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

Heads

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

Heads

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

Tails

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

Heads

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

Tails

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

Tails

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.

 

8 Comments

  • medfest says:

    When asked I give this long winded reply:

    If the Indians pitching is just as bad as it was last season this team still has improved enough offensively and defensively to be a .500 team.(True to your coin flip!)

    I think the outfield play will be a delight after the train wreck that’s been out there the last few seasons.
    They’ve got a nice combination of power,speed,OBP and strikeouts in the line up to make them unpredictable and potentially explosive.Especially if Kipnis and Chisenhall keep improving.

    The bullpen has got a major upgrade,the back end was always solid,but now the addition of Shaw,Albers, Allen and the guys at AAA could make this group outstanding.

    IF the starters could get their ERA to near league average(a really big IF)this team could win 90 games.

    I think the low end will be 78-79 wins and the high end will be 86-88.My feeling is somewhere around 85 wins is where they’ll land.

    • Swift says:

      I’m in good agreement with medfest. There should be enough of an improvement in offense, with even a little depth, that even if the starting pitching is as bad as last season, there should be an improvement. I would actually be disappointed if we are not within a couple of games of 0.500 by the end. I’m not as optimistic as DP Roberts, but I have to think that both Jimenez and Masterson will be better, even if not good.

  • DP Roberts says:

    I’m going to go out on a limb (or the wrong side of the coin) and say that Jimenez is going to turn things around this year.

    From Ryan McCrystal’s article yesterday, it seems like Ubaldo’s biggest problem is that when he misses the plate he’s not fooling anybody. One good way to fix that would be easy: don’t miss the plate. I haven’t seen the final numbers from yesterday, but I saw at one point that in his first 30 pitches or so, he had thrown 27 strikes. So far in spring training, he’s had 17 strikeouts on only 4 walks.

    Neither age nor health problems have robbed Ubaldo of the ability that was there a few years ago (I’m not sure Kazmir can say the same). It’s either mechanical or mental, or both. It looks and sounds like the mechanical issues are being addressed, and hopefully some success (and new relationships with Francona & Calloway) can inspire confidence.

    I wasn’t sold on Jimenez for the last two years, but I’m feeling a lot better about him this season. The Ubaldo bandwagon (Ubaldowagon? That’s going to be my new Twitter handle) is a little creaky, but I’m jumpin’ on early this year!

  • Steve Alex says:

    I don’t think we can measure the Indians’ improvement this year by how well they stay with Detroit. The Tigers are loaded and might be the best team in the AL this year. That being said, if the Indians get any starting pitching at all, I agree that 90 wins and 2nd place is very realistic. However, I believe that that pitching is more likely to come from Carrasco and Bauer than from Jimenez and Myers. Jimenez used to be able to THROW a 98MPH fastball to mask his general inability to PITCH. Now that he no longer possesses that ability, I don’t see a late-career renaissance from him like other pitchers with better mechanics and make-up who adjusted to a drop in velocity to remain effective. I hope I’m wrong, but I believed 2 years ago that trading for him was a disaster and I’ve seen nothing since then to change my mind. But, the speed and bullpen alone will keep the team from long slumps and make for comeback wins and a fun team to watch, so I’m on board. Go Tribe!

  • no1ever says:

    I find myself in the same boat. I think we will win a lot more games this year than last year but even a 15 game improvement doesn’t put us in the playoffs. We’re going to be competitive and fall short, so it will feel like a let down (we might even be in first post All-Star Break). Real goal for me – have a good lineup that stays around in 2014 and have an offseason next year that matches this year, except for pitching so that in 2014 we are playoff bound.

    • Swift says:

      I think that’s right. A lot of the offensive players we picked up, like Swisher, have been signed to long term contracts, so we don’t have to go for broke this year. Assuming that the Dolans continue with their new thinking about spending, maybe the acquisition for next winter is a real ace, and that is the push we need to make the playoffs.

  • Stephanie Liscio says:

    I know, I know, it’s only spring training. But the one thing that has concerned me in the past two weeks or so is Brett Myers. When I saw him pitch out in Arizona, he wasn’t missing many bats. Even the outs were hit pretty hard. Then that game on Monday night against Colorado…yikes. I know it’s just one night, but it seemed like his velocity was down and everything was just right over the plate. I guess the bright spot is that he only allowed one touchdown in the second.

    • joey says:

      i would put myers in the pen as the long man,and let carasco,or bauer take his rotation spot.and send shaw or allen down.that probly wont happen til june tho.