Hooley: I want to be wrong, but I fear I'm not

Terry Francona ended the Curse of the Bambino. Now, he takes aim at the Curse of Rocky Colavito

I'm going out on a limb that I hope will come crashing to earth, making me look like a complete dolt inside the next two weeks. 

So, when I tell you that I hate almost everything about Terry Francona's decisions that shaped the Indians' roster for the American League Division Series, know that I fervently want to be proven wrong. 

The Tribe starts their quest for the world championship tonight with Game 1 of the ALDS against the New York Yankees. 

If you needed a reason to get excited about embarking on the journey toward 11 post-season wins that would end the longest-running World Series title drought in Major League baseball, I assume the presence of the hated Pinstripers in the other dugout will do it for you. 

It certainly does for me. What better foil for the Indians to dispatch on their way toward winning the Series for the first time since 1948? 

Maybe it's because I want so badly for the Tribe to take out the Yankees that I'm stressing over the roster Francona put together for this best-of-five matchup that continues Friday at Progressive Field. 

OK, before I get into why I think Francona botched this, let me admit that he has two World Series rings to my zero, and he's generally acknowledged as one of the best managers in baseball. 

Me? I'm just a nervous fan. 

Other than that, we're exactly even in baseball acumen, so I say with all due respect, Tito...Have you lost your mind? 

First, why are you starting Trevor Bauer in Game 1 and not Cory Kluber?  

Second, why are you putting starters Danny Salazar, Mike Clevinger and Josh Tomlin in the bullpen and leaving proven relievers Zach McAlister, Nick Goody and Dan Otero off the roster? 

Third, why sideline the bat of Yandy Diaz at third base so you can carry two utility infielders in Geo Urshela and Erik Gonzalez? 

And finally, why put Michael Brantley on the roster at all when all he can do is pinch-hit? 

Those four decisions are so dumb it makes me wonder if Yankees manager Joe Girardi used some mind-bending trick to hack into Tito's brain and render a Tribe roster that weakens the Indians considerably. 

I know Bauer won 17 games, including two against the Yankees. But the most important games of any series are Game One, for momentum, and the final game scheduled, because it will decide which team survives. 

Francona has the chance to start Kluber, the likely AL Cy Young Award winner, in Game 1 and Game 5. SO DO IT! Don't get cute and try to steal Game 1 with Bauer, thus hoping to eliminate the Yankees in four games so you can start Kluber in Games 1, 4 and 7 of the ALCS to follow. 

It seems like Francona envisioned that best-case scenario when he made the decision on his rotation for the Yankees. Except that makes no sense in light of what he did in the bullpen, where he's going with three guys -- Tomlin, Clevinger and Salazar -- who were starters all year. 

That's a disaster plan you hatch only if you expect your starters to get chased early, thus needing longer innings from guys who have been starters in the past. 

Those pitching decisions conflict -- one is optimistic, one is pessimistic -- and the result is a possible disaster where the Yankees could grab the momentum in Game 1 and/or the bullpen blows up because Salazar, Tomlin and Clevinger are asked to play roles they haven't filled all season. 

In a five-game series, you leave Salazar and Tomlin off the roster and go with Goody and Otero, or McAlister for one of those guys. 

As for Francona's decision at third base, it's also questionable. 

Diaz's bat is far superior to Urshela's, and Diaz's glove is good enough for the first six innings of any game. Use Urshela as a replacement, or leave Urshela off the roster and bring Gonzalez in to play second late in games and move Jose Ramirez to third. 

The Brantley decision is dumb for two reasons. First, you limit yourself to a pinch-hitting specialist who will likely need a pinch-runner even if he gets on base? Brantley's ankle isn't healthy enough to run the bases or play in the field. So why not give him another two weeks to get healthier for the ALCS? 

And don't even get me started on rookie Greg Allen making the team and Abraham Almonte not making it. 

Maybe it's just the nervous, sky-is-falling Cleveland fan in me, but I don't like much about Francona's decisions to depart from how he's won 102 games to play post-season hunches. 

So I say these two things with all sincerity, Tito. 

No. 1...you must be nuts. 

And No. 2...please, go out there and make me look like a moron. 


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