Moving forward: The Tribe's M.O.
As we put the 2019 season to bed in Tribe Town, the Indians' season appears – at first glance, anyway – to have been a disappointment: no division title, and not even a wild card for a team that's been in the playoffs the last three seasons.
And not only that, but the team's best player – Frankie Lindor – has two (count 'em, two) more years in Cleveland after this one, and after that he, without question, will be playing elsewhere. Add to that the idea that most scouts insist the Twins won't be going away any time soon, plus the White Sox and Royals have a lot of young talent which suggests they will be very competitive sooner rather than later. (Feel free to gulp and swallow hard here if necessary.)
But before you decide to hop on the elevator and execute a perfect triple gainer from atop the Terminal Tower, consider doing what I'm going to do: embrace the future.
Yes, it sounds crazy, but the future for the Cleveland Indians over the next several years looks very exciting. Before you accuse yours truly of being on the "take" from Paul Dolan, check out this list of reasons to be excited about the Indians.
1.) Out of necessity, they promoted and cultivated a new group of core pitchers that suggest a degree of pitching depth that will keep them playoff contenders for probably the next half-decade at worst. Mike Clevinger (age 28) and Shane Bieber (24) already stack up favorably with most upper level pitching staffs. Following them you have Zach Plesac (24), Adam Plutko (27), Aaron Civale (24) and Jefry Rodriguez (25) who all have more than held their own versus big league hitters. And just suppose Corey Kluber returns even close to his former Cy Young self and Carlos Carrasco continues his remarkable recovery from leukemia. The results could possibly be stunning.
2.) Oscar Mercado. This guy is a legit big league hitter and fielder. Probably one of MLB's most exciting outfielders already, and he's only 24! Chalk up another one for the front office; they don't miss very often, do they?
3.) Jose Ramirez. Considered by many to be washed up at 26, Jose rediscovered the magic with his bat that had disappeared for almost 5 months, but was a major factor in the Tribe's second-half run at the Twins this year. He can (and did) carry the team for several stretches this year. He's without question a leader on this team.
4.) Franmil Reyes. He's the prototypical right-handed slugger the Indians have looked for for the past several years. Yes, he strikes out a lot, but then again, who doesn't these days? Oh yeah, he's just a baby at 23 and he'll be in a Tribe uni for a long time. An awesome return on the Trevor Bauer trade.
5.) Roberto Perez. Okay, a show of hands out there if you honestly thought Roberto was going to turn into a beast at (not behind) the plate? Exactly; I didn't see that coming either. Again, the front office knew what they were doing when they traded Yan Gomes.
6.) The front office. I cannot say enough about Team President Chris Antonetti or General Manager Mike Chernoff. These guys are so adept in their talent evaluation that they have more than offset the negative impact of the frugal owners of the Indians, Paul and Larry Dolan. I will, however, give the Dolans credit (even though it hurts me to do so) for being smart enough to stay out of the talent evaluation business and let the baseball experts in the front office do their thing. Because of their uncanny ability to swing deals that pay off (sooner rather than later) I don't even fear the loss of Francisco Lindor as much as I once did. My guess is he will be traded when the front office feels they can maximize their return for Frankie. Somehow, they will turn that huge loss into a plus.
So yes, we fell a little short this year, but the way I see it, the Twins' stay at the top of the division won't last too long. In fact, I have a message for the Minnesota Twins: "Enjoy your moment in the sun, because you're there on a short-term lease."
Lifelong Westlake resident who dabbles in writing whenever the real world permits. My forte is humor and horror...What a combo!