Tribe Banking On A Lot Going Right on Offense

The supporters of the front office of the Cleveland Indians, those who think they never do anything wrong, will take the signing of Juan Uribe and hammer critics of the move by saying people complain when they don’t spend money, and then when they do, the “haters” are still not happy.

As we have said all winter, in a vacuum, each one of the Tribe’s off-season signings are good.

There is little risk in any of the one-year contracts GM Mike Chernoff and president Chris Antonetti gave to Mike Napoli, Rajai Davis, and Uribe.

All of them could be solid contributors to the 2016 Indians, and if they have good seasons, then Terry Francona’s bunch will be contenders for a division championship.

The downside is what if they don’t, and with Francona being a player’s manager, how long of a rope do each of the trio have?

What if any one of the three have a completely horrible spring training, and one of the younger players who play their spot, have tremendous springs.

We know the answer is that Tito is going to give the more experienced player the benefit of the doubt.

That may be fine, but this is a team, that for many reasons, can’t afford to get off to a bad start.  If the slumps last past April and into May, can management continue to give playing time to aging players.

Assuming Francona starts the season with 12 pitchers, that leaves two open spots on the Opening Day roster.

We project the starting lineup against the Red Sox, and likely David Price, this way:

Kipnis        2B
Lindor        SS
Napoli        1B
Santana      DH
Gomes        C
Uribe          3B
RH hitter   RF
Almonte    CF
Davis          LF

Lonnie Chisenhall will be the everyday guy in RF, but we doubt Francona will start him vs. Price.  The candidates for this spot, and a utility role are Joey Butler, Collin Cowgill, Shane Robinson, and Robbie Grossman, although he is a better hitter vs. right handers.

The other two bench spots will be Jose Ramirez and Roberto Perez.

Yes, this roster can be very, very good if everything falls into place, but how often does that happen, and why does the front office bank on that having to occur pretty much every season.

Perhaps in a few years, when Bradley Zimmer and Clint Frazier hit the big leagues, and hopefully are successful in the majors, the hitting attack will not have to depend on keeping your fingers crossed.

We look at the current lineup and a lot has to go right for this team.

Napoli has to keep doing whatever he did in the second half last season.  Hopefully, Uribe will continue to be productive at 37 years old.

Will Davis hit well at Progressive Field? Can Carlos Santana reverse a two year trend in his career that is going in the wrong direction?

That’s four questions out of nine spots, and we didn’t even mention Almonte, who had a solid two months in a Tribe uniform, that’s all.

Nor did we mention Michael Brantley’s shoulder surgery.

Look, we hope it all works out for the 2016 Cleveland Indians, but why can’t this organization try to eliminate some question marks going into the season?

Why do they have to continue with the “wishin’ and hopin'” mentality?

If have of the questions aren’t answered in their favor, this team is in peril of watching another season of outstanding pitching wasted.

That would be a shame, and it won’t help the feeling the fans of Cleveland have regarding the current regime.

MW

 

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