With the Indians and their awful pitching and bullpen last year, it was hard to swallow in the offseason and try to move on to Spring Training. But we did it. And I do think that if this staff gets better with a halfway decent bullpen, we can win the Central.
Yes fans, I did say a few posts ago and I still have a gut feeling that my Tribe has no chance of contending, but then again who is in the Central that really “wow’s” you and makes you think that everyone will be forming a line behind them? The answer is no one. The Twins were favored, but then Nathan went down. Now it’s anyone’s game to take home. This is going to be an interesting year.
Reasons we can contend: We have a good offense. We are young, and have full potential to hit at every position. Yes we will have our team slumps, but together we have a team that has a new hitting coach, that focuses on smooth swings and lives and dies off of working pitchers. I do think that this is an upside to our offense. No more dilly-dallying around. We are getting straight to business and straight to the point.
One of the reasons that we faultered last year was that Grady was injured and missed a good chunk of at bats. This really sunk our ship, and we slumped because of this loss. I think with a healthy Grady, and with Branyan in our lineup, we will be the most feared offensive team in the Central. I think 1 through 9 in our lineup can hit the gaps, and I think that we have the possibility of being in the top 5 in the MAJORS in extra base hits.
Luis Valbuena will be carrying that load by constantly hitting the gaps and circling the bases. I really like this kid, and if he can hit 7 homers and eh have maybe 60 or so RBI’s which he is capable of, I’m happy. Because his gap hitting power will always be there, and he will always score a good 60+ runs for us. I really like our chances in the Central.
We don’t have 5 clear spots etched in stone that are going to contribute on the mound, but when your the Cleveland Indians, if 3 of those guys don’t work, we have about another 5 in line. Just think about it, we have so many average minor league pitchers that we can bring up if our rotation isn’t contributing. It could be alot like “Guess Who” but you never know. We might find the guy that just might fit. Kind of like the Orioles did last year.
We could have a Brad Bergesen awaiting somewhere in the minors. I think the big contributor to this team is going to be their bullpen. If we keep a strong and consistent bullpen, this team will be alot of fun to watch. Just like in ’07 when the team had a ton of walkoff hits, we could do the same this year. We just need our bullpen to put up solid numbers, and we need inherited runners to not score.
I have been saying this the whole time, Tony Sipp is the man that I think might be the best relief pitcher on our team. Last year he hardly let inherited runners score, and he constantly got big outs when he needed. This could be contention time for the Cleveland Indians. We have most of the tools, and we cleaned house. Plus we have such a great ballpark and great fans. This year could be a whole heck of a lot of fun.
The Twins aren’t a team that we need to keep a huge eye out for anymore. Since there best pitcher is gone, they are going to be in panic mode. Yes there offense will still have a strong core, but their pitching will go down the drain. I would compare them to us this year, I don’t think that they will be any better though do to their loss of Nathan. I think if Mauer plays better than he did last year, then the Twins might win the Central over us.
But this speculation is fun. Who knows who could win the central. The Royals have a great pitching staff with a poor offense, while the Tigers have a decent offense with questionable pitching. Every team in the central has at least 3 or 4 flaws in them and could easily win the division. If the Indians want to win it though, they need to come out from the start hard and looking to win the central. The Tribe needs to work the counts, get good pitches, and steal bases.
That is another thing on my list that I forgot to mention. The stolen base part of the Indians game. With Choo, Cabrera, Sizemore, Valbuena, and Brantley able to steal bases, the Indians will definetly get into scoring position more often. We will see more RBI’s by the power hitters for sure this year, due to the reason we will be taking off more so than not. I think that if we swipe a good 80+ bags this year, we will have more productive numbers from guys in the lower spots in the order. And that just juices up the stat line, and the run production.
