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.
It was not business as usual for one of the three professional sports franchises in Cleveland in 2013.
What a year it was for the Cleveland Indians and their fans, at least those who still supported the Dolans and their franchise. Say what you will about the final results, the team took a gigantic step forward in 2013, improving their record on the field by 24 wins with an exciting new-look team and a brand new brain trust in the dugout.
Did The Tribe Win Last Night was there every step of the way and covered all of the highs and the lows throughout the season, with a few fun projects along the way.
It’s still not probable, but it’s possible.
Over six weeks ago Ubaldo Jimenez turned down the Indians’ qualifying offer, leaving a one year deal worth $14 million on the table and opted for free agency. At the time it seemed Jimenez was destined to turn his rebound 2013 season into a big payday. It would be a payday the Indians likely would not be a part of. When free agency began, Jimenez was rumored to be looking for a 4-year deal, worth between $54-60 million.
It’s good money if you can get it. So far, it looks like Jimenez can’t get it.
There has not been substantial audible conversation about Cleveland Indians free agent starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez, despite being frequently listed amongst the top free agents available entering this offseason.
Cleveland tendered Jimenez a $14.1 million qualifying offer in early November, securing the Indians a draft pick if the resurgent pitcher opted to leave town for a longer and more financially enticing offer.
Like each of the other twelve players around Major League Baseball to be offered such a deal, Jimenez declined and hit the open market. Since then, mum has been the word on Jimenez as the pitching market remains unresolved. With draft pick compensation looming in addition to his contract, the lost portion of draft bonus pool money, and the uncertain status of Japanese starter Masahiro Tanaka grinding the market to a halt, Jimenez remains out of a job for the time being.
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.
For the second time in a week, a trade was made around Major League Baseball that had an effect on the Cleveland Indians’ offseason.
On Friday, the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Angels agree upon a trade centered around third baseman David Freese and outfielder Peter Bourjos. On Wednesday, the Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers completed a swap of former All-Stars Prince Fielder, Ian Kinsler, and bags and bags of cash.
The early wave of trade activity may be an indication of things to come over the remaining few months of baseball’s time off.
Who, exactly, is the real Ubaldo Jimenez?
Is Cleveland’s free agent starter the guy who looked lost beyond belief in 2011 and 2012? Or, is he the guy who pitched like an ace this past season, putting up numbers in September that hearkened back to his days as a National League All-Star in 2010?
The safe bet, Jimenez is neither one of those things. He is probably somewhere in the middle. However, it is also a safe bet that he may very well get paid like the pitcher he was in 2013. That, right there, is where the discussion should begin and end when it comes to whether or not the Indians should bring him back.
Free agency and the Major League Baseball offseason are well under way, highlighted this week with the annual four day general managers’ meeting in Orlando, Florida.
The meetings, combined with the quarterly owners’ meetings, will allow everyone present to discuss a variety of elements of the game, including player transactions. The meetings can serve as a launching point for potential trading partners and can start the groundwork for trades completed during the December Winter Meetings, also in Orlando this season.
What surprises will Chris Antonetti have for Indians fans this offseason in his first season since making a big managerial splash and signing several marquee free agents following the 2012 season?
At the conclusion of each season, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance allows Did The Tribe Win Last Night? to cast a series of votes for their American League award winners. The DTTWLN committee of one chose me to determine our votes in …
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?
Ubaldo Jimenez is living proof that organizational long-term plans can change quickly.
A year ago Jimenez was one of the worst pitchers in the American League, going 9-17 with a 5.40 ERA and league leading 16 wild pitches in 2012. The only discussion a year ago was if it was worth picking up Jimenez’s 2013 option, valued at just $5.75 million. With new manager Terry Francona and new pitching coach Mickey Callaway coming on board, the Indians decided to pick up Jimenez’s option for 2013. Considering the lack of starting pitching available at the top of the Indians’ minor league system, and the $5.75 million still being below market value for a free agent starting pitcher, the Tribe had little choice but to bring him back.
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, …