Tag Archives: Jason Giambi

2014 Cleveland Indians: Failure or Success?

As the MLB Playoffs continue the Cleveland Indians find themselves on the outside looking in. The 2014 campaign for the Indians mirrored that of the 2013 season in that it was an up and down roller coaster ride. With the goal in 2014 for these Indians being the playoffs I suppose it’s fair to say that this season was a disappointment, at least in that regard. But was the 2014 season really a complete and utter failure? The answer is no, and for multiple reasons.

First off, the Indians finished the season with a winning record, 85-77. While that is a step back from last year’s 92 win regular season it’s unfair to consider that bad. It isn’t. The 2014 Indians had a winning record. Were they maddening to watch at times this year? Absolutely, but fans of the Kansas City Royals would undoubtedly say the same thing of their team – and they made the playoffs this year (or postseason or Wild Card play in game, whatever you choose to call it). I’d also bet that fans of the Los Angeles Angels, owners of the best record in the league this year (98-64), were at times frustrated. Over the course of a 162 game season there will be frustrating moments. Frustrating moments don’t equate to a bad season. A losing record does. The Indians didn’t have that, it just wasn’t good enough.

KluberThe Cleveland Indians season could, and to a large degree should, be considered successful for several personal accomplishments that positively impacted the team overall in a big way. For starters, this team has both a Cy Young candidate and an AL MVP candidate on their roster. By all accounts, Corey Kluber should be the American League Cy Young award winner this year. He has a 2.44 ERA, 18-9 record, was second in all of baseball in strikeouts and had the second highest WAR among MLB pitchers (first in the American League). Now while I could also make the case that Kluber could also be the AL MVP as well (his 7.39 WAR is not only second highest among MLB pitchers, it’s the fourth highest overall in the league), Michael Brantley has made a strong case for that honor as well. His 6.97 WAR is sixth best in baseball and his .327 batting average is the third highest in the league. Also, consider this. In March (one game) and April Brantley had a .255 batting average, his lowest monthly average of the season. His batting average for the remainder of the season (May-September) was .341. He set career highs in nearly every statistical category, including home runs (20), hits (200), RBI (97), runs scored (94), stolen bases (23) and batting average. Defensively, Brantley played in 153 games (1304.1 innings) and only had one error to go along with 12 outfield assists (tied for fourth highest among outfielders in 2014).

Michael Brantley

These are the most obvious individual achievements that made the 2014 Indians a relatively successful season. There are others. For as bad a start as he had (and as low as his batting average is), Carlos Santana’s 27 home runs tied him for 17th this year in baseball. Considering both offensive and defensive performances, Yan Gomes was one of the best catchers in baseball this year. While he didn’t lead the league (among catchers) in any one statistical category, he is near the top in things like batting average, home runs, slugging percentage and caught stealing percentage. The Indians bullpen had the seventh best ERA in baseball (3.12) despite having pitched the fifth most innings (513.1). The bullpen was also seventh in the league in strikeouts (504). As a staff, Tribe pitchers finished with 1,450 strikeouts which set a record for most strikeouts in a single season.

While there were no playoffs this season for the Indians, 2014 looks like it may be a stepping stone to some long term success for this team. The 2013 and 2014 seasons are the first time the franchise has had consecutive winning seasons since the 2000 and 2001 seasons. We also got a glimpse at some rookies, who to a degree helped contribute to the successful 2014 season. Tyler Holt, Zach Walters, Jose Ramirez, Roberto Perez, Kyle Crockett and T.J. House all showed that there is some young talent coming not named Francisco Lindor. This is also a team that isn’t going to lose star players to free agency. Assuming he doesn’t retire Jason Giambi is the only unrestricted free agent. Mike Aviles has a $3.5 club option and a $250,000 buyout. Those are the only two potential free agent casualties. Everyone else (barring a trade) will be returning next season.

Looking at it strictly from a playoff standpoint, yes the 2014 season for the Indians was a failure and a disappointment. They finished in third place, 5 games back of the Detroit Tigers (AL Central Division winners) and 3 games out of the AL Wild Card spot. However, considering that the Indians managed to have a winning season, aren’t losing any major pieces on that team to free agency, have two players that are MVP candidates, one that should win the Cy Young and a handful of young talent to help with the future it’s extremely hard to consider the 2014 season miserable and disappointing. For the first time in a long while for the Indians success is here now and the future is bright.

The Flailing Cleveland Indians

As it currently stands, the Cleveland Indians are in third place in the American League Central division with a 59-59 record. Last year at this time the Indians were 64-56 and in second place in the division, obviously a much better situation record-wise, but if you can believe it mathematically right now they are closer to first place than they were last year at this point. As it stands, the Indians are currently five games back of the division leading (don’t pinch yourself, it’s not a dream) Kansas City Royals. On this date last year, while in second place, they were six games back of the Detroit Tigers. The Indians are also still alive in the AL Wild Card race, currently 4.5 games out. Last season, every time this team was thought to be done they put together a long winning streak. It happened three times that I can remember. Mathematically the Indians are in the postseason hunt, as they were last year. However the difference between last year and this year is that this season I have absolutely no confidence at this point for the Cleveland Indians.

