Cleveland Sports Insiders

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Orbiting Cleveland: Analyzing 2014 Indians top prospect lists

francisco-lindor-2013-bwOn Wednesday, Baseball America released its long-awaited 2014 Cleveland Indians Top 10 Prospects list.

The list is always interesting to see simply because of Baseball America’s reputation as being the standard in the industry when it comes to prospect rankings. The rankings are, however, subjective to the opinions of Baseball America’s writers, and debate is inevitable once they’re released.

That has already been the case this season as there were some surprises and some notable omissions. Without further ado, take a look at Baseball America’s listing for yourself: Continue reading


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Orbiting Cleveland: The rotation has a huge hole

Josh Tomlin (AP PHOTO)

Josh Tomlin (AP PHOTO)

Where is help when you need it?

That has to be a popular question amongst the Cleveland Indians front office right now.

After going 92-70 in 2013, the Indians are winners. Now how will they find a way to stay winners in the year to come?

That’s not an easy task, and it becomes even more difficult when you realize what the team must replace. They’ve already lost left-hander Scott Kazmir to free agency, and it seems as if there’s a good chance that Ubaldo Jimenez will be gone too.

That’s not good.

Conventional wisdom would suggest that the Tribe cannot afford to lose Jimenez simply because of his contributions to the team last season. After all, who would want to lose a pitcher who went 13-9 with a 3.30 ERA?

That issue is compounded by the fact that the Indians already lost Kazmir, who signed a two-year, $22 million deal with the Oakland A’s this past offseason. Kazmir was no slouch himself in 2013 and went 10-9 with a 4.04 ERA.

It’s not easy to replace performances like that, but it can be done, especially if a team has capable replacements available. Yet, that’s where things get somewhat dreary when predicting a forecast for the Indians’ 2014 season —the Tribe has nothing of the sort.
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Orbiting Cleveland: Ubaldo Jimenez will be back in 2014

Ubaldo Jimenez (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

Ubaldo Jimenez (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

It may have taken some time, but it appears as if the Indians’ offseason plans are finally becoming a bit clearer.

During the past week, we’ve seen the Indians sign John AxfordShaun Marcum and trade Drew Stubbs to acquire Josh Outman.

None of these moves could be described as big acquisitions, but it does at least signal that the Indians are trying to address their concerns and get… better.

Better — that’s an interesting word to consider.

The Indians won 92 games last season and also earned one of the American League’s Wild Card berths. Knowing that, it’s not going to be that easy for the team to get much better; it’s very difficult to win much more than 92 games in a season.

So let’s consider that word one more time. Has this team actually positioned itself to be better in 2014?

Offensively, it looks as if that may be the case.

A platoon of David Murphy and Ryan Raburn will now replace Stubbs in right field. Murphy is coming off a rough 2013 campaign, but he does seem like a solid candidate for a rebound season.

Also, we know the back of the bullpen was a problem area for the Indians in 2014. They did improve that a bit by acquiring the lefty Outman, and Axford will now be the closer. However, Axford has not been a closer since 2012, and he also has a career average of 4.0 walks per nine innings. Tribe fans can probably expect that Axford has a comparable performance to Chris Perez, and it’s no guarantee that he will offer much more than that.

Also, it appears as if the Indians are banking on offensive players like Michael BournNick Swisher and Asdrubal Cabrera having much better seasons at the plate. It does seem likely that all three of these players could rebound, but what if then Yan GomesCarlos Santana and Jason Kipnis also have down years at the plate?

In all honesty, it seems fair to conclude that the offense has made a slight improvement with the addition of Murphy over Stubbs, and the bullpen does seem a bit more stable. The team now has two viable left-handers in Outman and Marc Rzepczynski, and that was not the case last season.

But there is one area where the team is noticeably thinner — starting pitching.

As of now, the rotation appears to be Justin MastersonDanny SalazarCorey Kluber and Zach McAllister. The fifth spot in the rotation will likely be decided in a battle between Carlos CarrascoJosh TomlinTrevor Bauer and Marcum.

Sorry, that’s simply just not enough.

The Indians have already lost Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir, who both played integral roles in leading the team to the postseason last year. Do the Indians win 92 games without either of these two guys last year?

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Orbiting Cleveland: What to expect from Zach McAllister?

