Reviewing The Tribe So Far

It’s hard to believe, but the Indians 3-2 win over Detroit on Wednesday means the ballclub has completed 1/6th of the season.

Their record is 15-12 which doesn’t sound very impressive, but over a complete 162 game season, winning at that pace computes to a 90 win season.

Terry Francona’s club has been a little inconsistent, but it does say a lot about this baseball team that they have a winning record despite only one phase of the team, the bullpen, performing up to expectations.

The offense ranks just 7th in the American League in runs scored (they were 2nd last year), and they have scored three runs or less in 14 games to date, more than half of the schedule.  They are 4-10 in those games.

This means when they get to four runs, they are virtually unbeatable at 11-2.

Why has the offense struggled?

Edwin Encarnacion is off to a slow start at .198 with 4 HR and 10 RBI (667 OPS).  This is his history, so we aren’t concerned about that.  His lowest numbers in his career by month are in April.

What is concerning is his strikeouts.  Encarnacion has struck out 39 times in 118 plate appearances, well above the normal rate for his career.

We believe he is just trying to justify his new, hefty contract, and once the weather gets warmer and he relaxes, he will be fine.

Carlos Santana is also off to a slow start, with a 663 OPS and only 2 home runs.  He does continue to take his walks with 17 compared to 13 strikeouts.  The walks rank second to Encarnacion.

Jason Kipnis didn’t get many at bats in spring training, and it has shown, as he is hitting just .132.  Perhaps he would have benefited from an extra week in the minors for rehab.

On the other hand, the two youngsters in the batting order, Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez are raking.

Lindor is taking his place as one of the game’s new stars, adding power with 7 homers, 17 RBIs and a 976 OPS.

Ramirez is showing his 2016 season was not a fluke (we didn’t think it was), batting .323 with a 986 OPS and a team leading 23 RBIs, tied for 4th in the American League.

The starting pitching has also been up and down.  Corey Kluber is now on the disabled list with lower back tightness, and has an ERA of 5.06.  He’s pitched some very good games, but has also had clinkers.

Carlos Carrasco has been the best starter, with a 2.18 ERA and allowing only 26 hits in 41 innings.  If Danny Salazar can get past the first inning he has been solid as well.

However, Josh Tomlin hasn’t pitched like he did in the post-season last year (currently an 8.87 ERA) and Trevor Bauer has had only one start where he allowed less than four runs.

Still, if you remove his two starts vs. Detroit, his ERA is 5.00.

The bullpen has been the strength of the team to this point.

The combination of Cody Allen and Andrew Miller has been spectacular.  In 24-2/3 combined innings, they have struck out 42 batters, and allowing just one run.

Bryan Shaw continues to be a workhorse and has been effective, but newcomer Nick Goody has impressed as well.

Acquired from the Yankees over the winter, he has thrown nine scoreless frames, allowing just two hits.  He seems to have moved ahead of Zack McAllister in the bullpen pecking order.

The offense will get more consistent and so will the starting pitching, so you have to be very satisfied with the Tribe’s start to the 2017 season.

There is nothing to change our mind that this edition of the Indians will win the American League Central Division.



Lindor-Ramirez Combo Bodes Well For Tribe’s Future

We started saying this last season, but one of the best things about the Cleveland Indians is their best players are 23 years old (Francisco Lindor) and 24 years old (Jose Ramirez).

Although everyone recognizes the talent of Lindor, who is not only the Tribe’s best players, he is one of the games’ premier players.  But including Ramirez could be construed as controversial, seeing that many people in media still consider him a utility player.

That’s despite the fact that the switch-hitter collected 565 at bats last season.  He is an everyday player, it’s just that he played two different positions, starting the season in leftfield, before shifting to third base when Cleveland released Jose Uribe.

There is no question that Terry Francona is managing a very talented roster, with many players having made All Star Game appearances.

Having a team with Michael Brantley, Jason Kipnis, Edwin Encarnacion, Corey Kluber, Danny Salazar on it is a good start, but add in Carlos Santana, Cody Allen, and you can see why the Indians are the favorite to defend their American League Central Divison title.

