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Frankie Lindor, Joe Harris, Fantasy Baseball, and the Indians: While We’re Waiting

Good morning and happy Wednesday, you guys! At least we’re almost halfway through the workweek, right?

Hope all of you are having a great week. With March just around the corner, it won’t be long until March Madness and the MLB season are here, which means better weather in northeast Ohio as well! Mid-March and April will be here before we know it so we shouldn’t wish time away too much, but it is by far one of my favorite non-football times of the year simply because, well, who doesn’t like the craziness of March Madness? Pair that with Opening Day and the MLB season, along with spring, and it’s a perfect trifecta.

On this fine Wednesday morning, I just have some things I have to get off my chest, along with talking about a Three-Point Champion.

Enjoying Frankie Lindor before it might be too late

You’d think that Cleveland fans would stop taking star players for granted. We’ve experienced LeBron James leaving twice and yet, as WFNY’s Andrew Schnitkey point out Tuesday morning, many Indians fans are already talking about (and dreading) Francisco Lindor’s upcoming free agency…three years from now. I get it, it will absolutely suck if Frankie leaves us for another team and city simply because the Indians might not be able to afford him because they are a small-market team, but can we just focus on his time here right now and stop talking about a guy’s potential free agency even though he is under team control through the 2021 season?

In case you might have missed what the shortstop said about his future earlier this week, here’s the full quote, which seemed to get fans talking:

“Who knows?” Lindor said, according to The Athletic’s Zach Meisel. “That’s not where we are right now. I was focused on arbitration. That’s not where I am. When it comes to long-term deals, I love the city of Cleveland. I love everything about Cleveland. We’ll see. We’ll see what happens. At the end of the day, I’m playing the game to win. This is a good place where I can win, so we’ll see. If the Indians come up with the right numbers and at some point, it happens — which, I’m not even thinking about it — we’ll see.”

No matter what the Indians did (or didn’t) do this offseason shouldn’t affect our love for Frankie, the star that any team and city would love to have. Instead of worrying about his potential free agency in three years, in actuality we should be more worried about him recovering from his strained calf and getting back to 100 percent. That’s what is most important, really.

I’m not sure if having to worry about LeBron leaving seemingly every summer he was with the Cavs, especially during his second tenure with the wine and gold, made this worse or not, but I just wish that Cleveland fans would learn to just not take their star athletes for granted. Frankie is so easy to root for. All of us want him to be remain with the Indians until the day he decides to hang his cleats up. But please just enjoy him while we have him, even if it is only for three more years.

Joe Harris, NBA Three-Point Champion

I don’t remember when or how I became a such a big fan of Joe Harris, but at some point during his time as a Cleveland Cavalier, it happened. Even when he was going back and forth from Cleveland to Canton on a daily basis in order so he could get plenty of playing time with G-League’s Canton Charge while also being on the Cavs, I was still supporting Joe 100 percent, especially when he rarely played and spent much of his time on the bench during his early days donning the wine and gold.

Fast forward to 2019 and he has become a knockdown three-point shooter while also being one of the Brooklyn Nets’ biggest contributors. The 27-year-old is averaging a career-best 13.9 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game while shooting 50.1 percent from the field and 47.1 percent from beyond the arc in 30.1 minutes a night (54 games, 54 starts). Keep in mind, during his two-year stint with the Cavaliers from 2014-16, the 6-foot-6, 218-pound guard averaged just 9.1 minutes a game and played in only 56 games (one start). To say that he has come a long way would be quite an understatement.

While I wish the LeBron James era Cavs could have given players such as Harris and Cedi Osman much more playing time in order to develop their game, I can’t look back and regret anything now. Then again, Cleveland was always searching for shooters to surround LeBron with during his time here. Harris looks like he could have been one of those dominant, knockdown three-point shooters. With all that said, the only thing I can do is talk about this year, and this past weekend, Joe Freakin’ Harris won the Three-Point competition during All-Star Weekend this past Saturday, barely edging out Stephen Curry for the crown. Much like every member of the 2016 Cavs should be known as an NBA Champion and be remembered for helping the Golden State Warriors blow a 3-1 series lead, Harris should forever be known as a Three-Point Champion. Don’t ever forget either of those.

