Welcome to 2012 Cleveland Indians fans!
Outside the brilliant acquisition of Derek Lowe, the Tribe has made little noise so far. The front office knew going into the offseason the budget would increase to make the Tribe a contender. General manager Chris Antonetti has projected a two or three year plan for the Indians to win a World Series before the GM is forced to blow up the roster and start over. To his credit, the pitching staff is loaded with a mix of veteran leadership throughout the staff along with quality young arms. Although, there has been no power hitters signed to date, that does not mean moves have not transpired.
A major factor to the Tribe’s demise last season were injuries. With the acquisitions of Aaron Cunningham, Andy LaRoche, Jose Lopez, and Felix Pi, along with a bench that includes Ezequiel Carrera, Shelley Duncan, and Jason Donald, Cleveland is more equipped to sustain success if a starter is injured for an extended period of time. As posted in a previous article, the Indians starting lineup will not differ much from last year, barring a free-agent signing or trade in the coming months. The lineup currently looks like this:
1B) Matt LaPorta
2B) Jason Kipnis
SS) Asdrubal Cabrera
LF) Michael Brantley
CF) Grady Sizemore
RF) Shin-Soo Choo
DH) Travis Hafner
Bench (in no particular order)
1) Jose Lopez
2) Jason Donald
3) Ezequiel Carrera
4) Shelley Duncan
5) Andy LaRoche
6) Aaron Cunningham
7) Felix Pie
The front office has put much of its energy into the rotation and pitching staff, and is counting on them to carry the load for the majority of the season. All in all, this team has plenty of talent throughout. They are young and hungry. Injuries ruined their chances last season to challenge for the division. With the added help to the depth of both the starting rotation and the batting order, the Indians have solved a glaring problem from a season ago.
One other blatant gap last season was at first base. LaPorta only had 300 at-bats last season, that’s half of what Cabrera saw. Not surprisingly, LaPorta nearly hit half as many home runs and half as many RBIs. Although his average was at .240 for most of the year, the Indians played hitters with far worse averages than that. LaPorta needs to play better and more consistently if he is going to be the Tribe’s first baseman. This is a position of concern for many Indians fans and front office members. As the focal point in the CC Sabathia trade, the front office would really like to see LaPorta pan out. With no options left for the minor leagues, this is his last chance. With former All-Star Lopez battling for the starting role at 1B, we will found out right away if LaPorta is up for the challenge.
The 2012 season opener is only four months away and spring training starts Feb. 20 for pitchers and catchers. The front office feels confident with the team it has assembled, but, rest assured, they are constantly trying to improve the team. It’s a shame Derrek Lee is reportedly not interested in coming to Cleveland. Not only is it a wonderful place to live and play baseball, he would make the Tribe a viable World Series contender. An offseason of adding depth, Lee and Lowe to what we already have would put this team in the playoffs and challenging for more. Either way, the 2012 season is coming and the Tribe will be battling for a division title.
- Officially licensed by the MLB
- Officially licensed by the MLB