Trying to bring a little common sense to the game of baseball. But considering many of the people who read baseball blogs, I'm probably just pissing into the wind.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Cleveland Indians preview

A slow descent into the abyss and only the Royals keep them from being truly awful. The only bright spot on this team is a guy hoping he can hold on until Free Agency. A roster of leftovers and afterthoughts doesn’t provide much hope for the future. It will be a hard fought battle for last place in the division, but this team is well up to the challenge. Bob Hope used to be part owner of the Indians, and if he still did, that would be the only hope they had.


Carlos Santana. A switch hitter who can get on base, he’s shown some power. Not much experience at this level, but he held his own. He’s shown well for the minors, but he’s beyond that now and will have to stick. Neutral defense, he can throw out some runners. How he handles this pitching staff is actually much more important than how he hits.

Upside:  does in the majors what he did in the minors

Downside:  becomes a Victor Martinez clone

Score:  0

First base:

Matt LaPorta. He’s young (25) and could still develop, but it has to be soon. No defense, so he has to hit, and he hasn’t really done that. No average, so he needs to walk and hit homeruns, which he doesn’t do enough of. Choo needs help, and LaPorta needs to be the one to do it. He’ll get the job and probably keep it, but only because there is no one else.

Upside:  starts hitting homeruns

Downside:  can Travis Hafner play first?

Score:  - 2

Second base:

Orlando Cabrera. For the sake of old time baseball names, Cabrera will hence forth be known as ‘Nomad’. A bad year for him, even by his standards, and he’s not getting younger. He’s slowing down and his defense is getting worse, and that was strength of his game. He would be better suited as a utility infielder, but it won’t happen on this club, unless anyone at all steps up. Keep in mind he’s only played 33 games at second in his career.

Upside:  becomes a utility infielder

Downside:  starts over 100 games

Score:   - 2

Third base:

Jayson Nix. A 28 year old part-timer, he doesn’t hit for average, hit for power, or walk. He doesn’t field particularly well at third base, but can’t play second because of Cabrera. The sad fact is that no one else is good enough to push him off of third. He did tie for second for the team lead with 13 home runs, so more at bats might mean more round trippers. As well as more strikeouts and fly ball outs.

Upside:  someone in the minor leagues is ready to go

Downside:  the Indians have a plan

Score:  - 2

Short stop:

Adrusbal Cabrera. Injuries last year took its toll. His extra base hits dropped, he stopped walking, though he never did much, and his defense is regressing. Playing on a team like this is not a good motivating factor for going out and working harder. He’s young, he’s had good years, and he can come back to what he has done in the past. The question is, can he do it?

Upside:  gets better with age

Downside:  the offense has to rely on him as an important piece of the puzzle

Score:  0

Left field:

Mickey Brantley. For his size, he doesn’t hit for power, and he doesn’t use his speed for extra bases. He doesn’t strike out a lot, but doesn’t walk either. He should be better suited for left field than center, as long as Sizemore is healthy. Not sure what his game will be, but he’ll need to figure it out quickly. If he doesn’t hit, he’ll end up in a platoon with Austin Kearns.

Upside:  figures out what his game is and starts doing it

Downside:  ends up in center field

Score:  - 1


Grady Sizemore. I’ll believe it when I see it. Still in his prime, but injuries are killing his career faster than Rat Race. If he can come back healthy, he can help make the team somewhat respectable. If not, there is no hope. A move to left field might actually help but then who plays center? If he is healthy, he looks to be trade bait by the All-Star game.

Upside:  stays healthy and becomes just like Jim Edmonds

Downside:  Paul Dade, anyone? Paul Dade?

Score:  0

Right field:

Shin-Soo Choo. It’s lonely at the top time. The only, as of now, good player on this team, he can’t carry them by himself. He needs more help, and he needs it soon. A good, all around player, he does everything he needs to. He’s only getting better, and Cleveland fans should be worried. He’s gone by the All-Star game, and hopefully he’ll bring several prospects as they Indians work towards the 2017.

Upside:  has a fast start so he gets traded to a contender early

Downside:  starts getting on base like Barry Bonds

Score:  + 2

Designated hitter:

Travis Hafner. Better than he gets credit for, he’s only had one bad year, and that was due to an injury. He doesn’t hit as many home runs as he did, but he gets fewer at bats. He still gets on base, and can hit doubles, if not homeruns. A healthy year and a weak line up will get him more plate appearances. He’ll put up good numbers, but he’ll also be gone by the break if he does.

Upside:  becomes Jim Thome

Downside:  someone gets hurt and he has to play the field

(I know, I used that for Dunn also, but it still works)

Score:  + 1

Backup catcher:

Lou Marson. His first shot at playing regularly, and his bat didn’t know it, but his glove did. He’s young and can still improve. He’ll get a lot of games spelling Santana and for defensive purposes. Has to hit better to get extended playing time, which would help the team. With his glove, if he’s hits at all, Santana can move to first, and the team gets better.  Can also run a little.