But the young duo of Lindor and Ramirez are arguably the stars of the team.

We all know Lindor’s pedigree.  He was a first round draft pick and the organization’s top prospect from the minute he signed his professional contract.

He quickly rose up the list of top 100 prospects in minor league baseball, finally arriving in the top 10 in 2015, when he was (finally) called up to the Indians in June 2015.

Ramirez was never ranked as a top prospect, despite consistently being one of the youngest players in each minor league he participated in.  People forget he was just 20 years old when he arrived in the big leagues in 2013, primarily to serve as a pinch-runner for the playoff push.

Perhaps if he was drafted and not an international free agent signing, he would have received more love from the people who cover prospects.

Check out these minor league numbers:

Player A:  .279 batting average  354/384/738
Player B:  .304 batting average  355/411/766

You may be surprised that the player with the better minor league hitting numbers is Ramirez.  That’s why we shake our heads at the thought that his hitting in 2016 could somehow be an aberration.

His minor league statistics show the man can hit.

Ramirez is probably the best defensive second baseman on the club too, but we understand Kipnis’ position on the team, and that Francona is loathe to move an established player out of his spot.

Remember that because of the duo’s ages, they should get nothing but better over the next four to five seasons.  We are already seeing the pair developing power, with both having four home runs in the first 14 games this season.

We can easily envision both being 20+ homer guys, perhaps as soon as 2017.

It struck us the other night what a great era for sports our area is having.  We get to see LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love on a nightly basis on the basketball court.

And right next door, at Progressive Field, we see Kluber, Miller, and two of the game’s best young and up and coming stars in Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez.

We can’t wait to see what kind of players they will be in two or three years, because they are certainly special right now.





Who Plays Second For A Few Weeks?

A few days ago, the Cleveland Indians announced 2B Jason Kipnis was about 4-5 weeks away from returning to the lineup.

First off, many people went crazy thinking Kipnis wasn’t going to be able to do anything for 4-5 weeks, meaning his return to the lineup would be about two months away.  Apparently, those people didn’t read correctly.

However, it does mean that the second baseman will miss most, if not all, of the first month of the season, so Terry Francona has to find someone to partner with Francisco Lindor as the team’s keystone combination.

It is not a coincidence that when the amount of time became specified by the Cleveland training staff, we started seeing Jose Ramirez playing in place of Kipnis.

Our guess is if Kipnis was going to miss a couple of weeks of the regular season, Francona would have went with a mixture of Michael Martinez and Erik Gonzalez at second, and left Ramirez at the hot corner, where he played so well in the second half of 2016.

But when it appeared to be a full month, he felt it necessary to move Ramirez back to his natural position, and use find someone else to play third.

In his heart of hearts, Tito probably knows Ramirez is stronger defensively than Kipnis, and a double play combination of Lindor and Ramirez could be among the best in the league.

What to do at 3B?  The primary candidates are Giovanny Urshela who is very good with the glove, but his hitting is questionable because he doesn’t handle the strike zone.

Then you have Yandy Diaz, who looks to be ready with the bat, hitting over .300 combined at Akron and Columbus last year.  The brass seems to be very concerned about his glove, although the defensive metrics show he is solid at third.

A dark horse would be Richie Shaffer, who spent the winter bouncing from team to team, but has made some changes in his swing and approach which has caused his power to spike.

Both Diaz and Shaffer would have to be added to the 40 man roster.

Urshela would be the safe pick, but remember the Indians are in a different situation than in the past.  They are the defending American League champions, they aren’t a contending team anymore, so they should be making decisions to win right now.

We have heard people say Diaz shouldn’t get the nod because they don’t want his service time to be an issue.

This was an issue in 2015 with Francisco Lindor, but the Indians weren’t the top dog in the league at that time.  Of course, the failure to bring him up sooner than June 14th may have cost the Tribe a spot in the playoffs.

But Diaz is 25 (Lindor was 21), so when he does become eligible for free agency, he will be 32 years old, past his prime years.

Our belief is to go with the offense, which means giving Diaz the job.  If you have the lead after six innings, then go to Gonzalez or Martinez, whoever wins the utility man job, for defense.

