Tuesday, March 8, 2011

MLB 30 in 30: Cleveland Indians

Remember 2007? It was a good year for Cleveland sports. The Cavs were in the NBA Finals, and the Indians were one game away from the World Series. Now? They both aren't very good, and they both share a similar destiny. No end to the troubles in sight.

What they Have: They have young talent in C Carlos Santana, who despite his horrific injury at the end of last season, can still be the Indians backstop for years to come. Also starting is once prized 1B Matt LaPorta, who has some work to do but can still become a great 1B in the future. Shin-Soo Choo is the Indians best player as of right now, and he can hit as well as field very well for this team. One problem could be though that he wants to be moved to a competitor, so he may not be with Cleveland all year. Once stars CF Grady Sizemore, and DH Travis Hafner have fallen off significantly since the ALCS run in 2007, and will need to recoup some of that production in order for the Tribe to be competitive.  Pitching wise, the Indians have some good pitching, lead by Fausto Carmona, who will need to recover from a slightly subpar season last year. Also in the rotation are the former Red Sock Justin Masterson, Carlos Carrasco who was acquired in the Cliff Lee trade in 2009, and Mitch Talbot.

What they Don't Have: A lot. First is a completely full stable of healthy players. Some of the big players like Santana and Hafner couldn't stay healthy last season, and will have to in order for the team to succeed. Also, some positions don't have the full-time players the Indians need to be successful like 2B Luis Valbuena, 3B Jayson Nix, SS Asdrubal Cabrera, and LF Michael Brantley. They'll need to play major roles in order for the Indians to win more than 69 games this season. Their bullpen is pretty bad, even though Chris Perez did a nice job of closing by the end of last season. They were near the bottom in every pitching category, and will need tons of help to improve that.

Any Help Coming? With a team like the Indians, the farm system must be great, right? In the Indians case, it is. The best prospect is southpaw Drew Pomeranz, who can possibly see major league action by the end of this season. He has good stuff and velocity. 3B Lonnie Chisenhall can pretty much do everything well except hit for power, and that will come soon. He may make the team out of spring training. 2B Jason Kipnis will also be an important part of the Indians future infield, he can really hit, and has made a smooth transition from outfielder to 2B.

Outlook: Not good. This is a full-scale rebuild so it will take some time for this team to be good. The future looks bright, but the present doesn't. This could be another basement year for another Cleveland team. Poor Cleveland.

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