While the offseason has been historically slow and the winter has crawled along at an even slower pace, we at Did The Tribe Win Last Night look ahead to the warmer days of the 2018 season by remembering Tribe players past and present.
Countdown to Opening Day – 41 days
The number 41 has not gotten a lot of use in Indians history, but the last three players to wear it have left a mark on the franchise, including a pair of switch-hitting catchers turned first basemen.
OK, stop me if you’ve heard this one: An Indians slugger settles in at first base after changing positions, becomes a mainstay of some quality Tribe teams, and ends up signing a fat contract in Philadelphia.
Thome was drafted in the 13th round by the Indians in 1989, breaking in with the team as a third baseman as a September callup two years later. That team lost 105 games – the most losses in Indians history – but good times were just around the corner.
While the Indians did not get to play as deep into October as fans may have hoped, the efforts of the Cleveland players have been recognized numerous times during the annual November award season in Major League Baseball.
Friday marked just such a night as free agent Carlos Santana was named the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year among all Major League first basemen.
Despite having four finalists in the hunt, the Cleveland Indians were denied a winner in the annual Rawlings Gold Glove Awards on Tuesday night.
Four of the American League’s 27 nominees for the 2017 awards came from the Indians roster, but as has been the case for much of the last decade, the Tribe did not have a player selected as the best at his position.
The offseason begins with a lot of minor moves for teams that oftentimes get lost in the shuffle of an otherwise busy fall and winter break from playing.
The Cleveland Indians completed some of their mandatory moves on Monday, adding several players to the 40-man roster, opening another spot by declining an option, and extending one very important qualifying offer.
While Major League Baseball is down to its final games of the 2017 season, the Cleveland Indians are, unfortunately, working through the decisions facing the club as the Tribe prepares for the 2018 campaign.
While most players are resting up from what was an exciting, but ultimately disappointing season, a handful of minor leaguers are working their way through fall and winter league activities. Most notably in the mix are two of the club’s top two prospects, Francisco Mejia and Bobby Bradley, who are among eight players participating for the Indians in the Arizona Fall League. Mejia has put up a .400/.405/.571 slash through eight games while working to add third base to his list of defensive skills. He has hit a pair of homers and driven in five. Bradley has provided a little more in the power department, hitting two doubles, two homers, and a triple while driving in six, but the strikeouts have been plentiful for the big slugger, who has gone down on strikes 18 times in 44 at bats in eleven games.
The Indians have been well represented by their prospects in Arizona. Mejia will represent the Tribe and the Glendale Desert Dogs on the AFL West Fall Stars roster and will be joined by reliever Argenis Angulo (High-A Lynchburg) on the team. Bradley is part of the Final 2 vote for the team, as he will need to pull in more votes than Royals shortstop prospect Nicky Lopez and Rangers minor league outfielder Yanio Perez in order to participate in the All-Star Game.
Every offseason, every Major League Baseball team has tough decisions to make. Most teams – even the good ones – rarely start a new season with every player that they had the year before. Expiring contracts, contract options, and free agency are facts of life for all MLB clubs.
That is why this past season felt so special for the Cleveland Indians. Very few tough decisions had to be made last winter. The ones that were ended up being greeted with happy returns. Mike Napoli had to go, but the Indians upgraded with Edwin Encarnacion. Rajai Davis was not retained, even after his near-heroics in the 2016 World Series. Cleveland did not miss a beat without him. Those players represented the only difficult decisions that the Tribe’s deep thinkers needed to make last offseason.
It will not be so easy this winter.
Cleveland has more free agents and contract options to consider this time around. At the core of every decision the team makes this winter, may be the greatest debate of all – the question of Jay Bruce or Carlos Santana?
It doesn’t get much more exciting than a closeout game in the playoffs, but one thing is for certain – it does horrible work on the heart, the mind, and the stomach, especially if you’re a fan of the team that lost a 2-0 lead.
The Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees will play one final game on Wednesday night to declare a winner in their American League Division Series matchup, one that has teetered in favor of the home club throughout the first four games. To the benefit of the Indians, they have returned to their home at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario in downtown Cleveland, hoping to defend their home turf and, more importantly, their title as the reigning champions of the American League while punching their ticket to an American League Championship Series meeting with the Houston Astros. The Tribe has not lost three consecutive games since the start of the second half of the season, when it lost four straight wrapped around the All-Star break.
It’s win or go home time for the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees as a poor defensive showing from the Tribe led to six unearned runs and the Yankees rode a dominant performance from Luis Severino in a 7-3 rout to force a Game 5 in Cleveland on Wednesday.
Home field has been all the advantage throughout the playoffs thus far, but especially in the contest between the Indians and Yankees, as both teams have won their hosted games through four games of the series. It was the collapse of the usually sound Indians defense on Monday that led to a half dozen unearned runs, forcing an early exit from starting pitcher Trevor Bauer, who made the start on just three days’ rest.
In a game dominated by stellar pitching by both ball clubs, a leadoff solo home run by New York’s Greg Bird off of former teammate Andrew Miller in the seventh inning provided the only run of the contest and the Yankees held off a late Cleveland Indians rally in a 1-0 final on Sunday night.
The victory guaranteed at least one more day in the Yankees’ season as they fended off elimination in the American League Division Series and avoided a sweep at the hands of the Tribe, who lost for just the fifth time in the last 40 games and were shut out for the first time since July 14 in Oakland, the first game of the second half of the season.
Things have not gone the way that Yan Gomes would have wanted them to over the last couple of years. Signed to a big contract extension in 2014, he has struggled with his performance at the plate, dealt with several injuries, and watched as his playing time has dwindled into a time share with fellow backstop Roberto Perez. Late season injuries deprived him of a significant role for the Indians in their incredible run through the postseason in 2016, as he appeared solely in the World Series and was 0-for-4, grounding into a double play and striking out twice.
He made sure his first start of the 2017 playoffs was one that he and Indians fans everywhere will not soon forget. His 13th inning walk-off single down the left field line capped six unanswered runs by the Indians as they completed an improbable comeback win over the New York Yankees to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five American League Division Series Friday night.
After a well deserved day off, the Cleveland Indians will get back to action across the country as the Los Angeles Angels host the top team in the American League from their home in Anaheim, California.
The Indians (93-57) remain in the driver’s seat in the race to the top record in the AL this season with the hopes of claiming home field advantage throughout the junior circuit half of the postseason. They head into the weekday series with a game and a half lead over the Houston Astros for the best record in the league. They took care of the Angels in three games back in July at Progressive Field, winning on a walk-off Edwin Encarnacion grand slam on July 25 before winning 10-4 and 2-1 decisions to close out the series.