Over the past couple of months, I keep fielding the same questions – how are the Indians going to do this year? Do you think think they could challenge Detroit? Will the pitching staff be better? Will Ubaldo Jimenez be better? Do you think they’ll be fun to watch? With some of these, I can take my best guest. Since I’ve yet to perfect my version of the flux capacitor, I have no way of traveling into the future to answer these questions. With some of these, it’s a complete crapshoot – I dare you to try and figure out the enigma that is Ubaldo Jimenez. I figured I might as well flip a coin to determine what will happen with the Indians this season.
How are the Indians going to do this year? Heads: Good/awesome Tails: Bad/terrible
My penny is a bit more optimistic than me, but I don’t think it’s a stretch to think that the Indians will have a good season. A good season doesn’t necessarily mean a playoff-bound season, it just means the team will play well.
Do I think they are going to challenge Detroit? Heads: Yes Tails: No
Penny is quite optimistic on this one. I thought Detroit was a beatable team last season (at least during the regular season) but I think the 2013 Tigers have made some key improvements. Having Victor Martinez back and Torii Hunter patrolling the outfield represents a significant improvement over other 2012 options. They only way they’re not an improvement, is if Martinez isn’t fully healthy or there are other injuries. Hunter is aging, but he’ll be hitting in a lineup with Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, and Martinez – in Anaheim he did well with Albert Pujols and Mike Trout hitting around him. If Max Scherzer repeats his 2012 performance, that will be a big help – plus you still have one of the best pitchers in baseball in Justin Verlander, and you’ve added a full season of Anibal Sanchez. Their Achilles heel is the back end of their bullpen, but I’m not sure if the issues are severe enough to drag the entire team under.
Will the pitching staff be better? Heads: Yes Tails: No
The key to the Indians’ success this season is the pitching staff. The offense will be improved, but they can’t score 10 runs per game; the pitching (particularly the starters) need to do better. If the penny is correct and they are no better, than the 2013 Indians may be doomed.
Will Ubaldo Jimenez be better? Heads: Yes Tails: No
I think one thing you can say about Ubaldo Jimenez’s 2012 performance is that there’s “no place to go but up.” No player saddens/disappoints me quite like Jimenez. It’s not just because of the high-profile trade, but also because he was once an extremely talented pitcher. I firmly believe that the 2010 Jimenez is still there somewhere, if he can be coaxed back into existence. I’m realistic about the fact that we may never see him again. I keep coming back to Steve Blass, from the 1970s era Pittsburgh Pirates. He was dynamite in the 1971 World Series, and was never really the same pitcher again – we could be seeing the same thing with Jimenez (although he doesn’t have a World Series ring for his troubles). I don’t expect anything from Jimenez at this point; in fact, I automatically expect the worst. If he doesn’t disappoint, then it’s a pleasant surprise. If he disappoints – well, it’s exactly what I expected. I’m sorry penny, I don’t exactly share your optimism. (Plus you’re contradicting yourself – if Jimenez is better, than the staff is kind of better by default).
Do I think they’ll be fun to watch? Heads: Yes Tails: No
I firmly disagree with the penny on this one. Despite this team’s record, I still think they will be fun to watch.
Is Scott Kazmir the real deal? Is he back to his old form? Heads: Yes Tails: No
I’m really hoping that Kazmir is at least somewhat back to his old self, but this penny flip plays upon my worst fears. I share some of Joe’s concerns that he expressed last week - that when Kazmir is stretched out to longer appearances, or more frequent appearances, he may not able to maintain his performance this spring. Perhaps as Ryan also mentioned last week, he’ll be able to throw his slider with better results and will benefit from it.
You may be thinking to yourself, “Why in the world would she flip a penny to determine this stuff? What is the benefit?” I’m basically trying to make a point, albeit in an over-exaggerated manner. For the first time in a long time, I honestly don’t have a good feel for how the Indians will perform this season. People keep asking me, and I’ll blather on about how I think they’ll be “much improved” in certain areas, and at least a more fun team to watch. However, deep down, I’m still completely befuddled. I really do think that the Indians will only go as far as their starting pitching will take them. If the rotation bounces back – if we see improvement from Justin Masterson, and Jimenez – we could see a pretty decent season. Both have become an enigma to me though; pitchers with a lot of talent, that are so inconsistent it is nearly impossible to predict their performance. I figured at this point, a coin toss is probably just as accurate (or more accurate) than an educated guess.
Since my six flips came out as three for heads, and three for tails, I figured “50/50 seems pretty obvious.” Apparently it isn’t though. According to this researcher, it’s more like 51/49 if you want to over think things *and* improve your betting on coin toss abilities. I should also add that for some reason, I’m completely unable to toss a coin in the air and do this properly. When your coin flips are scaring the dog, you’re doing something wrong.