Last season we used words like clutch and magic to describe this team, especially late in the year. It seemed like every time the Indians needed to win in a big game, Jason Giambi would pinch hit for somebody and hit a walk off home run. The offense always came through. Our bats bailed us out. And this year our offense stinks. Except, that’s not really the case. For the 2013 season the Cleveland Indians hit .264 with runners in scoring position. So far this year the Indians are batting .263 with runners in scoring position. How about late game clutch situations? Baseball-Reference categorizes these situations as Late & Clutch, and defines them as “plate appearances in the 7th or later with the batting team tied, ahead by one, or the tying run at least on deck”. Last year the Indians were batting .254 in these situations. This year, the Indians are hitting .244. Yes, a slight dip, but enough to cripple this team? Probably not, especially when you consider that last year the Indians offense collectively had 104 RBI and scored 110 runs in these situations while this year so far they have 95 RBI and 98 runs scored. Considering there is a month and a half left in the season it seems reasonable to project that the Indians will match or even surpass those numbers. Last season the Cleveland Indians were tied for 5th in the league in runs scored with 745 and were 13th in batting average, collectively hitting .255. This season, the Indians are 6th in runs scored so far with 522 and are 11th in team batting average, hitting .256. Last season defensively, the Indians as a team had a fielding percentage of .983 (21st) and were 11th in errors. This season the defense is the worst team in the league in terms of fielding percentage at .979 and first in errors, committing 91 so far. While those numbers are a step back and clearly not good (for either year), is a 4% drop in fielding percentage the reason why this team is flailing? It certainly doesn’t help, but I’d say it’s not the primary reason. Yes, the bats have been inconsistent at times this year. Guess what, they were last year too. The Indians averaged nearly 4.6 runs per game last year. This year through 118 games they are averaging 4.4 runs per game. Yes, they made no major additions, but they had no major losses from an offense that was in or near the top 10 in many statistical categories last year. That remains the case this year.

Alright, so what’s the point?

TomlinThe primary reason the Cleveland Indians are struggling, and will continue to do so for the rest of the season, is because of one thing. The starting rotation. Before giving a statistical analysis, consider this. The Cleveland Indians opening day starting rotation consisted of Justin Masterson, Corey Kluber, Zach McAllister, Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco. The Indians have traded Masterson, McAllister and Salazar combined have made 19 starts in the minors (compared to 26 starts with the Indians), Carrasco lost his starting job (however has regained it, recently winning his first game as a starter since 2011) to Josh Tomlin (who has been as inconsistent as everyone else anyway), Trevor Bauer hasn’t successfully made the leap to consistent starter many were hoping for and lastly, people know who T.J. House is. Now, for the numbers. Last year’s starting rotation was far from lights out, but they were reliable. For the 2013 season Tribe starters collectively had a 3.92 ERA (14th in baseball) while the opposition hit .254 against them (13th). So far this year, Tribe starters collectively have an ERA of 4.37 while opposing offenses are batting .270 against them. As a whole, last year’s pitching staff (starters and relievers) had an ERA of 3.82 (15th) and the starters and an ERA of 3.92 while the offense averaged almost 4.6 runs per game. This year, the pitching staff has an ERA of 3.84 (nearly identical to last year, but 18th overall) while the starters have an ERA of 4.37 and the offense is averaging 4.4 runs per game. Keep in mind, the rotation’s awful ERA includes the 2.46 ERA of Corey Kluber. That’s how bad everyone else is.

Last season, the Cleveland Indians offense provided some support. That is also the case again this season. The difference between last season and this season, and the reason why the Indians have a small chance of making the postseason this year, is the starting rotation. Outside of Corey Kluber the Indians have nobody else to confidently hand the ball to. That’s a problem, and that’s why the Cleveland Indians are flailing.

You See Nelson Cruz, 20+ HR Guy. I See a PED Cheat.

In the 109 games that Nelson Cruz played for the Texas Rangers in 2013, he belted 27 HRs and drove in 76 runs.  He also had a fairly healthy .833 OPS and 209 total bases.  He did all of this WHILE WE KNOW HE WAS A PED CHEAT!!  That’s not speculation, that’s pure and simple documented fact.  He spent the last 50 games[1. Not technically true.  He played in game 163, which counts as a regular season game.  He did miss the last 50 regularly scheduled games due to his PED ways, though.] of the regular season at home, because he failed a PED test.  He is a Cheat.

Continue reading You See Nelson Cruz, 20+ HR Guy. I See a PED Cheat.

Two Historical Moments That Instant Replay Would Have Screwed Up

When I talk about Instant Replay, I do my very best to look at it objectively.  I do, because I realize that I have a huge bias against it.  The reason for that is I have two working eyes, and a personality that won’t allow me to get pushed around by MLB’s PR Machine.

Continue reading Two Historical Moments That Instant Replay Would Have Screwed Up

Should Retired PED MLBers Be Allowed To Come Back?

So for the last week, the biggest[1. He may only be number 2, now] Cheater in MLB’s long and storied history played the part of ‘special hitting instructor’ for the San Francisco Giants.  By all accounts, it was a pleasant experience for everyone involved, and Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy left the door open for the position to become more permanent, if Bonds so desired:

He’ll go home and have a chance to reflect on his time here. He’s built relationships with many of the guys. Our hope is he does come by, keeps in touch with them and with Meulens, our hitting coach.

Continue reading Should Retired PED MLBers Be Allowed To Come Back?

Five Storylines for the 2014 Cleveland Indians

With Spring Training underway, the Cleveland Indians are gearing up for a strong follow up season to the surprising 92 win 2013 campaign. While this off season lacked the major free agent acquisitions of last season, manager Terry Francona is still able to field the same core group of players that played a major part in their success last year. There is some concern that with the lack of a major roster addition the 2014 squad’s output will resemble the 2008 Indians, however the pieces remain in place for the Tribe to continued success. Here are five storylines for the 2014 Cleveland Indians season.

