If you’re still riding the roller coaster ride that has been the Cleveland Indians season, congratulations on wearing your Cleveland sports pride and pain on your sleeve.
After 117 games, the Indians have been a largely underwhelming team. A frantic finish to the 2013 season led the club back to the postseason for the first time since 2007, but offseason rotation and lineup concerns were relatively overlooked. While the Indians did not lose anything on the offensive side of the ball in free agency over the winter, their upgrade of David Murphy to a platoon and Nyjer Morgan to the bench left a gaping need in the lineup for a power bat, especially a right-handed stick. The rotation, one that saw the departures of Scott Kazmir and Ubaldo Jimenez to free agency, opted to build from within around mainstays Justin Masterson, Corey Kluber, and Zach McAllister.
Only Kluber remains and that is largely at play for Cleveland’s 58-59 record heading into action Sunday afternoon. Yet despite the subpar play over the first 70% of the season, the Indians are actually closer to the top of the division than they were at this time last season.
The Indians again fell to the Oakland Athletics on Saturday, as Josh Donaldson and Brandon Moss led the A’s in delivering all six of the hits that gave the Athletics the 6-2 winning score. Despite making it a one-run ballgame in sixth inning, the poor defense and three errors committed by the team allowed the game to slip away from the Tribe late in the game.
Corey Kluber had a rough outing in Oakland and the Indians offense could never seem to get going as the Indians fall to the Athletics, 6-1.
While Cleveland was experiencing nearly perfect weather for baseball, the same couldn’t be said in Oakland on Tuesday, turning today into the first day-night doubleheader in Oakland in franchise history. The Indians were fitting opponents as they did not tally a run until the ninth inning.
The Cleveland Indians entered the 2013 season with an alarming lack of apparent ability in the starting rotation. With the turnaround of Ubaldo Jimenez, the comeback of Scott Kazmir, and the emergence of Cory Kluber, the starting rotation became a source of strength for the Indians. Kazmir moved on to the Oakland Athletics and Jimenez seems destine to sign with another team as well. With the loss of two key players, the big question is whether or not the Indians can repeat their playoff season.
In order to look at where the Indians could be in 2014, we must look at what they have lost and gained in this current off season. In addition to this, we have to look at the loss and gain of the other teams in the American League Central. Using a statistic known as Wins Above Replacement, or WAR, we can project how many wins each player is, or could be worth. If we add up the cumulative WAR of the players the Indians lost, and the WAR of the new additions to the team, we can project how many wins the Indians lost or gained with through free agency and trades this winter.
All we, as Cleveland fans, really wanted for Christmas was a winning team. Scratch that, that’s all we ever want as Cleveland fans. And now, we have even less time to wait for that next – hopefully – winning season.
Christmas is one of the last major events that stands between the end of baseball season and spring training. As of today, there are only 46 days left until Cleveland’s pitchers and catchers report on February 11. 2014 will soon roll around and we will be talking about prospects and who has potential and who is going to carry the team through the season. We will be looking at other teams and deciding who we need to beat – but before that, we need to solidify the team that we are running with for next season, whether that is through trades, adjustments to the existing roster, or off-season signings.
Although off-seasons are always filled with controversy and differing opinions, and trades are always subject to both criticism and excitement, none this season have come as close as the upset occurring from the attempted 1947 trade of Lou Boudreau.
Criticism of the Cleveland Indians’ lack of activity this offseason has not just come from fans of the ball club. It has also come from the national media, where some have gone so far as to call the Indians losers of the annual Winter Meetings while others have opined that the team’s lack of aggressiveness and free spending could end the upcoming season before it even begins due to other upgrades within both their division and league.
The Indians, who finished just one game in back of the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central and exited the postseason after a one-game AL Wild Card loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, have been an almost non-existent and irrelevant player in the free agent and trade markets so far this offseason.
For many fans, this is a significant problem.
After a hugely successful season in 2013 the Indians are losing two major pieces of their pitching staff. Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir combined for 23 wins and 356 strikeouts in the Indians rotation last season, and those are going to be tough numbers to replace. Though it may seem like a daunting task, it may not be as difficult as one may think. Through free agency, or internal options, the Indians will do all they can to fill those holes with the best possible option.
Free agents like Matt Garza are way out of the Indians price range, and pitchers that may be in that range may not be worth the roster spot, either due to an injury laden background, or poor current performances. The possible lack of activity on the free agent market may not be a failure for the Indians; they have several pitchers already in the fold that could step into those rotation spots and find success. The Tribe could find a future star or at least a couple solid Major League starters right in their own back yard. Looking at the young talent that could win a rotation role in 2014, four names came right to the top.
After a surprising 2013 Cleveland Indians season the organization has higher expectations for 2014 than any season dating back to 2008. The Indians and their fans will expect a playoff team and World Series contender. For the month of October, we’ll look at the how the Indians became a contender, but most importantly, How Do the Indians Reach the Next Level?
Some gambles pay off.
The decision last winter by Chris Antonetti to sign Scott Kazmir turned out to be one such move. At the time, it was more of a head scratcher and was largely overlooked. Kazmir instead pitched like a player deserving of votes for Comeback Player of the Year.
After a surprising 2013 Cleveland Indians season the organization has higher expectations for 2014 than any season dating back to 2008. The Indians and their fans will expect a playoff team and World Series contender. For the month of October, …
Like many things, the Cleveland Indians season ended too soon.
After a wild ride that ended with a 10-game winning streak to complete the regular season, winning the first Wild Card spot and hosting the Tribe’s first playoff game in six years, Cleveland finished the season as Major League Baseball’s hottest team. However, Alex Cobb and the Tampa Bay Rays needed just one win to extinguish the energy and enthusiasm behind the Tribe. Wednesday’s 4-0 loss to Tampa ended the Indians’ season while it was at its peak.
The Indians exceeded most projections for the 2013 season. After hiring new manager Terry Francona, the organization openly discussed and created a new culture. Francona spent last winter traveling to personally meet players and sell them on his ideas, while general manager Chris Antonetti reconstructed a roster that was embarrassingly short when it went 68-94 in 2012.
Now that the champagne has stopped pouring and the celebration has subsided, the Indians have a winner-take-all, elimination game on Wednesday against the winner of the Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers to prepare for. The two teams face off tonight in Arlington, Texas. The winner will advance to Progressive Field for Wednesday night’s Wild Card game.
One of the loopholes in the one-game Wild Card playoff is that Major League Baseball considers it its own round of playoffs, meaning teams can set their roster for the game as they wish, then if they advance, reset their roster for the Divisional Series.