It’s great news that Kipnis should only miss a month, but they have some options to fill in for him until he’s ready to go.


Tribe Injuries Cause Fans Angst

With the Cleveland Indians winning the American League championship in 2016, expectations in northeast Ohio are as high as can be.

With these expectations come the worry that sports fans in this area are famous for.  That angst popped up for Tribe fans at the end of last week when both 2B Jason Kipnis and starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco were reported to be injured.

Kipnis is dealing with pain in his shoulder area and will sit for two weeks before trying to play again.  Skipper Terry Francona said this will put Kipnis on the disabled list for the season opener in Texas.

Compounding the concern on Kipnis is Michael Brantley’s injury.  Brantley suffered a torn labrum diving for a flyball in September 2015, and missed virtually all of 2016 with the problem and later developed tricep tendonitis.

So, of course, since Brantley missed most of last year, fans and media alike extrapolate that Kipnis will miss a significant amount of time.

Now, we don’t know the Kipnis’ ailment is minor, but Francona did say Kipnis could DH right now, and could play second too, but the team is taking a precaution.  Obviously, it is better for Kipnis to miss the first couple of weeks of the regular season rather than miss a month later.

What is puzzling is the Tribe’s solution to the problem.  To most, the obvious move is to put Jose Ramirez back to his natural position, and use someone else (Giovanny Urshela, Yandy Diaz, etc.) at the hot corner.

However, it seems Tito wants to keep Ramirez at third, and play a combination of Erik Gonzalez, Michael Martinez and others at second.

We understand Francona loves Martinez and values his glove, but the guy is arguably the worst hitter in the majors (his career OPS is 507), so you can’t put him in the lineup on a regular basis.

We would love to see Diaz get the first shot.  He’s been a .300 hitter in the minors (854 OPS in ’16) and reports out of Goodyear say he seems like he’s one of those guys who could fall out of bad and hit a line drive.

Urshela has a very good glove, but didn’t hit (608 OPS) in his brief shot in 2015.  However, he was called up before spending a full season in AAA, and remember, he wasn’t regarded as a top ten prospect in the organization.

Carrasco’s elbow showed some swelling after a lackluster start on Wednesday, and Francona said he will miss a start.

If he has to miss some time, Mike Clevinger should be the choice to replace him, although in the beginning of the year with off days, his absence could be minimized.

Clevinger started some games a year ago, and made the post-season roster, and the front office has slotted him for the “sixth” starter role anyway.  It just may be those spot starts come in April instead of the middle of summer.

Carrasco’s elbow didn’t show any structural damage, so hopefully it’s just some inflammation and he will be fine with some rest.

While no team wants injuries, and the Indians are no exception, having players miss some time early in the year, when the schedule has some off days, is better than being out later in the year, as the Indians found out when Carrasco and Danny Salazar missed time in the playoffs.

Fans should try to relax a little and hopefully the injuries to Kipnis and Carrasco won’t result in a lot of time being missed.

Remember though, the Indians overcame Brantley’s injury a year ago to win the AL Central Division, and the starting rotation’s hurts didn’t stop them from making the World Series.




Time For Tribe Bats To Awaken

There is no question the pitching staff has carried the Cleveland Indians in this year’s run to the World Series.

The Tribe has played ten post-season games to date, and they’ve allowed just 20 runs.  Even the most challenged person, mathematically speaking, knows that’s just two runs per contest.

Corey Kluber, Andrew Miller, Cody Allen, and Josh Tomlin have been very stingy in allowing opponents to cross home plate.

With the World Series tied at one game apiece and no heading to Chicago, it’s time for the hitting, and there is no question the Indians’ bats are slumbering, to pick up their end of the heavy lifting.

In those same 10 games, Cleveland has scored only 34 runs, well below their average of 4.83 runs per contest in the regular season.

Yes, we know that the pitching is better in the post-season, and naturally teams will score less runs in the playoffs, but when you consider that 12 of those runs were scored in two games (ALDS Game 2 and World Series Game 1), it is another indication the bats are really struggling.