 

 

1. Improvements from Swisher and Bourn

While the Indians didn’t sign a big name free agent (David Murphy anyone?) there are still plenty of things to be excited about on the roster as far as the players acquired last season, specifically Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn. With a free agent pool that was not impressive, the Indians instead are relying on Swisher and Bourn to rebound from underachieving seasons instead of taking on another large contract.

 

 

If you just go by the numbers, Swisher was slightly down but close to right on par with his career averages. Last year for the Tribe, Swisher hit .246 with 22 home runs, 63 RBI, 27 doubles and 74 runs scored. Compared to his numbers in four years with the Yankees Swisher disappointed, however more was asked of him as he was hitting higher in the lineup for the Tribe. While it’s unfair to expect Swisher to his upwards of .275 with 30 home runs, an increase in production isn’t unfathomable, especially considering his on base percentage was down nearly 20 points from his career average (.358 OBP career vs. .341 in 2013). Swisher’s overall power numbers also declined as he only had a .423 slugging percentage compared to a career average of .462. His lack of RBI production was partly due to the instability around him, but look for Swisher to improve after having a season to adjust to a new ball club and an off season to rest an injured shoulder that hampered him for the majority of the season.

 

 

The Indians will also be expecting an increase in production from leadoff hitter Michael Bourn. Bourn only appeared in 130 games last season, the lowest number for him since 2007 with Philadelphia. Hopefully Bourn put the injury bug behind him, but it’s his production down the stretch that the Indians are really hoping improves. The speedster boasted a batting average of .304 through the month of June when his hitting took a nose dive. Bourn never hit better than .247 following the month of June and in the months of July, August, September and October Bourn only hit .236. Bourn’s on base percentage dipped lower as the season progressed as well, never reaching above .300 for the last couple months of the season.

 

 

He also failed to excite once he got on base.

 

 

Known for his speed, Bourn only managed to steal 23 bases for the Indians in 2013. Compare that to the 42 stolen bases in 2012 and 61 in 2011 and the disappointment is obvious. While this might partly be due to playing his first season in the American League and partly due to injuries, these numbers – the steals especially – will have to improve for Bourn.

 

 

2. The Carlos Santana Project

The Cleveland Indians have lacked a solid third baseman since Casey Blake, and Blake won’t ever be confused Mike Schmidt. With Lonnie Chisenhall failing to take a strong hold of the position, the Indians are hoping to successfully move Carlos Santana over to third. Santana has spent the majority of his career at catcher but does have minor league experience playing third base, although the majority of that was very early in his career. Despite that, Santana has committed to a position change and despite what one would think the reviews haven’t been all that bad. While he may have looked a bit uncomfortable at first, reports from the Dominican winter ball leagues were generally positive and optimistic. Santana also spent time with fellow Dominican Republic native and former third baseman Fernando Tatis working on his game at the hot corner. Expecting Santana to be a gold glove third baseman would be naïve, and with Chisenhall and Mike Aviles on the roster the experiment could end up being short lived, but if Santana can prove to be a serviceable glove at third base the Indians might have found a way to maximize Santana as he would be able to see more playing time at third base than he would’ve at catcher. The Indians would potentially get more offensive output at third base in one year than they’ve had in several years combined should Santana become the regular third baseman.

 

 

3. The Goon Squad Graduates

The Indians roster depth last season played a huge role in their overall success. Dubbed the “Goon Squad” and made up of Mike Aviles, Ryan Raburn, Yan Gomes and Jason Giambi, this group played a big role in the Indians post season push. Now these goons look to have an expanded role on the club.

 

 

Whether or not Santana becomes the everyday third baseman it seems fairly certain that he will not be the teams regular catcher, that role now belongs to Yan Gomes. Gomes played sparingly early in the 2013 season but saw more opportunities as the year went one, opportunities he capitalized on. Gomes showed some pop last year, hitting 11 home runs and 18 doubles in 293 at bats. Gomes also played extremely well defensively behind the plate and showed good chemistry with the pitching staff. If Gomes is able to build on his production from last season the catcher position will remain an asset on offense while becoming stronger on defense.

 

 

While the success Gomes had last year was a nice surprise, Ryan Raburn’s season was equally as surprising and impressive. Like Gomes, Raburn made the most of his opportunities and he was rewarded with a contract extension during the 2013 season. With the departure of Drew Stubbs, Raburn will likely see more time in the outfield. Whether the expanded role will result in an increase in production remains to be seen, and expecting him to duplicate an impressive .543 slugging percentage is probably unrealistic, but Raburn does have the talent to be at least a platoon player in the outfield.

 

 

4. The Starting Rotation

While the aforementioned Goon Squad played a big role in the team’s success last season, it was the starting pitching that played the biggest role in the Tribe’s 92 wins. Loaded with question marks last year, guys like Scott Kazmir, Corey Kluber, Danny Salazar and Zach McAllister elevated their games while Ubaldo Jimenez finally became the pitcher the Indians traded for and was arguably the best pitcher in the American League in the second half of the season.

