Going back and reading Jay's Fire Everyone! - The Mission piece from late in the 2009 season brought up a few points to me that shows some definite breaks in the foundation of something in the Cleveland Indians organization.
Let's first off realize that we're really not competing directly with 25 teams in baseball. Our battle each and every season is to outperform the Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals and Minnesota Twins.
Here is the one striking thing that Jay had to say that really stuck with me (keep in mind his data is through the 2009 season):
The five teams in our division have secured seven playoff spots over the past six seasons, and we only got one of those seven spots. This, despite the fact that the Twins are no better off than the Indians. This, despite the Tigers and White Sox squandering their financial edges with massive, ill-conceived contracts. This, despite the Royals not being under competent management as of yet. We should have had two or three of those seven spots, and we should have competed for four or five of them — that is a reasonable goal for this club. The fact that we didn't is an organizational failure, plain and simple.
Moving forward with Jay's point that from 2004-2009 the Indians snatched just one playoff spot and only truly competed once more, in 2005. And let's remember that Jay was kind in his snatching of 2004-2009 because 2002 and 2003 were seasons in which the Indians didn't compete one iota. Therefore, from 2002-2009 we took just one playoff berth and competed just twice in eight seasons.
Taking a look at the Indians competition numbers since the 2007 ALCS loss isn't very rosy.
Let's say the Indians slip out of contention this year, as it seems they will, and we again don't compete for a berth. That would be the fifth season in a row that we've completely failed to compete in what is arguably one of the easiest divisions in baseball to compete in.
I dug around for data on every team in MLB to find out who else has not competed even once in the past five seasons.
The criteria I used were if a team had any first or second place finishes or any playoff berth I deemed that a competitive season. There of course some things that I personally used an override on though. The 2011 Indians finished second but were 15 games out. That is not competitive.
Of the 30 teams in baseball, the following are the ones who, like us, have not had any competitive seasons since our 2007 ALCS berth. I listed their order of finish in their respective division from 2008-2012 in that order.
Baltimore: 5, 5, 5, 5, 2
Cleveland: 3, 4, 4, 2, 3
Houston: 3, 5, 4, 6, 6
Kansas City: 4, 4, 5, 4, 5
Seattle: 4, 3, 4, 4, 4
Toronto: 4, 4, 4, 4, 5
*All 2012 places are updated entering play on Friday.
Oakland, Pittsburgh and Washington had not truly "competed" from 2008 until this season. Oakland did finish 2nd in the AL West in 2010 but finished 9.0 games out.
I have a relatively high amount of confidence that these three clubs all will remain in contention through the end of the season. If they don't though, then lump whichever falls off into this group. Technically, Baltimore could be grouped with this trio but they could lose just a couple games and already be in fifth. The other teams are much more likely to stay in contention. Toronto is on the other end than Baltimore and a winning week could see them take second. We'll see what happens with those two.
Alright, we're left with six teams who haven't given their fans anything yet (Bal, Cle or Tor could still contend this year though) to be happy about in terms of their final result since the 2007 season.
Houston, Kansas City and Seattle actually should be labeled as trainwrecks because they've been completely hopeless each and every season in this study.
Baltimore and Toronto face significantly bigger hurdles than Cleveland and the "trainwrecks" as they play in the much more difficult AL East. Whether it's fair to tell them or not, but they should face slightly less expectations due to their circumstances and it's unfortunate for them.
Cleveland cumulatively has a much higher overall record than Houston, Kansas City or Seattle through the past five years but that doesn't mean we were much more successful. Take a look at what happens at the game threads around this place each September as the Indians drift into obscurity. It's a clear example of failure in the organization when in our division, as Jay said, we should at least obtain the resources to clearly compete for 4-5 years out of 7.
Since the "glory days" ended in 2001 we have directly competed just twice in eleven seasons and secured just a single playoff berth. And in the past five seasons we're just one of four (or more, depending if you add in the AL East teams or if any of the "contenders" this year fall off) teams who has failed to have a relevant September.
It doesn't take a math expert to see that 2 of 11 or 0 of 5 pails in comparison to 4/5 of 7.
Look, the standards I set for this weren't that high. I only wanted one competitive season from five (far from what Jay asked for) and the Indians didn't live up to it.
I'll finish off a different train of though regarding the direction of the organization in a following FanPost as all my thoughts needed to be split up.