Looking Ahead To Tribe Off-Season

It still stings.

Losing in extra innings in the seventh game of the World Series for the second time in the last 20 years will do that to hardcore fans.

Despite some people in the media telling fans they should feel good about losing to the Cubs in the Fall Classic, we still think about what might have been.

The Indians were this close to a World Championship, and fell just a bit short.

So, the best thing to do is to look forward.  What can and will the Indians do this winter to prepare themselves to defend the American League Central Division and the American League championship?

Despite the injuries late in the season that curtailed the Tribe’s rotation, there is no doubt the strength of the Indians is the starting rotation, and the back end of the bullpen.

Remember, Cleveland finished second in the American League in ERA in 2016.

Led by staff ace Corey Kluber, the rotation which also consists of Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar, Trevor Bauer, and Josh Tomlin, and the tandem of Andrew Miller and Cody Allen at the back of the bullpen is the backbone of the team.

And don’t forget Mike Clevinger and post-season hero Ryan Merritt to provide depth as well.

As we all saw, pitching rules the day in October, and the Cleveland pitching staff was outstanding in the playoffs.

But the odd thing about baseball is you have to score runs in the regular season to get into the post-season, and quite frankly a lot went right for the Tribe to rank second in the AL in runs scored this past season.

Mike Napoli and Carlos Santana has career years in terms of power, and one of that duo may not be with the team when Opening Day 2017 comes around.

Many will peg Jose Ramirez for regression next season, but we are not one of those people.  Ramirez’ minor league numbers suggest he is a good hitter and at age 24, should still be getting better.

The same can be said for SS Francisco Lindor who will play ’17 at age 23.  Lindor should only get better, and should provide a little more power, which could put him with around 20 home runs next season.

Jason Kipnis should be fine, and of course, the team is hopeful of getting its best hitter coming into 2016, Michael Brantley back and provide the professional at bats he is well known for.

What the front office does to make up for the loss or possible lost production from Napoli and perhaps Santana will go a long way toward making the post-season a year from now.

The outfield is still a huge question mark.  Rajai Davis is also a free agent and will be 36 years old.  Tyler Naquin slumped badly in the second half and has no track record.  Lonnie Chisenhall and Brandon Guyer are solid players, but aren’t cornerstones.  Don’t forget about Abraham Almonte too.

And will Brantley be healthy enough to contribute.  Hopefully, rookie Yandy Diaz figures in somewhere too.

The front office can’t and shouldn’t go into the winter thinking older players like Napoli and Davis will repeat the numbers they put up in 2016.  It’s just not logical.

So, president Chris Antonetti and GM Mike Chernoff have to be creative in what they do in the hot stove league.

One thing is for sure.  The Tribe should not stand pat.  They need to continue to improve the roster even though they got to the seventh game of the World Series.

You can’t assume everything will be the same as this year.

KM

 

 

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