The Indians have been deafeningly quiet with nothing really to say. And while Mike Napoli, Rajai Davis and Collin Cowgill are nice complementary pieces for a team, the needle barely moved. But didja see the new scoreboard?
In other words: The Indians think they’re ready. And had darn well better prove it.
The moving trucks have rolled in to Goodyear, Arizona, lifting the curtain on another year of hope and balanced expectations across all of baseball’s landscape. There is a new mountain to climb in the AL Central, as the Kansas City Royals have finished their ascent from a decades-long punching bag to the Big Dogs of the game.
In many ways, the Royals provide the blueprint for what all of MLB’s franchises would like to follow. They bid their time with their young stars’ development and making the necessary adjustments to their core to help them reach their optimum potential. Look no further than the blossoming of Alex Gordon and the potential corollary of Lonnie Chisenhall, who seemed to take to right field with relative ease.
No one is going all-in on the idea that one that positional move alone will be the fuel for the rocket that the Indians hope to become, but it sure seems like the Indians are happy with where the team is headed into this season. The Indians appear to believe that this is the team that will contend for a championship. And with this comes the bottom line that this is the year that the Indians become one of the October participants. And this is the year where they get into the final four.
The Indians chose to tinker lightly and hand the keys over to their pitching staff. The new Chris Antonetti-Mike Chernoff duo, perhaps a little gun-shy after the disappointment of the Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn disappointments, failed to appreciably add to a lineup that last year seemed relatively incapable of producing with any real consistency. Going into 2016 with the same-ol’ certainly isn’t going to entice people to come down to the Jake.
Putting the eggs in one basket is a dicey way to go about in any kind of business, let alone one that is all about the results. This is a team with only a couple sure things, and one of those is out until who knows when. The rest are a roster full of question-marks ranging from over-the-moon potential, to a bunch of “he is what he is” types, to guys like Trevor Bauer, who has now found himself in the spot once lived in by Carlos Carrasco, where we wonder if he’s ever going to put it all together. If this is the year where the proverbial leap happens for him, having three to four above-average to great starters will go a long way in validating the Indians’ decision to stay out of the bidding wars.
Here we are again just sitting and hoping that Terry Francona can find the right buttons to push to vindicate the Indians going into this year with essentially the same oft-frustrating 25-man as last year. Granted, a lot of things went wrong; from “jixes” to injuries (gotta wonder how that first Games-Davis conversation went as teammates) and the general inability to win within the division, you need some luck along the way, as well. And there hasn’t been much of that at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario in recent years.
But those are just excuses and they have expiration dates. It is now time for the Indians to show that they are ready to make some noise this year. The front office showed them faith by leaving them alone. Now it’s time to repay that belief. No excuses. Absolutely none.