Tribe Needs Bullpen Help To Ease Miller’s Workload

Terry Francona likes to say when you think you have too much pitching, you go out and get more.

That holds true today, because even though the Indians lead the American League in team ERA, team president Chris Antonetti and GM Mike Chernoff are probably looking for more arms before tomorrow’s trading deadline.

The return of Danny Salazar to form should ease the need for another starting pitcher, and eventually, either Trevor Bauer, Josh Tomlin, or Mike Clevinger will go to the bullpen, but another top notch bullpen arm would help the Indians going forward.

It is pretty obvious that when the Tribe has the lead, Francona has confidence in just three guys, closer Cody Allen, rubber armed Bryan Shaw, and the ultimate relief weapon, Andrew Miller.

Two games this week demonstrated this.

Thursday, with Miller and Shaw unavailable due to usage over the past few days, the skipper went with Trevor Bauer for eight innings and over 110 pitches rather than bring someone out of the group that includes Zack McAllister, Nick Goody, and Dan Otero.

And Bauer was pitching in a 2-1 game.

Bauer thrives on throwing so the pitch count wasn’t the issue it might be for others, but it is hard to imagine Tito staying with his starting into the 8th had Miller or Shaw been available.

The next night, Cleveland had a 9-2 lead after six when Salazar was removed from the game.  The Tribe won it, 9-3, but McAllister (7th), Goody (8th), and Shawn Armstrong (9th) all had difficulty recording outs, and the latter two ended the inning in bases loaded situations.

Look, the Indians have post-season aspirations, and they currently lead the AL Central by three games, the concern is keeping the primary relievers fresh for September and October, and that’s why they could use an extra arm in the ‘pen that Francona will trust.

Shaw leads the AL in games pitched with 49.  This isn’t a shock, as he routinely is in the top five in the league in appearances.  He is blessed with that kind of arm, and in spite of the social media critics when he fails, which isn’t often, he gets the job done.

Allen has made just 42 appearances and usually pitches one inning. He has the traditional closer role, and does it quite well.  He has only 19 saves, because the Indians win a lot of games in blowout fashion.

The concern is Miller, and Francona is always talking about reducing his work load, but then he can’t help himself.  The guy is that good.

He has been in 45 games, pitching 53-1/3 innings, ranking 5th in the AL in innings for relievers.

Last night, he threw almost 30 pitches, and our guess is he will tell Tito he can go today, but with a tough schedule coming up this week (at Boston for three, New York at home for four), he should get the day off.

That’s why the Indians needs another arm out there, to lessen Miller’s load.

With Boone Logan likely out for the year, the Indians need another southpaw.  They also need a reliever that can get right-handed and left-handed hitters out.

That would also allow Francona to shorten games even more, particularly in the post-season.

We believe getting another reliever is the primary goal of the front office before tomorrow afternoon at 4 PM.

It could make all the difference going forward for the Cleveland Indians.

MW

Why Tribe Will Repeat As AL Central Champs

A year ago at this time, we predicted an American League Central Division title for the Cleveland Indians.

After consecutive third place finishes in 2014 and 2015, that pick was a little more out on the edge as this year, but we will go ahead and say it anyway, the Indians will win the division title for the second straight year.

It’s not hard to see that Chris Antonetti, Mike Chernoff, and Terry Francona have put together a helluva good baseball team, and they complement that with a farm system that seems to be churning out major league ready players.

The first thing people want to bring up when talking about the Indians is their pitching led by staff ace Corey Kluber, one of the game’s best starters, and the bullpen trio of Andrew Miller, Cody Allen, and Bryan Shaw, which was dominant for most of the post-season.

Indeed, Cleveland finished second in the American League in staff ERA in 2016, one of only two AL teams (Toronto) with an ERA of under 4.00.

Besides Kluber, Danny Salazar made the All-Star team a year ago, and Carlos Carrasco is capable of dominating any big league lineup.  Consistency and injuries have been an issue with both hurlers in the past.

Trevor Bauer is the wild card.  There doesn’t seem to be any reason he shouldn’t be able to win 15 games, but he has gone through long stretches of seasons where he pitches poorly.  If he can avoid those, and he’s only 26, he could be an elite starter too.