 

 

This year the Indians will need the same type of overachieving production. Jimenez is now a member of the Baltimore Orioles and Kazmir is with the Oakland Athletics. That means once again the likes of Kluber, Salazar and McAllister will have to elevate their games. Carlos Carrasco will have to realize his potential and more than likely somebody else will have to emerge much like Kazmir did last season. While prospect Trevor Bauer has the talent to emerge for the Tribe, don’t sleep on Shaun Marcum. The 32 year old right hander has proven to be a reliable starting pitcher during his career. If you take away a poor season for the New York Mets (1-10 with a 5.29 ERA in 78.1 innings pitched), his career numbers are pretty solid (57-36 with a 3.91 ERA before arriving in New York). While he will never be a top of the rotation type of guy, Marcum is a very real possibility (assuming he is fully recovered from surgery and makes the team) as the Indians number four or five starter as the year progresses, especially if Carrasco continues to struggle in the big leagues. Marcum signed a minor league deal with the Indians with an invite to Spring Training.

 

 

5. The Ax Man

The Indians bullpen will have a new look to it this season, anchored by new closer John Axford. I’ll take a risk in saying Axford has big shoes to fill, considered how former Tribe closer Chris Perez’s time ended in Cleveland, but Perez as a whole was more good than bad and his departure left a definite hole in the bullpen. Axford is similar to Perez in that they both enjoyed dominate seasons recently and both have struggled to duplicate the production.

 

 

Axford has the ability to be a solid closer for this team, the key to that equation is whether or not Pitching Coach Mickey Callaway can get through to Axford. For a better explanation than what I can provide of what needs to be done to fix Axford, click here, but if he is able to get back on the right track Axford would be a huge asset for the Tribe.

 

 

Despite winning 92 games last year, there are plenty of questions regarding the 2014 squad. Whether or not Swisher and Bourn can produce at a higher level and who will emerge as a reliable starting pitcher are the two biggest concerns surrounding this team. The Indians managed to lock up a Wild Card spot last season last season with similar concerns, so if those concerns can turn into assets similar success can be had.

2014 Cleveland Indians, More than a Glimmer of Hope

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Cleveland Indians

Every once in a while during the frigid Cleveland winter, the sun pops out. Albeit sparsely, Clevelanders do witness a ray of hope. This brief moment serves as a metaphor for the fleeting bits of happiness associated with the Cleveland sports landscape.

Perspective shifts among each generation, so at 27-years-old, I have never witnessed anything to hold onto on Sunday’s in the fall. All I can rely on is stories from family who witnessed actual happiness from those past heroes clad in Orange and Brown.

Shoot up from the lake to gateway and the metaphor works with the addition of Luol Deng to the Cavaliers. At the time of this acquisition, optimism returned to The Q and the Cavaliers now had the veteran to provide leadership. Or so we thought. While Deng has been a model of class, his play cannot account for yet another Cleveland team without drive or any real connection with the Head Coach. For the rest of the year, the Cavs will, hopefully, provide enough entertainment to bridge the gap between the aforementioned two organizations and the city’s Luke Skywalker.

This of course is the Cleveland Indians, a team set to report to Spring Training later this month to begin the long 6-month journey of the Major League Baseball season. This is the crew that actually brought in a successful Manager in Terry Francona as well as an actual playoff game to Cleveland in just his first year on the job. For many reasons, this team does not connect with the fans in the way that it should but that is another column for another day. We are sticking to positivity for now when discussing the Wahoo’s (or the C’s if you are an employee of the Indians since the chief is unfortunately absent from their many shirts, polos and sweaters).

While many fans will point to a relatively uneventful off-season, the reality is this team won 92 games without much help from several key players.  Asdrubal Cabrera, Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn were far worse than they have been throughout their careers. Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana and Michael Brantley should provide at an absolute minimum, what they gave the Tribe last season. David Murphy can’t hit worse than Drew Stubbs, Lonnie Chisenhall still deserves one more real shot against righty pitchers and Yan Gomes/Ryan Raburn are the only true regression candidates on this team. Simply put, this offense which tied Baltimore for 4th in runs scored in the league last year, has a lot of upside heading into the 2014 campaign.

The bullpen did lose the always-reliable and quotable Joe Smith, which is without a doubt a noteworthy loss. However, the pen also struggled last season compared to the previous two years and this year the depth should be strong. John Axford replaces Chris Perez which could be a wash, Cody Allen and Bryan Shaw minimize the loss of Smith and Mark Rzepczynski and Josh Outman are historically able to dominate lefties. Bear in mind, this list does not include Vinnie Pestano who could negate an Axford flop with his own bounce back year and other internal options such as Carlos Carrasco (if not in the rotation), Josh Tomlin (see Carrasco) , CC Lee and maybe even Nick Hagadone.

From the middle to late innings, we now shift to the rotation where the Tribe does have holes to fill with the loss of Ubaldo Jimenez (assuming he doesn’t re-sign which is possible but unlikely) and Scott Kazmir. These two veterans gave the 2013 team a major boost and it would behoove the Indians to strongly consider signing another arm to a major league deal to help neutralize the loss. While the remainder of free agency is speculative, the Indians do bring back ace Justin Masterson, young phenom Danny Salazar and the last year’s shocker, in a good way, Corey Kluber. Zack Mcallister also brings experience but plenty of room for growth to the rotation and Carrasco, Tomlin, Trevor Bauer and minor league signee Shaun Marcum all have a shot at the fifth spot in the rotation. While still a question mark as an overall unit, the unquestionable talent of this group yields hope.

