I’d like to give Indians beat writer for MLB.com Jordan Bastian a ton of credit for doing a great job thus far. Coming from Tampa Bay to Cleveland couldn’t have been an easy transition, not only just weather-wise but from an organizational standpoint as well.
Continuing my last post, I continue to be optimistic about this season for the Tribe. Do I think they will streak through the regular season with the best record in baseball and knock off the Yankees and come one game away from making it to the world series? Well, no unfortunately. But I do see a lot of potential this season, more than I thought that I would see. And more than I saw only a few short months ago.
The sole fact that Sizemore and Santana should be ready to go by Opening Day is exciting, because that give two more bats in the lineup that are more than capable of producing. I’m more optimistic about the return of Santana than Sizemore due to the nature of Grady’s injury but having his bat in the lineup will no doubt give Indians fan a sigh of relief.
I’ve harped on Brantley before and I believe some of my numbers in a prior post may not have been correct. Thanks to MLB.com’s player previews I stumbled upon the fact that after July 18 Brantley hit .288, which is more like his .313 average he posted in his first callup. Whether he’s in center field or (Deep) left he will make a contribution in the field, and GM Chris Antonetti said there are no plans to move Grady to left. Regardless the outfield looks solid with Brantley, Choo, Sizemore and Austin Kearns.
I also think that Asdrubal Cabrera will benefit from an offseason of rest after suffering a fractured forearm (thanks Peralta). Cabrera was putting up some promising numbers before he got hurt, and never really returned to the offensive threat he was after he was after he returned from a two-month stint on the DL. Asdrubal can also be fantastic in the field at times, and we will find out if he can thrive every day at SS. The rest of the infield seems to be an adventure though. If Matt LaPorta can be the Matt LaPorta that was advertised to the Indians than that could add another bat to the lineup, but he will need to limit the strikeouts. Aside from the fact that Victor Martinez was a great guy to have in the clubhouse, I REALLY wish they wouldn’t have traded Vic. V-Mart could also play first and from what we’ve seen at the position last year, he certainly couldn’t have done any worse. Then again, if Justin Masterson evolves into a quality starter it won’t be as painful, hopefully.
The bullpen held their own last year and if there’s anything else you can point out it’s the fact that Chris Perez proved that he can handle the closing duties. Raffael Perez had a relatively low ERA last year but we would like to see him limit base runners this season.
As far as the starting rotation goes, it looks to be Fauston Carmona and a cast of others. Keeping our fingers crossed for a Bonderman or Millwood signing would definitely boost the starting pitching corps and take some of the pressure off of the young guys.
- Justin Masterson got better as the season went on, and if the final month was any indication we should see good things from him this season.
- Mitch Talbot was rather the opposite of Masterson, he started hot and cooled off around the All-Star break. Hopefully with a full season under his belt he will better prepare himself to survive the long haul of a 162-game schedule.
- Carlos Carrasco thrived in September, but then again it was September. However, it’s still something to be optimistic about. His walk to strikeout ratio was 38/14 and he seems to have confidence in mixing his breaking ball into his arsenal.
- I really liked what I saw from the Jeanmar Gomez, especially since he didn’t have the most dazzling numbers in the minors. After teams got a look at him though, he didn’t have as much success. Hopefully he can perfect the pitches he has in his arsenal and rebound to have a successful 2011 campaign.
Throw in the fact that we may get to see some of Alex White and the rotation isn’t shaping up to be as bad as one may have initially thought, and possibly better if they do add an arm in free agency. I hope the Indians do this but it appears that the talks with Bonderman have grinded to a halt, so all we can do is sit and wait.
Keep the faith Tribe fans, 2011 may be shaping up to be not so bad after all.