It was a beautiful thing to watch. In just five years, the former Virginia Cavalier has made quite a statement and is now considered one of the best long-distance shooters in the NBA. Good for you, Joe!

Thank goodness for Fantasy Baseball

There’s a reason I put this one last among the three topics. Due to me being a bit snarky with this topic, I’m hoping that the die-hard Indians fans might stop reading this article after my Lindor section. If not, I’m sure the comments will be quite fun and positive, right? Yeah, probably not the case.

With Spring Training beginning this week, Opening Day isn’t far off. Usually, I’m really, really excited for the Indians season to start up. While I’m somewhat still excited, there’s just a different feeling I have this time around. Cleveland’s slow, dismal offseason is the major reason that’s the case. I get it, the Indians have arguably the best starting rotation in baseball and star position players like Lindor and Jose Ramirez, among others, but I mean, is that good enough?

Yeah, they’ll dominate the worst division in baseball and most likely win 95 or so games this season when all is said and done, but if the Tribe weren’t in the Central, the outlook would be much different among much of the fanbase, right? They will feast on the rest of the Central, but that’s not good enough. Another Central crown isn’t (and shouldn’t be) good enough. I, along with all Indians fans, want more than just another divisional crown, especially considering how bad the Central is right now. 2016 gave Cleveland fans a taste of what a berth in the World Series feels like. I want that back. All of us want that back. Right now, it’s tough for me to even think about the Indians making their second trip to the World Series in four years because, well, they got worse this offseason while other top teams in the American League improved. There’s a reason that the Indians, who are huge favorites to win the division, have just the ninth-best odds to win the World Series, according to Bovada. I get it, as the saying goes, if you get into the MLB postseason, anything can happen. The randomness and variance, the star players on a hot or cold streak, etc., it can all change everything. While star positions players and a dominant rotation are vitally important, one of the other most important parts during the postseason is a dominant bullpen. Why should any of us feel positive about the current Indians ‘pen? WFNY’s Mitchell Krall wrote an outstanding article about the bullpen and that sure made my outlook a bit more positive, but it’s hard to think about Cleveland leaning on the bullpen in the playoffs in its current state.

With that said, I’m sure the Indians will make some moves at (or near) the trade deadline again, but that’s also growing old as well. Why not sign players that can improve your team during the offseason, especially with many fliers going for super cheap deals. Instead, they trade away future assets at the deadline. A small-market team can’t continually operate like that and expect to continue to keep their window open for a long period of time. Add in that they have much of their core group of players on cheap, team-friendly contracts, and it makes this offseason look that much worse, especially with some of the contracts that free agents are signing. I don’t know much about the analytical side of things in baseball, but it just all seems off to me, at least right now. Posting my concerns behind the scenes in the WFNY Slack channel has certainly helped, especially because our Indians writers have a much more positive outlook on all of this than I do, but I’m still very concerned nonetheless.

For that, I am at least grateful for fantasy baseball. As of right now, I’m looking forward to the MLB season more so because of my fantasy baseball team than the Indians. That’s bad. I don’t want that. But right now, that’s the case. Part of that is mostly due to me winning it all in my big-money auction keeper league last season and having keepers that consist of JRam, Trea Turner, Javy Baez, Daniel Murphy, Christian Yelich, Juan Soto, and Mike Clevinger, but it’s also due to the Indians front office not really making any moves this offseason that gets me amped up for the first pitch on Opening Day.

Don’t get me wrong, I know the Indians are still going to be very, very good this season and I can’t wait to watch the rotation and guys like Frankie and Jose dominate, but I just hope they find ways to fill their holes at some point, sooner rather than later. Succeeding in the postseason is all that matters at this point and I just want the front office to put this team in the best position to win when it matters most. I wish they would have done more this offseason, but it is what it is at this point. Maybe I should have more hope and trust in the front office, but then again, maybe I shouldn’t. Here’s to hoping the Indians outperform my expectations this season, specifically in the postseason, and that my fantasy baseball team dominates as well. Roll Tribe!