Josh Tomlin is a solid fifth starter, and in most rotations would be a three or four.  If any of the starters falter, Mike Clevinger and Ryan Merritt can step in.

With the trinity of late inning relievers the Tribe has, most nights, it’s a six inning game for the opposition.

Because of the pitching reputation, people forget the offense, which scored the second most runs in the AL behind Boston.  They did it without Michael Brantley, one of the league’s best hitters.

And this off-season, the front office added perennial 30+ home run, 100+ RBI man, Edwin Encarnacion to the lineup.  After searching for a right-handed power bat for many years, Cleveland now has one of the best in the game.

They also have one of the best and most exciting young players in the sport in SS Francisco Lindor.  If the Indians win the division in 2017, Lindor will be an MVP candidate.

Even if Brantley has a set back, an offensive led by Encarnacion and Lindor, with support from Carlos Santana (34 HR last year), 2B Jason Kipnis, and 3B Jose Ramirez should score a lot of runs.

Kipnis will start the year on the disabled list with shoulder soreness, however.

Francona is a master at using platoon advantages, so even though there aren’t big names in centerfield and rightfield, the Tribe will get production out of those spots.

And behind them in the minor leagues, poised to help in the majors are OFs Bradley Zimmer and Greg Allen, 3B/OF Yandy Diaz (if he doesn’t open in Cleveland), and C Francisco Mejia, who will start the year in Akron.

They also have Francona, one of the game’s best leaders, and a master at handling the roster and the clubhouse.

In a long term view, the Cleveland Indians are on the precipice of a good run at the top of the AL Central.  In the short term, they will win the division again, and hope to end what is now the longest World Series winning drought in the sport…69 years.

MW

Spring Training Is Here!

People who aren’t baseball fans just don’t get it.  We heard a few times on talk radio this week that hosts didn’t understand why baseball people get so excited over camps opening, when the regular season is still six weeks away.

It’s pretty simple.  First of all, baseball is the one sport that occurs pretty much every day.  To be a hard core supporter of the grand ol’ game is to make a daily commitment, 162 games played over 180 days.

Since it is played each day for the most part, it is missed when it isn’t here.  So Tribe fans, still dealing with a heart breaking loss in game 7 of the World Series, haven’t been able to lick their wounds with action on the field since November 2nd.

Second, it’s an early sign of spring, the promise of warmer weather to come, looking forward to warm, summer nights at Progressive Field.

We don’t believe any other sport can offer the regeneration of warm weather to follow.

And Tribe fans are even looking forward more to the beginning of spring training this year because of last year’s success, but also because of the tremendous off-season Chris Antonetti and GM Mike Chernoff had, signing perhaps the most prominent free agent this winter in 1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion.

They also added to an already strong bullpen by inking lefty Boone Logan as a free agent.  They did have to say goodbye to two large contributors to last year’s success in Mike Napoli and Rajai Davis, but overall it appears the Indians are stronger than they were when they ended the season.

Baseball fans will be awaiting the first pictures from Goodyear, Arizona, particularly pics of the newest Indians, seeing Encarnacion in Tribe togs for the first time.

We also want to see how our old favorites look in camp, even through many of them were just in town for Tribe Fest at the end of January.

And we are all very anxious to see reports on those players recovering from injuries, mostly Michael Brantley, who missed virtually the entire regular season with shoulder issues.

Brantley’s recovery would be huge, adding another solid bat to an everyday lineup that finished 2nd in the American League in runs scored in 2016.

We will also be interested in the progress of Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar, two stalwarts of the starting rotation, who missed most of  the post-season fun with injuries.  Neither should be a problem long term, but until they are on the mound in exhibition games getting hitters out, you can’t be sure.

It is also fun to follow the progress of the top prospects in the organization, to get your first look at catcher Francisco Mejia and outfielder Greg Allen, both of whom should get some “A” game at-bats.

And we will get a newer look at OF Bradley Zimmer, who will likely start the season in Columbus, and should be on track to make his big league debut this summer.

