(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┬áRenner) 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.

16 Comments

  • Swift says:

    No snark from me, I agree and have said that for a while. I think much of what the tribe does will depend on starting pitching, particularly Masterson and Jimenez.

    I’m not buying my playoff tickets yet, and my hopes for the Tribe are modest, like “better than last year”, “fun to watch”, and “above 0.500″. Given those modest goals, we don’t need Cy Young pitching, we need better than horrible pitching. Hopefully those guys can furnish that, and the ace is a goal for next winter.

    • Mary Jo says:

      I agree with two of your three. They should be better than last year and they definitely will be fun to watch! The “above .500″ is a stretch, though I certainly would take it if it came our way.

  • Stephanie Liscio says:

    I’m just throwing this out there – Jose Canseco said today that the Indians will win the Central. He also thinks the Mets will win the NL East, so make what you will of that!

    • Chris Burnham says:

      And if the Mets and Indians play in the World Series, Bourn gets split in half Solomon-style, right?

      • Swift says:

        I was born and raised in New York City (lived in Cleveland for 25 years). I grew up a Mets fan and still have a soft spot in my heart for them. People ask me, who will I root for when the Indians play the Mets in the World Series… I tell them it is on my list of concerns, right after Unicorn Attack.

    • Mary Jo says:

      Jose must have a blast being Jose! I admire his unbounded enthusiasm for our team. Now, if anyone finds out what he’s drinking could you please let me know?

  • joey says:

    HAVE TO THROW THIS OUT THERE…HOW ABOUT A TRADE FOR A GUY IN MIAMI THATS MORE DISGRUNTLED THAN A POSTAL EMPLOYEE…YES IM TALKING ABOUT GIANCARLO STANTON! HE WANTS OUT,AND I THINK HE CAN BE HAD FOR A PACKAGE WITH YOUNG TALENT LIKE (LINDOR,BRANTLEY,AGULAR,ALLEN,HAGADONE, HUFF,MCALLISTER)…HELL THROW IN SOME MORE PLAYERS…PICK UR OWN PACKAGE…I KNOW EVERYBODY WANTS US TO GET MORE STARTING PITCHERS,BUT I THINK ARE BULLPEN IS GOOD ENOUGH TO COVER UP THEIR MISTAKES…ALL THE STARTERS HAVE TO DO IS GET THRU 6 INNINGS THAN THE BULLPEN CAN TAKE OVER…JUST THINK OF AN OUTFIELD WITH STANTON IN LEFT,BOURN IN CENTER,AND SWISHER IN RIGHT! NOW THATS IS GOOD AS IT GETS…SO CAN SOMEONE PLEASE SEND MY IDEA TO EITHER CHRIS,MARK,OR JOSE LOL!

    • Stephanie Liscio says:

      I would consider sawing off between 1 to 3 fingers with a dull blade if I thought it would bring Stanton to Cleveland.

      • Chris Burnham says:

        I’ll do the honors. And then I’ll cut your tree down so it doesn’t frighten you anymore.

    • Drew says:

      No, don’t mortgage the future for a chance to win in 2013. The team needs an ace on top of its current lot to truely compete (like a Cliff Lee, CC, or Stephen Strasburg). Since that isn’t going to happen, I will analyze the current rotation and how I think it will improve. But look at the rotation from last season, and while it was bad, it allowed on average 3.4 runs per start on 5 2/3 innings. The bullpen would then allow 1.8 runs on just less than 3 1/3 innings. That is a far cry from double-digits. Chris, I will leave it to you to let us know how many games the Indians allowed more than 10 runs in a game. I bet it was less frequent than most people think. On average, last season, the Indians lost each game 5.2 – 4.1.

      Because of the addition of Brett Meyers (in place of Roberto Hernandez/Derek Lowe) and the replacement of Jeanmar Gomez with Carlos Carrasco/Dice-K/Scott Kazmir, I think they the rotation will allow 1 less run per 9 innings this upcoming season. That would be an improvement of 105 earned run allowed. In total and if the bullpen doesn’t change, the Indians will allow around 740 runs in the upcoming season.

      Position Players:
      RF declines significantly because of Stubbs versus Choo (but defensively this is a huge improvement)
      CF is a wash as Michael Brantley is replaced by Michael Bourn (improvement defensively, more stolen bases)
      LF is a huge improvement both defensively and offensively as Michael Brantley replaced the tandem of terrible
      3B should be a wash as Chisenhall’s improved offense is offset by Hannahan’s defensive prowess
      SS is unchanged and is a wash
      2B is unchanged and is a wash
      1B jumps significantly offensively as Nick Swisher replaces Casey Kotchman but could be slightly offest defensively
      C is unchanged and is a wash
      DH should be an improvement as Reynolds will play more games than Hafner did and has similar numbers

      As a whole, I think the 2013 Indians should be able to add 100 runs over the 2012 team or 767 runs scored. That would be a +22 run differential based on the pitching prediction I made above and good for an 84-78 record.

  • joey says:

    WITH STANTON IN THE MIX…HERES MY BATTIING ORDER 1 THRU 5……1)BOURN 2)CABRERA 3)STANTON 4)SWISHER 5)SANTANA

  • Steve Alex says:

    The Bourn Hysteria. LOL, good one. I like Hannahan and know he was hurt last year, but his defense was hugely overrated. Fourteen errors in 105 games is lousy, especially for someone who can’t hit. Chisenhall will be a clear upgrade. The middle infield will also be better, Kipnis because of experience and Cabrera because of conditioning and the presence of a true backup SS in Aviles. Bourn is an upgrade in center over Brantley too. I like Brantley, but Bourn is an impact player. With Swisher at 1st, Reynolds at DH and Brantley in left, Santana more experienced and better protected in the lineup, I think the argument can be made that every position on the diamond except RF will be significantly improved this year, and Stubbs will surprise you. I know he hit .210 last year but he’s better than that and a fresh start will bring it out. As for the rotation, there are question marks but too many good arms and too much depth not to find good innings somewhere. The SPs will be better and the bullpen will be dominant. .500 is a lock with 90 wins possible. You heard it here first.

  • DaveR says:

    A club in the Indians market can’t buy every position in one year. So I’m okay with SP suffering since they cleaned up at almost every other need position. And didn’t even move Cabrera or Perez. It’s possible Bauer is slowly brought along (due to an injury or let down somewhere) and eventually starts by summer. Maybe DiceK or Kaz becomes the next great Indians reclamation project.

    Remember how the Tribe hung around til August last year with the SPs they had? I don’t know what it happened but having the offense they do now ups the odds they have a magical season.

  • Linda G says:

    I agree with you DaveR. I felt nothing but despair about this team last fall and now I am pumped for the start of this season. Are we going to the playoffs this year?…probably not. But this is an improved squad with a better chance than last year’s group.

  • Kevin Dies says:

    Is it possible that our starters will get better this coming year if only because they know they won’t have to pitch a shutout every game? I think Masterson especially always pitched tight because the offense couldn’t ever score runs on the days that he pitched.

    • Chris Burnham says:

      That’s a good point concerning Justin, and it’s one that I feel could actually be the case. I remember reading the recaps of games that he started and he’d always say that he’d ask the team for two runs and they’d go from there. If you’re asking for two runs, you aren’t allowing yourself much wiggle room. It also shows that, at the time, they were consistently inconsistent.