The Cleveland Indians are hanging on by their fingernails at a possible post-season berth. They sit five games out of the second wild card berth, and our opinion is you have to be within five on Labor Day to be a real contender.
And in doing nothing at the trade deadline to add a significant piece to the current roster, it appears the front office is starting to look forward to the 2015 season, as the Indians are currently the second youngest active 25 man roster in the major leagues.
So, even though we haven’t officially given up on this season, we have started contemplating what will happen with the 2015 edition of the Cleveland Indians.
It wouldn’t surprise us if:
Jason Kipnis moved to third base. The Tribe brass has hinted they would like to see a keystone combination of Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez because of the defensive upgrade it would provide. If that happens, then Kipnis would have to find a new position.
Logically, Kipnis would move back to LF, his college position, but Cleveland’s best player, Michael Brantley, is in that spot. So, we wouldn’t be surprised if GM Chris Antonetti either traded Lonnie Chisenhall or moved him to another spot (RF?) and put Kipnis at the hot corner.
We understand about the defensive movement of players seeming to have an adverse effect on the ’14 Tribe, but if this is done early enough, the players involved could come to spring training playing their new positions and be ready for Opening Day.
Nick Swisher bounced back. It is no secret that the Indians’ big free agent acquisitions before the 2013 season haven’t worked out, but of the two players (Michael Bourn being the other), Swisher is a better bet for a comeback in our view.
First, it is likely Swisher will be a DH, keeping his ailing knees away for the pounding of defensive play.
Second, Swisher’s 2014 season is an anomaly. Although, he didn’t drive in a lot of run last year, he still banged out 22 HRs, on par with his career numbers.
On the other side, Bourn’s numbers seem to be in steady decline. He’s never been a great offensive player, but his stolen base numbers continue to drop and he’s not an effective leadoff man anyway because of his low on base percentage. If he can’t steal bases any more, then he should be hitting at the bottom of the order.
We aren’t saying Swisher is going to hit .280 with 30 homers, but he could hit in the .250 range with a lot of walks and 20+ dingers. That wouldn’t be bad.
Terry Francona decides he’s done. This is a long shot to be sure, but Tito’s had problems with his legs over the years, and there seems to be a little disconnect between himself and the front office, which is the reason he came here in the first place.
While it appears Francona has slipped into the veteran manager’s viewpoint of trusting only veterans, that seems to be in conflict with the front office’s desire to give opportunities to players like Tyler Holt and Ramirez.
Perhaps it is the other way around and it is Francona who would like to play the youngsters, but his continued play of Chris Dickerson says otherwise.
Again, we believe this is a long shot to happen, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it did.
In another week, when the rosters can expand to 40 players, we may start to get an idea of what the 2015 Cleveland Indians will look like. We could see Lindor arrive along with Jesus Aguilar and maybe 3B Giovanny Urshela and of course, a boatload of bullpen arms.
Here’s hoping the current players can put that off by getting on a hot streak over the next week.