Earlier this week, Indians’ president Chris Antonetti announced the signing of free agent 1B/DH Mike Napoli to a one year contract, and then said the Tribe is pretty much done when it comes to adding talent this off-season.
Let’s hope he is being coy.
Because if the front office is finished with the roster for the 2016 season, they haven’t done enough to improve the offense.
Getting Napoli and Rajai Davis are okay moves, and in a vacuum, you can’t complain about either player, especially because they were both brought in on one year deals.
Cleveland was 11th in the American League in runs scored last season, and will be missing their best hitter, Michael Brantley, for at least the first six weeks of the season.
Yes, we know that Francisco Lindor will be with the team all season, and Yan Gomes, a Silver Slugger winner in 2014, will hopefully be healthy for the entire season.
That will help the offense without a doubt.
Still, the Tribe didn’t get the impact bat, they so desperately need. They have a lot of players who will be put in the middle of the order in Cleveland, but for good offensive teams, they would hit somewhere between 6th and 9th.
That can work, but it requires every hitter in the lineup to have a solid season. There can’t be more than one spot where you aren’t getting offense.
We feel they will be better offensively in 2016, but not enough to put the Indians in the 90+ win conversation they need to win the division and avoid the one and done wild card game.
There is no question they have the pitching to contend and stay in the race. They finished 2nd in the AL in ERA, and their top four rotation hurlers might be without peer in the league.
But without better hitting, the Indians are going to lose too many games, 2-1 and 3-2. Games where they get excellent starting pitching and waste it.
Why not do something about it?
In a sport without a salary cap, it is funny to hear discussions about the Indians and talk about a $90 million payroll ceiling. Let us remind you that it is a self imposed figure.
There is nothing to prevent the Dolans from spending more than that figure except their own economical restraints.
Right now, the market is flush with free agent outfielders, and Terry Francona would have to start Davis, Abraham Almonte, and Lonnie Chisenhall out there if the season started today.
The Indians may have played the market correctly, and may be able to get a quality outfielder at a lower year commitment, something that is preferable for a smaller market team.
There was talk yesterday that Justin Upton may take a one year deal with Texas. And you know there is nothing bad about a one year contract.
So, the price tag for guys like Yoenis Cespedes and Gerardo Parra may not be as high as originally thought, and the trade value of players like Marcell Ozuna and Carlos Gonzalez may also be coming down.
We hope the Indians can take advantage of this and go out and get another solid bat to help length the lineup.
We hope that Antonetti was just being coy with the media and his people are still working feverishly to upgrade the hitting.
The Cleveland Indians can’t waste another year of excellent pitching without making the playoffs.
That would be a shame.