Friends in New Places – 2014 Edition
Steve Eby | On 14, May 2014
Last May, I drew up a team of former Indians that were still active Major League ballplayers and created an entire lineup, rotation, bullpen and bench out of them. My conclusion at the end of the piece was that the 2013 AL Wild Card winning Tribe had a better squad than a team that was banished to the Cleveland-version of the Island of Misfit Toys.
This year, with the Indians struggling for much of the year and a few new faces to add to the mix, I wanted to see if the 2014 Tribe can defeat their former mates again. The team is based on positional need as well as the player’s statistics from the current year.
1. Scott Kazmir (Athletics) 5-1, 2.28
I wanted Kaz back, but not at the price he cost the A’s. Looks like I might actually be wrong sometimes.
2. Aaron Harang (Braves) 4-3, 2.98
Before you say, “Whoa, whoa, whoa! This guy never pitched for the Indians!” He did in Spring Training this year—and it’s my team—so he counts.
3. Cliff Lee (Phillies) 3-3, 3.64
Third!?!? The stats say so, plus I wanted to be a loser and break up the lefties.
4. Roberto Hernandez (Phillies) 2-1, 4.08
Is this some kind of joke? Is that even really his name?
5. Ubaldo Jimenez (Orioles) 2-4, 4.73
Ubaldo should be embarrassed to be behind the artist-formerly-known-as-Fausto and feel lucky that CC Sabathia is on the DL.
The starting pitching for the current group of Indians has been very strong lately. This group is strong at the top and weak at the bottom. Talent-wise, the former team has an unquestionable edge, but performance in 2014 calls this nearly a wash.
Closer: Hector Rondon (Cubs) 0-1, 1.47, 3 saves
Like Harang, Rondon never actually donned a Tribe uniform except in Spring Training. But, he did spend an eternity in the Indians Minor League system, so he counts too.
Setup #1: Joe Smith (Angels) 2-0, 3.00, 4 saves
I guess it’s good to see Smitty getting a shot as the closer. He’s another one I didn’t mind seeing leave for the money he got.
SU #2: Drew Pomeranz (Athletics) 2-1, 1.45
The former phenom just recently was switched to the starting rotation. I guess there’s a big difference in pitching at Coors Field and in Oakland.
Middle Relief #1: Matt Albers (Astros) 0-0, 0.90, 3 holds
These numbers won’t keep up long.
MR #2: Chris Perez (Dodgers) 0-1, 3.38, 6 holds
When he left Cleveland he asked Josh Gordon to dog-sit for him.
MR #3: Tony Sipp (Astros) 0-0, 0.00
Long Reliever: Daisuke Matsuzaka (Mets) 0-0, 2.63
Another guy who never pitched for the Tribe. Maybe this should be the former Clippers team?
This group is the most improved group over last year’s team. The additions of Smith, Perez and Albers plus the emergence of Pomeranz really strengthened this area of the team. The current group of Wahoo’s doesn’t even have a set closer. The former-team wins the battle of the bullpens.
1. CF Coco Crisp (Athletics) .260/3 HR/11 RBI
Crisp remains at the top of the order for the second year in a row.
2. 2B Brandon Phillips (Reds) .271/2/8
This guy only has eight RBI? Seriously?
3. LF Shin-Soo Choo (Rangers) .328/4/11
Still hitting third—still doing awesome.
4. C Victor Martinez (Tigers) .331/8/22
I know he doesn’t catch anymore, but there is no one else. Seriously. No one. V-Mart has to catch every inning. Kelly Shoppach needs to sign with a team soon.
5. 1B Mark Reynolds (Brewers) .235/8/14
Ahhhh…Hurricane Reynolds. That guy was really good for two months.
6. DH Ryan Ludwick (Reds) .270/2/15
I always thought this guy was going to be really bad. He’s actually had a nice career.
7. SS Jhonny Peralta (Cardinals) .237/8/16
Last year he was better. Last year he hit second. Last year he was on steroids.
8. 3B Jack Hannahan (Reds) .216/1/14
Hannahan is only starting as an injury replacement. Kevin Kouzmanoff was hitting .362 in Texas before going on the DL. He’ll jump right in here when he returns from injury.
9. RF Drew Stubbs (Rockies) .297/2/6
I didn’t really expect Stubbs to win a spot in the starting lineup, but he beats out the rest of the bunch.
This lineup’s not bad. It’s also not great. It also doesn’t have a black hole in the fourth spot in the lineup, so I give a slight edge to this group over the current team.
Luis Valbuena (Cubs) .207/1/7
Versatility overrides talent.
Jayson Nix (Phillies) .154/1/2
Weak bench. He is the only returning member of the bench bunch.
John McDonald (Angels) .273/0/2
How many weak hitting infielders can a team have?
Grady Sizemore (Red Sox) .227/2/11
He may not be as good as he used to be.
This bench is terrible. The options just weren’t there. Once Kouzmanoff comes back, substitute Hannahan for Nix, but it’s still not nearly as good as the current Goon Squad. There is no other catcher to ever play for the Indians anywhere in the league. Advantage: current Indians.
Sabathia, Kouzmanoff, Franklin Gutierrez
John Farrell (Red Sox)
MINOR LEAGUES/CUT LIST:
Alex White (Astros), Jeremy Guthrie (Royals), Esmil Rogers (Blue Jays), Jose Veras (Cubs), David Huff (Giants), Kevin Slowey (Marlins), Jason Grilli (Pirates), Steven Wright (Red Sox), Edward Mujica (Red Sox), Craig Breslow (Red Sox) and Jamey Wright (Dodgers)
The series is now tied at 1-1, as I award the 2014 edge to the former-players group. With a slightly better bullpen and overall starting lineup, plus a comparable rotation, the old group overcomes their lack of bench depth to take the crown. Sure, Martinez is being forced to catch every inning of every game, but maybe Shoppach will sign somewhere. Or maybe help will come if the Pirates will promote Omir Santos or the Reds call up Max Ramirez or Lou Marson.