That means in the other eight games, the Tribe is averaging less than three runs a night.  Based on that statistic, it is kind of miraculous that the Indians have won six of those games and have won the American League pennant.

Besides Francisco Lindor, who has batted .342 with 2 homers since the regular season ended, and Brandon Guyer (4 for 11 in his platoon role), and rest of the hitters have struggled.

Leadoff hitter Carlos Santana has only 5 hits in 35 at bats.  He has walked four times, giving him an on base percentage of just .250.  The #2 hitter, Jason Kipnis, is batting .154 with just three extra base hits in the playoffs.

Cleanup hitter Mike Napoli nudged himself over the “Mendoza line” with two hits last night, but he has only one homer in the 10 games and is striking out in over one-third of his at bats (12 whiffs in 34 ABs).

World Series Game 1 hero Roberto Perez has been feast or famine.  He’s hitting just .200 (6 for 30), but does have four extra base hits and a team leading six RBIs, although three of those came on his three run blast in the 8th inning of that game.

The only other consistent batter outside of Lindor has been Jose Ramirez, and even he struggled throughout the Toronto series.

The offense does have 13 home runs in the playoffs, but they have only mustered 13 other extra base hits in the ten games, all of them doubles.

Rookie Tyler Naquin has continued his struggles, going 3 for 18 with 11 whiffs, but who do you replace him with?  His platoon partner, Rajai Davis is just 1 for 19 and hasn’t really hit since the middle of September.

If Davis were swinging the bat well, it would make sense for Terry Francona to replace the rookie, but right now, why make the move?

The Indians have just four hitters with an OPS over 700 in the playoffs (Lindor, Guyer, Perez, and Coco Crisp).

There is talk about Santana playing LF in Wrigley Field, but at this point, that has to be Tito hoping he will get hot, because he hasn’t hit so far.

Playoff games are supposed to be tight contests, but right now, it feels like if the Indians fall behind in a game, then it’s over.  At some point in this World Series, the bats will be needed to win a game.  Heck, the Cubs only scored five last night, an offensive output like Game 1 would have won that game too.

It’s time for the hitters for the Cleveland Indians to join the party, whether it’s at Napoli’s or at Wrigley Field.



Tribe, Tito Exact Revenge

It was a tough series for sure, and last night’s game was a nail biter, but the Cleveland Indians swept the Boston Red Sox in the American League Division Series with a 4-3 victory and advanced to the AL Championship Series starting Friday night.

The Red Sox came into the series with all the hype and the whole David Ortiz is retiring thing, but it was the largely unknown Tribe that won the series.

That three of the principal heroes in the clincher were Josh Tomlin, Tyler Naquin, and Coco Crisp tells you a lot about this group of Indians, led by their manager Terry Francona.

Certainly, Cleveland got incredible pitching mostly from Corey Kluber in game two, and Andrew Miller and Cody Allen (despite last night’s nervous performance) out of the bullpen, as they held down the highest scoring team in the American League to just seven runs in the three games.

But you can’t overlook the performances of Trevor Bauer and Tomlin, who put the bullpen in a situation to win the first and last games.

But look at the offensive heroes in each of the games.  Roberto Perez, the back up catcher going into the season, and a guy who missed two and a half months with a thumb injury was a star in the first game.

In game two, Lonnie Chisenhall, who normally wouldn’t have played against Red Sox lefty David Price because of the platoon advantage, had the game’s biggest hit, a three run homer in the second.

And don’t forget Brandon Guyer, acquired from Tampa Bay at the trade deadline because of his ability to hit southpaws, chipped in with three hits in the middle game.

Last night, it was Naquin, who has struggled since September 1st, putting Cleveland in front with a two run single, and Crisp, picked up at the end of August, belting a two run homer over the Green Monster.

Jason Kipnis and Jose Ramirez made major impacts, but the Tribe overcame pedestrian performances from Carlos Santana, Frankie Lindor, and Mike Napoli to advance.

We hate to talk about perfection, because there were subtle things that could have been changed, but Francona pushed seemingly all of the right buttons in the series.  When his team got the lead, he managed as if it were the seventh game of the series.