Those are just some of the reasons why baseball fans look forward to hearing “Pitchers and catchers report”.  It’s the beginning of eight months of a commitment to the sport.

It’s a sign that winter will soon be over…baseball is back!

MW

 

A New Era For The Tribe?

Are we looking at a new era on the corner of Ontario and Carnegie?

Rumors out of baseball’s annual winter meetings have the Cleveland Indians talking to the agents of free agent slugger Edwin Encarnacion about coming to the Tribe on a multi-year contract.

Encarnacion is one of the game’s premier sluggers.  He led the American League in runs batted in last season, and his OPS hasn’t been below 886 since 2011.  His lowest home run total over the last five years was 34.

In short, he is an upgrade, at least on the field, from the player who filled his position in 2016.

According to reports, the Indians are one of three teams considered favorites to sign him, along with Boston and Texas, so it should still be considered a long shot for him to join the American League champions.

It has been reported that the Tribe paid a very handsome profit from last season’s playoff run, and remember that John Sherman was brought in as vice chairman and minority owner last summer, so it is very possible that Chris Antonetti and GM Mike Chernoff have some extra cash to spend this winter.

And obviously, if you lose the World Series in game seven, and in extra innings, you are in win now mode.

If ever there was a time to throw a little caution to the wind and “go for it”, it is the 2017 season.

Especially when it appears that your competition in the AL Central are in flux.  The White Sox look to be in sell mode.  The Tigers are aging and have been said to be interested in lowering payroll.  The Royals have several key players eligible for free agency after the ’17 season.  The Twins lost 100 games a year ago, and shouldn’t be a factor next season.

That doesn’t mean the Indians’ front office will go crazy, handing out huge amounts of cash on long term deals to players decidedly on the downside of their careers.

If the team is able to strike a deal with Encarnacion, we would image a two or three year deal, as he will turn 34 years old in January.  Mike Napoli is a year older, and hasn’t shown the consistency in his career as Encarnacion.

Also, the reason Cleveland can even think about this is the low amount of money committed to their starting pitching staff, which is a sink hole for most other major league teams.

Heck, the Dodgers yesterday gave Rich Hill, who was pitching in an independent league in 2015, $48 million over three years.  The Tribe doesn’t have to commit that kind of cash to their rotation.

Even if the Indians don’t reach an agreement with Encarnacion, this sends a signal that the front office is ready to spend money on the right player and in the right situation.  That’s all fans want, and it should keep the momentum from last October going for the local baseball team.

So, the Indians may make a big splash this off-season, something not thought possible a week ago.  Getting this close to a World Series title for fueled this.

It could also mean that the Antonetti led front office is more aggressive than the Mark Shapiro led one.  There could have been many reasons for Shapiro’s conservativism, but we doubt he makes the Andrew Miller trade, and it doesn’t seem signing a big time free agent is something he would have done either.

Right now, circumstances have the Cleveland Indians in a win now situation.  It’s been 20 years since we could say that.

MW

 

Tribe Trade Miller? We Say No Way

Since the World Series ended, there have been several national baseball writers who have speculated that the Indians might try to move their post-season star, Andrew Miller, during the off-season.

We feel this should be filed under the same grouping as writers saying the Cavaliers are going to move Kevin Love, and the Browns will fire all of their coaches again this winter.  Meaning, it’s a reflex move for writers, low hanging fruit, if you will.

Look, anyone can be traded.  We love when Tribe fans will say to us things like the team will never trade Jason Kipnis or Jose Ramirez.  Our response is always, if the Angels called and offered Mike Trout, a deal would be reached pretty quickly.

When Chris Antonetti and GM Mike Chernoff acquired Miller from the Yankees at the trading deadline last July, one of the reasons he was so appealing, besides that he may very well be the best reliever in the game, was he was under contract for two more years.

That’s the biggest reason the Indians were willing to move two of their top ten prospects.

The national media speculates in this way because they can’t believe the Tribe would be willing to pay $9 million for the next two seasons on a relief pitcher, and combine with a likely $6-7 million payday for Cody Allen, there is certainly no way Cleveland, little small market Cleveland, would spend close to $20 million on their bullpen.

