Sunday, April 3, 2016

Cleveland Indians Preview

Before we begin,I've had a few people ask me about my opinions of Chief Wahoo being dropped to the secondary logo.
To me,that isn't new,its been that way for a while.
I hate the block C hats (although not as much as the despised cursive "I" ones that were DOA a while back) and you wouldn't be likely to see ,e wear one.
My Indians cap of choice will remain-Wahoo.the early 70's "Wishbone" C in either red or blue or the mid 70's "Crooked" C to the left.

Many media outlets have the Cleveland Indians listed as serious contenders in the American League Central this season.
I would agree with that,but I wonder if the Wahoos invested enough in the off season to upgrade an offense that caused 2015 to be a disappointment.

Yan Gomes has been on fire in Arizona and hopes to rebound from an injury plagued and disappointing 2015.
A Gomes return to form would go a long way to helping a offense that seems to need it.
Roberto Perez returns as Gomes' backup with some pop off the bench with seven homers in 184 at bats last season.

Cleveland's attempt to jolt the offense a bit was mainly built around two aging veterans-one in the infield and one in the outfield.
Mike Napoli's career looked to be over before a sizzling six week stretch in Texas convinced the Indians that his bat still had life in it.
Napoli and Carlos Santana will share the first base and designated hitter slots and hope that the Indians receive the Texas Napoli not the Boston Napoli.
Jason Kipnis will start at second base and Francisco Lindor will begin his first full season at shortstop.
The talented Lindor looks to be an elite shortstop for years to come and is the beginnings of the Indians attempt to become an exciting and fun to watch team,which hasn't been the case lately in my opinion.
Aging Juan Uribe was signed in spring training in another attempt to solve the third base issue,I'm not convinced Uribe is a great addition,but if he is even average,the Indians would likely be pleased.
Jose Ramirez will backup at 2nd,3rd and short and I wouldn't be surprised to see Ramirez be a trade chip as he could start as a middle infielder for some teams.

The outfield doesn't look improved to me.
Michael Brantley is the standout,but will start the season on the DL after winter shoulder surgery.
Brantley seems to be healing faster than expected,but still will miss time.
After Brantley,you look at this bunch and wonder how a contender thinks this is a decent crew.
Cleveland was counting on Abraham Almonte after a decent few months after being traded for by San Diego,but was popped for PED use and will miss half the season.
I wasn't an Almonte believer from the start and I don't think he will be a meaningful loss.
Lonnie Chisenhall was moved from third to right field after disappointing with the bat and I'm not sure what about that move will turn his offense around.
Chisenhall will start the season on the disabled list and veteran Marlon Byrd was signed in spring training to hopefully add some power to the lineup.
Byrd's game has changed with age,but he could be a helpful part to the Indians.
Rajai Davis was signed from Detroit and the journeyman was hoped to have filled the spot of Almonte in center and spell on the corners occasionally,
Davis will still spell,but Davis was beaten in center by an excellent camp by former first rounder Tyler Naquin,who will start the season in center and be given a chance to hold down the position.
Veteran Collin Cowgill arrives from Anaheim to be the final outfielder on the bench....

The pitching is where the Indians hope to be among the leagues elite and make up ground on the competition.
The rotation ranks with the leagues best with 2014 Cy Young winner Corey Kluber dropped from 18-9 to 9-16 and his ERA went up,but it wasn't a bad season with an ERA still under 3.5.
Expecting Kluber to be 2014 level every season is unfair,but I do think he'll improve on a year that really was bad only in the won-loss record,which most overrate in pitching stats anyway...
Carlos Carrasco won 14 games (a career high) and just as importantly-posted a career high in innings.
Carrasco might be sitting on a super season.
Danny Salazar has tremendous stuff,if he can just harness it consistently and also struck out almost 200 batters with a career high in innings.
Salazar's talent might be the best of the group and if he can even improve a little-he could be a Cy Young contender..
The Indians had four pitchers contending for the back two spots with Cody Anderson and Josh Tomlin winning over Trevor Bauer and Zach McAllister
Anderson had three spectacular starts to begin his Indians stint last season before pitching more of a league average type for the remainder of the season.
Tomlin is a consistent innings eater that teams love to see in the five slot and was very sharp in his ten starts last year (3.02 ERA).

Trevor Bauer and Zach McAllister will be the long men in the bullpen with each likely to get spot starts and the chance to be the first to step in the event of rotation injury or ineffectiveness.
Bullpens can range from year and year and I usually don't put a lot of stock into some relievers previous performances-they can vary that much.
Jeff Manship was excellent last year in Cleveland,Dan Otero was awful in Oakland,they could switch numbers this year with ease.
Journeymen Joba Chamberlain (Detroit) and Ross Detwiler (Texas/Atlanta) will each attempt to hold a specialist role in the pen while hard throwing Bryan Shaw returns as the setup man.
Cody Allen closes after earning 34 saves in 38 chances last season.....

Prediction;This team has the pitching to match almost anyone and could make a big run.
However,I'm not convinced that the additions to the lineup has made up ground offensively and the scoring will continue to be an Achilles heel.
It may come down to just how much is left in the bats of Napoli,Uribe,Davis and Byrd.

I'll try to get a Giants preview finished soon....

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