Cleveland Indians 2013 Roster: State Of The Union

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Saturday December 29th, 2012

Cleveland_Indians

Jake Dal Porto (Baseball Writer)

The Cleveland Indians were nothing short of the laughing stock of the American League Central this past season. A hot started quickly turned into a hot mess, and their entire team went up into flames.

Now, with a new manager and a few hopeful offseason of moves, the Indians aren’t half-bad.

Let’s take a lot at a couple of the big questions in Cleveland:

Do the Indians Have A Legitimate Offense With Nick Swisher?

The Indians’ corps don’t exactly resemble a powerhouse offense of the Angels or Blue Jays. It’s much more inexperienced and raw. Still, Cleveland does have some pieces that are young and will continue to develop in coming years. Perhaps if there was no pitching element of the game, they could contend, but as we all know, that’s not the case.

Nick Swisher should solve their short-term issues. He compiled an .837 OPS with a .364 OBP  last year. More importantly, he’s versatile, being able to play First Base, and any outfield position with the exception of CF. Meaning, he could very spell Mark Reynolds at First Base when his strikeouts begin to become a common trend. The same goes for Carlos Santana, who will likely see some reps at First Base as well.

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With Swisher, the Indians’ offense looks subdued. Without him, manager Terry Francona would be left with a young core of Santana, Jason Kipnis, and perhaps Drew Stubbs if he cuts down on the Strikeouts. Now, Swisher relieves some of the burden off those three, and adds depth to an otherwise inexperienced lineup.

It’s almost like the Indians are setting themselves up to be productive in the present, and future. Swisher and Reynolds are seemingly the present pieces that stabilized the fort, while the existing others will be the key pieces of the future. It’s certainly a nifty approach to a team that was and still is expected to be at the cellar of the American League Central Division. If all the right strings are pulled, though, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see them sneak up on some of the contenders solely due to an improved offense.

Last year, Cleveland was hit and miss. This year, we should see some form of consistency take shape. So yes, their offense is legitimate, but that’s hard to ignore when their pitching is as bad as it is.

Will Anyone Step Up In Cleveland’s Rotation?

One would hope that Ubaldo Jimenez could turn back the clock to his days with the Rockies, or that Justin Masterson and his intriguing potential could finally materialize into something worthwhile. While both thoughts alone are certainly appealing to Indians’ fans, the matter of the fact is that there are few signs of anything about these two coming to fruition.

Masterson is probably the more attractive one of the two, as he has logged over 200 innings in each of the past Two Years. Still, his command and overall effectiveness are up for debate. He walked nearly 4 Batters Per 9 Innings Pitched this past season, allowed over 9 hits per 9 Innings Pitched, and totaled a bleak 4.93 ERA. The number that really puts this all into perspective is his 1.45 WHIP, which in 2012 was the 5th worst figure in the AL. Or in English, he rarely knows where the ball is headed.

And who’s below him?

That’s right, Ubaldo Jimenez sporting. So in short, the Indians essentially have two wild flamethrowers on their hands with aging potential that will soon instead become lost causes as they approach the big 3-0.

If someone, anyone, could ever fix Jimenez, then Francona might have a contender on his hands, however. It doesn’t even have to be the 2010 version Ubaldo Jimenez, as even the one who compiled a 3.80 ERA in the 4 years before would appeal to the masses in Cleveland.

Either way, one of them will have to come into something for the Indians to even think about contending in the short-term.

Why?

Well, the newly acquired Trevor Bauer probably isn’t ready to be “that guy” quite yet at just 21-Years of age. Perhaps in a couple of years he will be anchoring down Cleveland’s now stark rotation, but putting the pressure on him now wouldn’t be too wise.

Otherwise, the Indians don’t have much. Zach McAllister, who was once ranked the sixth best prospect before the season began by Baseball America, could be a nice piece in a few years. will likely be a growing year unless he’s Stephen Strasburg, of course.

Now who’s talking about their perhaps solid offense? No one, because their pitching will continue to hold them down until management renovates their rotation with veteran hurlers.

The Grand Conclusion:

Despite their flawed pitching staff, Cleveland could be an interesting team to watch in 2013. That is, if Masterson and Jimenez are somewhat decent.

Their offense will certainly score runs at a higher rate with Nick Swisher added into the mix. Plus, the young pups in Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis should be a bit more consistent as well with 2012 under their belts.

Cleveland does have the potential to make some noise, but there are too many “if’s” regarding their rotation to make any bold predictions now.

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*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com or their partners.***

Jake Dal Porto is a Baseball Writer with MLB reports and a student from the Bay Area. Jake’s favorite sports moment was when the Giants won the World Series back in 2010. He loves to use sabermetrics in his work. He thinks they are the best way to show a player’s real success compared to the basic stats such as ERA, RBIs, and Wins. Jake also enjoys interacting and debating with his readers. Follow him on Twitter:

Jake Dal Porto

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About Jake Dal Porto

Jake Dal Porto is a student from the Bay Area. He has followed Bay Area sports for years, and enjoys writing about the various Bay Area teams. He is an assistant editor at Golden Gate Sports, and the editor of Blue Man Hoop. If you need to contact Jake, email him: jakedalporto@gmail.com

Posted on December 29, 2012, in MLB Teams: Articles and Analysis, The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I agree with alot of what you said. Having Swisher on the team does improve the offense along with Reynolds. Put those two guys in the middle of the lineup with the young bats of Kipnis and Santana. As for the pitching, if Masterson can get back to his 2011 stuff, Jimenez can get some of his stuff back and the young pitchers can continue to improve, the pitching will be good…Between Bauer, Gomez and McAllister, there are some good young arms there.

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