With all of the excitement surrounding the offseason moves made by the Indians, expectations are the highest they’ve been in about five seasons. Believe me, that’s a good thing. The fanbase has been rejuvenated and there is legitimate interest in the team once again. If that weren’t the case, I would definitely be worried. The change is refreshing and one that has been welcomed with open arms by the staff here at Wahoo’s on First.
Like most fans, we’re also excited. Like, getting a Nintendo 64 for Christmasexcited. Yeah, that’s a whole lot of excited. We have written hundreds of thousands of words about each offseason move and explained all the good that could potentially come from them. We are definitely expecting good things from this team in 2013.
But, before we get ahead of ourselves it is probably a good idea to have an honest conversation with each other about this team. Things are far from perfect. Despite the acquisitions that were made, this team still has several flaws. It’s these flaws that could have the potential to sink the Indians’ season if they are not careful. And while I really don’t want to be “that guy,” I feel like someone needs to at least put these issues on the table.
So, regretfully, here are the ten things to not like about the 2013 Cleveland Indians.
1. The starting pitching: Justin Masterson might not be an ace. Ubaldo Jimenez might be a train wreck. Brett Myers hasn’t started a game since 2011. Zach McAllister might be an overachiever. Scott Kazmir was out of baseball a year ago. Now, tell me again why we should have confidence in this starting staff moving forward? It is just as likely that each and every one of these pitchers implodes as it is they throw 200-plus effective innings. All I’m saying is brace yourselves and be prepared for the worst.
2. Strikeouts: While we have explained numerous times why the strikeouts won’t be an issue, you can almost guarantee fans will be complaining about them come July. If I could bet on that, I would. All it’s going to take is a few rally killing strikeouts before the boo birds decide to show up.
3. Chris Perez: I like Chris Perez. In fact, I like him a lot. Unfortunately, he is a luxury and with the emergence of Vinnie Pestano as a potential closer candidate he is officially expendable. With the ever-increasing importance that is placed on the closer’s role, Perez could have reaped a significant return in a trade. Now he is coming off another preseason injury and will have to work to reestablish his value. If the shoulder problem lingers, it could be a disaster.
4. Lonnie Chisenhall: The time is now for Chisenhall and while his spring performance has been impressive, he has yet to prove what he can do on the big league level. He is still very much about potential. What happens if he fails? What if he gets injured again? Is anyone prepared to watch Mike Aviles or Ryan Raburn on a full-time basis? That’s what we’re in store if Chisenhall can’t produce.
5. The infield defense: Nick Swisher has never really been a full-time first baseman. Chisenhall is valued more for his bat. Asdrubal Cabrera has one of the worst zone ratings among shortstops. Jason Kipnis is still learning how to play his position. Yup, that’s our infield defense in 2013. Things could get ugly in a hurry and if they do, the already shaky starting staff could fall apart.
6. Terry Francona: Everyone just assumes that Francona will right the ship and turn things around based on his time in Boston. Can we really be so sure about that? How much of that was a result of Francona and how much of it was a result of the talent on his roster? Remember, before leading Boston to two World Series titles, he led the Phillies to a .440 winning percentage in four lackluster seasons. Now he’s coming back after a year removed from baseball following one of the worst choke jobs in recent baseball memory that included an extreme lack of clubhouse control.
7. The catchers: Carlos Santana could be a stud. He’s shown flashes every now and again, but doubts are beginning to set in. Then there is the backup situation: Lou Marson, for all of his good qualities, is a below average player who has done very little in three full years to instill confidence in his abilities. If Santana goes down at any point this season for a prolonged period of time, the offense could suffer greatly.
8. The financial commitments: We all love that the Indians spent money this offseason in an attempt to improve the team. But was it too much? Is it possible that the Indians overextended themselves and left no resources to acquire even more talent at the trade deadline should they actually be in contention? Is it also possible that by potentially over paying for some players they, in turn, made those same players untradable? If they fall on their faces out of the gate, will they be stuck with their current investments for the long haul?
9. Chris Antonetti: Again, we all love what the Indians did this offseason, but is that enough to replace the popular opinion of Chris Antonetti among the fanbase? He is not held in very high regard thanks in part to the failure of the Ubaldo Jimenez trade and the lack of moves last season to right the ship as things were falling apart.
10. Injuries: There is no way of knowing how injuries will effect the Indians in 2013, but at some point we know someone important is going to go down. We saw last year that they lacked the proper depth to make up for the loss of player personnel. Can the additions of Aviles, Raburn, and Jason Giambi, along with Lou Marson be enough to carry the team for prolonged stretches? What about players in the minors who have still yet to prove anything at the big league level? Can they be relied on? And we haven’t even gotten into the depth of the pitching. How is that going to hold up? Unfortunately, we won’t know until the time comes.