Last and certainly not least, the Indians bring back the full “Goon Squad,” for 2014 to again provide excellent depth for the Tribe’s regulars. Yan Gomes officially takes over as the starting catcher but outfielder Ryan Raburn, DH and Francona man-crush Jason Giambi and infielder “Handsome” Mike Aviles will continue to represent this close-knit unit. First baseman David Cooper, who the Indians signed to a major league contract despite few plate appearances in the MLB has an advantage to join the squad and his power potential is at least intriguing. Jose Ramirez is a major league ready infielder and expect to see the speedy Dominican Republic native, make an impact at some point in 2014.

Who else will emerge for the 2014 Cleveland Indians? Nobody thought last year that Yan Gomes, Scott Kazmir and Ryan Raburn would be instrumental in making the playoffs. Nobody in a sober state could have foreseen 2013 Jason Giambi nail the biggest hit of the season in late September against the White Sox. The National Pastime has a way of surprising all of us and this could very well lead the Indians to another 2006 or 2008 season of extreme disappointment after a successful season the previous year. But we are being positive remember, so let’s allow stick to the mountain of pessimism surrounding the other two teams instead of thinking about what could happen negatively to this bunch of Tribesmen.

So alas, while that small peek of sunlight may evoke comparisons to the faint hopes of the other teams, the Indians do not fit this metaphor. The Indians potential is far too bright for just a glimmer of hope, this team much like the season in which they play has a daily forecast calling for sunshine. Talent goes a long way as does chemistry and the Tribe boasts plenty of the former and Tito has ensured that the latter is as strong as any team’s in baseball.

So even if our less optimistic readers don’t see the light, the Tribe at least has to signify rain right? The sun disappeared, I think we’d all take a little rain.

If Choo, Cano Sign in the AL Central

Yesterday, I saw multiple reports that shook my inner Indians fan to its core.

First Buster Olney said this…

Then reports surfaced that Robinson Cano was on his way to Kansas City to sign with the Royals.

Gulp…

If you’re an Indians fan, this all hurts tremendously.

First of all, the Tigers, should they sign Shin-Soo Choo, might just be the best team in baseball. Take a gander at this lineup, should Shin Soo make his way to the Motor City.

Shin-Soo Choo
Ian Kinsler
Torii Hunter
Miguel Cabrera
Victor Martinez
Torii Hunter
Nick Castellanos
Alex Avila
Jose Iglesias

That lineup at its face value could easily take on any in the league. Meanwhile, Detroit houses baseball’s best pitching staff.

Justin Verlander
Max Scherzer
Anibal Sanchez
Doug Fister
Drew Smyly

The worst part of it all is that Dave Dombrowski seems to be on a World Series mission and will use all of the cash in the world to get there.

In other words, they’re not done yet. Not even close.

While the Tigers will certainly have the upper hand on the Indians seemingly regardless of the situation, the Tribe could at least compete with a Choo-less Tigers lineup. Once you put the former Indians star at the top of that order, who knows just how far the talent gap will grow.

All the while, Omar Vizquel has taken the job of first base coach in Detroit.

First Victor. Then Omar. Now Choo?

Detroit is slowly but surely destroying the Indians and their fan-base former player by former player.

Meanwhile, another AL Central team seems be on a mission and ready to spend some cash.

Rumors yesterday are showing that Robinson Cano may just be the newest member of the Kanas City Royals, in what would be an earth shattering development. Should that splash happen, the Royals could easily move into the second rung of the AL Central ladder and could become a legitimate World Series contender.

David Lough
Alex Gordon
Robinson Cano
Eric Hosmer
Billy Butler
Mike Moustakas
Lorenzo Cain
Salvador Perez
Alcides Escobar

Add in the top end of their pitching staff and they might be one of the most under-the-radar teams in all of baseball.

James Shields
Jeremy Guthrie
Ervin Santana
Wade Davis
Bruce Chen

First, the Tigers go out and get much better by moving Miguel Cabrera to first base, adding Ian Kinsler to the mix and potentially adding Shin-Soo Choo. Then, the Royals get the most highly sought after free agent in all of baseball.

Of course these are both hypothetical, but reported, circumstances, but in any case, can the Indians catch a break?
Sure, the Indians did get better on Wednesday by signing David Murphy to take over the everyday right field duties, but the Indians can’t compete with the suddenly big market teams in Detroit and Kansas City, should these deals go down.

The worst part is, there’s really nothing they can do about it.

The Indians don’t have the money to put a bid in on Robinson Cano. They can’t make a deal to bring back Choo. They just simply can’t make these splashes as, apparently, Detroit and Kansas City can.

This is all to say, Indians fans, that maybe last year, despite its heartbreak towards the end, was as good as its going to get. Maybe the magic that Jason Giambi, Nick Swisher and Ubaldo Jimenez brought to the corner of Carnegie and Ontario last season was as good as its going to get for a while.

The Tigers and Royals may be on the verge of taking over the American League and leaving the lowly Indians, White Sox and Twins in the dust.

Despite all of the good that Terry Francona, Chris Antonetti and Mark Shapiro have done for the Indians and for the city of Cleveland, it may all be for naught. The Indians, for the forseeable future, may be trapped in the dark, vast dungeon of the American League Central Division.

Is there anything they can do to get out, should Choo and Cano sign within this division?

Yes, but it would be very, very unlikely.

First of all could get out of the dungeon by getting lucky again and again as they did last season with Scott Kazmir, Ryan Raburn, Yan Gomes and Mike Aviles. If Antonetti continues to pull off moves such as those, the Indians can compete.

Even then, however, things will still be difficult.