They forget that the Indians are in a win now mode.  Most of their key players are in their prime, and they have a very good starting rotation that is paid well below market value compared to their ability.

And yes, we have been critical of the franchise’s spending habits over the years, but with post-season ticket revenue and an expanded season ticket base, we think the front office won’t be as frugal this winter.

When you get to the seventh game of the World Series, your organization has to think they can win the world championship the next season.

Also, the Indians’ farm system is in pretty good shape right now.

When they made the deal with the Yankees, they had two top outfield prospects in Bradley Zimmer and Clint Frazier.  They still have Zimmer poised to be in Cleveland by the end of the 2017 season, and Greg Allen keeps getting better and better too.

They also moved Justus Sheffield, a top starting pitching prospect.  Mike Clevinger is the next man up if an injury occurs next season, and the organization has Ryan Merritt and Adam Plutko in the upper levels of the system, and Triston McKenzie, Juan Hillman and others in the lower levels.

So, Miller will be an Indian on Opening Day, 2017 in Texas unless the front office is absolutely blown away by a trade offer, which we doubt will happen.

The Indians intend to get back to the post-season next fall, and if they do, what better weapon to have than the guy who was this fall’s ultimate weapon…Andrew Miller.

On the other hand, if something happens and the season goes south, Miller could be on the move in July, and then, and only then, will Antonetti and Chernoff consider making a deal and will command the same kind of haul Cleveland gave to New York.

That’s the only scenario where Miller gets moved.

MW

 

Tonight Could Be The Night For Tribe

We have been fans of the Cleveland Indians as long as we can remember, which is 1965.  That means we’ve been waiting for 51 years for what may or may not happen tonight at Progressive Field.

The Tribe has a chance to be World Champions.

Think about that for a second.  It’s only happened twice before, once in 1920 and again in 1948.

And that’s it.

We have written about this before, but for a long time (from ’65 through 1994) the Cleveland Indians were for the most part a terrible, perhaps mediocre squad, where an above .500 record was celebrated, not expected.

But we still had our favorite players.  Sam McDowell, Chris Chambliss, Buddy Bell, Dennis Eckersley, Len Barker, Joe Carter, Mel Hall, and Tom Candiotti.  Many of those guys got to experience winning elsewhere.

We also had the great stars who came to Cleveland at the end of their illustrious careers, like Hawk Harrelson, Boog Powell, Frank Robinson, and of course everyone’s favorite, Keith Hernandez.

Contending for a division title?  That was a pipe dream, something other franchises thought about, not Tribe fans.

There were four 100 loss seasons in that time span, amazingly, the franchise bottomed out in the last 1980’s, losing more than 100 games three times in a six season span (1985, 1987, and 1991).

Right around then, Hank Peters was brought in to run the franchise and surrounded himself with two young executives, John Hart and Dan O’Dowd, and rebuilt the moribund Indians by a forgotten (at least around here), but tried and true method.

They developed a fruitful farm system.

Suddenly, the Indians developed into a powerful club, with the foundation being home grown players like Albert Belle, Jim Thome, and Manny Ramirez, with great trades bringing in Sandy Alomar Jr., Carlos Baerga, and Kenny Lofton.

Also, they sprinkled in some key veteran free agents like Eddie Murray, Dennis Martinez, and Orel Hershiser.

Sounds familiar, right?

This Tribe squad is centered around players originally signed and developed by Cleveland, like Jason Kipnis, Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, Lonnie Chisenhall, and Roberto Perez.

President Chris Antonetti and GM Mike Chernoff traded for guys like Michael Brantley, Yan Gomes, Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and of course, Andrew Miller.

Add in free agents Mike Napoli and Rajai Davis, and you have a team on the brink of something not done in baseball here in 68 seasons.

This isn’t talking about a coronation, because there is still a game to win and the Cubs are throwing last year’s Cy Young Award winner in Jake Arrieta and a candidate for this year’s award in Game 7 starter Kyle Hendricks.

