Is the Tribe better than last year? The Sequel
When we left off last issue, I believe – and trust me, at my age nothing is a “given” anymore – we had examined the Tribe’s infield and were about to look at the outfield and pitching when – alas – I ran out of column space. Fortunately, I haven’t been canned yet and have a clean slate this issue, so let’s kick things off (since the Browns can’t) with the outfield.
Outfield: Having given this some serious thought, I don’t see much reason to attach a name to a particular position in the outfield, since the way the outfield is constructed so “fluidly”, most guys play multiple positions out there anyway. Some of those guys – most of whom are not (or at least weren’t most of last season) household names – were Tribe outfielders last year.
In 2016, guys like Abraham Almonte, Marlon Byrd, Lonnie Chisenhall, Collin Cowgill, Coco Crisp, Rajai Davis, Brandon Guyer, Michael Martinez, Tyler Naquin and Jose Ramirez somehow combined to form one of the most productive outfields in the American League last year. Since Naquin was recently sent down to the minor leagues, the only guys who remain who had an impact on the team last year are Chisenhall, Almonte, Guyer and Ramirez (who is now an infielder).
But I’ll tell you what: Give me Michael Brantley as a corner outfielder, the platoon of Chisenhall and Austin Jackson (if he’s healthy, he’s awesome) in center, with Guyer and Almonte or (seriously?) Carlos Santana in right. With Brantley back, they are already better than last year’s very capable contingent.
Starting pitching: Yes, the starters have gotten off to a rocky start – for them, anyway – but the only one who has been really bad is Josh Tomlin. I say, “Not to worry, Tribe fans,” because Kluber is getting better with every start, Carrasco has looked very good in his starts, Salazar hasn’t been bad and, outside of a couple of bad innings, Bauer has been all right (and yes, I know, that’s like saying that if it hadn’t been for that crummy iceberg, the Titanic would still be afloat today). But I’m going to do my Hue Jackson imitation and say, “Trust me.” Bauer will win 17 this year. Kluber will once again light it up after a slow start, and between Carrasco and Salazar there should be 30 or so victories. If Tomlin continues to falter, we have plenty of talent in the minors waiting for a shot (although I’m rooting for Josh big-time). Regardless, the starting pitching will be better than last year, period.
Relief pitching: Probably the best in baseball. Andrew Miller and Cody Allen might be the two best relievers – not just on the Indians – but in the American League. Bryan Shaw has me reaching for the Pepto-Bismol every time he pitches but most of the time emerges victorious. This, by the way, is where Terry Francona excels. As much as he drives me nuts at times with all the pitching changes, the guy knows when to make a change almost ALL of the time. Much like me knowing when to stop writing.
Yeah, you wish!
Lifelong Westlake resident who dabbles in writing whenever the real world permits. My forte is humor and horror...What a combo!