They would still have to spend money to solidify their rotation, which is decent but needs a little help. They would also need prospects like Francisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez and Jesus Aguilar to be all that we expected and more.

Again, its not impossible, just very, very unlikely.

Other than that, just hope that these two rumors were nothing but. Hope that Choo and Cano sign with the Yankees, as that organization is a continual mess.

If you’re an Indians fan, however, just accept that should Cano and Choo sign in the Central, the new era of Indians excellence may come to a tragic and screeching halt.

All of the hope and optimism could be over with a few simple swoops of a fateful pen. Enjoy it, Tribe fans, because very soon, the fun could be over.

Grading My 2013 MLB Predictions

On April 1st, I published a post on this very site titled, “2013 MLB Predictions”. In that post, I prognosticated just about everything about the 2013 baseball season.

Well, I’m a man of integrity and I’d like to go back and see just how wrong (or right) I was about each of my predictions, grading each category.

Original Power Rankings

  1. Detroit Tigers
  2. Los Angeles Angels
  3. Atlanta Braves
  4. Washington Nationals
  5. Cincinnati Reds
  6. Los Angeles Dodgers
  7. San Francisco Giants
  8. Toronto Blue Jays
  9. Texas Rangers
  10. Tampa Bay Rays
  11. Philadelphia Phillies
  12. St. Louis Cardinals
  13. Boston Red Sox
  14. Cleveland Indians
  15. Baltimore Orioles
  16. Oakland Athletics
  17. Kansas City Royals
  18. Pittsburgh Pirates
  19. Chicago White Sox
  20. San Diego Padres
  21. New York Mets
  22. New York Yankees
  23. Arizona Diamondbacks
  24. Seattle Mariners
  25. Milwaukee Brewers
  26. Colorado Rockies
  27. Minnesota Twins
  28. Chicago Cubs
  29. Houston Astros
  30. Miami Marlins

Final Power Rankings (Based on Record) 

  1. Boston Red Sox
  2. St. Louis Cardinals
  3. Atlanta Braves
  4. Oakland Athletics
  5. Pittsburgh Pirates
  6. Detroit Tigers
  7. Cleveland Indians
  8. Los Angeles Dodgers
  9. Texas Rangers
  10. Tampa Bay Rays
  11. Cincinnati Reds
  12. Washington Nationals
  13. Kansas City Royals
  14. Baltimore Orioles
  15. New York Yankees
  16. Arizona Diamondbacks
  17. Los Angeles Angels
  18. San Diego Padres
  19. San Francisco Giants
  20. Toronto Blue Jays
  21. Colorado Rockies
  22. Milwaukee Brewers
  23. New York Mets
  24. Philadelphia Phillies
  25. Seattle Mariners
  26. Chicago Cubs
  27. Minnesota Twins
  28. Chicago White Sox
  29. Miami Marlins
  30. Houston Astros

Well, as you can see,  I only predicted potentially four teams right. Depending on the winner of the Rays and Rangers game, that could change for the worst and I could be left with just two correct predictions in terms of  my original Power Rankings.

For now though, I’ll give myself a 4/30, which is a big fat F regardless.

Grade: 4/30

Then I went to the divisional standings and the hilarity ensues…

AL EAST

Prediction

  1. Toronto Blue Jays 93-69
  2. Tampa Bay Rays 90-72
  3. Boston Red Sox 88-74
  4. Baltimore Orioles 81-81
  5. New York Yankees 75-87

Actual

  1. Boston Red Sox 97-65
  2. Tampa Bay Rays 91-71
  3. Baltimore Orioles 85-77
  4. New York Yankees 85-77
  5. Toronto Blue Jays 74-88

Clearly my love for the Blue Jays was misguided, as they started off slow and could never pick it up. Boston put it together and had an incredible 2013 season, while the Orioles and Yankees stood side by side and flew past my original thoughts. Tampa won just one more game than I thought they would, so I’ll count that as a point.

Overall Grade: 1/5

 

AL CENTRAL

Predicted

  1. Detroit Tigers 98-64
  2. Cleveland Indians 86-76
  3. Kansas City Royals 80-82
  4. Chicago White Sox 75-87
  5. Minnesota Twins 69-93

Actual

  1. Detroit Tigers 93-69
  2. Cleveland Indians 92-70
  3. Kansas City Royals 86-76
  4. Minnesota Twins 66-96
  5. Chicago White Sox 63-99

While the order of my predictions for the AL Central were mostly correct, I gave just about every team outside of the Indians and Royals far too much credit.

I gave Detroit 98 wins, they finished with 93. I gave Chicago 75 wins, they finished with 63. I gave Minnesota 69 wins, they finished with 63.

Meanwhile, the Indians defied my expectations, along with the expectations of just about every other baseball fan in America, and finished the year on a 10-game win-streak, garnering a Wild Card berth and home field advantage for the Wild Card game.

Never in my life have I been so happy to be wrong!

Kansas City did a little better than I was expecting, but overall, I knew they’d be in that 80 win range.

I’ll take three points here.

Grade: 3/5

 

AL WEST

Predicted

  1. Los Angeles Angels 98-64
  2. Texas Rangers 90-72
  3. Oakland Athletics 85-77
  4. Seattle Mariners 75-87
  5. Houston Astros 70-92

Actual 

  1. Oakland Athletics 96-66
  2. Texas Rangers 91-71
  3. Los Angeles Angels 78-84
  4. Seattle Mariners 71-91
  5. Houston Astros 51-111

The Angels were a team that plenty of people were excited about, myself included. This season was a disastrous one and may leave the entire franchise in shambles with no direction. That being said, it doesn’t change the fact that I thought they were the AL’s best team and failed to understand their massive holes.

