Arguing with Myself

February 21, 2014

In of one of the club’s more quietly successful seasons last year, the Indians finished with the fourth best record in the American League, posting a better-than-expected 92-70 mark. And inspired by the Plain Dealer’s Terry Pluto, who every so often runs a column where he asks and answers his own questions, here’s Arguing with Myself, a way to help ease my doubts about the upcoming season.

Q: So the Tribe won 92 games last season, huh? Can they do it again?

A: Yeah, I think so. Or at least finish in the high 80s, maybe something like 88 or 89.

 

Q: What do you mean you think so? What about the team’s top two offensive performers – Yan Gomes and Ryan Raburn – falling back to earth?

A: Fine. That’s inevitable. Gomes’ BABIP, .342, was high for a slower catcher and the last time Raburn approached that type of production (152 wRC+) was all the back in 2007 with Detroit’s Class AAA club. But they’re both league average or better players, no worse. Plus, Asdrubal Cabrera and Michael Bourn should bounce back in 2014, something closer to their career norms to help ease any regression.

 

Q: Really? Asdrubal Cabrera? He’s declined in each of the last two seasons.

A: True. But look at the underlying skillset last season – 6.2% BB-rate, 20.3% K-rate, and a .159 Isolated Power. All three of those are fairly close to his career numbers. And his BABIP, .283, was exactly 30 points lower than his usual. Don’t overlook the wear-and-tear he took playing the WBC last March too.

 

Q: Lonnie Chisenhall hasn’t hit lefties his entire career.

A: Carlos Santana has, though, and it appears that he’ll be playing a handful of games at the hot corner every month against tough LHs.

 

Q: The reason why Santana was moved to catcher was because he played third base like a human sieve!

A: See: Miguel Cabrera.

 

Q: Santana isn’t even in the same class as Cabrera when it comes to offense.

A: Obviously. But we’re not talking a fulltime role either. One, two games a week. Then Santana can be pushed to another position – first or catcher – for a late inning defensive replacement, basically mitigating his ineffectiveness to six or seven innings.

 

Q: What about David Murphy, the Tribe’s “big signing” this offseason? Remember David Dellucci?

A: Dellucci’s off limits, remember?

 

Q: Answer. The. Question.

A: Murphy’s younger, has a better track record, and his BABIP, .227, was third worst mark in all of baseball last year.

 

Q: Do you really trust a rotation made of Masterson, Salazar, Kluber, McAllister, and Carrasco/Bauer/Marcum/Harang/Tomlin?

A: That’s an awful lot of depth right there. Masterson’s good, sometimes great. Salazar is the best homegrown pitcher since C.C. Sabathia. Kluber sported one of the best strikeout-to-walk ratios last season. McAllister is solid. Don’t sleep on Carrasco either – great minor league numbers.

 

Q: What about the pen? Do you trust Axford?

A: Yup. He was lights out for St. Louis after they reportedly fixed a tell in his delivery.

Q: What about the loss of Chris Perez?

A: Who?

 

Q: I just did that to tick you off.

A: I know.

 

Q: Why should I believe in the Tribe this year?

A: We’re due for a Ring.

 

 

 

10 Comments

  • Gvl Steve says:

    A pretty good Pluto facsimile. Cabrera can fix his BABIP by hitting line drives instead of swinging for the fences all the time. This guy used to be a .300 hitter until Orlando Cabrera talked him out of it.

  • Ross says:

    Haha enjoyable read, and I agree with much of your optimism. Let’s not discount that we still have Tito at the helm either! We have more starting pitching depth than a lot of commenters on this blog are acknowledging. 9 possibilities for a 5 man rotation. Very good odds that we end up with a solid 5 or 6 options.

  • Tyler says:

    All I can say is thank you! I have been waiting all offseason for somebody to acknowledge the depth the Indians have accumulated for the 5th spot. I have more than enough faith in Masterson, Salazar and Mcallister (Still not 100% sold on Kluber) to believe that this team has a solid pitching staff. Nothing has bothered me more than seeing “experts” predict the Royals, Pirates etc… to be better off than the Indians. Correct me if I’m wrong, but since when is a rotation of Shields, Chen, Guthrie, Duffy and whomever wins their 5th spot, significantly better than Cleveland? Although I do not think this pitching staff is going to be among the best in baseball, I fully anticipate them keeping us in games and allowing our offense, which should be in the top 10, to win us some games. You cannot honestly tell me that out of the 5 cantidates for the 5th spot, that we can’t find at least one guy who can be a solid contributor. I mean for goodness sakes we are talking about the 5th starter. We don’t need someone to come out and win us 15 games. A good examples is 2007 when our fifth starters were the likes of Jeremy Sowers, Aaron Laffey and Cliff Lee. All of which combined for an ERA well above 5. The most simple thing that will keep the magic of last year with the Indians is team chemistry. This team would run through a wall for eachother and have fun doing it. I cannot wait to get started.

  • Drew says:

    A favorable central division and Tito combined for the 92 wins last season. The White Sox and Twins will be better in 2014 than they were in 2013 but I expect the Tigers and Royals to fall off a little bit. I expect the Tigers to win around 90 games this season and I expect the Royals to return to a .500 team. Those 8 lost wins will go to making the White Sox and Twins each 70+ game winning teams. I also expect the Indians to lose more in 2014 than they did in 2013. I hope it will be only 2-3 games and will compete with Detroit for the division title but I could easily see it being 6+ games and being closer to the Royals. Drew Stubbs was a fantastic RF and he will be missed for his defense and stolen bases. U and Kaz will probably be replaceable, but in the end, the Indians’ opponents will have improved more this off-season than they did there will be a lower number in the Win column on October 1st 2014.

  • TribeFan says:

    There may be an improvement from teams such as the Twins and White Sox, but as you stated, there will also be regression from other teams. Those things always seem to have a way of working themselves out.

  • medfest says:

    When I argue with myself I’m far more profane and abusive than you are,I admire your restraint.

    I think the Tribe has made several smart moves and no outright dumb moves(yet) this off-season.Conversely their Central division foes have made several dumb moves(the Fister trade,signing Nolasco and Hughes and Vargas, to name a few)

    I’m optimistic that the Masterson,Mcallister and Kluber will all turn in nice seasons this year,providing the team the solid core of a rotation it needs.

    • The Doctor says:

      good point on the moves made by other clubs in the central.

      additionally, it’s sometimes the case that merely getting rid of players, as opposed to signing new ones, can noticeably improve the team – in our case, dumping perez and stubbs will almost certainly make us better. in that vein, hopefully francona will get over his man crush on giambi and we can use that roster spot on a player that’s actually useful.

  • Gvl Steve says:

    I still have this gnawing feeling that the Indians are one dog short of a sled team and wish they would make one more move. Who is going to DH if Santana is the 3B? I don’t want to hear about Giambi. Pinch hitting is one thing, but the guy hit a buck-eighty last year and is now a year older. No way he can be the regular DH. Murphy and Raburn are platooning in RF because of their bad splits. So who’s left? Cooper? Francouer?

    • medfest says:

      I share your concern,having no confidence in Chisenchump.

      Now that Jimenez has given the Indians an extra pick and the money that goes with it,Kendrys Morales signs a 3 year 25 million dollar contract with the Tribe and boom your worries,and mine, are over.

  • Gvl Steve says:

    I would love to see Morales brought in. And it might not cost as much as we thought. Cruz got only 1yr/$8M from Baltimore! Opportunity knocks.