31  162 592  93 170  25   2  26 103  93  63 .287 .383 .468 .851  140
   CF   V. Davalillo*   28  121 409  58 128  16   1   5  35  32  41 .313 .356 .394 .750  113
   LF   L. Wagner*      31  144 517  76 152  18   1  28  99  60  52 .294 .369 .495 .864  143
   C    J. Romano       30  122 356  44  88  11   0  21  51  58  72 .247 .356 .455 .811  128

   UT   C. Hinton       31  133 431  59 110  17   6  18  56  53  65 .255 .333 .448 .780  119
 SS-2B  D. Howser       29  107 307  47  72   8   2   1   8  57  25 .235 .345 .283 .628   81
   2B   P. Gonzalez     27   77 200  19  50   7   2   3  20   8  30 .250 .279 .350 .629   77
   C    J. Azcue        25   56 112   5  25   2   0   1  10   8  19 .223 .276 .268 .544   55
   CF   T. Agee         22   45  92   8  17   2   0   2   6   8  31 .185 .257 .272 .529   50
   C    D. Sims*        24   48  88   7  16   0   0   5  11  11  25 .182 .270 .352 .622   75
   CF   J. Vidal        25   35  71   8  16   3   1   2   7   5  25 .225 .278 .380 .659   85
   OF   A. Luplow*      26   27  45   3   7   2   0   1   4   4  13 .156 .224 .267 .491   39
   LF   T. Curry*       27   29  36   4   8   2   0   1   4   2  12 .222 .263 .361 .624   75

        Others                   31   2   5   2   0   0   1   2   5 .161 .212 .226 .438   24

        Pitchers                426  27  53   6   2   4  23  15 153 .124 .145 .176 .321   -9

        Total                 5507 700 1373 208  23 183 649 587 913 .249 .319 .395 .714  102

        * Bats left

        Pitcher        Age    G  GS  CG   W   L  SV  IP   H   R  ER   HR   BB   SO  ERA ERA+
        S. McDowell*    22   42  35  14  19  10   4 273 178  80  66    9  132  325 2.18  161  
        M. Grant        29   41  39  14  19   9   0 270 251 105  97   33   62  143 3.23  108
        S. Siebert      28   39  27   4  17   7   1 189 139  58  51   14   46  191 2.43  144
        L. Tiant        24   37  27   9  11  10   1 176 149  79  69   18   59  137 3.53   99
        T. John*        22   39  18   4  13   6   4 153 137  60  56   11   48  105 3.29  106
        J. Kralick*     30   20  11   1   3   7   0  57  71  39  31    6   14   23 4.89   72

        G. Bell         28   60   0   0   6   5  15 104  86  43  35    7   50   86 3.03  116
        D. McMahon      35   58   0   0   3   3   9  85  79  36  31    8   37   60 3.28  107
        S. Hamilton*    29   47   0   0   4   1   5  58  47  12   9    2   16   52 1.40  251
        F. Weaver       24   17   0   0   1   1   1  31  30  19  18    5   12   20 5.23   67
        S. Hargan       22   10   3   0   2   2   1  30  27  13  11    1   14   20 3.30  106
        M. Hedlund      18    6   0   0   0   0   0   5   6   4   3    0    5    4 5.40   65

        Others                    2   1   1   2   3  28  19  12  11    6   12   26 3.54   99

        Total                   162  47  99  63 44 1459 1219 560 488 120  507 1192 3.01  116
    
        * Throws left

Isn’t it great when everything, finally, comes together?

And the beauty of it is that everything finally clicks for this ball club in a season in which nobody (okay, nobody except McDowell) delivers a spectacular season. Instead it’s a case of just about everyone delivering a good season, and our depth and balance of talent bringing it on home. This is something very close to a team without a weakness.

The further beauty of it as that the top two teams competing against us for the pennant will be having to make do without key actual contributors. We don’t think the Minnesota Twins would finish nearly as well as 102-60 (on a Pythag of 100-62) without Mudcat Grant in their rotation, and we don’t think the Chicago White Sox would finish nearly as well as 95-67 (on a Pythag of 92-70) without John Romano doing their catching, and Tommy John in their rotation. Therefore we’re rather confident in saying that this 99-63 performance of ours will deliver the first Cleveland pennant since 1954.

