Key Losses: IF Jamey Carroll, C Kelly Shoppach
Players returning from Injury: SP Jake Westbrook, OF Grady Sizemore, IF/OF Russell Branyan
The Indians season preview does not look overwhelmingly great at this point. Hiring Manny Acta could be a huge mistake but hopefully I am wrong. Adding Branyan provides with some needed pop in the middle of the lineup but I don't think their glaring needs were addressed until this point (3-2-10). The strength of this team will be its ability to score runs, the major weakness will be its inability to make those runs hold up. Which as we all know, is a recipe for disaster. The Indians ownership will not fork out any money for another, scratch that, a quality starter. Also not adding any Right Handed Power is another huge mistake in my opinion. SO a quick summary...Strength- Hitting...weaknesses Pitching and Coaching. Sandy Alomar Jr. being added to a coaching staff will be great for loyal Indians fans, but how well he can coach remains to be seen. Personally I would have hired Minor League Manager Travis Fryman to manage this team, but I am not a part of the Indians brass. So this is mostly speculation and opinion but the Indians, as they stand now, with their current starters, a realistic prediction would be 4th in the AL Central with about 72 wins. Also, according to some current Las Vegas odds, the Indians are one of the most irrelevant teams in MLB in 2010. I am hoping that is not the case.
The current lineup looks like this
Shin Soo Choo
Jhonny Peralta (who must regain his form to be relevant)
Matt LaPorta (nursing injuries)
Lou Marson/Mike Redmond (both players are just keeping the plate warm for Prospect Carlos Santana)
Others in the mix- OF Michael Brantley, IF Mark Grudzielanek, Santana, Austin Kearns, and perhaps another player soon to added (fingers crossed for Jermaine Dye)
Starting Rotation looks like this: Jake Wesbrook (has not pitched for a long time since Tommy John surgery, but one of the best ground ball pitchers when healthy)
Fausto Carmona, who hopefully is NOT the 2009 Fausto Carmona
Justin Masterson (acquired in the Victor Martinez trade)
David Huff (led team in wins last year with 11, but had a 5.81 e.r.a.)
Aaron Laffey (insert Laffey Taffy jokes)
Others in the mix are Mitch Talbot, Carlos Carrasco, Jeremy Sowers (injured and throws like a girl), Anthony Reyes
The Bullpen is an area that won't scare many teams but has some viable pieces.
Kerry Wood returns as the closer only because he gets paid way too much
others: Chris Perez, Tony Sipp, Joe Smith, Jensen Lewis, Rafael Perez, and Jason Grilli
The Pen is of course, subject to change at any time.
So as the MLB trade deadline approaches on the 2010 season: There won't be the marquee names available as in the past two seasons, but if the Indians are out of it, they'll be shopping some players that could help a contender. Jake Westbrook will be a free agent at the end this season, so he's a prime trade candidate if he has a decent or better season. It will be more difficult to trade Kerry Wood because his $11.0M 2011 option will trigger automatically if he finishes 55 games this season. Peralta is probably tradeable only if he has a good season, and even then the Indians might keep him around another year.
Seven years ago, the Indians were at a similar position, having the year before unloaded Bartolo Colon and let Jim Thome walk via free agency. This team, though, has much better established Major League talent, especially in the field. The Indians probably won't be competing for anything this season, but if they can develop some starting pitching as the season progresses, they'll be in position to challenge for the AL Central a year from now. Let the Cleveland Indians rebuilding Process continue!!!Fantasy Watch...Branyan looks to prove his 31 HR season, that was cut short with a back injury wasn't a fluke, Grady Sizemore and SHin Soo Choo are must owns and Asdrubal Cabrera is a solid option at SS and may also be eligible at 2nd base.
Players to watch for: C Carlos Santana, OF Michael Brantley, and RP Chris Perez, if he over takes Kerry Wood as a closer