The Cleveland Indians aren’t kidding around this winter.
Fresh off an American League championship and a trip to the World Series, the ownership and front office of the team have thrown any caution they have had in the past to the wind, and are hell bent on improving the ballclub
All fans were giddy with the addition of one of the game’s most prolific and consistent sluggers in Edwin Encarnacion. He fits perfectly into the middle of Terry Francona’s lineup.
Yesterday, Chris Antonetti and GM Mike Chernoff bolstered the already strong bullpen by adding lefty specialist Boone Logan on a one year contract.
Logan is a prototypical LOOGY (left handed one out guy), holding left-handed hitters to a .142 batting average in 2016. In his career, lefties are hitting .233 against him (670 OPS) and he has struck out 34% of them.
His addition should eliminate any need for Francona to use Andrew Miller early in a game, like the 5th or 6th inning, to get a key left-handed hitter. That means Miller and Cody Allen can be used in the last three frames to get the toughest hitters opponents can bring up to the plate.
The Tribe bullpen is deep and they are good. Besides late inning guys Allen, Miller, and Bryan Shaw, Francona has Dan Otero, Logan, and Zack McAllister to work earlier if needed.
And in reserve, he has young arms like Shawn Armstrong, Kyle Crockett, Perci Garner, Nick Goody, Joe Colon, and rule five draftee Hoby Milner that could contribute during the season.
They say statistically a big league team needs ten starting pitchers to complete a season, and the Tribe has depth there as well.
Besides the five current starters (Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar, Trevor Bauer, and Josh Tomlin), the team has Mike Clevinger, Cody Anderson, and Ryan Merritt who will start the season in Columbus.
Since the end of the season, the front office has also added lefty Tim Cooney from St. Louis, who had made six starts for the Cardinals in 2015 before missing last year with calcium deposits in his shoulder. He will provide depth.
And last week, the Indians traded for Carlos Frias from the Dodgers who has made 15 major league starts in his career.
There is no question pitching can be volatile, and as Francona is wont to say, when you think you have enough pitching, you go out and get more.
The front office heeded his advice.
With an offense led by Encarnacion, Francisco Lindor, Jason Kipnis, and Carlos Santana, the Tribe should score enough runs too. Don’t forget they also have Jose Ramirez, and solid role players in Lonnie Chisenhall and Brandon Guyer as well.
And if Michael Brantley can stay healthy and return to being one of the league’s best hitters? The Tribe might just be the team to beat in the AL.
It’s been a long time, probably since 2001, that Cleveland baseball fans could say that.
But in baseball, there are no for sures. There are always injuries, and that’s why you need depth in the organization, which the front office recognized.
This isn’t 2008 or 2014, the last two times the Cleveland Indians made the playoffs. This winter, the organization didn’t rest on its laurels. They added on to the American League Champions.