And that’s the way it should be in the post-season.

Francona has to be secretly be smiling today, and that grin would be directed at the Red Sox’ ownership who dumped him in 2011 after a late season collapse.

If you listened to the press conferences for the ALDS, when Tito was asked about the good, young Boston players like Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts, he mentioned it was a tribute to former Sox GM Ben Cherington, also fired by the ownership.

That was Francona getting a little dig in.

The skipper showed he can still motivate a team and push the correct buttons in a post-season series.

We also found it funny that the Boston media questioned the Cleveland manager at times like he was still managing the team that plays at Fenway Park.

So, in a day or two, there will be four teams remaining in Major League Baseball, and the Cleveland Indians are one of them.

To paraphrase Tom Hamilton, Cleveland’s “October to Remember” will continue.


Tribe Offense Has Been Big Surprise Due To Long Ball

Without a doubt, the biggest surprise for the Cleveland Indians this season has been the offense.

Everyone expected the pitching staff to excel, based on the Tribe having the best rotation in the American League, and perhaps the best in all of baseball.  The bullpen could use some help, but for the most part, Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen have done a solid job in the back of the ‘pen.

They haven’t disappointed either, as the staff has the lowest ERA in the AL.

There were many who expected the offense to struggle, and had those who thought this known that Michael Brantley was going to play in just 11 of Cleveland’s first 94 games, it would’ve have been felt it was too much for the pitching staff to overcome.

The reason for the surprise is simply this–the Tribe has found the long ball.

Last season, the Indians finished 13th in the American League in home runs, led by Carlos Santana with 19.

Only four other Indians hit more than 10 dingers:  Brantley and Brandon Moss (traded in July) hit 15, and Yan Gomes and Francisco Lindor hit a dozen each.

That’s it.

Turn the calendar to 2016, and things are drastically different.

The Indians are 5th in the junior circuit in home runs and the power is dispersed throughout the lineup.

You have Mike Napoli leading the way with 22 bombs, waging a seemingly day to day battle with Carlos Santana for the club lead.  The latter has already topped his ’15 total by belting 21 homers this season.

Jason Kipnis is closing in on his career high of 17 home runs, and his next one will tie that mark.  And Lindor and rookie surprise Tyler Naquin have each hit 12 circuit clouts.

Rajai Davis is poised to join the double figure club sitting at nine, and Juan Uribe and Lonnie Chisenhall should also hit more than 10 before the year is out.

Last season, the champion Royals based their offense on an up and down the lineup attack which featured six players with OPS of over 800 in their lineup.

The 2015 Indians had just three in Kipnis, Brantley, and Lindor, who didn’t join the team until the middle of June.  Against left-handed pitchers, Ryan Raburn was added to the lineup.

That’s why the offense sputtered.  There were too many inconsistencies in the hitting on a night to night basis.

This year, it’s the Indians who have the ability to keep pressure on the opponent’s pitchers throughout the lineup.  Napoli, Kipnis, Lindor, Naquin, Chisenhall, and Santana all exceed 800 OPS.

That’s a solid lineup that Terry Francona puts out there every day.

We also shouldn’t lose the fact that runs scored are up around baseball this year, and it does make teams with good pitching stand out.  When run scoring is down in the sport, everyone has good pitching numbers.

It gives the Tribe a bigger advantage against the teams they are competing with in the American League and throughout baseball.

Still, it wouldn’t hurt to add another bat before next Sunday.  There is nothing wrong with making a strong unit even stronger.

The Indians need bullpen help, so they are looking to make their pitching better, so why not make the hitting better as well.

With a seven game lead in the division, the goal isn’t making the playoffs, it should be giving the Tribe the best chance it can have to win the World Series.

That’s a realistic goal.  Right now!



Does Tribe Need To Exercise More Patience With Injuries?

We were hoping against hope that Michael Brantley’s shoulder was fine when he was activated from the disabled list at the end of April.

Unfortunately, history was not on our side.

When Brantley came back, manager Terry Francona said the outfielder would play two days in a row, then get a day off.  This course of action was followed until the Detroit series last week, when the skipper wrote Brantley’s name in the lineup four straight days and in five of the six games on the homestand.

