The Indians have been busy this offseason, so before they make another move (Nick Swisher?) let’s take a look at what some of the moves mean for the Tribe in 2013. Here are four key takeaways – both good and bad – from the offseason moves thus far.
1. Drew Stubbs solves nothing
Stubbs is a former prospect (featured on Baseball America’s top 100 list in 2007 and 2008) who simply failed to develop in Cincinnati. Early in his career he drew some comparisons to Grady Sizemore. Unfortunately, he ended up turning into the post-injuries Sizemore and now that he’s already 28 years old it’s probably all downhill from here.
Grady Sizemore since 2009: .234 BA, .314 OBP, .413 Slug Pct
Drew Stubbs since 2009: .241 BA, .312 OBP, .386 Slug Pct
Putting up with Stubbs ineptitude at the plate would be one thing if he added value in the outfield, but he has proven to be an average fielder at best. Over the past three seasons, Stubbs ranked 22nd out of 40 qualifying center fielders in defensive runs saved. To be fair, he’s a signfiicant upgrade over Michael Brantley, who ranks 36th, but if the Indians wanted to simply upgrade the defense Ezequiel Carrera was available any time they wanted to give him the nod.
2. Bryan Shaw makes Chris Perez expendable
As an overpaid, middle-of-the-road closer, Perez was already expendable. But the addition of Shaw may ease their concerns about trading him. Vinnie Pestano is more than capable of taking over the 9th-inning duties, which would open the door for Shaw and Joe Smith to handle the 7th and 8th.
Shaw isn’t anything special, but he’s 25 and coming off two solid years in the Arizona bullpen. He relies heavily on his cutter (he threw it 79 percent of the time last year) and while he isn’t your typical power pitcher in the back end of the bullpen, he throws strikes and keeps the ball in the park.
The one concern with Shaw may be his inability to handle lefties. In 2011, lefties hit .333 with a .863 OPS against Shaw. This is where Scott Barnes and Nick Hagadone come into the picture. Lefties hit an even .200 against each southpaw in 2012, giving Terry Francona plenty of options for juggling his relievers.
3. The Indians will set MLB’s strikeout record
There will be no shortage of strikeouts at Progressive Field in 2013. The current record is 1,529, set by the 2010 Diamondbacks (starring Mark Reynolds) and the Indians should have no problem approaching that mark if Reynolds and Stubbs stay healthy.
Both Reynolds and Stubbs have at least one 200-strikeout year under their belt and should have no problem combining for over 400 on their own. That would put the Tribe more than one-fourth of the way to the record with just two players. And if the Indians add Nick Swisher that tacks on another 125+ strikeouts to the total.
Let’s take a look at what the Tribe’s starting nine could look like with projected strikeout totals.
Asdrubal Cabrera – 100
Jason Kipnis – 110
Carlos Santana – 115
Mark Reynolds – 210
Nick Swisher – 135
Lonnie Chisenhall – 90
Michael Brantley – 50
Drew Stubbs – 190
Ezequiel Carrera – 75
That brings them to 1,075 without even factoring in the bench. So while this year’s lineup could be far more exciting to watch, mentally prepare yourself for the days where they look like overmatched little leaguers. A Justin Verlander 18-strikeout performance is a definite possibility against this lineup.
4. Trevor Bauer could be devastating against righties… or not
We only have a small sample size to evaluate Bauer in the major leagues, but there are some encouraging signs. The good news is that of the 40 righties he faced in 2012, he struck out 10 of them. The bad news is that he also walked nine.
I’ll chose to look on the bright side with those numbers, however, since it’s not uncommon for young pitchers to struggle with control. As he matures in his approach, he’ll hopefully improve his ability to keep the ball in the zone while maintaining his impressive strikeout numbers.