Thursday, March 1, 2012

2012 MLB Preview #7: Cleveland Indians

Greetings... I'm lower on Cleveland than most...


C - Carlos Santana
1B - Casey Kotchman/Matt LaPorta
2B - Jason Kipnis
SS - Asdrubal Cabrera
3B - Lonnie Chisenhall/Jack Hannahan
LF - Michael Brantley
CF - Grady Sizemore (injured)/Ezequiel Carrera
RF - Shin Soo Choo
DH - Travis Hafner

Youth and question marks. Seems to be a theme of the bottom tier, huh? First of all, Carlos Santana is a beast. He's young, but hit 27 homers with an .800+ OPS last year, and at 25, he's only going to get better. The rest of the youth? Eh, we'll see. Jason Kipnis had a nice debut in a very small sample size, Chisenhall struggled mightily in 66 games, and centerfield is a potential disaster area with Sizemore already injured. Also, first base with Casey Kotchman (who actually hit last year) will be great defensively when he plays, but I don't expect anything but below-average offensive production. The key for me? The Indians need Choo to hit. 8 homers and an OPS in the .700s isn't going to do it from their best player, and they need a return to star production. One bright spot in 2011 was Cabrera, who went crazy to the tune of 25 homers and 17 steals, but I don't think we can use that as his baseline just yet. This could be a nice unit, but there are too many questions for my taste.

Starting Rotation

1 - Ubaldo Jimenez
2 - Justin Masterson
3 - Fausto Carmona (or whatever his name is)
4 - Derek Lowe
5 - Josh Tomlin

Remember when Cleveland had no pitching? Those days are over. Ubaldo was bad in 11 starts after coming over from Colorado, but don't forget it was just over a year ago when he was making a legitimate Cy Young run in the NL in that ballpark. Masterson was dominant a year ago with a 3.21 ERA and while he still doesn't miss as many bats as they'd like (158 Ks in 211 innings), his stuff is undeniable. Carmona is the swing guy for me, as he was flat-out awful last year (5.25 ERA, only 109 Ks in 188 innings), but has the potential for much more. Lowe was a sneaky-good signing for them, especially when they put out above-average infield defense (Kotchman, Cabrera) behind him, and Tomlin doesn't walk anybody. This isn't bad.


Chris Perez! My faux excitement over him is on purpose, as no one is excited by him at all, but he did convert 36 of 40 saves last year, and while he's battling an early injury, he should be ready for opening day. Vinnie Pestano was electric in a set-up role (2.32 ERA, 84 Ks in 62 innings) and he could be the future closer if Perez falters. The rest of the pen is unexciting, but if they can get to the back-end, they'll be okay in the 8th and 9th.


77-85, 3rd in AL Central

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