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Injuries and trades have the Guardians waving the white flag and looking to next season

Cleveland Guardians' Gabriel Arias adjusts his necklaces as he warms up for the team's baseball game against the Chicago White Sox on Thursday, July 27, 2023, in Chicago.
Erin Hooley
Cleveland Guardians' Gabriel Arias is among prospects getting more time to play following the team's recent trades.

The Guardians made some moves ahead of the Aug. 1 trading deadline that signaled a shift in the front office’s focus.

The team traded shortstop Amed Rosario, first baseman Josh Bell and pitcher Aaron Civale. In return, the team got some prospects and struggling veteran pitcher Noah Syndergaard.

The moves angered fans who were hoping the team would make another push for a division title. As of Tuesday, they’re 5.5 games behind first place Minnesota.

Ideastream Public Media’s sports commentator Terry Pluto said he understands fans’ frustration.

“The thing that bothers the fans is that the Guardians are still close to being in first place in a very bad Central Division, and they traded three veterans… and they primarily, they brought back young players. It was like trades aimed for next year,” Pluto said.

Pluto said the team knew that it would be difficult to compete for a title with starting pitchers Triston McKenzie, Cal Quantrill and Shane Bieber all shut down with injuries.

“None of them are expected back at least until September. I know this for a fact: Even if two of those guys are healthy, they're not making these trades,” Pluto said. “When they look at their roster and their pitching staff and say, ‘Without these three guys and all these rookie pitchers and everything else, it's just not our year.’ And sometimes you have to say that, as painful as it is.”

The team has always been good at developing young players, Pluto said, and that’s the goal for the rest of the season.

“Truthfully, I'd rather watch Gabriel Arias play shortstop than Amed Rosario. And I'd rather watch Oscar Gonzalez be the DH (designated hitter) rather than Josh Bell. Losing Aaron Civale was a tough one because he was one veteran pitcher pitching well,” Pluto said.

Despite the Guardians’ struggles, attendance at Progressive Field has been strong. As of early July, the team has seen a 43% increase in fans at home games: 793,964 compared to 555,056 at the same point a year ago. And, Pluto said, the Guardians this week are expected to surpass last season’s total attendance.

“So, the fans actually, you know, last year were very excited about the team and grabbed on to it. So that has been difficult for them to see some of the players going," Pluto said.

On the field, this season is playing out how last season was expected to go with the youngest roster in baseball, Pluto said. That team ended up getting hot and making the playoffs. Now, the Guardians are experiencing the growing pains.

“The thing to remember in baseball, you can get bad and stay bad for a long, long time," Pluto said.

"Meanwhile, the Guardians in the last 10 years have had nine winning seasons, six trips to the playoffs, and they've never had, at least under the Dolan ownership and with Chris Antonetti and Mike Chernoff running the team, one of those seasons where they won 60. lose 102 (games).

"So, they don't want to get awful, and that means sometimes you kind of cash in one season to retool for the next.”

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