It’s Finally Next Year

“There’s always next year.”

And now, it finally is next year. With 2014 comes a wave of resolutions, hope for the year to come, and, if all goes well, another play-off contending Cleveland Indians team.

At this time last year, the Indians were building a roster full of big names and high hopes. They were surpassing fans with the likes of Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, and names with potential like Trevor Bauer. Even if those attempts didn’t always play out on the field, the possibilities were still there for he 2013 Cleveland Indians.

2014 is bringing more of the same. The team is not going to have the same look on the field as they did last year, but that is not to say that the team will be struggling to perform. Despite the loss of a few promising pitchers, the Indians still have potential to do great things with the names remaining and being added to their roster.

Maybe the perfect New Year’s resolution is to believe in the Tribe.

Part of their great success in 2013 seemed to come from the atmosphere of the clubhouse and the team and the vibe that new management brought to Cleveland. If nothing else, Terry Francona can be credited with providing Cleveland with a team that was excited about themselves. Even when they weren’t playing so well, the team still seemed to be enjoying each other and not letting their struggles cloud their attitudes. Fans, however, used 2013 letdowns as an excuse to give up on the team and resign themselves to believing that next season would, in fact, be the Indians’ only saving grace.

Well, Cleveland, it’s the next year you were waiting for. Yes, we lost Joe Smith and Ubaldo Jimenez is a free agent. Drew Stubbs is gone and we have David Murphy in the outfield instead. While it sounds rough on paper, the fact is that it’s a new year, a new season, and there is still much to be positive about for the year to come.

The Tribe has a strong group of young pitchers that can hopefully spend this year developing into a promising group. Corey Kluber and Danny Salazar left us wanting more in 2013, and 2014 can be their seasons to truly come into their own. We can resolve to get excited about their potential. And maybe the stone-faced Kluber can resolve to remain as stoic as ever.

The infield has many of the same name as we’ve seen in the past, but 2014 also has possibilities for new, exciting names to grace the major league lineup. While Asdrubal Cabrera is, as of now, still a Tribe shortstop, there is the chance that he could soon be looked over in favor of the young and stellar Francisco Lindor. It has been said that 2014 could be Lindor’s year to appear on the big league stage. Let’s resolve to see that happen.

Jason Kipnis has his first All-Star season in 2013, which means that 2014 could very easily be his oyster. He is coming in to the year as one of the most talked-about players from the 2013 squad and, if he can continue those strong hitting streaks and impressive fielding, there is no doubt that 2014 can be even more promising for the second baseman.

Michael Brantley is certainly another to watch in 2014. He seems to be one of the most unsung heroes of the Indians – yes, his strong performances are acknowledged, but he seems to fall to the wayside in favor of discussing the strengths of other players. Hopefully 2014 will bring Brantley the far-reaching acknowledgment that his playing deserves. He is a clutch hitter, a smooth outfielder, and an all-around impressive player. 2014 can be his year to shine.

2014 will likely also bring about the continuation of the dominant force that is Yan Gomes. With Carlos Santana playing third base during much of winter ball, all signs point to Gomes assuming the role of regular catcher in 2014. He certainly demonstrated his abilities in 2013, with 2014 allowing him even more opportunities for success behind the plate.

What else can 2014 bring for the Tribe? 2013 had the exciting moments of Jason Giambi pinch-hit bombs, an outstanding final stretch, The Goon Squad, and the long-awaited return of October baseball in Cleveland. What can 2014 do to up those happenings?

Easy. 2014 can bring an even more developed and cohesive team. 2014 can jump on to the energy felt by last year’s squad, the excitement and positivity brought by Francona, and build into a new and improved team. Is more post-season baseball in Cleveland’s future? One can only hope. Even with losses, there are always gains or areas of potential on a team. Cleveland is no exception.

It’s a new year, it’s a new Tribe, but it’s the same ball game. Let’s resolve to believe that next year could actually be this year. Crazier things have happened, and this is Cleveland, where anything is possible.

New Year’s resolution? To make that anything happen.

Photo: Rick Osentoski/ USA Today Sports

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