Upside:  learns to hit major league pitching

Downside:  not as funny as Bob Uecker

Score:  0

Backup first baseman:

Shelley Duncan. At least by the depth chart, but I don’t see this lasting. He and LaPorta both hit right handed, and neither one of them do this particularly well. I don’t see him eating up a roster spot. This will most likely be anyone who can hold the position for a day, if LaPorta hits. If not, a new first baseman comes in and LaPorta is the back up.

Upside: they don’t need one

Downside:  Santana has to do it while Marson doesn’t hit

Score:  - 2

Back-up infielder:

Luis Valbuena or Jason Donald. Probably not room for both, but it might have to happen. Donald is the better hitter, while Valbuena is the better fielder. They hit from opposite sides, so there could be room for each. While Adrusbal Cabrera seems to be a lock, no one on the infield is guaranteed of anything. Could be lots of mixing and matching.

Upside:  they get a chance to start and play better than any of the others

Downside:  they get a chance to start and play worse than any of the others

Score:  0

Back-up outfielder:

Trevor Crowe or Austin Kearns. Probably both, but one needs to learn to play first base. Kearns is the better hitter, and is not bad defensively. Crowe is better defensively and switch hits. I think they are both here, and that’s not really a problem. Injuries and lack of production could get both of them lots of playing time, maybe even a platoon. Both have started and could again, especially for this team.

Upside:  Sizemore is healthy and Brantley hits

Downside:  they have too many slots to fill

Score:   + 1

Rotation (front 3):

Fausto Carmona, Justin Masterson, and Jeanmar Gomez. Carmona was okay last year, and really cut down his walks. Masterson is regressing as he pitches more innings, so he needs to break out this year, or face a move to the pen. Gomez didn’t impress anyone last year, and hasn’t been great in the minors. He has a decent strikeout rate, but too many walks. Going to be lots of trouble, and won’t get much run support. I don’t think they can make a difference this year.

Upside:  become league average

Downside:  stay where they are

Score:  - 1

Rotation (back end):

Carlos Carrasco and Josh Tomlin. Some potential. Carrasco can bring some heat, and Tomlin was adequate last year. Neither is poised to become a big time starter, but it wouldn’t matter if they did. They need to eat innings, keep it close, and hope for the best. A move up in the rotation isn’t necessarily a promotion, but it should happen nonetheless.

Upside:  young, and can improve

Downside:  as good as it gets

Score:  - 1


Tony Sipp, Rafael Perez, Joe Smith, Jensen Lewis, and Frank Herman. Remember the three guys that won the 400 meter gold with Jesse Owens? I don’t either, but guess what? It took all four to win. No one will ever know who this bullpen is, but that doesn’t mean they should be ignored. It’s not bad. Too many walks, but a lot of strike outs. Sipp is a closer in the making. They can also go a lot of innings, which they’ll have to. A strength for the team.

Upside:  perform as well with notoriety as they do with anonymity

Downside:  get known for all the wrong reasons

Score:  + 1


Chris Perez. A quality closer, no one will ever know, because he’ll never the chance to save more than 20 games a season. And it’s about the numbers, not how well you pitch. If the starters can get the bullpen a lead, they could win a few games and Perez will help. But he also figures to get a lot of work in non-save situations so he doesn’t spend weeks at a time on the bench. Going to strike out a lot.

Upside:  people will realize that the number of saves doesn’t make a pitcher

Downside:  won’t get very many of them

Score:  + 2

Team speed (which includes base running):

Good. Even had a catcher with 8 stolen bases. Won’t steal a lot of bases, but they should be good on the base paths and get lots of doubles and triples. Range in the field should be good, which will help the pitchers. They won’t hit a lot of homeruns, so every little thing they do is important.

Upside:  helps the offense a lot

Downside:  becomes too much a part of the offense

Score:  + 1

Team defense:

Should be okay, especially up the middle, depending on who is at second. The corners will be trouble, but the outfield will help that. The pitching staff is going to need all the help they can get. The problem is, they can’t hide too many gloves with the bats they have. Defense or offense, the age old question?

Upside:  helps the pitching staff

Downside:  weak offense keeps the gloves on the bench

Score:  + 1

Team batting:

Not a lot of it, and nothing to get excited about. Choo will hit, Hafner should, and Sizemore might. Beyond that, it’s all guess work. Bit players and young guys who haven’t done anything yet. They’re not going to be good, and that’s a problem with the pitching. The waiver wire will be singing before the start of the season.

Upside:  can’t be any worse

Downside:  Sizemore and Hafner can’t continue like they have

Score:  - 2

Team pitching:

Not good, but not terrible. The rotation isn’t going to do anything to help matter. The bullpen will be okay, but only if they are given something to work with. Lots of strikeouts, but lots of walks. Lots of roster moves. The offense won’t do enough to save them, and they won’t be able to save themselves. They have to manage the bullpen well to avoid a complete meltdown.

Upside:  the starters can keep it tied to the fifth

Downside:  the bullpen throws too many innings and loses it effectiveness

Score:  0

Total score:    - 3

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