The Tribe pitching staff has been so outstanding this post-season, holding down the powerful offenses in Boston and Toronto, and what they have been able to do thus far to Chicago.

They may need two more games of that kind of pitching.

Having a 3-2 Series lead doesn’t abate our nervousness, our sense of anticipation, and even though the Cavaliers won a title just four months ago, our sense of upcoming doom.

Allowing ourselves to think about a fourth win against the Cubs gets the goosebumps going, and emotions flooding our senses.

We’ve waited 51 years for this night.  Yes, we had a Game 7 moment in 1997, but perhaps then we were just happy to be in a World Series twice in three years after so long without being in one.

Now the thirst needs to be quenched.  The Cavs, the Monsters, Stipe Miocic gave our town a taste of what a title is like, and now Indians’ fans want the same.

Tonight could be that night for the Cleveland Indians.

MW

 

Another Uphill Fight For Tribe

Some team’s World Series victory drought will come to an end this year.  Either the Chicago Cubs, who haven’t won since 1908, or the Cleveland Indians, whose lack of a title is a rather pedestrian 68 seasons, will put an end to their lack of baseball’s World Championship.

Make no mistake, the Cubs are very worthy of being here, having the best record in baseball with 103 wins.

They have the National League’s best offense that doesn’t play in hitting friendly Coors Field, and they have the league’s best ERA too.

They lead the NL in on base percentage and OPS, and rank 4th in the Senior Circuit in slugging.  They do not run much, as they were 4th last in the NL in stolen bases.

And they actually hit better away from the “friendly confines” of Wrigley Field than they do at home.  In fact, the park on the north side of the Windy City, actually played as a pitcher’s park this season.

Joe Maddon, one of the game’s best skippers (along with Terry Francona), has the likely NL MVP in Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, both of whom have OPS over 900.

Leadoff hitter Dexter Fowler has a .393 on base percentage, while Ben Zobrist and Wilson Contreras both are very good offensive threats.

The Cubs do have some swing and miss bats in their order though, they were 5th in the NL in that category.

Pitching wise, Game 1 starter Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, and their closer, Aroldis Chapman all have ERAs under 2.00 at Wrigley Field.

Their other three starters (Jake Arrieta, John Lackey, and Jason Hammel) are all under 3.00, very formidable indeed.

However, on the road, both Lester and Arrieta, presumably the game two starter, are both over 3.00, and Lackey is over 4.00, although his start appears to be a home.

The former Angels and Red Sox hurler is 8-9 lifetime vs. Cleveland with an ERA approaching 4.

And then we have the American League’s best baserunning team, the Indians, vs. Lester, who has a known “phobia” about throwing to bases.

If the Tribe can get on against the southpaw, they need to run and run and run some more.  Take advantage of every little thing possible against one of the game’s better pitchers.

And last, we will hear plenty about Francona and his relationship with Cubs’ president Theo Epstein, and how they ended the “Curse of the Bambino” in Boston and repeated with another title in 2007.

This series features two of the best managers in the sport, two outstanding young executives, one (Chris Antonetti) looking to win for the first time, and two teams with a sordid past, although with three AL pennants in the last 21 years, the Indians are the franchise with more recent success.

There is no question the Cubs are very good.  Their run differential this year is the highest in the National League since 1906.

On the other hand, they played in the National League, the inferior league in our estimation.  Outside of the Twins, you can argue that the five worst teams in baseball played in the NL (Reds, Braves, Diamondbacks, and Brewers).

Can the Indians pull it off?  Of course, but the bats need to wake up.  You can’t expect the pitching staff to continue to perform as they have thus far in the playoffs.

MW

 

Tribe Goes To Series, Thankfully It Didn’t Take 41 Years Again.

For just the sixth time in franchise history, which spans 116 seasons, the Cleveland Indians are American League Champions!

For most of our life, at the beginning of baseball season, we would buy the Street and Smith’s Baseball Issue, and look at the composite World Series standings.

Every year, it would show Cleveland:  2 wins, 1 loss.

In those days, and we are talking the 1960’s, 70’s, and 80’s, we wondered what it would be like to get to the Fall Classic and change those numbers.

