With the Indians officially eliminated from the postseason, we start talking about next year again
Well, it was fun while it lasted. There’s still a few games left to play, but this season to most fans felt like it was over in July. The Cleveland Indians late push was really nothing more than a six-game win streak in August with .500 baseball surrounding it. Yes, they kept themselves in the race. But did you believe they were in it? Or were you simply trying to sell yourself on that notion?
Whichever the case, the Indians are a team in flux. And on so many different levels. To start, the Indians will once again be near the bottom of the attendance in baseball. “It’s not a baseball town. It’s the Browns’ city. It’s the Cavs’ city.” This team needs a resurgence. How long will Major League Baseball watch a team flounder? Look, the Cubs have been worse in Chicago, but people still came. For Wrigley Field. For the bleachers. Whatever. They’ve even turned it around. The Indians need to get people in the gate or the question of Cleveland being a baseball town at all could be a legitimate question one day–no matter how long they’ve been here. Montreal is pushing real hard to get a team back.
The roster has had a solid turn over, but that’s not a bad thing. The Indians got a chance to see that Francisco Lindor is the real deal and needs to be a centerpiece for the future. But who will he be coupled with? Michael Brantley? Jason Kipnis? Corey Kluber? Plenty of questions on all of those guys. When healthy, all critical. But as of late, not so good.
The one thing you could hang your hat on to start the season was the rotation. But that started to deteriorate before the season even started. Josh Tomlin and Gavin Floyd went down. Danny Salazar opened in the minors. T.J. House didn’t last long before being sent down, then ended up on the 60-day DL. Trevor Bauer is an absolute mess and Corey Kluber hasn’t been the same since missing time from injury. The brightest was Carlos Carrasco, who may or may not have been almost traded depending on which report you believe. I’m just going to put my hat back on for now.
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Gone are the terrible free agent signings of the past few seasons. The Tribe managed to rid themselves of Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, and Brandon Moss. And it sounds like that “rah-rah” spirit of Swisher’s wasn’t well liked in the clubhouse. But he was really nothing more than a cheerleader recently. Bourn did enough towards the end to up his value and get the Indians Chris Johnson–who is an enigma himself.
Who would have thought that the trade of Marc Rzepczynski netting Abraham Almonte would be one of the more notable moves? It’s hard to say that Almonte is part of the future, but he’s done enough in his time in Cleveland to warrant the chance next season. But still, it’s another case of looking to next season.
There’s plenty of talk about the Indians front office and management as well. Will Mike Chernoff become the GM, while Chris Antonetti steps up to a bigger role? That duo would leave no doubt that Terry Francona‘s future is safe, but should it be? The record is on the decline, and this was a team that Sports Illustrated thought a lot of. Some say Tito will be in Cleveland till “he says he’s done”. I think that’s a bad idea, as it should NEVER be that way.
So should we expect anything different in 2016? Will a full season together of this young team make strides and be competitive? Or are we headed to another season of meandering and false hope? Health will be at the forefront this offseason in deciphering the trajectory of this team. From there it will be a matter of counting on the young players to improve. And what will the pitching staff look like? As is, or will winter dealing make their mark in Cleveland?
We’ve got about five months until Spring Training, so plenty of time to make assessments, backpedal, change my mind, and then completely scrap it all for a new idea. But this may also be the path of the Indians this winter.