I also overestimated the Mariners and Astros, while underestimating the Athletics.

Just like Tampa, I had the Rangers pretty spot on.

I had them mostly in the right order, outside of LA and Oakland, so I’ll give myself another 66.67%.

Grade: 3/5

 

NL EAST

Predicted

  1. Atlanta Braves 100-62
  2. Washington Nationals 98-64
  3. Philadelphia Phillies 81-81
  4. New York Mets 75-87
  5. Miami Marlins 60-102

Actual

  1. Atlanta Braves 96-66
  2. Washington Nationals 86-76
  3. New York Mets 74-88
  4. Philadelphia Phillies 73-89
  5. Miami Marlins 62-100

Atlanta is still my World Series pick and did nothing to deter baseball fans everywhere to think that can’t be the case. They did falter a bit at the end, but that could thanks to Jason Heyward’s gruesome jaw injury that cost him most of the final month of the season.

Clearly, Washington was not as good as advertised and the Phillies followed suit. The lowly Mets finished a game worse than I expected while the Marlins finished two better than I thought. I’ll credit those last two games to Detroit’s backups in the last series of the season.

I would give myself a 3/5, but I was just a game away from perfectly predicting the Mets season although I thought they would finish in fourth place.

Grade: 4/5

NL CENTRAL

Predicted

  1. Cincinnati Reds 95-67
  2. St Louis Cardinals 89-73
  3. Pittsburgh Pirates 81-81
  4. Milwaukee Brewers 71-91
  5. Chicago Cubs 65-97

Actual

  1. St. Louis Cardinals 97-65
  2. Pittsburgh Pirates 94-68
  3. Cincinnati Reds 90-72
  4. Milwaukee Brewers 74-88
  5. Chicago Cubs 66-96

Again, I vastly underestimated a couple of teams, but somehow I don’t feel alone.

The Pirates finally burst through the proverbial barrier that kept them away from the playoffs for the past two seasons, while the Cardinals finished tied for the best record in baseball.

Don’t ask me how St. Louis does it, but they continually play better than their roster indicates they should.

The Reds certainly underperformed this season, thanks to a late season collapse, but still made the postseason and gave themselves a chance to make a deep postseason run.

I hit Milwaukee and Chicago pretty much spot on, my only saving grace in the NL Central Division.

Grade: 2/5

 

NL WEST

Predicted

  1. San Francisco Giants 93-69
  2. Los Angeles Dodgers 90-72
  3. San Diego Padres 77-85
  4. Arizona Diamondbacks 75-87
  5. Colorado Rockies 66-96

Actual

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers 92-70
  2. Arizona Diamondbacks 81-81
  3. San Diego Padres 76-86
  4. San Francisco Giants 76-86
  5. Colorado Rockies 74-88

The NL West was one of the weirder divisions in baseball this seasons, but it ended up close to what I expected it to be. Of course, the massive exception was the San Francisco Giants and their unexpected drop-off thanks to a lack of pitching.

While the Dodgers started the year horribly, Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez gave them a much needed boost on their way to a relatively early NL West title.

Arizona started hot and looked like they were going to compete for the division, but ultimately the Dodgers payroll was too much to compete with.

Overall, the mixture of correct record predictions and incorrect spots lands me yet another 3/5.

Grade: 3/5

 

Then comes the playoff teams…

 

Predicted AL East Champions: Toronto Blue Jays

Predicted AL Central Champions: Detroit Tigers

Predicted AL West Champions: Los Angeles Angels

Predicted AL Wild Card: Tampa Bay Rays

Predicted AL Wild Card: Texas Rangers

 

Actual AL East Champions: Boston Red Sox

Actual AL Central Champions: Detroit Tigers

Actual AL West Champions: Oakland Athletics

Actual AL Wild Card: Cleveland Indians

Actual AL Wild Card: Texas Rangers/Tampa Bay Rays

The Red Sox and Athletics, coupled with the Indians, ruined my playoff picture.

Again, I’ve never been so happy to be wrong.

Grade: 2/5

 

Predicted NL East Champions: Atlanta Braves

Predicted NL Central Champions: Cincinnati Reds

Predicted NL West Champions: San Francisco Giants

Predicted NL Wild Card: Washington Nationals

Predicted NL Wild Card: Los Angeles Dodgers

 

Actual NL East Champions: Atlanta Braves

Actual NL Central Champions: St. Louis Cardinals

Actual NL West Champions: Los Angeles Dodgers

Actual NL Wild Card: Pittsburgh Pirates

Actual NL Wild Card: Cincinnati Reds

The Braves are my only saving grace, as all of the other teams defied me in some way or another.

Grade: 1/5

We then move onto my predictions for individual players in each league…

 

NL Breakout Star: Freddie Freeman 1B Atlanta Braves

Freeman was an NL All-Star this year and beat the rookie phenom Yasiel Puig to become one. That being said, Freeman did have a breakout year, hitting .319 with 23 home runs and 109 RBIs while leading the Braves to an NL East Championship.

While it’s debatable that Yasiel Puig was the breakout star, Freddie did beat him in the All-Star Final Vote, so I’m going to declare my prognostication of Freeman’s breakout season a victory.

