Sep 25, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Fans hold up signs during a game between the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago White Sox at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Reason for Optimism

Now that the 2013 season is done and over with (it still hurts to say that). It’s time to start looking at everything that happened and building opinions on what happened this season, what was good, what was bad, and where is this team headed in 2014. As the Wahoo’s on First staff prepares our in-depth offseason analysis, I figured now would be as good a time as any to get their opinions on the 2013 season and beyond. So for this week’s Wroundtable question I asked,  what is your overall opinion of the 2013 Indians and how do you feel about this team moving forward? Here’s what everyone had to say.

Nick Houghtaling: Overall, I think the 2013 Cleveland Indians went above and beyond expectations this year and should consider their season as a success. Not many expected the team to compete for a wild card spot – including most of WoF – so I’m going to be nothing but optimistic about the way this season has turned out. Moving forward, I think this team has a great chance to be successful. However, a lot of it depends on how much the owners are willing to spend in order to remain competitive. Ubaldo Jimenez has been an ace this year, but he might be lost to free agency. Scott Kazmir has been great in his first year back, but he’s a free agent as well. Asdrubal Cabrera and Chris Perez are unlikely to be part of the team moving forward, for better or for worse. Future success depends on how the team – and especially the front office – reloads for 2014.

Ed Carroll: I’ve stated numerous times I feel this season has been a massive success, but it really just dawned on me the extent of a lot of that success. Rewind to last October, and the Tribe was an afterthought to many. Even after a flurry of unexpected moves, most fans were firmly in a “I’ll believe it when I see it”-mindset. Though the early part of 2013 honestly didn’t do much to convince many, I recall pleading with fans to give this team a chance. And it may have been late, but by the last month many had given them a chance. This team forced itself into the minds of a city. Yes, the ending was too abrupt, and disappointing. But I think when I look back on 2013 I will remember a flawed, yet good and entertaining team that simply refused to call it quits until it was forced to do so. Though I hope this Indians season is a building block towards deeper runs, even if it isn’t, it was nice to see the team do something unexpected for once. I suppose one lasting lesson I’ve learned this season (other than managers may have more value than I initially believed), is that relevancy is earned and not given. The 2013 Indians earned their relevancy in Cleveland, even if it only ends up being for a month.

Evan Vogel: After the loss on Wednesday, my opinion of the 2013 Indians changed dramatically, but it changed even more for the club going forward. The 2013 season was a success – any season that you win 24 more games than the previous season HAS to be considered a success. The playoffs were just icing on the cake for a team that wasn’t supposed to be where they ended up. Certainly, the team made several improvements, namely being competitive in the free agency market and signing Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher, but a lot of the team’s success came from drastic improvements from the pieces that were already present.

You could wonder how much better the club would have been if Bourn hadn’t posted the lowest WAR since his first full season (2008) and Swisher hadn’t posted his lowest WAR since his lone season in Chicago (also 2008), so if those two have their “normal” seasons in 2015, the Indians, who were 5th in runs scored in 2013, could be even better. A full season of Danny Salazar, Corey Kluber, and Zach McAllister will help the rotation, as will the return of Justin Masterson. The biggest issues will be what happens with Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir, both of whom are free agents after the World Series. Can the Indians replace Jimenez, something that would have sounded ridiculous at the beginning of the season, after he posted an absurd 1.82 ERA and 100:27 K:BB over 84 2nd half innings? The future of Chris Perez and Asdrubal Cabrera, both valuable yet frustratingly inconsistent pieces, is also up in the air, as they reach their final year of arbitration (Perez) or the final year of their contract (Cabrera). However, despite what looks like “issues” the upcoming offseason could be very interesting.

After a successful season, it will be interesting to see if ownership opens the wallet again to keep or acquire more talent while waiting for Francisco Lindor and Clint Frazier to reach Cleveland, and figuring out what Trevor Bauer is going to become. While Cleveland sports seem to always capture and torture the hearts of their fans before ultimately failing them, I say that fans should trust the system right now. The Indians are just a couple of parts (dominant closer, solid rotation arm) away from replacing the aging Tigers as the elite club in the AL Central.

Brian Heise: Based on the expectations we had for the 2013 season and where this team ended up, I can’t help but feel like this season was a tremendous success all around. While it took a while for the city to get behind this team, once they did, it was magical. The atmosphere in downtown Cleveland on Wednesday night was the stuff of legends. The only downside is that it came to such an abrupt and unsatisfying ending. We went from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows in three days. Thanks Bud Selig.

As it stands now, you have to like where this team is headed and their odds of making a run in 2014. They are a young and up and coming team with a solid core to continue to build around. Yes, there are some tough decisions that need to be made, but I have confidence for the first time in a long time that they will make the right decisions that will result in this team being better than it was this past season. Besides, the Tigers aren’t getting any younger. They are bound to start regressing at some point. At least I hope so.

Geordy Boveroux: We lost because they didn’t DFA Giambi when I told them to…

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