The upcoming 2015 season is going to be crucial for the Cleveland Indians. In 2013, buzz and excitement was circling around the Tribe for the first time in a while. World Champion manager Terry Francona was hired and led the team to their first post-season appearance since 2007. The energy in the city of Cleveland for that 2013 playoff game against the Tampa Bay Rays rekindled some memories of the great times that we experienced in the 1990s. Even though the Indians lost that game in disappointing fashion, many thought it signaled what could be a promising future for a very young, talented team.

With players like Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley, Danny Salazar, Carlos Santana, Yan Gomes and more in place, many saw the Tribe taking the next step in 2014. Most believed that they were a big bat in the middle of the lineup away from being able to go deeper into the playoffs. Unfortunately, the Indians front office did not acquire that bat and it proved costly last season. In addition to a horrible defensive season, the lack of a power hitter in the middle of the order kept the team out of the playoffs. We wanted to see the Indians capitalize on the experience and momentum that was gained in 2013 and they were not able to do that. It was extremely frustrating to watch them take a step back instead of taking the next step forward towards becoming a true contender.

The window of opportunity with Francona as manager and all of these talented young players under contract is limited. As Indians fans, we are all too aware of what it is like to watch that window of opportunity close and see our best players leave to find success with other clubs. Remember C.C. Sabathia going to the Yankees and winning a World Series? Remember Manny Ramirez winning two titles with the Boston Red Sox? While the talent might not be quite at that level, the Indians still need to make the most of what they have assembled while these key pieces are still in place. With the emergence of Cy Young winner Corey Kluber, All-Star outfielder Michael Brantley and others, we have a chance to head back to the postseason and build on what was started a few years ago.

While the starting rotation appears to be very strong, there are still the same gaping holes in the lineup. The unwillingness of the front office to go out and spend money to fill those holes is extremely frustrating and confusing for many fans. If the team is not able to take a step forward and show improvement this season, the front office should and will take a brunt of the blame. The outcome of the 2015 season will be crucial in determining the future of this Cleveland Indians team as currently constructed. Roll Tribe!

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