Wouldn’t you love to be on Euclid Avenue?

    Actual Indians        Virtual Indians

    W     L  Pos   Year     W     L  Pos
    76    78  4    1960     80    74  4
    78    83  5    1961     91    70  3
    80    82  6    1962     91    71  2T
    79    83  5T   1963     85    77  5
    79    83  6T   1964     86    76  4
    87    75  5    1965     99    63  1

Next time

Does this outfit have enough juice to repeat?

Print Friendly
« Previous: A wrinkle in the AL East plan
Next: THT Awards »

Comments

  1. Steve Treder said...

    Well, you know something?  One of these scenarios that I’ve run through in rough form on the spreadsheet is the 1947-1954 Indians.  It wasn’t just Minoso and Reynolds that Cleveland let get away for less-than-fair return in those years, it was also Sherm Lollar, Mickey Vernon, Ray Boone, Gene Woodling, Bob Kuzava, and Sam Jones.

    Suffice to say that without that happening, it wouldn’t have been the Yankees enjoying a dynastic domination over the American League in that period.

  2. dave silverwood said...

    lOVE IT BASEBALL WORST PERIOD FRANK LANE GM IN CLEVELAND—-THANKS SO MUCH FOR DOING THIS FANTASY ALL iNDIAN FRIENDS WHICH MY LATE CLOSE FAN WAS HATED THE MAN, I A RED FAN HAD MY PROBLEMS WITH GABE PAUL—-PLEASE DO NOT FORGET lANE WAS FANTASTIC WITH THE CHICAGO WHITESOX,

  3. Robert H. Bonter said...

    If I may digress a bit, to observe that the 1951 donation of Minnie Minoso to Chicago, in the 3-way trade which brought unneeded pitching, Lou Brissie, to Cleveland, may well have cost the Indians the pennant in Bob Feller’s (22-8) final great, over-powering season. 

    The deficit for the Indians vs. the Yankees in the early 50’s was always hitting, and never pitching, the Yankees perennial offensive advantage accruing from the presence of Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle in their regular lineup, with Cleveland having no real match-up response to that, starting with the pathetic offense they got from defensive-specialist catcher Jim Hegan. Problem there was that Yogi was also a damn good defensive asset at the position. 

    Minnie Minoso, while in Cleveland, greatly cut into the Yankees overall offensive advantage. Trading him for the career brick-wall, spot-starter contribution of Lou Brissie was beyond insanity.

    And remember, the mainstay of the Yankees staff in the early 50’s was Allie Reynolds, whom they procured for end-of-the-line Joe Gordon, in a trade with, gulp, Cleveland.  Terrible soap opera melodrama, along the lines of a blatant case of rape, the whole thing is.

  4. Robert H. Bonter said...

    Yes, the Minoso “trade” is really just the tip of the iceberg, but, a harbinger of things to come.  I had to look it up and was a bit surprised to see that was actually Hank Greenberg as Cleveland GM who pulled the trigger on that highly memorable trade which saw Chicago (Minoso), and Philadelphia (Zernial and Philley) come out ahead, and Cleveland, acquiring Brissie, left holding the bag.  Had Minoso stayed in Cleveland, and Cleveland won it all in 1951, Minoso, not Gil McDougald is your A.L. Rookie of the Year.

    The impact of good/bad trades on the real pennant races we used to have is probably the most fascinating part of reminscing about the old days.

    Lane was interesting in St. Louis, too, winning on the Rip Repulski for Del Ennis trade, but killing the Cardinals about the same time with the Bill Virdon for Bobby Del Greco giveaway.

    As for Ray Boone, he blossomed in Detroit as a 3B, after quite some time as a back-up, nothing special SS in Cleveland, and, considering the Tribe was saddled with George “Stickless” Strickland for so long that is probably just a tinge of bad luck, more than poor judgement.  Boone certainly had his chances in Cleveland.

    One of the greatest ironies in baseball history, to me, is that Cleveland had Score, Colavito, and Maris, in 1957, all at a young age, but by 1960 they were all gone.  Yankees had to love that.

