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?
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.