An Early Preview: The 2015 Cleveland Indians
The 2015 Cleveland Indians are going to look eerily similar to the 2014 version of the Indians. There is one exception: the Indians did make a trade for 1B/OF Brandon Moss. Moss is a welcome addition to the Indians. Last season Moss hit .234 with 25HRs and 81 RBI. Moss should become what Nick Swisher was supposed to be for the Indians. I, unlike most people, think that Swisher will have a comeback year for the Tribe in 2015. I see him hitting .240 with 20 HRs and 80 RBI. Call me an optimist, but Swisher is going to work hard to make up for last year’s embarrassment. If he plays well, the combination of Swisher, Moss, and Santana should generate a lot of runs as the three alternate between 1B/RF/and DH.
The Indians still (as they have for the last 5 years) need a power right handed bat to play 3B or RF, but that isn’t going to happen. At this point I think the Indians front office if officially “trolling” the fan base, as they refuse to even attempt to acquire a RF power bat. As the off-season has progressed, two RH power bats have been traded: Josh Donaldson and Justin Upton. Both of these players were traded for minor league talent.
The Indians have plenty of tradeable assets, yet they refuse to even talk about a trade. I still don’t understand why they continue to do this. If the Indians face a RH pitcher next season, their projected starting lineup will have 7 LEFT HANDED BATS!!!! That’s right, I said 7. (Bourne, Kipnis, Swisher, Santana, Moss, Chisenhall, and Brantley). I continue to shake my head as I attempt to understand what the Indians front office is doing. I will say Progressive Field is a hitters park, and especially with the short porch in RF for lefties, but that left handed lineup isn’t going to bode well when the Indians face Chris Sale and David Price. Did I mention those two are in our division?
The Indians pitching staff should be strong in 2015. They have the 2014 Cy Young winner in Corey Kluber returning as the ace of the staff. The real questions concerning the staff are the arms of Carrasco, Bauer, and Salazar. If two of these three can be consistent in 2015, the front end of the pitching staff will be very strong. All three of them have terrific arms, yet they all struggle with the mental aspect of the game. This will be the key to success for all three of them this season. The Indians also picked up Gavin Floyd from the garbage pile of the MLB stock room. Floyd will be tasked with filling the end of the rotation. It may seem that I am bitter about Floyd, and I am, but it’s because he falls into a pattern of the Indians front office.
Floyd is a discount pitcher who is coming off two season ending injuries. He has pitched in 14 games the last two seasons and he is another example of the Indians reaching into the “I hope we get lucky pile” and trying to pull out a gem cheaply. Remember the John Axeford signing last year? How did that work out? The Indians missed the playoffs by 3 games, and if one were so inclined, once could point the finger at Axeford, placing at least 3 losses directly on him. Now that isn’t fair, as there are one million things that happen during a season, but I am still bitter.
Even though I am bitter with the Indians front office, I am still highly optimistic about the Tribe’s playoff chances in 2015. The AL Central is much improved from 2014, as the White Sox are now going to be much better, but I still like the Indians chances. The Indians have a plethora of young talent that is ready to take the next step. Brantley and Kipnis are All-Stars, and Gomes and Santana are not far behind. It will just take consistent production from a majority of the roster. I would still like the Indians to make a few moves in the bullpen, because last season Shaw and Allen were burned out by season’s end. They were both top 4 in innings pitched by a reliever last season.
With the exception of a few small moves, this is going to be the team that the Indians put on the field next season. I won’t lie, this team is actually really good. They have some weak spots, but all of the pieces are there, they just need to produce. If the 2014 error-riddled version of the Indians can make it to 85 wins, there is no reason the 2015 version can’t win 90 plus and compete for an AL Central title.
Written by: A hopeless baseball romantic: Rick Giavonette
Follow me on Twitter: @CST_RickG