Dreams of a World Series faded quickly this season, and eventually led to several changes. Were the moves enough to put the Tribe on track in 2016?
The 2015 campaign hasn’t gone according to plan for the Cleveland Indians. High hopes fell to disappointment, which led to a semi-dismantling of this year’s squad–including some salary dumping–and the call-up of several rookies that look to be a part of the future for the Tribe. They avoided dealing any of their young pitching–although it sounds as if Carlos Carrasco was close–and still have the core of Yan Gomes, Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley and Corey Kluber in place.
So are there enough quality pieces still in place with enough flexibility in payroll to turn things around in just one season? Or were the moves made this year just a sign that a “rebuild” is on the horizon? I believe the answer is more likely the former, as the team has suffered this year from underachievers and inexperience. The Indians never intended this many rookies to make their debut before September.
They managed to offload Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher (and some cash considerations) to the Atlanta Braves for Chris Johnson. Maybe the Tribe can catch a break and get a player in a rut to turn in around in Cleveland, not the typical “guy laying good suddenly forgets how to play baseball” (or stay healthy).
The farm system isn’t rich with superstar talent, but it’s deep with a nice mix of pitchers and position players towards the top. The draft wasn’t all that kind to the Tribe for many years, but recently they’ve hit the prospect jackpot as Bradley Zimmer, Clint Frazier, and Brady Aiken are in the top four–with Rob Kaminsky acquired in the Brandon Moss deal with the Cardinals sandwiched in at No. 3.
Let’s not forget Francisco Lindor and Giovanny Urshela, as well as the return of Jose Ramirez and Lonnie Chisenhall. This team is young and gaining experience. Will that transfer to wins by next season? Who knows. But the future is looking a little bit brighter than it was prior to the trade deadline.
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In recent weeks, the Indians starting staff has been simply amazing. It seems as if the staff has decided the best route to go was to simply pitch the whole game themselves and leave no room for the bullpen to blow it. It also didn’t hurt their cause that the “new” Indians offense is suddenly an offensive juggernaut. They scored 35 runs in the three-game series against the Minnesota Twins, with newly acquired Abraham Almonte going crazy in his first two games batting 4-for-9 with two doubles, two home runs, and four RBIs. No, it won’t last, but we’ll take it while we can.
There are still questions on this team, and will be entering next season. But the front office–without openly admitting it vocally–seemed to own up to the free agent signing mistakes, and try to do their best to get out from underneath them. while the moves didn’t free up a ton of payroll, there will at least be some flexibility this offseason. But what the moves did do were open up playing time and at-bats for some of the “future” to get a taste of the Show.
Regardless of how this season finishes, the Tribe will certainly have their sights set on next season. The fact that the front office didn’t stick their heads in the sand and pretend everything was fine says a lot about where they hope to be.
Enjoy the opportunity to see the future of the Indians, but it is still of course a “wait till next year” type of season.