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Friday, February 8, 2013

MLB 2013 Team Preview: Cleveland Indians

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MLB 2013 Team Preview: Cleveland Indians
By Wild on Sports Baseball Analyst Aaron Dorman

CLEVELAND INDIANS
2012 Record:
68-94

The Indians may have thought they were contenders based on a surprise 2011 season, but that turned out to be a mirage and their pitch-to-contact staff watched the hits fall in all year long. 

NOTABLE ADDITIONS: Nick Swisher, Trevor Bauer, Drew Stubbs, Mark Reynolds, Brett Myers, Michael Bourn, Daisuke Matsuzaka

NOTABLE LOSSES: Sin-Soo Choo

Keys to Success: Will their younger players develop into stars? The trio of Jason Kipnis, Lonny Chisenhall, and Carlos Santana all have performed at varying degrees of respectability, but for Cleveland to be taken seriously, at least of them might have to become a star. Can the change of scenery help Drew Stubbs, who has done little with the bat other than generate historic levels of wind around the batter’s box. 

PROSPECT WATCH
Prospect Key:
TBD= Work in Progress
X= Posses the Tool
XX= Excels at Tool

TREVOR BAUER (rookie watch), RHP:
Velocity
Second Stuff
Command
Control
Strikeouts
Health
xx
x
TBD
TBD
xx
x
Bauer was inexplicably dumped by Arizona despite being one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. There were rumors they didn’t like his routine in between starts despite the fact that it lead to him being one of the top pitchers in college ball a year ago. His star did not dim after going 12-2 with a 2.40 ERA between AA-AAA. In 22 starts and 130.1 innings, he struck out an impressive 157 batters while only walking 61. AAA-Reno is also a very difficult place to pitch, which makes his 2.85 ERA there even shinier. He struggled with command in a very brief major league audition (4 september starts) but there is no reason to worry about that. There is no reason to think Bauer cannot be effective in the major leagues this year. In fact, he’s probably the Indians’ best pitcher right now.
FRANCISCO LINDOR, SS:
Power
Speed
Hitting
Plate Discipline
Defense
Arm
TBD
x
TBD
x
x
x
Lindor’s numbers-.257/.352/.355 with 6 HR, 42 RBI, and 27 SB- are deceptive because he was one of the youngest players in full-season ball, hitting in low-A Lake County as an 18-year-old. Lindor showed intriguing plate discipline and bat control, and got better as the season wore on. Still, optimistic scouting reports are less about the numbers and more about his poise/professionalism/swing, which means there is still a high range of outcomes, from all-star shortstop to one who contributes mainly with his glove. He will start the year in high-A.  Another talented shortstop, DORSSYS PAULINO, is right behind him on the depth chart and shows similar tools.
CODY ALLEN, RHP (rookie watch, relief):
Velocity
Second Stuff
Command
Control
Strikeouts
Health
x

x
x
x
x
Allen tore through the minor leagues, going 8-3 with a 1.74 ERA across two seasons, with 128 strikeouts in 98 innings (only 23 walks). He spent most of the second half in Cleveland’s bullpen and acquitted himself well there, with a 3.72 ERA in 27 games, and a solid 8.4 K/9. Because of that success, he stands a very strong chance of pitching all year in middle relief, and could vie for some later innings/saves if he continues to succeed. 

2012 Top Draft Pick: Tyler Naquin, OF

Sleeper MLB Contributor: YAN GOMES was acquired from the Blue Jays and could provide right-handed power while playing several different positions over the course of the year. 

2013 OUTLOOK AND PREDICTIONS: The Indians had a very strong offseason, undoing some of the damage of the Ubaldo Jimenez mistake by acquiring a top pitching prospect on the cheap in Bauer, and adding free agents Swisher and Reynolds to improve their offense. Despite being the subject of trade rumors, solid shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera remains with the team for now. Last year the Indians fooled themselves into thinking their junkballer non-prospects like Josh Tomlin and Jeanmar Gomez could at least be average (add Derek Lowe into that mix as well), and should not have been surprised when they proved too hittable. This year, they should be more sober in their outlook: even with Bauer, they’ll still stink. Yet with just enough wish-casting, one could see Justin Masterson turning in a better year, and/or Ubaldo Jimenez bouncing back, to see the Indians surprise again…if their offense improves as well. Because their talent on hand isn’t completely without hope, they are 
POSSIBLE CONTENDERS. 

 UPDATE 2/12: The Indians signing of Michael Bourn continues a good offseason, but does not change the forecast. They probably needed Drew Stubbs to have a rebound for them to contend anyway, so this signing merely adds to the likelihood that they will have a solid center fielder. Stubbs is now trade bait.

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