January has come and gone meaning that it’s time for another installment of the Cleveland Indians Power Rankings. Last month saw new additions Nick Swisher, Trevor Bauer, Drew Stubbs, and Mark Reynolds make their debut appearances on the list with Swisher claiming the top spot due to the importance and over the top fashion in which his wooing and signing took place. Now, after a somewhat quiet month of January, just how do they stack up as they find their place within the organization? Is there anyone else who might have caught this committee of one’s eye? Let’s find out.
1. Terry Francona: Jumping up three spots from #4, Terry Francona reclaims his top spot in this month’s Power Rankings. Now I’m sure most of you are wondering how this is possible considering they haven’t played a game yet. This is true. But, Francona did just release a new book about his time managing the Red Sox and along with it came book signings, interviews, and trips to ESPN to be on various podcasts. Not only did it give him the chance to promote his book, but it also allowed him to promote the Indians, their brand, and the great steps he believes they are taking to build a winner. Right now, he is the most recognizable and marketable member of the organization.
- 2. Nick Swisher: Although he has been knocked from atop the perch of the #1 spot, Swisher still holds an important spot within the Tribe’s organization. Being the team’s top free agent signing of the winter will have that effect. With Spring Training only a few weeks away expect the Tribe to begin ramping up promotion surrounding their big catch.
- 3. Chris Antonetti: After falling back in January, Antonetti once again finds himself in the Top 3. With several holes and questions still remaining on this roster, it’s up to him to find the right players to fill those spots. There is still no official word on which path the Indians will take with the DH spot, but I fully expect Antonetti to invite several players to camp in the hopes that someone will rise to the occasion and fill the void. If not, then the Indians will have to rely on the depth that Antonetti has worked so hard to acquire this offseason for a DH by committee.
- 4. Tony Amato: Who is Tony Amato and why is he so important you ask? Well, he is the Tribe’s equipment manager and right now is one of his most important times of the year. With Spring Training set to begin, Amato and his staff have begun the process of transporting equipment to Arizona and getting the facilities ready for when players begin to report. This is most likely the only time he will appear on this list in 2013 and it’s well deserved. Moving hundreds of pounds of equipment from Cleveland to Arizona can’t be easy.
- 5. Tom Hamilton: As the voice of the Indians, Hamilton is responsible for describing with pain staking detail and enthusiasm what is unfolding for radio listeners across the country. Knowing how important and beloved Hamilton is, the Indians reached a new five-year agreement with WTAM to broadcast Indians games. The deal also will allow for 100.7 WMMS to simulcast 144 games per season, thus allowing the sweet and soothing sounds of Tom Hamilton’s voice to reach even more households.
6. Chris Perez: Will they or won’t they? That’s the big question surrounding Chris Perez and the chances that the Indians will trade their All-Star closer prior to the beginning of the season. It’s beginning to look more and more like Perez will be on the Opening Day roster, meaning one of two things: Either they have their sights set on a competitive 2013 season, or they are banking on Perez’s already high trade value increasing. It’s a huge gamble on their part. Let’s just hope they’re right.
- 7. Jim Thome: Until Thome signs on the dotted line with either the Indians or another team, he will continue to hold the emotions of Tribe fans everywhere hostage. Thome is beloved in Northeast Ohio and most fans would love to see him in the red and blue for a third time. It’s going to be interesting to see if he is brought in to add a little extra pop at the DH position. The only real concern is health. Can Thome stay healthy enough to make an impact with anyone?
- 8. Trevor Bauer: With the excitement of the Shin-Soo Choo deal becoming a distant memory, it’s time to start evaluating where Bauer begins the year. All signs seem to indicate Bauer will begin the year at Triple-A Columbus. Honestly, he probably needs to start there. His Triple-A numbers last season weren’t off the charts, and his few big league starts were less than impressive. There’s also no reason to rush Bauer’s development and risk damaging either his arm or his psyche.
- 9. Ryan Raburn/Ben Francisco: Both are coming to camp hoping to make the big league club as an additional outfielder. One would think Raburn is the favorite heading into camp given the fact he can play second and third in addition to the outfield, but Francisco has a history with the Tribe. Other than that, Raburn and Francisco are virtually the same player offensively. Their career stats back this up. It is going to be interesting to see how this battle plays out.
- 10. Drew Stubbs: Fans continue to question who will fill the role of leadoff hitter for the 2013 Indians. As it stands right now, Stubbs is most likely the favorite amongst the Tribe’s brain trust. He’ll have ample time during the spring to make his case, but don’t rule out Michael Brantley, Jason Kipnis, or even Mike Aviles. Any one of them could steal the top spot in the order.