It was after the plan was altered that soreness we appeared in Dr. Smooth’s shoulder, which resulted in putting him back on the disabled list yesterday.

Again, we were hoping that Brantley recovered sufficiently from his surgery to allow him to have a normal season, but recent history should have taught us something different.

In 2014, Jason Kipnis pulled an oblique muscle on April 29th.  He was coming off his first All-Star Game appearance in 2013, and although his batting average wasn’t great at that time (.239) he had an OPS of 763, thanks to a .360 on base percentage.

The second baseman made it back to the lineup on May 28th, and struggled for the most part the rest of the season.

The highest his batting average hit the rest of the year was .261 (his career mark is .272) and he wound up hitting just .240, with 6 HR and 41 RBI.  He knocked in his last run of the season on August 29th.

And yes, he did play regularly in September.

Yan Gomes was coming off a year where he won a Silver Slugger Award as the best hitting catcher in the American League when he injured his knee on April 11th.

Gomes was struggling at the plate to that point in the season, but the campaign was only five games old.

The catcher returned to the lineup on May 24th, didn’t hit a home run until his 10th game back, and wound up hitting just .231 for the season with 12 HR, a drop from 21 the year prior.

His numbers prior to the All Star Game were 234/327/560, while after the break, they were closer to his career norms at 289/435/725.

Were both players rushed back too soon?

First, we are sure both players said they were ready.  We do not think the Indians’ front office and training staff pressured either Kipnis, Gomes, or Brantley to get back in the lineup.

All three are the team’s leaders, and probably feel obligated as leaders to get back on the field.

Since those players are keys to the Indians’ offense, having them out there at less than 100%, or let’s say 80% doesn’t allow them to hit like they normally do, and that creates even a bigger burden on the ballclub.

Wouldn’t it be better to have them take an extra two weeks to get even more rehab and more healthy before putting them right back in the starting lineup?

Let’s say the Tribe waited an extra couple of weeks with Brantley, had him get more at bats in minor league games and activated him on May 15th (today).  Could he play the rest of the year like Michael Brantley?  And wouldn’t the Indians be better off if he could?

We will never know, but it behooves the organization to get the leftfielder back to 100% when he does return, because his bat is so important to the team.

They say those who don’t learn from history are destined to repeat it.  The Indians aren’t learning from the mistakes of the past.



Will Tribe’s Strengths Override Weaknesses

We remember reading Bill James’ Baseball Abstracts in the late 70’s and early 80’s, and his essays about the Montreal Expos, a talented team that just couldn’t get over the hump and win the division.

If we recall correctly, James’ theory was that even though the Expos had some great players like Gary Carter, Tim Raines, Andre Dawson, Tim Wallach, and Warren Cromartie, all near the top at their positions in the major leagues, the team was weighed down by the spots where they didn’t have great players.

The Cleveland Indians remind me of those Expo teams right now.

The Tribe has some of the best players in the game at their respective positions:  Michael Brantley and Francisco Lindor were both ranked by MLB Network’s Shredder as the best left fielder and shortstop, respectively.

And Jason Kipnis and Yan Gomes are among the best second basemen and catchers in baseball too.

In fact, the network had five Indians among the game’s Top 100 Players Right Now:  Brantley, Corey Kluber, Kipnis, Lindor, and Carlos Carrasco.

That’s a good place to start for any team.  The hope is the weaknesses at the other positions don’t drag the Indians’ win-loss record down.

Without Brantley, it is well documented that Terry Francona has a lot of question marks to deal with in his outfield.  Since Abraham Almonte was suspended, and he isn’t a great answer to any question either, the starting OF looks like Lonnie Chisenhall in RF, Rajai Davis somewhere, and the other spot is wide open.

And outside of prospect Tyler Naquin, the upside for Joey Butler, Shane Robinson, Robbie Grossman, and/or Collin Cowgill isn’t exactly awe inspiring either.

