2014 MLB Preview and Rankings: #12 Cleveland Indians

Published: Mar 31, 2014 18:35pm EDT
By Michael Owen, Sports Writer for Konsume Sports

Please Note: This article was updated Mar 31, 2014 @ 06:35pm EDT

 

Opening Day has finally arrived  and the rite of passage that comes every Spring where every team still has a chance to make "this the year" in their own mind is enough to get any fan going.

There is still a lot of work to be done for some teams, position battles, last minute signings, injury struggles coming out of camp and so on. While one of the best things about Spring  is that when the season starts, anything can happen and every team has a chance.  Unfortunately for many teams those hopes can be shattered and lost by mid-May.

As we begin playing ball, we have a pretty good idea of where each team stands and while each season is unpredictable, things can change at the drop of an Ace lefties torn rotator cuff.  

Over the next few days I'll finish out the preseason rankings and analysis of the remaining teams as we have finally gotten to the teams that will likely contend for the playoffs.  Feel free to disagree and voice your differences.

Next up:

12. Cleveland Indians

After a historic collapse in in the 2nd half of 2012 the Indians added two time World Series Champion manager Terry Francona to lead the Tribe in 2013 and it paid immediate dividends.  They finished 2013 92-70 only one game off of a division title but yet still a trip to the playoffs as a wild card team.  They did lose in the wild card round to the Tampa Bay Rays, but they did take a major step forward in the organization’s development.

So what should we look for in 2014 from the Indians?

Offensively this lineup is not necessarily one that will strike fear in the pitchers around the league however it might be one of the most rounded and flexible ones around with the most interchangeable parts.

The only major addition to the lineup is David Murphy and his .800+ career OPS.  As was proven in the past while with the Rangers, he performed much better with regular playing time.  This can do nothing but improve upon an already solid lineup.

With Michael Bourne leading off in front of Nick Swisher, MVP candidate and catcher slash first baseman slash catcher Carlos Santana, there will be a chance for this team to score a lot of runs.  As was the case last year, having an experienced guy like veteran Jason Giambi, whether it is in the DH role or off the bench, can be nothing but a positive.

From a pitching standpoint, the rotation did take a couple of hits.  With both Ubaldo Jiminez and 2013 comeback player Scott Kazmir having departed via free agency, there were some holes to fill.  Youngster Danny Salazar is expected to start the season in the rotation as is Carlos Carrasco, both of whom have a huge upside, but are both unproven.  The positive side of that is the Indians have a few more rotation candidates (with potential) like Shaun Marcum, Aaron Harang and even top 25 prospect Trevor Bauer that can come in and take their shots if anyone falters.  Up and coming ace Justin Masterson will take the ball at the top of the rotation with Corey Kluber and Zach McAllister filling the 2nd and 3rd spots respectively in the rotation, and as is the theme with this team, this should be a solid rotation.

In the bullpen, there’s been a significant makeover.  With Chris Perez taking his blown saves and distractions to the Dodgers and John Axford now taking over the closer’s role in Cleveland, there should be a boost from one of the major weaknesses from the Tribe in 2013 when they had the 3rd to worst save conversion rate in the AL. With guys like Vinnie Pestano, Cody Allen and lefty specialist Marc Rzepczynski working the late innings to set up Axford, the bullpen should be a major area of improvement.

The outlook for the Indians looks good in 2014.  While the Tribe are not great in any area, they’re also not bad in any are either.  This is a solid (there’s that word again) ballclub that will have every chance to make the playoffs as well possibly garnering that elusive division title.  With Francona back in his second year at the helm this team and his ability to get the most out of his teams, the Tribe should make a strong push all the way thru September.  While I believe they’re still the second best team in the Central, it’s not by much and anything can happen.  This is baseball.

Prediction 88-74

 

                                                       ***PREVIOUS RANKINGS***

                                                         (click link to view story)  

13. Cincinnati Reds 87-75

14. Los Angeles Angels 86-76

15. San Francisco Giants 85-77

16. Pittsburgh Pirates 84-78

17. Baltimore Orioles 82-80

18. San Diego Padres 81-81

19. Kansas City Royals 81-81

20. Seattle Mariners 80-82

21. Milwaukee Brewers 78-84

22. Philadelphia Phillies 76-86

23. New York Mets 75-87

24 Colorado Rockies 74-88

25. Toronto Blue Jays 71-91

26. Chicago Cubs  70-92

27. Minnesota Twins 67-95

28. Chicago White Sox 66-96

29. Miami Marlins 64-98

30. Houston Astros 62-100


 

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