Then came the 90’s and Jacobs Field, and the Tribe got to two Series in three seasons, but they couldn’t get it done.

The composite standings changed to Cleveland:  2 wins, 3 losses, and will have stayed that way until the end of this year’s World Series.

It been 19 years since the heart breaking loss to the Florida Marlins in the seventh game.  However, for fans of our generation, it is pretty damn cool that the Indians will be in their third Fall Classic in the last 21 years.

That may sound odd, but when you go 41 years between appearances in the Series, not having to go through another drought that long is great.

And although the players celebrated the six pennant in club history with gusto, to a man, and not surprisingly, they know they haven’t accomplished anything yet.

Terry Francona all but clinched a spot in the Hall of Fame as a manager, winning his third American League title, and doing it with two teams.

He did it losing two key pieces of his starting rotation, the strength of the team coming into the season, in September.  He lost another starter to a drone injury just prior to the first game of the League Championship Series.

Tito did it because he managed unconventionally, particularly with the use of his bullpen, although part of that is due to the unselfish nature of the LCS MVP Andrew Miller and the Tribe’s closer Cody Allen.

Both told the skipper to use them whenever he needed them, and that speaks to the ultimate trust the players have in their manager.

The Tribe doesn’t have the big names of the Red Sox and Blue Jays, the two teams they defeated to get to the Series, nor are they known nationally like many players on the Cubs and Dodgers, the two teams who are playing to face Cleveland next week.

It was fitting that Miller mentioned Francisco Lindor after game one, saying he deserves more notice nationally than he’s been getting.  The young Tribe shortstop is one of the up and coming stars in the sport.

And speaking of Miller, the best deadline trade acquisition we can think of in recent years, we wonder if the man who used to run the Indians, current Blue Jays’ president Mark Shapiro, would have pulled the trigger on getting the big lefty.

Our guess is he wouldn’t have, because he never had made a move that big.  Perhaps that’s due to the barren nature of the Cleveland farm system (which falls at Shapiro’s feet), but it doesn’t feel like Miller would be an Indian.

Which leads us to a tip of the hat to president Chris Antonetti and GM Mike Chernoff.  Besides Miller, they went out and got Brandon Guyer (three hits in ALDS Game 2), and Coco Crisp, who has been all over the post-season, including homers in both clinch games and a great catch in game three of the LCS.

So, this team, which has overcome injuries to perhaps its best player coming into the year in Michael Brantley, their starting catcher in Yan Gomes, and the aforementioned two starters, needs to win four more games to break its own 68 year world title drought.

It will no doubt be difficult, but we wouldn’t bet again another title for the Cleveland area, just four months after the Cavs broke the 52 year span without one.

MW

Tribe Wise To Wait On Inking Napoli, Davis

The Cleveland Indians are sitting pretty on top of the American League Central Division with a record of 66-48, five games ahead of the Detroit Tigers.

Two big reasons for their success offensively have been the players they signed to one year contracts over the off-season, Mike Napoli and Rajai Davis.

Napoli has provided the right-handed hitting slugger the franchise has needed for years, and to date has belted 29 homers and knocked in 83 runs with an OPS of 875.  The home runs and RBIs rank in the top ten in the AL.

Davis, at 35 years of age, currently leads the junior circuit in stolen bases with 31, and has led the Tribe’s aggressive base running style which started on Opening Day.  Davis has also contributed a career high in HRs with 10 this season.

The Indians’ success has fans excited and rightfully so, but talk of extensions for both players should be responded too by hitting the brakes just a bit.

First of all, remember how the Tribe acquired both players.  They took one year contracts for a reason, because they were both coming off down years.

Napoli hit just .224 a year ago, with 18 HR and 50 RBI and a 734 OPS splitting time between the Red Sox and Rangers.  His last season, prior to 2016, where he has an OPS of over 800 was 2013, when he hit 23 dingers and knocked in 92 runs for the World Series Champions.

Players who have career bests in home runs and runs batted in at age 34, don’t usually repeat those numbers going forward.