Grade: 5/5

AL Breakout Star: Carlos Santana C/1B Cleveland Indians

Carlos Santana, unlike Freeman, took a step back in 2013 rather than the massive step forward I expected from him. Santana finished the season hitting .268 with 20 home runs and 74 RBIs, which was not worthy of an All-Star selection or the breakout player status.

While I still believe Carlos Santana is an incredible talent and has through-the-roof potential, he did not “breakout” in 2013.

Grade: 0/5

AL Disappointment: Josh Hamilton OF Los Angeles Angels

Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner.

Josh Hamilton was one of the main reasons for the Angels collapse in 2013, as he finished nowhere near his league-leading totals of his Texas years.

After a 2012 in which Hamilton hit .285 with 43 HR and 128 RBI, Hamilton hit just .250 this season with 21 home runs and just 79 RBI.

There was something different about Hamilton at the end of last season and I guess I picked up on it right away.

Grade: 5/5

NL Disappointment: David Wright 3B New York Mets

This was a very close call. Seriously.

David Wright was once a Major League star, but now seems to have adhered to the mediocrity that surrounds him daily in Citi Field. Wright’s numbers, however, were not all that different from last season.

Wright finished 2012 with a .306 average, 21 HR and 93 RBI, and finished this season with a .307 average, 18 HR and 58 RBI. While the RBI total is absolutely glaring, nothing else is.

My saving grace, however, is that I said that Wright would be a victim of his teammates. As the 58 RBIs show, Wright was just that.

Grade: 2.5/5 

AL Breakout Pitcher: Matt Moore P Tampa Bay Rays

Ding, ding, ding! Another winner.

Moore was brilliant from the very beginning and was only hampered by a midseason injury that kept him the best numbers in baseball.

After finishing 11-11 last season, Moore finished 17-4 with a 3.29 ERA and was among the most effective pitchers in the Major Leagues when healthy.

Expect more of that from him going forward.

Grade: 5/5

NL Breakout Pitcher: Kris Medlen P Atlanta Braves

Ding, ding, ding! Yet again, I win.

Despite his 15-12 record, Medlen finished with a 3.11 ERA and allowed just 68 runs in 197 innings pitched.

Medlen was the victim of a lack of run support and further supports why the “win” statistic is such a flawed one.

Grade: 5/5

AL Pitching Disappointment: C.C. Sabathia P New York Yankees

Do you sense a trend here? I do!

Sabathia was a catalyst for the Yankees sub-par season, as he left the rotation without a true ace.

In 32 appearances, Sabathia finished with a 14-13 record on the season with a 4.78 ERA. Last season, Sabathia finished at 15-6 with a 3.38 ERA.

As the numbers show, Sabathia was certainly a disappointment and may never be the dominant Cy Young Award Winner that he used to be again.

Grade: 5/5 

NL Pitching Disappointment: Zach Greinke P Los Angeles Dodgers

Just like that, the trend is broken. As was Greinke’s jaw.

After the infamous brawl that broke Greinke’s chewer, he came back and was the pitcher that the Dodgers expected him to be.

At 15-4 with a 2.63 ERA, Greinke had a better season than he did in 2012 and made sure the Dodgers pitching staff was the best in baseball.

Grade: 0/5

After a rather successful run of individual player predictions, we get into the predictions that I just randomly threw out there for fun….

Predicted Average attendance at Marlins Park: 9,324.

Actual Average attendance at Marlins Park: 19,584

Grade: 0/2

Predicted Stolen Bases from Michael Bourn: 34

Actual Stolen Bases from Michael Bourn: 23

Grade: 0/2

Predicted Number of No-Hitters: 3

Actual Number of No-Hitters: 3

Grade: 2/2

Predicted Number of Perfect Games: 2

Actual Number of Perfect Games: 0

Grade: 0/2

Predicted Longest Losing Streaks of the Marlins and Astros Combined: 49.

Actual Longest Losing Streaks of the Marlins and Astros Combined: 24

Grade: 0/2

Predicted Number of times Indians get shutout: 7

Actual Number of times Indians got shutout: 9

Grade: 0/2

Biggest Name Traded at the Trade Deadline: Joe Mauer or Justin Morneau

Biggest Name Traded at the Trade Deadline: Justin Morneau

Grade: 1/2

Predicted Managers Fired: Eric Wedge, Ron Gardenhire, and Mike Redmond.

Actual Mangers Fired: Dale Sveum 

Grade: 0/2

Predicted Number of Home Runs Hit by the Atlanta Braves Outfield: 88

Actual Number of Home Runs Hit by the Atlanta Braves Outfield: 50

Grade: 0/2

Predicted Number of Jason Giambi Home Runs: 5

Actual Number of Jason Giambi Home Runs: 9

Grade: 0/2

Predicted Number of Playoff Games Played in Cities in the AL Central not named Detroit: 0

Actual Number of Playoff Games Played in Cities in the AL Central not named Detroit: At least 1!!!

Grade: 0/2

After all of that, my final grade is:

53.5/132= 40.5% 

A big fat F.

Although I was tough on myself, a few things really did me in, namely the Toronto Blue Jays, Los Angeles Angles, San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals.

I was way off on those squads and in the end they ended up being some of the most surprising and disappointing teams in all of baseball.

Overall, however, I would say that despite my grade, I did an ok job. That’s the true beauty of baseball, you never know exactly what’s going to happen.

While that was it for my regular season predictions, a couple of my postseason predictions still stand.

I’ll get to those when it’s said and done. Hopefully, again, the Indians make me happy to be proven wrong!