Santana homers in the first inning. – MLB.com
Lindor knocks in the go-ahead run. – MLB.com
Bauer strikes out Mike Trout in the 6th inning.- MLB.com
If you’re an Indians fan, you’re probably pretty happy. The team that was 21-24 at home before winning a game has just swept their homestand, won seven in a row, and flip-flopped their home record to four games over .500. This puts their win/loss total to ten games over .500, which should be a comfortable place to rest.
But is it? Although the Kansas City Royals are two games behind Cleveland, they’re one game ahead in their win streak, technically making them hotter (at least for now). They’re no strangers to contention and they’re not going to give up. It just feels like these guys never lose games. Every time you hear something about them, they’re winning whatever it is. But even that is just a worry that Cleveland has only in their own division.
The remainder of worries lies in any other division in baseball other than NL Central. As a matter of fact, the only first-place team who has a worse record is the current MLB champions. In a nutshell, the two teams who seem to have the most attention are the two teams who played against each other in the World Series, and out of all the first-place teams, they’re both dead last in their respective leagues.
So who’s really hotter? Cleveland has won 55 games. Boston has won 56. Washington, 61. Houston, 67. LA Dodgers, a whopping 71. The Dodgers are winning in a division where the next team down (Arizona) is 12 games behind, and even they are 16 games over .500, just ahead of Colorado, who are 13 games over .500. That can only partially be blamed on the Padres and Giants.
My opinion is this: The National League has more bad teams, which makes the good teams look better, whereas the American League has more good teams, making the better teams look worse. But we all know what opinions are like, and everbody has one.
I recently wrote about the possibility of Cleveland needing another outfielder in my first post. The organization has been keeping an eye on Zach Walters, although he has been an infielder during most of his career. As of now, they are training him solely as an outfielder, allowing him a chance to compete for one of the available outfielder positions. Throughout his brief two years and eight game career, his numbers have significantly dropped from one year to the next. It is possible he was playing with a problem waiting to happen, and it finally did when he tore the labrum in his shoulder diving into home plate on October 2, 2015. This is only a guess on my behalf, of course. There must be something about him, because they certainly haven’t given up on him. We’ll have to see when the time comes.
Manager, Terry Francona has also been keeping an eye on newbie center fielder, Tyler Naquin, who has been swinging the bat very well in Akron’s minor AA Rubberducks. In 76 games, he pulled in a .313 average with 30 RBIs and 14 stolen bases.
As far as the fifth spot in the pitching rotation, it appears as though Josh Tomlin and Cody Anderson are the two main competitors. They will be the first two pitchers to start the Cactus League games, Tomlin will start on March 1st and Anderson will start on the 2nd.
Without a doubt, Michael Brantley is an individual who is determined to earn every penny of his payroll. During his right shoulder surgery rehabilitation, he has been giving the Indians Organization his all. Although the possibility of Brantley being available for Opening Day is pretty slim, he has continued to make it his goal.
His progression is far better than expected, as he is already batting balls off of a tee, a step normally taken weeks later. Brantley, on the other hand, feels the opposite. “I feel like it’s going very slow,” he mentioned. “It’s a long process… but… I’m excited where I’m at right now.”
“I love the fact that he’s pushing,” said Indians manager, Terry Francona. “I think he’s getting better quick, which is good.” Brantley had already pushed himself too hard in the past, and has assured Francona that he will be honest about his condition. “There’s a lot of trust there that he’s built up, as should be. He deserves that.”
Even while playing through various health issues last year, Brantley still batted a healthy .310 with 45 Doubles, 84 RBIs and 15 home runs. His return will be golden.
It’s a shame third baseman Giovanny Urshela has had health issues. As much as I’d like to see him play, it’s likely that he’ll be taken back down to Triple-A Columbus, that is, if free agent Juan Uribe dons a Cleveland uniform. Indians sources have already confirmed that Uribe and the Indians have reached an agreement on a contract. There has not yet been anything official. Uribe could still take several days to reach the Indians’ training camp while he’s working out visa issues.
The 37-year-old veteran could possibly prove beneficial, assuming he stays healthy. He has had a couple of slump years, but he’s been positive for the most part, and he does add a little bit of power to the lineup. He averages 13 homers and 53 RBIs per season with a .257 batting average, which is a pretty big step-up from Urshela’s performance at the plate.
Defensively, they have nearly the same fielding percentages, with Uribe just one point higher than Urshela at .970 (Uribe at 3B position). When you consider Uribe’s fielding range is a bit wider than Urshela’s on top of having an equal percentage, then add the bigger bat, the Indians have made a wise decision.
Urshela will have a chance to work on his health and produce better numbers in Columbus if Uribe completes the signing. That could potentially be a win-win for the Tribe in the long run.
Thank you for taking time off of your schedule to visit my page. My name is Michael Luna. I have been known as Liriks since 1999, when I used to run an online music newsletter. Although that publication is long gone, I have decided to keep the name.
Unlike its predecessor, this site will be focused mainly around Major League Baseball. I live in Akron, Ohio, very close to Cleveland, so much of my content will contain information and opinions about the Cleveland Indians, but I will write on a broader scope as well. I am very familiar with the American League, but not so much with the National League. Although I will post about both leagues, the majority will center around the American League.
Because this is an unofficial site, I do not claim to be an affiliate of MLB, nor the Cleveland Indians. I am not paid by the organizations mentioned. The thoughts and opinions expressed on this site are mine, and may not agree with those of the organizations mentioned. They are not responsible for my expressions, nor am I responsible for theirs.