Saturday, August 22, 2015

Tribe Talk 8.22.15: 2015 Was EXACTLY What The Indians Needed #Indians

By @DaSportsGenius7

Let's all be honest, the Cleveland Indians season hasn't gone the way most of us had hoped or planned.  But maybe, while fans don't see it now, in a few years I think this season will be deemed as more of a success than a failure.  Yes Sports Illustrated picked us to win the World Series and we haven't lived up to expectations.  Now there's a lot of blame to go around from the people that assembled the team, to the manager, to the players themselves.  But after 2 years of above .500 baseball and a Wild Card Game appearance, now is not the time to blow things up.  In fact throughout the past few weeks, I think Chris Antonetti, Terry Francona and the players have shown that they deserve another year.  So let's rewind to right before the deadline to review what has happened and at the end of all of this, Indians fans trust me, this season was exactly what we needed.

July 30th- Indians trade Brandon Moss to St. Louis for LHP Rob Kaminsky- Brandon Moss was the Indians key acquisition this offseason and although he provided some power in the lineup, he wasn't working out.  In the weeks prior, Chris Antonetti had stated he wasn't interested in trading Moss, but in Antonetti fashion, he got a deal too good to pass on.  Analysts have said this trade is an absolute steal for the Indians, adding a nice young lefty pitcher to the organization.  The Indians could've kept Moss as they did have some club control left on Moss, but Antonetti got a great offer and took it.  While maybe not really popular, Antonetti I think once again stole a prospect from arguably the best organization in baseball.

July 31st- Indians trade Mark Rzepcynski to San Diego for OF Abraham Almonte- While Almonte is a Cleveland fan favorite for now, I'm not expecting huge things from him.  But the Indians found a possible bench player in exchange for a reliever who wasn't pitching like we've been used to.  The Indians can now utilize young lefty Kyle Crockett.  Crockett is more than capable as he's shown before to pitch at the big league level.  Remember this kid had a 1.80 ERA in 43 games in 2014 and in 16 games had a 2.79 ERA in 2015.  Um...what does Francona have against this kid to begin with?

August 7th- Indians trade Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, and cash to Atlanta for UTIL Chris Johnson- Remember this trade Indians fans, this is the move that turned everything around.  Bourn and Swisher were brought in to be these veteran leaders that produced, but in the 3 years they've been in Cleveland they've done next to nothing and from rumors with Bourn, were hurting the Clubhouse.  In this deal, Cleveland gets a lefty masher in Chris Johnson.  While the Indians have to pay Johnson a good amount of money, to get rid of Swisher and Bourn, it was the best move they could've made.

Now after reviewing the deals made in the past few weeks, eliminate the fact that Cleveland has actually played better for me.  The key is that the Indians have finally told the young core of Kluber, Kipnis, and Brantley that it's their team now.  The veteran leaders like Bourn, Swisher, and Giambi are gone.  In the players minds its time for them to put up or shut up.  In a lot of ways, this is exactly what the players needed.

Since August 8th, the day after the Bourn and Swisher trade, the Indians have gone 7-5.  Now although its not great, its a nice sight to see the core of the Indians that Chris Antonetti and staff have identified as the core have stepped up.  In this 10 game span, we've seen Danny Salazar dominate batters and look like the pticher we were hoping to see on a consistent basis.  We've seen Jose Ramirez return to the bigs and although more recently has slumped, has shown for the most part he can contribute.  And possibly the most promising sight, Lonnie Chisenhall is showing he can play some outfield and be that guy who can give players a night off next year.

While there are bright spots, there remains a lot of questions to be answered.  One of my biggest concerns is the position of Right Field.  One of my targets would be Yoenis Cespedes, but I get the feeling that he's not in their plans.  I do feel however that this is going to be one of, if not the biggest priority over the offseason.  There are plenty of potential big time trade targets that the Indians can look into (I'll dive into that in the offseason).  But the sense I get from people I know, it's an area that will be addressed.

In hindsight if I myself had looked at the roster more closely, I wouldn't have gotten as all hyped up.  I got hooked, I think we all got hooked honestly.  This year proved to me that the Indians have the pitching to put themselves into contention, but they need the offense.  Look at the Mets, outstanding staff, lackluster offense, then they add Yoenis and they're a major threat.  I think the Indians right now are stuck where the Mets were.  One of my biggest beliefs is if you have the true cleanup hitter, the rest of the batting order will fall into place.  It's Chris Antonetti's job to explore every option that becomes available this offseason.

At the end of the day, the Indians had a bad year, think of it like 2006.  But in a lot of ways, this was the best thing to happen for the Indians.  The Indians now are forcing their core players to become the leaders.  I think with the rest of the season to let Brantley, Kipnis, Kluber and co. to establish their leadership in the clubhouse, plus the right moves to fill in the rest of the gaps on this team, the Indians will make a run in 2016.  But what if I told you that maybe it was best if the team waited until 2017 to make their run?  But that's a topic for another day.  Just remember the future is bright Cleveland, the Tribe has a young core that finally have assumed leadership.  All in all, while we won't probably reach our goals, we're setting ourselves up to a better 2016 season.

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