Thursday, February 16, 2017

Tribe Talk: Optimism In Goodyear #Indians

By Alex Hale, @ThatCLESportGuy

The cold of Winter is starting to go away and Pitchers and Catchers have arrived in Goodyear, Arizona for the beginning of Spring Training.  After an unbelievable run by the Tribe in 2016, the Indians set their eyes for continued success in 2017.  What Indians fans will quickly notice is the vast improvements the Indians have made to the team for the 2017.  This is because of a very successful offseason that Mike Chernoff and Chris Antonetti put together for the Tribe to prepare for this upcoming season.  While they only had a handful of moves, they made sure each one of them counted and Cleveland fans should get to know who are some of the new faces that could be making a big impact for the Indians in 2017.  Before we jump into this, Indians fans should be thanking Paul and Larry Dolan for finally keeping their word of, “When we win, we will spend”.  The moves that were made this offseason aren’t possible without their faith in this team to finally ending the Indians franchise’s long World Series championship drought.  So with that said here are your newest members of your Cleveland Indians.

Edwin Encarnacion (3 years, $60 million, team option for 4th year)- I’ve already made my comments before on this, so instead of writing it again I’ll refer you to my Encarnacion article I wrote shortly after the signing.

Austin Jackson to Minor League contract- While the Indians couldn’t bring back World Series legend Rajai Davis, getting Austin Jackson to a minor league deal isn’t a bad consolation.  The big thing with Jackson is the depth he would provide, especially if Michael Brantley returns and stays healthy.  Jackson offers a solid glove in the outfield and ability to play the entire OF.  Jackson’s bat is a bit of a concern, but if I’m an Indians fan I look at Austin Jackson’s success with the Tigers, where he had a lot of success in a loaded lineup where almost everyone was a threat at the plate (.277 average with Detroit, compared to .250 average in SEA/CHC/CWS).  When Jackson has a specific role in the lineup and is not forced to do too much as a hitter, he can contribute.  His one weakness is he strikes out a lot.  For only a Minor League contract, that to me is a steal for what Jackson could provide as a potential platoon Outfielder.

Wily Mo Pena to Minor League contract- This could be a very underrated move potentially.  Pena is 35 years old and hasn’t played in the Major Leagues since 2011 with the Mariners.  Once a prized prospect for the Reds who had some success from 2004-2007, Pena hasn’t figured out the consistency needed to thrive in the majors.  One thing you will get from Pena is power, where in that 2004-2007 stretch hit 69 HRs and 198 RBIs.  What intrigues me is his success in Japan where he 71 HRs in 4 years.  The Indians really are looking for lightning in a bottle and who knows, maybe Wily Mo can finally showcase what so many thought of him years ago.

Boone Logan (1 year, $6 million, team option for 2nd year)- So back in July instead of trading for Andrew Miller, I suggested added a different lefty in the Rockies Boone Logan.  Fast Forward 8 months later and the Indians now have not just Andrew Miller, but have now added Boone Logan to go with Miller.  When I first learned of the signing, I had to look again to make sure I read that right.  We all know how dominant Andrew Miller was, but the Indians desperately needed another lefty to take the burden off of Miller against lefties.  Logan is one of the more effective lefty specialist relievers in baseball, lefties have hit .233 against him in his career with .308 OBP, .361 SLG, and .670 OPS.  Logan won’t have the same expanded role like he had in Colorado, which will make him more fresh and probably more effective in the long run.  With Logan added to the bullpen, the Indians starting rotation probably only has to go 6 innings before handing it over to what looks to be a dominant bullpen.

Offseason Grade- B+

It would be simple to give the Indians an A+ simply because of the Boone Logan/Edwin Encarnacion signings alone.  But here’s my gripe…I really wanted them to add another starter (Doug Fister is still available), plus I would’ve loved to get insurance for Michael Brantley.  While Rajai Davis was probably out of the Indians price range after the Encarnacion signing, I’m still a bit bummed out the Indians didn’t pursue a Jerrod Dyson from the Royals, who would’ve provided the speed they lost in Rajai.  I do expect the Indians to look for improvements throughout the season as they’re clearly in “win now” mode.  So in terms of trying to fill all the holes on this team, they really didn’t do that, but without question the Indians have vastly improved the team on offense and in the bullpen.  The rest will rely on the continued development of the young starters and the health of Michael Brantley.

Spring Training is about to begin and it’s clear that the Indians have come to Goodyear, Arizona prepared and ready to finish the mission they started last year.  Even position players have come to Arizona early to get ready for the season.  You could tell even at Tribe Fest that while the players are excited for the year to get started, they know there’s unfinished business.  I myself watched “Wahoo: What A Finish” the other day and a quote Rick Manning said really stuck out to me.  In 2016, the Indians had the the mindset that like the 1994 Indians, they thought they could win.  I believe the 2017 Indians will shadow the 1995 Indians where they don’t think they can win, they KNOW they can win.  The Indians core players have fully assumed control and know that their goals are within their reach.  They know it will be a long 8 month journey that starts now, but with their attitude and the improvements the Front Office has made, we could be in line for another 8 month journey that might end in redemption for the Tribe.

No comments:

Post a Comment