Well after a few days of watching some Spring Training baseball, I’m back to preview the 2nd place finishers in the American League Central…the Cleveland Indians. Like I’ve said all along in my Central division previews, it’s going to be a crap shoot for the final four spots in the division behind the Detroit Tigers.
The Indians seem like they are the most suited to finish higher than Kansas City, Minnesota and Chicago. They had a busy off season, only loosing a couple guys but adding quite a few. Cleveland has a pretty decent lineup with the likes of Carlos Santana, Asdrubal Cabrera, Shin-Soo Choo and a few others. Their pitching rotation isn’t great but its not bad which includes Ubaldo Jimenez, Justin Masterson and Roberto Hernandez (Fausto Carmona). Cleveland is a low budget team who is trying to be competitive, like the Twins or White Sox, and if things work out they should be competitive for years to come. I believe the Cleveland Indians will finish the 2012 MLB season with a record of 82W-80L.
Aaron Cunningham (OF/SD), Andy LaRoche (3B/OAK), Chris Ray (RP/SEA), Derek Lowe (SP/ATL), Felix Pie (OF/BAL), Fred Lewis (OF/CIN), Jeremy Accardo (RP/BAL), Jose Lopez (3B/FLA), Robinson Tejeda (RP/KC)
The Cleveland Indians lost a potential first ballot Hall of Famer in Jim Thome, but Thome is older and probably not the right fit for the Indians. They did however pick up a nice pitcher in Derek Lowe, very low risk…potential high reward. Roberto Hernandez a.k.a. Fausto Carmona had his charges dropped after he reached a deal with officials in the Dominican Republic, it’s unclear how much sooner Hernandez will be able to report to the Indians and begin to prepare for the 2012 season, but it seems to be a promising step in the right direction. The Indians should be a productive team with their bats and their arms. Chris Perez suffered a minor setback in Spring Training but should be ready to go very very soon, if he’s not ready for the beginning of the season Vinnie Pestano will take the 9th inning duties. I will go into more detail on the following players…Asdrubal Cabrera, Carlos Santana, Justin Masterson and Shin-Soo Choo.
Cabrera is coming off a career year where he had highs in HR(25) and RBI(72), Asdrubal Cabrera batted .273 and stole 17 bags as well. On a team with not much to watch last year, Cabrera was one of the bright spots in the organization. This season Cabrera is expected to come back down to earth and put up double digits in home runs and stolen bases, and drop in average. I think the opposite, I believe he will have another great year, he is only 26 years old, and the skies the limit.
Carlos Santana recovery from last August’s major knee surgery went well, and he was ready to roll on opening day in 2011. Santana finished only behind Mike Napoli in HRs by a catcher. After hitting only .198 in April and hitting just 6 bombs over the first two months of the season, Santana finished with a batting line of 27HR/79RBI/5SB/.239AVG. This season Carlos Santana should have a really good season and put up very similar numbers with an even better average and possibly become the top catcher on top of draft boards come the 2013 season.
By seasons end in 2010 no one, even Masterson knew if he would be a part of the starting rotation or be in the bullpen come 2011. Well Masterson proved most skeptics wrong, he came out throwing fire in 2011, if not for a bad September, he would have had a real shot to finish with a ERA under 3.00, he did finish the season with a 3.21ERA which is very good….especially as a Cleveland Indians starting pitcher. Justin Masterson is only 27 years old and is a real nice fit in behind Ubaldo Jimenez in the rotation. Another good year should be expected.
For Shin-Soo Choo it was a wasted season in 2011 for the 29 year old, In early May last season Choo was arrested for DUI and he openly admitted that it affected his play on the field, he started hot in April and started to crash and burn in May…then came the injuries with the broken thumb and then the strained oblique which shut him down for the year. Choo only played in 85 games last year, now that the 2012 MLB season is upon us, we should expect very good numbers from Choo to make up from last year. I expect him to be a lock for a 20/20 season again.
Well the Cleveland faithful can beat to a different drum this year as they approach or surpass the 80 win mark and finish second in the division, only behind the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central. It will be fun watching the Tribe and how they mature together and build for a playoff spot in the near future.
Up next…..the 1st place finishers in the American League Central…Detroit Tigers, I am actually excited to preview the Tigers almost as much as the Toronto Blue Jays. So stay tuned, The Tigers article will be available by weekend’s end!
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