At the infield corners, the Tribe is going with veterans on the wrong side of 30 years old in Mike Napoli and Juan Uribe.  Both have been productive recently, so it’s not exactly a huge risk, but neither is it etched in stone that these two will be productive.

The bedrock of this team is it’s outstanding starting pitching.  But the question that most national pundits have is did the front office get enough offense to take real advantage of arguably the best rotation in the American League.

Look, because of their arms, the Tribe is going to be in most games barring an injury or two.  Kluber, Carrasco, Danny Salazar, and Trevor Bauer give you a chance to win every night, and Cody Anderson and Josh Tomlin aren’t bad either.

However, we’ve seen what the Indians record over the years is when scoring three or fewer runs per game, even with this pitching staff:

2015  18-61
2014  25-56
2013  17-53
2012  16-63

In the last four years, the trend has been an offense scoring three runs or less in about half the Tribe’s games.

Imagine how good this ballclub would be with a consistent and more potent batting attack?

They would be the team to beat in the American League, and perhaps all of baseball.

The front office is also fortunate they don’t have to pay a king’s ransom for that rotation right now.  Kluber, Carrasco and Tomlin are under affordable contracts, and the rest of the hurlers are under club control.

The story of this season is will the weaknesses in the outfield and the possible age on the corner infield outweigh all of the good things the franchise has going for it.

Or can the talented players on the Cleveland roster make up for the weaknesses.




Here’s Hoping For A Change in Attitude For Tribe

Now that the 2015 season has ended, the change at the top is official for the Cleveland Indians.

Team president Mark Shapiro is gone, and there will be a new top baseball man at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario.

Rumors have circulated that GM Chris Antonetti may be elevated to President of Baseball Operations, with current assistant GM Mike Chernoff being moved up into Antonetti’s old spot.

We hope this signals more changes in the wigwam, as Antonetti will be free to implement has own vision of a baseball team, which may or may not be the same as the man who went north to Toronto.

We would like to see a change in attitude within the organization, one that could get the city excited about the Tribe once again.

Shapiro talked a lot, even in his appearance in the broadcast booths on Sunday, about the market inequities within the game of baseball, and making sure everyone knew the Indians didn’t have the same revenues as big market teams.

Why not change the culture from that “woe is us” message?

Instead, embrace the small market challenge.  Adopt an attitude of not caring if we can’t afford a huge payroll, we are going to beat the big boys anyway.

The Tribe in recent years seem to want to be everyone’s favorite little brother, not wanting to challenge other teams, the umpires, or players who seem to beat them time and time again (see Cabrera, Miguel).

This attitude should permeate from the front office, to the manager and coaches, right down to the players.

Danny Salazar shouldn’t be scolded by Terry Francona for being upset that the plate umpire squeezed him against Minnesota a couple of weeks ago, instead, why not go out there and tell the man in blue that this was a post-season race and he missed a call badly.

Do you know who holds the major league record for ejections in a managerial career?  Atlanta’s Bobby Cox who was constantly battling for his players.

This isn’t to say Francona doesn’t.  He is a great player’s manager, and the 2015 Tribe fought to the bitter end for him.

Other things we’d like to see…

**How about trying Jose Ramirez in CF?  Abraham Almonte looks like a 4th outfielder, and he could be a solid one, but Ramirez has the look of a guy who can play everyday, and is blocked by Jason Kipnis at 2B.

The switch-hitter just turned 23, puts his bat on the ball, and has the speed needed to play in the middle of the diamond.  Putting him there would eliminate one hole for Antonetti this winter.

**It is doubtful that the Indians will be able to trade for a middle of the order bat, but what about Michael Brantley there?  Brantley is a professional hitter, and if healthy next year, should hit for more power.

If Ramirez plays everyday, a top of the order including Francisco Lindor, Ramirez, and Jason Kipnis will provide plenty of men on base for Brantley, very good with men in scoring position, to drive home and be the first Indians since Victor Martinez in 2007 to have 100 RBIs.

Jason Kipnis put the pressure on the front office after Sunday’s game by saying the pieces to win are in place.  Now, it’s up to the remodeled front office to be aggressive and finish the job.

With the pitching in this organization, there is no reason not to win in 2016.