(WARNING: POTENTIAL “DEBBIE DOWNER” POST. SEND SNARK AND HATE MAIL TO @CMB1979 OR TO THE COMMENTS BELOW.)
Now that Spring Training is essentially in full, uh, swing, and The Bourn(e) Hysteria (not starring Richard Chamberlain, Matt Damon or Jeremy Renner) has subsided a tad, we all can take a deep breath. Unless there’s something that Jose Canseco’s tea leaves can tell us, the team that is in Goodyear will be the team standing on guard for thee in Toronto on April 2.
Even though new Indian Drew Stubbs may or may not be on the move depending on whose Twitter feed you catch first, his movement alone is almost assuredly not enough to bring in the pitching that still sticks out as the Tribe’s ultimate buggaboo. Pitching coach Mikey Callaway is charged with finding the usual problems that Scott Radinsky (and, perhaps unfairly, Ruben Niebla) was not able keep a firm hand on: Justin Masterson’s consistency and Ubaldo Jimenez’…everything.
I believe that these guys can be our horses, and I know that guys like Trevor Bauer, Zach McAllister and even Carlos Carrcasco, who despite missing all of last year following Tommy John surgery, have boundless potential and can be major horses for the Indians in the not-too-distant future.
But Callaway’s job in the present may be daunting, if not impossible to get both guys right. I have more faith in Masterson finding what was working so well two seasons ago. In the case of Jimenez (and even Daisuke Matsuzaka), I believe he is a broken pitcher who is now physically incapable of bottling up whatever it was that made him one of the most feared guys to face in the National League for a time.
Simply put: While the Indians could potentially put up a big number in the runs scored column, the Indians may be capable of giving up a big number to the opposition. I see a lot of four-hour games in which both teams score double digits. So if you are all about offense, this could be the team to watch.
Maybe Callaway can work a minor miracle and slices Ubaldo’s ERA by two runs. Maybe Masterson wins the AL Cy Young. Maybe Dice-K’s “gryoball” confounds hitters with immense degrees of knee-buckling. Maybe Stubbs’ potential movement yields the Indians our next ace.
While the future looks bright, the questions of the present still remain. As we douse ourselves with a little cold water, just remember that there is still a lot of work to be done. This winter was only the start.