The DEFEND Cleveland Show

2014 Tribe Preview


It’s Opening Day and NE Ohio still refuses to believe that this Indians team is worth their affection.  Sure, everyone jumped on board for that one game playoff against Tampa.  Hell, I even went downtown to be part of the spectacle.  I was tossing back beers and ready to get all jacked up for some October baseball.  It was amazing to see all the old jerseys that were brought out of the back of closets for the occasion.  When you noticed all the Sizemore, Vizquel, and Sabathia shirts on fans, you realize just how long The Casual Fan has been uninterested in supporting the team. Although they won 92 games last season, it seems like people feel like that was a fluke and the team can’t possibly be good again this year. Well, kinda…

I have great concerns about their starting pitching.  Fans never took to Ubaldo Jimenez even though he was arguably the best pitcher in the American League after the All Star break.  Scott Kazmir was picked up off the scrap heap and went out there every five days and pitched his ass off.  The team couldn’t (or wouldn’t) pay their now inflated contracts, and they have both moved on.   That’s 61 starts and 341 innings that have to be replaced by guys like Shaun Marcum,1 Carlos Carrasco, and Josh Tomlin.  Apparently the Indians now have the reputation that the Braves used to have about being magicians in repairing pitchers.  They better.  Shaun Marcum went 1-10 on the Mets last year, and to think the Indians can pull a Scott Kazmir Part 2 on him seems naively optimistic.  Carrasco seems like a bullpen guy to me.  Tomlin is a back of rotation guy.

The Indians will need Masterson to repeat his 2013, which seems reasonable.  I think Corey Kluber is going to be the guy that has an unexpectedly good season.  He creates ground balls with almost 50% of batters putting it on the ground.  Last year he got screwed with a batting average of balls in play of .330.  That’s ridiculously high.  If that regresses to the norm, he should put up really nice numbers.  That puts the focus on Danny Salazar.  If this fragile sports car can pitch a full season at the high expectations surrounding him, no one will remember Scott Kazmir was even on the team last year.  Danny Salazar seems like he will be, “That fucking guy is filthy!  No one can possibly hit him!  He makes Pedro Martinez in his prime seem like Bret Fucking Myers!”, or, “What was the name of that kid who was supposed to be good but blew his arm out?”.  It’s one or the other.  I think it’s all or nothing with Salazar.  That’s the whole season.  It’s all about those three guys.  If those three have good seasons, the Indians will be very interesting and maybe even slide into the Playoffs again.

While the batting order isn’t going to make anyone forget the 90’s Indian teams, there are some legitimate hitters running out there every day.  Swisher was disappointing, but I think he was hurt a lot more than he let on with that shoulder.  Everyone loves his Bro appeal, but the dude needs to hit more than .250 or he’s that irritating guy at the keg party.  I think he bounces back.  He should be good for .265 and 23 HRs.  Carlos Santana is entering his prime.  Kipnis is the real deal, and probably the best player on the team.  Brantley is a legitimate MLB outfielder.  Asdrubal is expected to have a better year, as it is his contract year. This line of thinking is sort of ridiculous as if every guy that was ever playing for his next gig just flipped a switch a played better.  “Oh, I need to play well?  OK, I’ll smack a double!  I wasn’t trying before.”  If Francisco Lindor even shows a glimmer of being ready to play at the big league level, they’ll trade Asdrubal by July.

The real questions in the field are at third, right, and center.  The Indians are going to hedge on Chisenhall by running Santana out there as often as they can.  If I were Lonnie Chisenhall, I wouldn’t be buying any real estate in NE Ohio.  I would suggest renting something by the Airport.  In right that platoon of David Murphy and Ryan Raburn seems like a real roll of the dice.  Raburn so outperformed his past that to think he’ll show anything close to what he did in 2013 seems insane.  He is a 33 year old utility guy for a reason.  He hit .171 in Detroit two years ago in 222 at bats.  I would be stunned if he hit .272 with 16 home runs again.  Meanwhile David Murphy collapsed in Texas last year.  He hit .220 with 13 home runs in 476 at bats.  In the unreal world of pro baseball, that earned him a $12 million dollar contract.  His batting average for balls in play was absurdly low at .227, so maybe he returns to being a .275 guy with some pop.  One of those two guys is going to really suck this year.  It’s just a question of which one.

Let me be the first to discuss the Michael Bourn situation.  His game is speed.  That’s it.  He doesn’t get a lot of walks.  He doesn’t hit for power.  He outruns mistakes and hits just enough to provide real value with stolen bases.  The problem is that last year he didn’t steal 40 bases like he did for Atlanta.  He stole 23 and got caught 12 times as an Indian last year.  The year before in Atlanta?  He stole 42 while being caught 12 times.  His batting average has gone .303 to .274 to .263.  Last year he only got on base on 26% of his bunts that he put in play.  Oh yeah, he also is already on the DL with a hamstring issue.  Uh-oh…  Is that Clint Frazier kid ready to play yet?

Vegas has the over/under for the Indians at 80.5 games, or roughly playing .500 ball.  I like the OVER.  I think the Indians win 84 games and miss the Playoffs.  I think they finish third to the Tigers (who will beat the crap out of everyone again) and the Royals.  The Royals and Indians are remarkably similar teams, but one of these years their “incredible collection of young talent” will have to actually play well, right?  The Indians just won too many close games last year.  Baseball is brutal in the way it makes teams come back to reality.  There are just too many games to allow lucky breaks carry a team two years in a row.

The real question this year is how much further the organization creeps away from Chief Wahoo while denying that they are doing so. How they pretend that they aren’t phasing out the logo is the best part of Opening Day.  Who wants a smiling cartoon guy on a hat when you can have a block letter C on one instead?  A Times New Roman font “C” is the hat that all the hipsters will be wearing in 2014.  I can feel it.  I like the PR dance.  I think it would be way more interesting if they rolled out in that 1940’s super offensive caricature logo, but I’m also a guy that stares at car wrecks.


Go Tribe.
Super Bonus:  I like the Miami Marlins OVER 70.5 wins.  The NL East is the Nationals and everyone else.  The Phillies and Mets should really suck.  I think Miami can grind out 73 wins.  I also think Milwaukee is UNDER 80 wins.  That pitching staff is pretty suspect, and the once vaunted batting order is now Ryan Braun, Carlos Gomez, Jean Segura and a bunch of question marks.  They have to play St Louis, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh every other day.  That seems like a 76-77 win team to me.
-Greg Miller
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  1. Due to “thoracic outlet syndrome”, Marcum was reassigned and will start the year on the minor league disabled list []

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Posted by on Mar 30 2014. Filed under Featured, Greg Miller on Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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