Orbiting

Graphic created by Lianna Holub

As the Hot Stove season continues to heat up, questions are swirling in regard to just exactly what the Cleveland Indians will do.

Will they sign a bat? Will they get an arm? Will they make a trade? These are the prevailing questions in the minds of Tribe fans at the moment.

Instead of looking at the what ifs though, let’s talk about what we know, and what we know is that at least four members of the Indians’ 2014 starting rotation appear to be set in stone. Barring any significant changes, Justin MastersonDanny SalazarCorey Kluber and Zach McAllister seem to be locks to enter 2014 as members of the team’s starting rotation.

All four of these players are coming off of good to great 2013 seasons, but outside of Masterson, they all also seem to have some question marks that surround them.

Perhaps none of them are more puzzling than McAllister. Just exactly who is Zach McAllister?
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Orbiting Cleveland: Should Colon be an option?

OrbitingOn Monday, the Cleveland Indians’offseason took its latest turn when the team announced it had extended a $14 million qualifying offer to free agent right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez.

By all accounts, the qualifying offer was a good move. Jimenez now has until Nov. 11 to accept or reject the offer. If he accepts it, he will be bound to the Indians for one year at $14 million. If he declines and signs with another team, the Tribe receives an additional 2014 draft pick at the end of the first round.

That, my friends, is what you call covering your bases.

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Orbiting Cleveland: What to do with Cabrera?

Sometimes, it’s best to start things with a bang. At least that’s how the Cleveland Indians seem to see it.

The Indians wasted no time starting their offseason Thursday. Just one day after the World Series ended, the Indians announced that they had released closer Chris Perez, and the team also completed a move as they acquired left-handed reliever Colt Hynes in exchange for cash. Then, on Friday morning, the Indians exercised the option of right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez (which he voided to become a free agent), and they also declined the option of outfielder Jason Kubel, thus making him a free agent.

So, this is it. The World Series had been over for just a mere few hours, and the Tribe immediately got a head start on its Hot Stove season.

The Perez decision was an obvious one. While many probably did not expect it to happen so soon, it seemed as if it was a foregone conclusion that the right-hander would not be back.
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Orbiting Cleveland: Is Corey Hart a fit?

We’re just a short ways away from the MLB’s Hot Stove season kicking into full-swing, which means that we can now officially start to think about who the Cleveland Indians should go after in free agency.

So who do you got?

Of course, many of us can long for the chances that the Indians sign Carlos Beltran or Nelson Cruz, but we know that the chances of either of those signings happening seems a tad unrealistic. That’s just not how the Indians operate.

As a small-market team, the Indians have no choice but to be creative in the way they approach free agency, and that will assuredly be true this season.
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Orbiting Cleveland: Can Aguilar help in 2014?

When you’re a small market Major League Baseball team like the Cleveland Indians, the writing is on the wall.

Small market teams are forced to look at everything differently than your New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox of the world. General managers are forced to be creative in order to compete in a system that is basically unfair.

Every dollar, regardless of how miniscule it may be, is counted.

Every free agent, regardless of how minor he may be, is evaluated.

Every move, regardless of how insignificant it may appear, is calculated.

This offseason is especially interesting for the Indians because the team finds itself in a different situation when compared to recent years. The Indians went 92-70 this past offseason and clinched a berth in the American League Wild Card playoffs.
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Orbiting Cleveland: Resigning Jimenez should be top priority

It’s October, and the Indians are now out of the playoffs.

That means Tribe fans are only thinking about one thing — free agency.

Yet before a team goes out about signing Major League free agents, it needs to first look at its own possible free agents.

That’s an especially interesting topic for the Tribe this season because for the first time in years, the Indians find themselves with a handful of intriguing free agents.

Last year, players like Roberto HernandezTravis HafnerJack Hannahan and Casey Kotchman highlighted the list of possible Indians free agents. It was pretty hard to make an argument about retaining any of those players, eh?
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Orbiting Cleveland: Putting things into perspective

Sometimes perspective is everything.

Perspective is what many Cleveland Indians fans are now searching for after Wednesday.

Some seem to have the perspective that the Indians’ run to the postseason could be considered a flop. Maybe there is some truth to that.

After all, the Tribe was shutout 4-0 by the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League Wild Card Game, and some of the numbers are just staggering:
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