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Your morning reminder that the Indians are good: While We’re Waiting

"The Good Old Days" circa 2016

While some see nothing more than a chore, making your bed can be a philosophical bedrock. Everything might go wrong throughout your day with most events well outside the scope of your control. However, coming home to a well-made bed is on you.

Control what you can. Don’t worry about the rest.

There is a lot about rooting for a sports team outside this scope. The overall payroll can be a collective byproduct of the fans, but no individual will alter the calculus. Fans do not get to make roster moves, in-game decisions, nor dictate whose hits will drop or strikes get called.

Each person can decide how these items will affect them. Not that it is easy. Pure, blind devotion can lead to anger and sadness dominating the emotional spectrum when things go awry. Dry intellectual following can lead to emotionless apathy no matter the results. Either case can lead to frustration when the team picks a different path than the one you deem best.

Based on the overall coverage and general fan reaction this offseason, one might be surprised to learn the 2019 Cleveland Indians are expected to field one of their best teams in the last 60 years of the franchise. The AL Central division title is considered all but assured. The team has a historically dominant starting rotation spoiled with four pitchers who have the ability to finish in the Top 5 of the AL Cy Young Award voting. Two position players are expected to finish in the Top 5 of the AL MVP voting in a lineup projected to be Top 7 in all of baseball.

Lest any forget, a youthful reboot to remain competitive was not only a look to the future but a direct need given the staleness from the past season results. The front office could not simply roll back the same team expecting better results. Whether or not the replacements are deemed acceptable can be debated, but there is no doubt a bold move to reconfigure the roster was accomplished.

There are still issues including unknown contributions from a high-risk collection of outfielders and relievers; not to mention no discernible player to designate as a hitter. Some hand-wringing is justified given potential small, short-term signings for mitigation being bypassed as payroll has dropped from previous seasons.1

On the year-to-year player perspective, Yan Gomes and Michael Brantley are departures with no obvious heir entering 2019. Roberto Perez is a fine defensive catcher who has never hit well for more than a small sample size.2 Left field is a potential barren wasteland with only hope one or some of the young outfielders in the system can fill the void. Andrew Miller and Cody Allen can also be considered significant losses if their careers, on the whole, are considered though when just the 2018 season is looked upon the Tribe should not have an issue with replacements.3 Each of the others players have been displaced by youth with potentially more value.4

On the player accruement side, Carlos Santana and Jake Bauers were the biggest additions, both coming to the team in the same trade. The Indians will also receive a full season of Brad Hand and Leonys Martin, which will be beneficial.5

Jordan Luplow is a useful platoon partner for Bauers, Max Moroff replaces Erik Gonzalez, and Kevin Plawecki adds some potential offense from the catcher spot. Chih-Wei Hu, Justin Grimm, and Jefry Rodriguez were all additions to the bullpen. None of these players are expected to be huge boons in 2019, but they should each be useful in their roles.6

Regardless, the corps of the team remains. Francisco Lindor’s excellence is only matched by his gregariousness. Jose Ramirez’s abilities might actually out-weigh his over-sized swagger. Kluber’s stoic greatness. Carrasco’s under-rated exuberance and merit. Bauer and Clevinger’s odd couple competitive friendship. Not to mention the front office has made significant trade deadline and waiver period moves each of the past three seasons.

Opening Day of the Major League Baseball is supposed to be akin to reliving Christmas Day as a child with the offseason simply building anticipation for the event as fans long for summer days with a gentle breeze and the Cleveland Indians dominating the AL Central Division. You can choose to be a crank about issues out of control if you wish, but I’m going to enjoy the prospect of what promises to be a fun and exciting team.

Additional reading

  1. Payroll is down though it should also be noted that relative to MLB on the whole, not nearly to the extent some are attempting to describe.
    Final payroll (Opening Day payroll, MLB Rank)
    2015: $77,404,413 ($86m, No. 26)
    2016: $105,971,268 ($86m, No. 24)
    2017: $131,958,928 ($125m, No. 17)
    2018: $142,804,703 ($134m, No. 16)
    Current: ~ $115m, ~No. 18 to No. 21 []
  2. Hat-tip to the small sample 2016 postseason where Perez home runs helped catapult the Tribe to within a run of the World Series title. []
  3. Cody Allen 4.70 ERA, 4.56 FIP, 0.0 fWAR
    Andrew Miller 4.24 ERA, 3.51 FIP, 0.4 fWAR []
  4. Edwin Encarnacion, Lonnie Chisenhall, and Yonder Alonso combined for a 2.5 fWAR in 2018, which Carlos Santana might clear himself as he is conservatively projected to obtain a 2.1 fWAR. []
  5. Assuming Martin has fully recovered from his near-deadly infection. []
  6. Other names such as Brooks Pounders, Mike Freeman, Josh D. Smith, and Trayce Thompson were added and could see their name called but are less likely to have a positive impact. []