Season potentially a breeze for Tribe hitters
About a month or so ago, I addressed the issues I had with the Indians’ starting pitching, and it’s no secret the whole key to the season will be tied to just how good – or bad – the pitching is.
On the other hand, the Indians made a number of positive moves over the winter to improve upon their inept 2012 offense, which proved for many to be an instant cure for insomnia. In fact, just for grins, let’s contrast what we had last year to the 2013 edition:
In right field, Drew Stubbs replaces Shin-Soo Choo. Choo was a great defensive fielder whose offense deteriorated over the past couple of years, while Stubbs is a good defensive fielder with average power and good speed. Unfortunately, Stubbs also strikes out as much as a guy on the dating circuit who doesn’t see the need for personal hygiene.
In center, Michael Bourn (hope you’re not waiting for a "Bourn Identity" joke) replaces Michael Brantley, who simply moves to left field, replacing the very replaceable Shelly Duncan, et al. Bourn can fly, can hit, and is excellent in the outfield. With this new outfield, one of lesser literary ability might suggest many Tribe fans feel "Bourn again" (but don’t worry, I never stoop that low).
At first base last year we had Casey Kotchman; this year Nick Swisher. It’s probably one of the biggest talent swings you’re going to witness in a year’s time. Kind of like going to T-bone from Milkbone.
We should be solid at second base with Jason Kipnis – one of only a few returnees from 2012. Jason seemed to hit a wall last year; hopefully that was a result of playing an entire major league season for the first time. The guy is a decent fielder, but has quite a bit of pop in the bat. He’s one of the core players on this team, and for the Indians to improve, he needs to have a solid season.
At third base, we now have Lonnie Chisenhall, the guy who was supposed to grab the job from the departed Jack Hannahan for the last couple of years – but politely declined to do so. Maybe I’ve just never seen Chisenhall at the top of his game, but so far I’ve been underwhelmed. Let’s hope the guys who labeled the likes of Andy Marte and Matt LaPorta "can’t miss" material weren’t the same ones who evaluated this guy. Just sayin’.
Carlos Santana is at the point of his career where he either begins to impact the game in the manner many of us thought he would, or becomes just another disappointment who peaks at a level much lower than anticipated. Now’s the time, Carlos.
Mark Reynolds mercifully replaces Travis Hafner. Yeah, Reynolds connects with the same frequency of a toddler and a tee-ball, but that’s STILL more than Travis did. It’s an upgrade, so we’ll live with it. Look at it this way: With Reynolds you simply either strike gold or strike out.
You may have noted that I hadn't yet mentioned shortstop in my evaluation. That’s because I have a special place in my column (last) for Asdrubal Cabrera, who – in my humble opinion – was the primary reason Manny Acta lost his job.
The way I see it, Asdrubal has performed like an all-star during the first half of the last two seasons, only to mail it in for the second half after making the All-Star team. It’s no coincidence the Tribe also tanked – big time – when Asdrubal did. When Acta failed to discipline Cabrera – no-doubt because Cabrera was one of the few on the roster with big-league talent and Acta didn’t think he could afford to sit Asdrubal down – the rest of the Indians took note of what was going on, and the mind-set became: If Cabrera’s not getting called out for his antics – why should I bust my rear? and Acta lost control of the team, which contributed to last year’s epic tailspin.
This year, I can only hope that the very first time manager Terry Francona gets a whiff of Asdrubal’s act, he sits Cabrera’s rear on the bench – not for a game or two, but a week or so – which will ensure the prima donna gets the message.
A couple of splinters in the rear would do Cabrera justice, for if you really think about it, what could be better medicine for him than a major (league) pain in the Asdrubal?
Lifelong Westlake resident who dabbles in writing whenever the real world permits. My forte is humor and horror...What a combo!