In this week’s Spin Cycle, we are going to continue to look at the Indians’ starting rotation, as we have the past few weeks. The Indians have been quiet since they dealt Drew Stubbs this past December, because their club as a whole seems to be fairly complete. While the Indians have minor concerns at shortstop and third base, their pitching remains the question mark heading into the 2014 season.
How much of a question mark depends on who’s looking.
Today, we are going to focus the spotlight once again on Ubaldo Jimenez, who remains a free agent in an unknown market for starting pitchers.
In this week’s Spin Cycle, we are going to continue to take a look at the starting rotation, where the one tangible hole on the 25-man roster remains. While it’s vital that the Indians address the #5 spot in the rotation, what happens in the 1-4 slots may be equally important. While the Indians seem to have those spots locked down with Justin Masterson, Danny Salazar, Corey Kluber and Zach McAllister, there are questions that remain.
Before we get there though, let’s take a look at last week’s Spin Cycle, again, with interesting results.
Last week, we took a look at who the Indians #5 starter would be between Carlos Carrasco, Shawn Marcum, Josh Tomlin, Trevor Bauer, or by a potential move that had not been made yet. I was purposely vague on what that move might be, thinking that it could either be a big money signing, like Ubaldo Jimenez returning, or another minor league contract.
There was no clear majority, yet again, for the results, but there was a fairly clear cut between what Indians’ fans want, and what they likely don’t want. The top two results garnered 58 ½ % of the total voting, so it’s clear that there’s an arm that most want to see succeed, unless the Indians go about getting another proven arm.
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. Continue reading →
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.
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.
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?
Christmas is over, and I feel like I’m in a holding pattern for New Year’s Eve. One group of family has left for home, and another group is heading North for more fun and spirits.
I’m in need of some meaningful sports, and I’m not talking about NBA theatrics with a known enigma like Andrew Bynum.
I’m talking about games that mean something. Perhaps there’s a rivalry game in which the Browns could knock the aforementioned rival out of the playoffs. Oh wait, the Browns have to lose that game.
Thanks goodness for Ohio State football, and that game this coming Friday against Clemson. Fortunately for the Tigers, Woody Hayes won’t be patrolling the sidelines. Unfortunately for Clemson Urban Meyer will be there in his stead.
The Buckeyes will be agitated. The Buckeyes will be angry. The Buckeyes will be set to make a statement. Clemson will score their points for sure, but I really think we’re going to see why Urban Meyer is the best coach in the country. Look for Carlos Hyde to have his best day as a Buckeye, and look for Braxton Miller to go over 100 yards rushing, and 200 yards passing.
The Bucks defense will be more than good enough.
What are my predictions for this game?
Ohio State 48, Clemson 24. I don’t know that it’ll be that close.
Next week, while basking in the victory, we’ll take a look at what the Buckeyes look like heading into 2014. They’ll be better than this year if Braxton Miller comes back, and they’ll have a chip on their shoulder….but for next week…
It’s Christmas time here at the Corner of Carnegie and Ontario, and what that means for the Pete household is a respite before loading up the Pete Family Truckster for a criss-crossing, 2000 mile trek up and down the East Coast, taking my family to both Florida and Pennsylvania over the next two weeks.
Trust me when I say that I’ll enjoy the respite of Christmas day with just my family, opening presents, watching 24 hours of a Christmas Story, and hopefully falling asleep at some point around 5:00 P.M.
Hopefully you’ll be doing the same.
With all of that said, it’s Wednesday, and the column must go on. I’ve decided to take a much more relaxed tone this week, and have delved into the land of theme.
With Christmas Day finally here, I’ve decided to go the route of the ‘Twelve Days of Christmas for the 2014 Cleveland Indians.’ Oh, I could have rehashed the 2013 season (it certainly would have been easier), but thought it would be fun to take a look into Christmas’ future, rather than Christmas past.
Jeez, I just hope I, or the Indians, don’t bump into the Grim Reaper along the way.
There isn’t a better time to be sitting here at the Corner of Carnegie and Ontario than at Thanksgiving.
Okay…that’s not totally true.
I’m a Cleveland Indians’ fan…which brings with it…irony.
The irony is that more often than not over the past 42 years of my life, the cupboards have been more empty than full this time of year.
Not this year.
My, what a difference a year makes.
With that said, it’s time to kick off the annual Giving Thanks episode in my weekly Corner diatribe, which I’ll try to get out before the Cavs welcome the Miami Heat and LeBron James to Cleveland tonight, and before LeBron treats his Miami Heat pals to a good ole’ Ohio Thanksgiving tomorrow.
It sure gives you the warm and fuzzies, doesn’t it?