Spring Training Preview

After a disappointing 2014 campaign, and another dismal Browns season, the Indians have returned!!  That 2014 campaign did see a Cy Young winner in Corey Kluber and a top 3 MVP Candidate in Michael Brantley.  I am glad to be able to represent Cleveland Sports Talk in Goodyear this week!  I will be in Goodyear on Wednesday and return to Cleveland on Sunday evening.  I will be attending the Indians/Mariners game Thursday night at 7:05 in Peoria, AZ and then attending the Indians/Angels game Friday night at 7:05 in Goodyear.  I also will possibly be attending the Indians/Rockies game at 1:05 in Goodyear.  I am excited for this opportunity.  I attended Spring Training last year and it was an amazing time.  Getting to meet some of the players and getting to see things from very close is a rare opportunity.  Also, it is nice to see some guys play who usually don’t get much playing time. Enough of hearing about how great this opportunity is, lets get into some Indians stuff!

I think the most important thing that I am looking forward to is seeing who will fill the end of the rotation for the Tribe.  Kluber is the obvious ace of the staff. Next, Carlos Carrasco, who had a stellar second half of the season.  You then have a young arm like Trevor Bauer who can be inconsistent at times.  The last two spots are up for grabs among a few pitchers.  Danny Salazar, who just two seasons ago pitched in the wild card game against the Tampa Bay Rays, is another young arm who had a rocky 2014 season.  T.J. House was 5-3 with a 3.35 ERA last season, and has had a solid spring so far and should be a lock for the rotation.  With Gavin Floyd likely out for the season with an elbow injury, an interesting name is Bruce Chen.  Chen was signed to a minor league contract this off-season.  The 37 year old Chen is 82-80 in his career with a 4.58 ERA, but is an experienced veteran arm.  I am looking forward to seeing some of these guys throw,  to see for myself what they can bring to the table.

Another thing I am looking forward to, other than waking up at 9 AM and sitting by a pool in 80 degree weather, is to see how the outfield plays.  With enough outfielders to field a few slowpitch softball teams, the Indians need to find that guy to go with Brantley and Bourn in the outfield.  Tito also has a plethora of lineups that he can toy with.  Swisher, Moss, Santana can all DH. Then, there are a ton of guys who can play outfield if one of them is at first base and one is DH.  Tyler Holt, Carlos Moncrief, and David Murphy all are available to fill that third and fourth outfield spot.

The attitude of this team is something that will be interesting to watch for as well.  Many players need bounce back seasons for the Tribe.  Kipnis, Bourn and Swisher are three guys who all need to play better this season.  Kipnis only hit .240 last season, Bourn hit .257 and only swiped 10 bases, while Swisher hit .208.  These three players need to really have good seasons to get the team back to the place it needs to be.

From a team that was in the playoffs just two seasons ago and missed out by just a few games last year, the Indians return essentially everyone.  There were plenty of injuries last season and if the Tribe can stay healthy, there is no reason this team cannot win the AL Central for the first time since 2007.

Follow me on Twitter at @CST_IanT

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