We understand that Napoli has been a great guy in the clubhouse and has become a fan favorite with his “Party At Napoli’s” t-shirts.  But the front office’s job is too make an honest evaluation of what the slugger can do in the future, and how long he can do it.

Davis is a different case in that he did have a career renaissance in Detroit in 2014 and 2015.  He had an OPS under 700 from 2010 to 2013 in Oakland and Toronto before signing with the Tigers, where his numbers picked up mostly as a result of Comerica Park, where he flourished.

We were skeptical as to how he would perform at Progressive Field, but he is putting some similar numbers with Cleveland, and leads the league in steals at age 35.

Look, it is great that fans feel connected to this current Tribe roster, and that Napoli and Davis have contributed greatly to this team’s success.

And it’s not as though we don’t want them back.  However, remember the problems this organization had giving Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn multi-year deals?

If either player or both would sign one year contracts over the winter, it would be easy for Chris Antonetti and Mike Chernoff to say yes.

Our guess is that some team will offer Napoli a three year contract at over $10 million per year, and that’s something the Indians need to stay away from.

It’s more likely Davis could be back on a one year deal because he’s more of a platoon player.

Fans shouldn’t forget that the Tribe’s three best position players are Francisco Lindor (22), Jason Kipnis (29), and Jose Ramirez (23).  And those guys will be here for awhile.

Our opinion is it is more likely the front office will be looking at guys similar to Napoli and Davis who will take a one year deal for 2017.

There’s no such thing as a bad one year contract.

We love Napoli and Davis and how they have impacted this roster.  But the front office has to remember the sins of the past.  And those sins are named Swisher and Bourn.

MW

Tribe Is Next Cleveland Team To Go “All In”

Edited to reflect Jonathan Lucroy voiding the deal to Cleveland

After the Cavaliers broke the drought for titles in Cleveland, we joked about how there is a new world order for sports.

That was never more evident than the past 12 hours when the Indians, yes, the Cleveland Indians, looked at the landscape around baseball, looked at their roster, and said we are going to try to go to the World Series and win it for the first time since 1948.

President Chris Antonetti and GM Mike Chernoff traded from their now deep farm system, and received the probably the best position player available and also the best relief pitcher on the market in catcher Jonathan Lucroy and southpaw Andrew Miller.

We have been harping about the Cleveland bullpen since the beginning of the season, and Miller, because he is signed through 2018, was the best bullpen arm on the market.

Since Miller became a reliever with the Red Sox in 2012, his highest ERA has been 3.35, and in his year and a half as a Yankee, he has struck out 177 batters in 107 innings pitched.

And he saved 36 games for New York a year ago.

Terry Francona should have no more worries when guys like David Ortiz, Eric Hosmer, etc. come to the plate in a late game situation any more.  He has the best lefty bullpen arm in the game at his disposal.

Our guess is Tito will use Miller and Cody Allen as “co-closers”, meaning if there are tough lefty matchups in the 8th, Miller will pitch, and if there are tough right-handed hitters, Allen will go first.

That will move Bryan Shaw to the 7th, which puts less of  a burden on one of the best starting rotations in the game.

And in the post-season, it could be invaluable as we’ve seen with the Royals the past two seasons.

There is no question the Indians gave up a lot of promising young players, but every single one of them hasn’t done a thing at the big league level.

And the Tribe dealt from strength.  Clint Frazier is the player we wanted to part with least, but we figured either him or Brad Zimmer would have to go for Lucroy.

Justus Sheffield is a prime arm, but the Tribe didn’t give up Mike Clevinger, and still has Adam Plutko and Cody Anderson to help the rotation if need be.

Cleveland has a plethora of bullpen arms in the minors too.

Even though the deal with Milwaukee fell through, it shows the front office realizes the catching spot is a source of concern, and they are willing to do something about it.

They also understand the need for another quality bat to lengthen the lineup and compete with the Bostons, Torontos, Texas, and Detroits of the league.

Our guess is that Antonetti and Chernoff address both spots before 4 PM Monday afternoon.

The Indians want to get back to the World Series for the first time in 19 seasons.  They are probably the favorite right now to do just that.

MW