This year is going to be very lopsided, and we aren’t going to be happy for parts of the season. But I think it’s contention time, and it’s time that we recognize that. We are a contending team with lots of potential and lots of talent. Let’s just hope that no injuries occur, and that we can take a shot at one of the weakest divisions in baseball. I would like to thank the baseball gods…
All of our teams have players that can consistently hit well or players that don’t make a single error. But to face the facts, we all have liablities somewhere in our lineups. You can’t deny it either. Every single team has a liablity throughout them. It just so happens that the Indians have well… in lack of a better phrase A TON! Baseball is a game of liabilities and the team with the least throughout the season wins.
Grady Sizemore just came off an injury infested season. His shoulder bothered him throughout his swing, and all he could do is pull the ball. If Sizemore doesn’t get back to normal, the Indians will be getting a chunk bit out of them this season. Grady needs to be the best he can be as a leadoff hitter, but in Acta’s case the 2 hitter. (more on this later) If he can’t produce, than the Indians offense I predict will slump with him.
(Photo via cleveland.com)
It seems as though when Sizemore is going good that the Indians offense follows I guess its like monkey see, monkey do, but that’s just me. Grady is definetely a leader in the clubhouse and really helps out the young guys. He steps up when needed and when he is healthy can give pitchers fits. But the liability behind the whole “package deal” is the fact that he strikes out too much, and no one knows where to put him in the lineup. At times he can go with little striking out, but in some circumstances he can strike out far too much which doesn’t seem promising.
When you put Grady in the leadoff spot, he is comfortable there and it seems as though he is more of a hitter. He takes the first pitch of the game so that he can see what the pitcher has and can feel better standing in the box than he would in any other spot in the order. I don’t like the 2nd spot though. Yes Grady can put a bunt down when needed to move a runner, and can also get things started, but he can’t hit the ball the opposite way. The biggest factor in this whole baffling process is that Grady can’t hit for contact. So the 2 spot is not for him.
But oh Manny Acta would like to differ. He thinks that Grady is a shoe in for the two spot and that Asdrubal Cabrera should be the leadoff hitter. Which brings me to another liability,… coaching. I don’t see why Acta thinks that Grady is such a wonderful 2 hitter. He strikes out way to much and like I said can’t go the other way while Cabrera can hit all fields and strikes out a miniscule number of times. I don’t understand the thought process.
(Image via fangraphs.com)
It’s almost like he’s thinking backwards. Already on my bad side, which is not good counting that we’re not even through the first Spring Training game this year. If anything at all Grady should be at the 3 or 4 spot but 2? What the heck is this guy thinking? Maybe he’ll figure it out during the season when the Indians aren’t producing like he “figures” they will.
I think the biggest liability in Cleveland right now is there young arms. Yes, Jake Westbrook is feeling healthy. And yes I am excited. But it all comes down to the same questions, “Will he produce?” and “Will he play through the injury?”. I would have to say he will produce for the pitching staff, but he’s not going to turn them into a team that is the top pitching staff in the league. Of course, he could come into the season and just stink it up. We don’t know what he is and isn’t going to do yet.
I think that Westbrook has a good chance of being the two guy in the rotation. Maybe others disagree, but until Westbrook proves me wrong, I think he should be glued into that spot. Acta probably disagrees, and that’s why I hate em. As long as Westbrook fights for a good season and gives us 9 or 10 wins, I will be proud to bring him back. And no I won’t bash on him if he doesn’t do so well, the guy is injured give him a break.
(Image via bostonbaseballheadshow.com)
Fausto Carmona also makes me wonder… where did this guy go? Now two bad years after almost being the Cy Young award winner in 07. I just wanna know how a guy can go from so good to so bad. His control was amazing during 2007, and during the offseason he got into some bad habits. He walks too many people now, and his sinker is finding it’s way up in the zone. He’s a huge liability and could be the difference in finishing last in the Central or 2nd (I’m thinking it’s gonna be close).
Suppose David Huff continues to pitch well as he did last year, and our bullpen does not let us lose an extra ten games, then I think that we’ll be okay. But these things are all liabilities and they could go in either direction. As you can see the Indians have many liabilities, suprise suprise. Let’s just try and cut back on a few heading into 2011. I might have a better attitude. Just put on your headresses and paint your faces like chief wahoo cause the seasons a’comin. Good luck, and until next time…