Posts By Craig Gifford
If Trevor Bauer can continue the upward trajectory that he has been on since being traded to the Cleveland Indians in the winter before the 2013 season, big things could soon be in store for the Tribe’s No. 3 starting pitcher.
In his first five years with Cleveland, Bauer has done nothing but improve. He started as a minor league prospect with talent, but possibly too head-strong, and eventually became a good end of the Major League rotation guy. By 2016, he was regarded as a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter. Last season he blossomed, in the second half, as a possible All-Star and Cy Young candidate in the making.
Last year, veteran first baseman Yonder Alonso changed his swing and had a career year. At the age of 30, he shattered his career high home run total and had his best RBI season of his eight-year and four-team career. The Indians are hoping their biggest free agent signing of the winter has more from where last season came from.
Alonso’s 28 homers were 21 better than his previous career high, set in 2012. That was his first full Major League season, when he finished sixth in the National League Rookie of the Year voting while playing for the San Diego Padres (in his third season in the Majors after a pair of years with the Cincinnati Reds). His 67 RBI were not quite as impressive last season but still five better than his previous water-shed mark, also set as a rookie. Of course, he did play his first 100 games of 2017 with the Oakland Athletics, where there simply was not a lot of offensive players getting on base for him to drive in.
That will be different in Cleveland.
The last time Rajai Davis played a game that mattered for the Cleveland Indians, it was Game 7 of the 2016 World Series. He hit an eighth-inning, game-tying, two-run home run that sent Tribe fans into a frenzy and the shot is considered one of the greatest home runs in the more than 100-year history of the franchise (imagine if the Indians had actually won that game). Obviously, the team went on to lose the game and the Fall Classic, both considered among the greatest in baseball history, by an 8-7 margin in 10 frames.
Cleveland was not able to wrap up its unfinished business in 2017, despite a 102-win campaign that included a historic 22-game winning streak. Perhaps the club needed Davis in the fold to finish what it came so agonizingly close to doing two years ago.
If you look at the numbers for Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez separately, the first reaction may not be a very good one. Neither stands out on their own. However, when looking at Cleveland’s catching duo, they must be looked at together.
Combined, Gomes and Perez make for one impressive catcher, at the plate and behind it. They make up one of the better catching combos in the game.
Just when Cleveland Indians fans may have been getting ready to write off Jason Kipnis, the Tribe second baseman may be showing that he could be primed for a big return this season.
As spring training games were about to get underway a little more than a week ago, news came out that Kipnis was dealing with a minor injury to his back. While the key word was minor, it put some worry into the minds of the Wahoo Warrior faithful who watched the two-time All-Star slog his way through an injury-plagued 2017 campaign.
Yandy Diaz has another golden opportunity this spring to kick down a door to the Majors and earn a spot on the Cleveland Indians’ Opening Day roster.
With several starters already ailing this Cactus League season, Diaz has a shot to break camp with the Indians just as he did a season ago. This time around, the moment may not be too big for him.
The Cleveland Indians lost a lot this winter, to be sure.
Long-time Indian, middle-of-the-order hitter and recently-turned-Gold-Glove-caliber-first-baseman Carlos Santana was the biggest loss. The Indians will miss his 25 homer, 85 RBI potential in the middle of the lineup, pairing with Edwin Encarnacion.
2017 was quite the season for Jose Ramirez.
After a breakout 2016 campaign, the jack-of-many-trades, position-wise, inked a lucrative contract extension with the Tribe in March. Just before the season, he signed up for a guaranteed five-year, $26 million pact with the Indians. It can become $50 million if team options are exercised in 2022 and 2023.
Lonnie Chisenhall may not be a great player. He is also likely to never really live up to his 2008 first round draft selection billing. However, if he can stay healthy, he can help settle a muddied Cleveland Indians outfield.
At 29, Chisenhall only seems old because he made his Major League debut with the Tribe at the tender age of 22. He has been up and down throughout his career, with numerous peaks and valleys. The last two seasons, however, Chisenhall has reinvented himself as an above average outfielder and has become much more consistent at the plate.
Edwin Encarnacion turned out to be a pretty good signing by the Cleveland Indians.
The $60 million man was no bust, a la Nick Swisher or Michael Bourn. Even though some Indians fans fretted and feared Encarnacion would go that route during a sluggish April and early May, Cleveland’s cleanup hitter showed that he still possesses one of the best power bats in the game as the season wore on.
On May 20, Double E was struggling with a .199 batting average. His infamous trots around the bases with his invisible parrot seemed to have been stuck in customs. His power stroke from his previous five years in Toronto was missing in the early going of his initial season with the Tribe. He was at seven home runs and 16 RBI and not producing at the clip the baseball world had become accustomed to seeing from him.
On Wednesday, Jim Thome is expected to become one of the newest members of Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame and Museum. In his first year of eligibility, it is all but certain that Thome will join a select group of former Indians to be enshrined in Cooperstown.
Only 12 other players to enter the hallowed halls have played the majority of their careers with the Tribe. The Thomenator would become the 13th. That is hardly unlucky.
Locally, some Indians fans may be a little worried about their beloved baseball team. The last month has seen the departures of first baseman Carlos Santana, outfielder Jay Bruce and relievers Bryan Shaw and Joe Smith. That’s a lot of hitting power and relief innings lost in a short amount of time. It has caused some panic among the Tribe faithful.
Perhaps Cleveland should take note, however, of how the Indians are viewed on a more wider scale. Across the nation, large television outlets still view the Indians as must-watch T.V. That was evident with the release of the full 2018 baseball schedule this past week.