The Cleveland Indians New Year’s Resolutions
Laurel Wilder | On 01, Jan 2016
Ah, the new year. A time for past transgressions to be forgiven and/or forgotten, and for better habits to be formed. The time for the essential New Year’s Resolution to take hold and shape the pattern for the coming year. Even the Cleveland Indians cannot go unresolutioned.
While they may have their own personal, private resolutions, I think they can all stand to have some public resolutions thrown their way. How can the Cleveland Indians make 2016 a better year than 2015? Why, maybe some of them can take these words of advice to heart.
Jason Kipnis: To add more of whatever he was eating last May into his regular diet.
I don’t know if it was something in the water or just that Kipnis was eating his Wheaties every day, but something was working for the second baseman last May. In his strongest month of the season, Kipnis hit .429 with four home runs, 17 RBI, and a 1.217 OPS. It was a month that was more than just good – it was phenomenal, and gave fans a taste of just what Kipnis is capable of.
Michael Brantley: Follow the doctor’s orders and don’t rush into a return to the field.
Brantley has been a mainstay on the Tribe’s most valuable players list for some time now, but the team will have to get started without the smooth left fielder when the 2016 season gets underway. Brantley had shoulder surgery in early November to repair a small tear in his right labrum. Hopefully, the surgery will allow Brantley to return to the squad stronger than ever. But one thing he shouldn’t do is rush a comeback – coming back too soon can only lead to more struggles down the road. Take your time, Dr. Smooth.
Francisco Lindor: Keep up that energy.
If last year is any indication, there may be no player happier to be on the big league stage than Lindor. The rookie was always found smiling last year, his positivity and excitement to be part of the big league squad palpable in his face. It’s safe to say that that kind of enthusiasm was much needed on the team last year, especially during a year when morale was sinking and performances were struggling. His infectious attitude, coupled with his outstanding performance on the field, make him an invaluable addition to the team who can affect the game in more ways than one.
Trevor Bauer: Think less.
Bauer made essentially this same resolution at the end of the season, when he admitted that he spends too much time inside his own head, often negatively impacting his performance on the mound. If Bauer can, somehow, get out of his own head, there might be a pleasant surprise in store as to what he is capable of. Of course, with Bauer, this is going to be easier said than done.
The rest of the starting rotation: Realize that not getting run support is not your fault. Don’t practice self-blame.
Last season, the Indians had one of, if not the, best starting rotations in baseball. However, their dominance wasn’t always noticed due to the offense’s distinct lack of run support to get these pitchers some wins. It’s doubtful any of these pitchers think they are the reason that the Indians had a record that didn’t reflect their on-the-mound performances, but just in case, they need to remember this year that their throwing is not the problem. Hopefully, they’ll get the runs they deserve this season but, if not, they can’t blame themselves for losses.
The offense: Eat your spinach.
Related to the starting rotation, the Indians offense needs to kick it up a notch in 2016. Whether this means spending more time in the cages, working late with hitting coaches, or just eating spinach to get those Popeye-strong muscles, the Indians offense can’t dwindle like it did last season. Hopefully a full season without the dead weight of Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn can provide some sort of offensive catalyst for the team, and maybe someone like Rajai Davis can give the lineup some pop. Whatever it’s going to be, someone is going to have to get things started to help the Indians score runs and earn some wins.
Jose Ramirez: Invest in some double stick tape to keep that helmet on.
Ramirez may not have led the team with his .219 batting average last season, but he certainly was at the top of the leader board in helmets flying off on the first base line. There hardly seemed to be a hit that didn’t end with Ramirez on first but his helmet elsewhere on the field. It makes you wonder if his speed would be improved if that helmet stayed on. He had ten stolen bases last year and was caught stealing four times. Would helmet security affect those numbers? It can’t be easy to steal a base when your helmet is flopping around.
Carlos Santana: Don’t ease into the season – start with a bang.
Santana hasn’t been known to have the strongest starts in recent seasons. However, this season needs to be different. Santana is a polarizing player, but needs to attempt to unite fans as the season gets underway. With Brantley out, Santana needs to put in the hard work to produce runs and make an offensive impact.
Cody Allen: Secure a contract extension.
As Bob Toth wrote recently, the Indians have made it a point to keep their core players together and inked to long term contracts. Allen is one of those core guys, but has not yet been given a long-term deal with the team. He is entering his first season of arbitration eligibility this winter, which makes it as prime a time as ever to lock up the closer for the foreseeable future. Allen needs to make it his priority to land an extension and stick around to provide the backend bullpen support the Indians have thrived with for so many seasons.
Lonnie Chisenhall: Stay out of Columbus.
Chisenhall had signs this year of being a player who bounced between AAA and the big leagues for the rest of his career. However, after some shifts, Chisenhall found his way to the big league outfield and managed to excel. He recorded three outfield assists in one game in September and was a sight for sore eyes in the right field corner. He needs to make sure he maintains that forward momentum throughout the season in order to avoid any moves down to the Clippers.
Joba Chamberlain, if he makes the team: Get some bug spray.
There’s no guarantee Chamberlain will be part of the big league roster come the start of the season but, if he is, he’ll need to invest in more than one can of Off to keep the midges away for more than one game.
The Cleveland Indians: Stay off the cover of Sports Illustrated.
This speaks for itself. Cleveland wants the Indians to succeed. Let’s keep the jinxes to a minimum this season.
Photo: Leon Halip/Getty Images