  5. Strikethree said...

    And, of course, the Indians now have the top SO staff in the history of the American League.  They led the AL from ‘64 to ‘68, SO more than 20% than the rest of the AL.  The first staff to SO > 1100 in ‘64, they SO > 1100 5 ywears in a row and set a new record with 1189 in ‘67… a record that would be broken only 30 years later in the seroid era.  And with TJ still on board……..fewer frozen ground balls in Comiskey!

  6. dave silverwood said...

    You have a good memory let me say this in 1959 Earl Battey, Johnny Callison,Norm Cash and Johnny Romano were all property of the Whitesox trading is an art few master—-but Robinson for Pappas.

  7. Robby Bonfire said...

    Strike outs are the most over-rated component in all of sports. They have a regression value of somewhere between .10 and .15 run to the pitcher; whereas a walk has a value of about +.50 run to the offense, based upon research I have done, on more than one occasion.

    Good example of this over-rated strike out component is Cole Hamels, who, in his last three starts has more strike outs than opposition starters vs. Hamels, but who has allowed nine runs on home runs in that span, while his opposition starters have allowed exactly one solo home run, by contrast. You are not going to make up that deficit with a an extra carload of K’s.

    Bill James says that a proliferation of strike outs among young pitchers indicates a long career, ahead. This would be the real value of strike out numbers, far beyond the in-game actual value.

  8. dave silverwood said...

    contact with the ball is a very important item it can create definate oppertunities that simply striking out doesnt, however in these times in baseball history little is not subjected to opinion so the only sane opinion I will offer is the 1950 0pinion bat on ball is important for the element of the play the simple striking out by a hitter can either showsupreme command of the pitcher in regards to a hitter or the lack of bat control on the batters ability.

  9. scott said...

    All is well and good about the on-field success of this ‘what-if’ Tribe of the early 60s, but what about the off-field success?  The Indians suffered attendance and financial problems during this era, and some player transactions were made with the bottom line in mind.  In real life, the Indians made loud noises about moving in 58 and 64, only to rebound the next year both attendance and performance wise.  Could they have kept up the buzz thru the early 60s with Rocky here the whole time?  Could the team have done better on-field given their financial problems off-field?  And was Gabe Paul the man who “saved” baseball in Cleveland or more of a Svengali, promising us better times around the corner while knowing full well that this team was going nowhere, maneuvering just enough to keep his control over the franchise?

  10. Steve Treder said...

    Well, I guess I’d say that every player transaction is made with the bottom line in mind, or at least it should be, to the proper degree.  The surest path toward alleviating attendance/financial problems is to improve on-field performance.  A better Cleveland team through the early 1960s, as the one in this scenario is, could only serve to improve Cleveland attendance & revenue through the early 1960s.

  11. scott said...

    One more observation: you have the 1964 rookie McDowell K’ing 254 batters, which would have shattered Herb Score’s 1955 mark of 245.  Does Sam wilt under the spotlight/pressure, or does breaking that mark change his approach to the game and he remains an all-star pitcher far longer than what actually happened?

  12. Steve Treder said...

    Impossible to know, of course, but my sense about McDowell is that he didn’t “wilt” under pressure so much as he was just a very young guy enjoying life in the fast lane all too much.  I think he loved the spotlight, craved attention, but was unable to control his appetite for alcohol.  I suspect he’d have developed a drinking problem whether he was a star pitcher in the big leagues or a mechanic in a garage.

  13. Robby Bonfire said...

    “Shattered” is a strong word to use when making totals comparisons in the strike out category, or whatever, between pitchers from the 50’s and the expansion-era 60’s, whose pitchers enjoyed a couple more starts compliments of the 162-game season, and weaker overall competition, for which Roger Maris and Norm Cash owed major league baseball a resounding “thank you” for their dubious “exceptional” 1961 respective season accomplishments.

  14. Robby Bonfire said...

    Cleveland ownership no doubt was lobbying for a new Municipal Stadium, in 1958, while employing the standard “Or else we will relocate the franchise” strategy, which figured to be effective on the heels of the Dodgers and Giants moving west the year before.  There was a time, long ago, when private capital investment, not public tax-payer funding, was the model for building new stadiums.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current day month ye@r *