Nowadays, it seems as if there are power rankings for everything. The NFL, NBA, MLB, college football, TV, super heroes, and the list goes on. Basically, if you can debate the value, importance, or relevance of a group of things, you can arbitrarily place them in a list and assign a number value that somehow makes one better than the other.
So, with the offseason in full swing, I present to you the December edition of the Cleveland Indians Power Rankings.
1. Terry Francona: It was tempting to place Chris Antonetti at the top of the list given the fact that we are entering the hot stove season when most of the wheeling and dealing for the coming year occurs. But, Francona is the new big fish in town and should play a role in how this team is shaped and molded heading forward. His management style should help dictate the types of players Antonetti acquires and also help lure potential free agents that might otherwise have not considered Cleveland.
2. Chris Antonetti: A lot of work needs to be done in order to correct the things that went wrong last year and turn the Indians into a winner. That falls squarely on the shoulders of Antonetti. Can he make a few big trades or sign quality free agents to change the tide of mediocrity? We’re about to find out.
3. Ubaldo Jimenez: Indians fans might not want to admit it, but Jimenez has never been this important. Can he right himself, find his command of the strike zone and return to dominant form? Better yet, do the Indians believe he can? They’re answer to that question may dictate what pitchers and how many of them they pursue this winter. Stay tuned.
4. Lonnie Chisenhall: The Indians are banking on Chisenhall being part of the solution and not the problem. This has to be the year in which he makes the jump from a prospect to a legitimate middle of the order to bat. He’s shown flashes of it here and there, but not on a consistent enough basis. His name is undoubtedly going to come up in trade talks and they’re sure to say thanks but no thanks. Let’s hope it’s the right decision.
5. Vinnie Pestano: You would think Chris Perez would be more important because he is an All-Star closer and could reap a huge return in a trade. That’s only because Vinnie Pestano looks prepared to take on the role of closer. His ascension as one of the elite set up men in baseball has made Perez expendable. It’s his value moving forward that might help turn Perez’s value into pieces for future championship chases.
6. Mike Aviles: He hasn’t even played an inning for the Cleveland Indians and already Aviles has made his way onto this list. Like Pestano, his value is that he has made the guy ahead of him expendable. With Aviles in the fold, Asdrubal Cabrera is officially expendable and should be in high demand in the trade market. Aviles could also serve as the stopgap at shortstop until super prospect Francisco Lindor is ready to make his big league debut.
7. Shin-Soo Choo: You would think Choo would be higher up on this list, but his agent, Scott Boras, and his impeding free agency following this season hurts his trade value. Unless the Indians can bait the Yankees, Angels, or another big spending large market team into trading for Choo, the Indians are looking for a substantially smaller return in a trade because he’ll more than likely be a one year rental. There’s a chance Choo’s value could increase closer to July 31st when teams get desperate, but then again we have to rely on him staying healthy and duplicating his 2012 success at the plate. It’s going to be interesting to see what the Indians do.
8. Carlos Santana: As our entire staff learned a few weeks ago in a heated email chain that lasted close to 12 hours and spawned some of the greatest internet memes you can imagine regarding the Brandon Phillips drama from 2006, Carlos Santana’s future behind the plate will dictate the direction this team goes. Is he the catcher of the future or the first baseman of the future? Will the Indians sign another catcher or a first baseman? It’s an interesting debate.
9. Tyler Naquin: Why is Tyler Naquin on this list? Well, with the Indians looking to rediscover their drafting mojo and the fact that Naquin was a head scratcher of a pick, the pressure is on for him to prove the Indians right. Will he follow Lonnie Chisenhall and Francisco Lindor to the Bigs or is he destined to meet the same fate as Beau Mills, Trevor Crowe, and Michael Aubrey?
10. Jason Bay: I know, I know, he’s not an Indian… at least not yet. The Indians interest and potential signing is already causing serious debate among Indian fans across the interwebs. Some feel like it’s a great risk and some others feel like it’s a huge mistake indicative of the problems with the Indians. Is Bay a classic change of scenery guy or is he washed up. We might find out first hand.