Today is the day we’ve all been waiting a long time for. Today, the Indians suit up against the Cincinnati Reds in the first Spring Training game and real-ish baseball game of the 2013 season. The Indians have had the best offseason in at least twelve seasons and have thrown fans, including myself, into a Tribe frenzy. Currently sporting my authentic Nick Swisher threads, I am so excited about the 2013 Tribe I can hardly stand it.
I just kind’ve wanted to jumble a bunch of thoughts about the Tribe into a post, so here goes nothing:
I did a post a while back on the Tribe’s lineup and what it would look like come Opening Day. I was very wrong, but it wasn’t my fault. With the additions of Jason Giambi and Michael Bourn, the Indians lineup will look very different than I originally thought it would. Here’s what the lineup is projected to look like (in a somewhat organized manner in terms of batting order):
CF Michael Bourn
SS Asdrubal Cabrera
2B Jason Kipnis
1B Nick Swisher
C Carlos Santana
DH Mark Reynolds
LF Michael Brantley
3B Lonnie Chisenhall
RF Drew Stubbs
That seems to be a very solid group of hitters. As for what I said about Santana playing 1B, that clearly will no longer be the case. Santana is going to be the every day catcher, and will force Lou Marson into many less plate appearances. While I said Santana needed to move over to 1B, he now needs to focus on becoming a more defensive catcher. I am just hoping his bat will not be affected by the every day catching duties.
I also have a pretty revolutionary idea that is, in fact, not very revolutionary at all. I love the idea of Mark Reynolds playing third base and putting Giambi at the DH hole. This is obviously contingent upon whether or not Chisenhall puts up solid offensive numbers and whether or not Giambi sticks to the wall he’s being thrown upon. I like Chisenhall, but I don’t think he’s going to be all that productive with his low spot in the lineup.
Then there’s the issue of the order in the lineup. The Indians have a good problem on their hands: they have a lot of good hitters. This causes a problem as to where to put all of the offensive power the Indians hold. There are a few options, and I am sure Terry Francona will be mixing it up for quite a long time. There is no reason to fret about the lineup until maybe a quarter of the way through the regular season. Until that point, it will simply be a guessing game.
The Indians announced this morning that their new campaign would be “Cleveland Is A Tribe Town”. After the whole “What If?” debacle, the Indians and their PR firm have certainly come up with a great slogan. The Indians are the talk of the town right now, or at least they should be (that’s for you crazy Browns people), and the Indians have taken advantage of their great offseason through a new marketing direction.
I feel as if the magic of the 1990’s could be well on it’s way back, and it all starts with this new mantra. To me, Cleveland has always been a Tribe town. I wasn’t alive when the Browns were good, and the Cavaliers are the newest of the bunch, so the Indians always seemed like the team that was meant to represent Cleveland; its fans, its tradition, and its loyalty.
Since the new regime took over the team, however, the Indians haven’t generated as much buzz as they should. Shapiro, up until this point, hadn’t done much of anything for the Indians and the Dolans weren’t willing to give up any cash. Well, now that both of these habitual happenings have been overthrown, the Indians are very much relevant again, and the new slogan is well worth it’s salt.
The biggest question mark for the Tribe is their rotation. I think that three spots are pretty much taken, but the final two are up for grabs. Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Brett Myers are going to have to pitch well for the Indians to win. It’s a fact. No matter how good the offense is, the three “for sure” starters are going to have to get it done. When it comes to the other two, I’m hoping that the Indians caught lightning in a bottle.
Scott Kazmir, Carlos Carrasco, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Zach McCallister, and Trevor Bauer could all be viable options for the 4th and 5th spots in the rotation. That is what Spring Training is going to be for, to see whether or not a few of these guys will take the reigns on a potential rotation spot. I, personally, am hoping to see Kazmir and Matsuzaka return to form while Carrasco, McCallister, and Bauer continue to develop. Eventually, I think Bauer is going to be a potentially All Star caliber starter, but until them, I think it’s best that his head and his arm get to the same place.
As for my prediction for the rotation, it goes as follows:
- Justin Masterson
- Ubaldo Jimenez
- Brett Myers
- Daisuke Matsuzaka
- Zach McCallister
I wish that both Daisuke and Kazmir could make a spot on this rotation, but I just don’t see it happening. When you’re trying to “revamp” a players career, it often turns out for the worst rather than for the better. I think they’ll be able to do it with Daisuke, but I think that Kazmir might be too far gone to bring back in at this point. It would be absolutely amazing to see both Kazmir and Matsuzaka pitching well in this rotation though. If that’s the case, I believe we could be looking at a potential World Series contender.
With all of the excitement, this is the chance for the Indians to take hold as the team of this town. Cleveland hasn’t had a winner since LeBron left town, and this is seemingly the first chance to reverse that trend. The Cavs are going to take a while to develop, the Browns are on the right track, but the Indians have an opportunity to win as we speak. Let’s hope they make the most of it and make Cleveland a “Tribe Town” once again.
Follow Hayden on Twitter @H_Grove