Fans Have Excitement and Reservation As Tribe Reports To Camp
Mike B. | On 20, Feb 2012
By Mike Brandyberry
The sun is just beginning to rise in Goodyear, Arizona on the first day of Spring Training. Pitchers and catchers are expected to report today, with position players reporting later this week. But just as the sun begins to rise from the east, so does the anticipation for the 2012 Cleveland Indians’ season. This year is promised to be part of Chris Antonetti’s, “window,” to compete in the division and beyond, however, moves by the Detroit Tigers have some fans wondering just how open is that window.
When you are a small market team trying to compete with the big boys, your margin for error is much smaller and the Tribe finds themselves needing to be near perfect. This winter the Tribe struggled to acquire their much needed bat and may have lost the services of Fausto Carmona for much or all of the season.
Questions are abound on the Tribe, just like every team. Can the Indians catch the Tigers? Who will solidify the back end of the starting rotation? Can the Tribe win with a very left-handed heavy lineup? Last night we participated in a podcast and offered our answers to these questions and more.
Certainly improved health and rebound seasons are needed by several players, but before any of the players take the field, we’ve questioned fans over the last three weeks to get their opinions and gauge excitement before the 2012 season begins.
1) What was your opinion of the team’s offseason?
I was very happy with the offseason personally, I didn’t think they needed to make a big splash like some people did. –Max, Painesville, OH
A bit disappointing to see other clubs adding big ticket bats, while we can’t compete for big free agents. I don’t feel like the offense got any better, so I’m wondering how we are going to score runs. –Keith, Broadview Heights, OH
I did not expect much from the offseason and I guess the Indians did not disappoint. The Tribe made all of the “big” moves during the 2011 season trading Alex White and Drew Pomerantz for Ubaldo Jimenez. So the lack of a big move was not surprising. I was surprised that the Indians did not sign Derek Lee to fill the right-handed bat and first base role. Seemed like a great fit. But apparently, Lee wants multiple years, big money, or both. Tell Jermaine Dye hello, Derek. Have fun watching the games with us. –Bob, Cleveland, OH
2) While the Carmona flap made for good headlines, will it really impact the Indians’ season much?
Who is Fausto Carmona? I assume you mean Roberto Hernandez Heredia, the Indians once-good, once-decent, four times-terrible 31 year old hack that they threw out on the mound every fifth day for six long seasons. If the Indians keep him around and have this raincloud hanging over their heads all season it will be a giant distraction and impact the team in a negative way. If he can come back and pitch, I am expecting less than good results. FCRHH has been up and down and down and down his entire career. I’m going to call it a safe bet that he would have another terrible year when he has no spring training or offseason to prepare and will have this weighing on his mind. –Steve, Elyria, OH
The Carmona situation. Really, it won’t affect them. The Kevin Slowey and Derek Lowe trades brought in better depth. The minors still have guys like Jeanmar Gomez, David Huff, and others, to help with the pitching, too. –Austin, Swanton, OH
I feel like this may be a blessing in disguise. Don’t get me wrong, I always love when a player moves his way up through the Indians minor league system and then once he makes it to the show he actually benefits the team and continues to stay with us. That just shows good character in the player, but in Carmona’s case I think we’ve seen the last of his better days. Carmona was a great pitcher in 2007 when we made it to the playoffs, but since then it’s just been a downward spiral of inconsistency and frustration. –Danny, Akron, OH
3) Who are you most looking forward to watching this year?
Ubaldo Jimenez. If you asked most people around Cleveland they would say that the Indians gave up way too much to bring him in. They only might be wrong. Jimenez is the key to the Indians season and without him pitching like a true ace it could be tough for the Tribe to catch the Tigers. –Steve, Elyria, OH
What I really want to see this season is Jimenez pitching and winning against the Central, especially Detroit and Prince Fielder. –Austin, Swanton, OH
I am most looking forward to watching Justin Masterson this season. I honestly think he has a shot at the Cy Young if he stays healthy and his bats help him out a little. I am also interested to see if Grady Sizemore can stay healthy. –Max, Painesville, OH
I’m most looking forward to seeing some breakout years for a bunch of players. Last year we saw Asdrubal Cabrera have the best year of his career, but now I think this year we’re going to see people like Carlos Santana and Michael Brantley have really stellar years. I’m also looking forward to what Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall have in store for the Tribe in their first full season on the team. –Danny, Akron, OH
Jason Kipnis. When he was healthy last year, he was instant excitement in the lineup. I’m also looking forward to seeing a full season of a healthy Ubaldo. –Brandon, Media, OH
I still want to see a healthy Grady Sizemore, if that will ever be possible again. –Keith, Broadview Heights, OH
Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall. Stars of the future for the Tribe’s infield. –Bob, Cleveland, OH
4) What do you think is the key to the Indians having a successful season and winning the Central Division?
The key to the Indians winning the Central Division this year is simple…stay healthy. When healthy I truly believe this is one of the top 5 teams in all of the American League and that all starts with the outfield. When Shin-Soo Choo, Grady, Michael Brantley are healthy they are one of the most dangerous outfields in the league. –Max, Painesville, OH
Starting pitching is the key for the Tribe. If Ubaldo can regain his dominant form and Tomlin and Masterson can have solid years again they have a very solid front end of the rotation. Lowe will be able to eat up big innings and keep them in games. –Brandon, Medina, OH
We have to stay healthy. The season started great last year, but when injuries hit we discovered that we do not have the depth in the lineup to stay competetive. –Keith, Broadview Heights, OH
Starting pitching. If Jimenez, Justin Masterson, Josh Tomlin, Derek Lowe, and combination of Kevin Slowey, Roberto Hernandez Heredia, and/or Jeanmar Gomez pitch well then the Tribe has a shot at winning the division. –Bob, Cleveland, OH
5) Where will the team finish in their division and what are you most excited about for 2012?
The Tigers made such a big splash with signing Prince Fielder that almost everyone is wondering why the Indians are even going to go through the effort of playing ball this summer. A lot of things would have to (and reasonably could) go right for the Indians to win the Central Division. I am most excited to watch the younger players (Kipnis, Canzler, Lonnie Chisenhall, Josh Tomlin, etc.) progress while players like Asdrubal Cabrera, Carlos Santana, Chris Perez and Justin Masterson should only get better. The Indians will need bounce back years from Shin-Soo Choo, Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner if they have any serious thoughts of contending. My best guess is that the Indians will finish in second place behind Detroit, but will be in the race longer than most people think. –Steve, Elyria, OH
I think the Indians have a really good chance of finishing first overall in the division, but if we don’t win the division I don’t think we’ll end up lower than second. The fact that the White Sox butchered their team this offseason and the Twins are still in rebuild mode, I don’t think they’ll be much of contenders this season. The Royals finally have a chance to make some noise in the Central Division and I hope they end up at least third in the Central. I’m just excited to see some more baseball and see some good Indians baseball! –Danny, Akron, OH
To me the division runs through Detroit so I have the Indians finishing 2nd. (Although Victor’s injury will hurt them more than they think since he is such a big part of a team’s chemistry). With the added wild card spots coming this year it will be exciting to have a legitimate shot of bringing playoff baseball back to Cleveland. –Brandon, Medina, OH
87-75. Another exciting season for the Tribe. They improve 7 games, but I think Detroit’s addition of Prince Fielder and their pitching staff means second place for the Wahoos. –Bob, Cleveland, OH
Photo: City of Goodyear