Opening Day is just around the corner and the Everybody Hates Cleveland staff has reported to camp in the worst shape of our lives. Before we all get drunk on the sweet, sweet nectar of baseballahol, we here at EHC wanted to take a step back and look at what we can expect from the 2015 Cleveland Indians.
This will be a two-part series – the first exploring what to expect from the team as a whole in 2015 and the second focusing more on individual players.
Prediction #1 – Cleveland Indians 2015 Record
The EHC staff is universally excited about this Indians squad, as well as a weak AL Central –
Fans need to buy into this team. They’re extremely talented, very deep, and have help from down below. The Tigers have to replace 530 innings worth of starting pitching production from Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello, and Drew Smyly. The White Sox won the offseason and are getting a fair amount of buzz, but there are still some big holes on that team and no depth. The Royals have to replace 200 innings from James Shields and have some regression candidates on the pitching staff. The Twins are just waiting for their wave of Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, and Alex Meyer to show up. They’ll be better, but still a non-factor. Get on board and fill up the bandwagon now because there won’t be many seats left in July or August.
I always appreciate brevity in such pieces but I will note that the floor for this roster/system is 81 wins and this is perhaps the weakest division in baseball, so the worst outcome involves the Indians being relevant in September and the best outcome could be championship special. Lastly, this is a team loaded with guys worth the price of admission: Corey Kluber, Michael Brantley, Yan Gomes, Carlos Santana, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar, so no matter the outcome, this will be a rewarding summer for Indians fans.
It goes without saying that the success of this team hinges on their pitching and depth. If the Tribe can get its pitching staff to replicate its effort in the second half and receive the same contributions from its reserve players it did in 2013, watch out for the Indians as a serious contender in the AL Central.
Like everyone else, I’m excited about this Cleveland Indians baseball team. When you look at every position, there are few questions, potential for upside, and likely stellar play. I still worry about third base, but there’s help closer than people think. I still worry about Michael Bourn, but pray there’s one more good year left…Oh, and I do think the Indians will have a top-three rotation, and if Brandon Moss stays healthy, offensively, he’s going to lead this team, and make a run at MVP. This Indians team will contend for the World Series in 2015. Hmm, I made it all the way through this without mentioning Tito Francona or Mickey Callaway…
I’m excited for this season. There’s a ton of buzz about this team and with good reason. I never enjoy the media or popular opinion picking the Tribe, but with it being such a close division, it doesn’t bother me as much. Paper looks good and I think the real version could look even better given more things go their way than not.
Clearly, like many of the local and national pundits, I’m drinking the Indians Kool-Aid as well. There’s plenty of teams that I have followed in my time, but it’s been some time since I remember a team getting the national publicity that this current squad is generating. But that’s for good reason. With a starting rotation that is filled with power arms and at least eight men deep, this team has the ability to make some noise, and most importantly, withstand the inevitable injury bug. Combine that with a defense that is sure to improve, and there are lots to like.
Of course I hope Tribe wins more than 88 games, finishes first in the Central and wins the World Series, but I’m trying not to get my hopes too high in March. That said, I think there is more reason to be optimistic about this group than any Indians team in recent years. If the pitching remains strong and they can play better defense, this team could be scary.
Meanwhile Michael Ondo gets the first of many Zach Walters references under his belt –
I’d look for the Indians to make some type of move during June or July that will bring in back-end bullpen help, likely while moving some combination of David Murphy, Mike Aviles or Erik Gonzales. Murphy is the most likely to be moved early. Then possibly Aviles once Lindor is up to free up Jose Ramirez as the super utility man alongside Zach Walters.
Oh yeah, Walters also hits 20+ HR, the ladies in Cleveland fall in love with him, and it is Grady’s Ladies V2.
Prediction #2 – Cleveland Indians 2015 AL Central Rank
The EHC staff certainly noticed the improvements in the competing AL Central clubs, but still likes the Tribe’s chances to win the division –
Ughhhhhhhh fine, I’ll die on this hill: first place. The division is seemingly wide open, with Detroit making some questionable moves and already dealing with injuries. Kansas City might not have gotten worse, but I don’t think anyone can say they improved this offseason. Chicago did improve, but Chris Sale is already hurt and the White Sox rotation was three-deep anyways. Mention of the Twins goes here. Moss and Gavin Floyd aren’t sure-fire improvements, but so much of the foundation has been here already, with a potential major piece in Lindor a phone call away. Get through spring healthy and this season could be fun.
Everyone has their favorite, whether it’s Detroit, Kansas City or Cleveland. Heck, some have even thrown the White Sox out as a potential contender. Still, for the reasons mentioned above, I ultimately think the division goes to the Indians. Between Kluber, Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, Salazar and T.J. House, there is just too much to like. We know what we are going to get from Kluber. It also appears as if Carrasco has turned the corner as well. So, if either Bauer or Salazar can make the next step — and I think both have the potential to do that this year — then this team could be scary.
The Royals, Tigers and Indians are going to beat each other up a bit this year, much like last year, with the Indians likely ahead of Kansas City by a game. I think we’re going to see a bit of a drop off from the Tigers, but nothing too dramatic. I do think they’ll be in the mix the whole year.
Prediction #3 – Cleveland Indians 2015 Playoff Run
I left this question assuming everyone would respond in unison with “WORLD SERIES WIN!” – but the EHC staff was impressively reserved –
Lose in the World Series in six games to the Washington Nationals. So now you see just how scary I actually believe their potential to be. In the AL, I firmly believe the Indians are the cream of the crop. To me, their floor is the 85-win mark that was saw last season. If they reach their potential, then they sky is the limit, and I clearly believe they are capable of doing just that. Unfortunately, Washington’s balance is every area would make for a tough opponent if the two teams did meet in late October.
The Indians making the playoffs is a big deal, because they’ll have a rotation that’s going to have three really good pitchers. I’m honestly not sure WHO the other two are going to be, past Kluber, but I think between Bauer, House, Salazar and Carrasco, two won’t just be good, but really good. They can win any series they play in, and like the Royals last year, will get into the World Series.
Meanwhile, John and Ed refused to tempt the baseball gods and instead erred on the side of caution –
ALCS Loss. The playoff run question I always want to run fleeing from. Last year, I did so successfully by saying ‘hey look, I don’t think they’re going to make the playoffs.’ And while that was ‘true,’ if you’re a fascist bound by colonial strictures like ‘things that happened,’ it was possibly true, but it also had the useful benefit of making me not-wrong when it came to picking the playoff run.
At the very least another season of contention till the last week.
Stay tuned to EHC for part two of our staff’s 2015 Cleveland Indians predictions.