Text Size

Cleveland Indians & MLB

Baseball Prospectus on the Indians and AL Central

Talk Tribe, talk baseball in this forum.

Moderators: peeker643, swerb, pup, paulcousineau

Baseball Prospectus on the Indians and AL Central

Unread postby consigliere » Thu Mar 02, 2006 3:05 pm

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/artic ... cleid=4817

Cleveland Indians

What’s Working: The team is now approaching the nexus of their second major rebuilding phase since the early 90s. The John Hart version led to six division titles in seven years, and the Mark Shapiro version, led by home-grown stars Victor Martinez, C.C. Sabathia and Grady Sizemore (originally drafted by the Expos, but developed primarily by Cleveland) should be a contender for years to come. With most of their top position players graduating to the majors, the Indians re-stocked the cupboards by getting one great prospect (third baseman Andy Marte) and one pretty good one (catcher Kelly Shoppach) in the Coco Crisp deal.

What’s Not Working: The Indians have had some major bad luck with pitching prospects lately. Jeremy Sowers looks like a good one, but top prospect Adam Miller missed the first half of 2005 with an elbow injury, and then was highly ineffective when he returned. In addition, righthander Jeremy Guthrie continues to edge closer to a $3 million write-off, and J.D. Martin, who was on the verge of delivering on the promise of his spectacular 2001 debut, went down and required Tommy John surgery. Among position players, the system is completely bereft up the middle, with no significant prospects behind the plate or at the middle infield positions.

2006 Rookies: Fernando Cabrera (more on him in a second) moves into the classic rookie-apprentice setup role, and should be the first to get save opportunities should Bob Wickman falter. The Indians are trying to figure out how to get Ryan Garko’s bat into the lineup, and replacing Ben Broussard at first base with the ex-Stanford star is not out of the question. It’s hard to imagine the Indians taking very long to realize that Marte would be an immediate upgrade over Aaron Boone.

I Like Him Better Than Most: Fernando Cabrera was untouchable at Triple-A Buffalo last year, and was almost as good in 15 games with the big league squad. His stuff is closer-worthy, he throws strikes, and his makeup is tailor-made for late-inning situations. I think he’s one of the best relief prospects in the game.

Don’t Believe The Hype: Sowers was the sixth pick in 2004, and has gone 14-4, 2.37 in 27 minor league starts, with a fantastic 149/29 K/BB ratio in 159 innings. There's nothing wrong with Sowers, but I don't see stardom for him, as he's more of a command/finese specialist who doesn't overpower opposing hitters. I think he may have a better chance than any prospect in baseball to be a consistent 10-14 game winner, but I can think of many more prospects that have a better chance of being a star. Outfielder Brad Snyder is generally considered their top position prospect, but his power is average at best, and his ability to make contact (158 Ks in 513 at-bats last year) leaves us with far more questions than answers.
Indians Prospect Insider: http://www.indiansprospectinsider.com/
Image
User avatar
consigliere
 
Posts: 10822
Joined: Fri Jan 20, 2006 12:22 am
Location: Painesville Twp, OH
Favorite Player: Jeff Stevens
Least Favorite Player: Carl Willis

Unread postby consigliere » Thu Mar 02, 2006 5:18 pm

I didn't want to start another thread...but Gammons chimes in on the Tribe:

When spring training begins, the teams that have the buzz are the ones that spent the most money or made the most moves. Like Toronto. The Mets. The White Sox. It's only natural.
The Braves now are used to lowered expectations, as ownership does not spend for the club the way it did five years ago, and still they find a way to win division titles every year, at least dating back to when Dan Quayle was vice president and Deion Sanders was a backup outfielder.
With the Indians, it is a little different. A year ago they charged to win 93 games, two fewer than the Yankees, more than any team in the three-division era that did not make the playoffs. But because of the convergence of a number of factors, attendance at The Jake has not come back to the way it was in the wild 'n' wonderful era of Albert Belle, Manny Ramirez, et al.
So because they could not go out and spend the money necessary to get a proven closer like Billy Wagner, or enough to get Trevor Hoffman to leave home, conventional thinking says they took a step back. They had to settle for Bob Wickman. They lost two starting pitchers -- the AL ERA leader, Kevin Millwood, and Scott Elarton -- who were a combined 20-20. They lost Bobby Howry. They traded one of their best and most popular players, Coco Crisp, for what they hope will be a future star (Andy Marte) and a power arm for the bullpen (Guillermo Mota).
But if they stay healthy, the Indians can be every bit as good as they were last year -- OK, the record might not show it because Minnesota and Detroit might be better and they might not dominate interleague play as they did -- and challenge Chicago if its pitching in any way breaks down. The two core players in the middle of Cleveland's lineup, Victor Martinez and Travis Hafner, are in their primes (at 27 and 28, respectively) and top-of-the-game offensive players at catcher and DH, with Martinez emerging as a team leader.
Grady Sizemore is on the brink of stardom, third in OPS among AL center fielders a year ago. Jhonny Peralta might be the most overlooked offensive player in the game, with 63 extra-base hits and a .886 OPS at shortstop at age 23. Aside from Peralta, Ronnie Belliard had 54 extra-base hits and, despite his Manny look, turned the double play as well as anyone. What the Indians need is for Jason Michaels, as he did in Philly, to give them 450-500 at-bats in the two hole behind Sizemore and in front of Peralta; for Aaron Boone to bounce back; and for first baseman Eduardo Perez to give them power against left-handers. And who knows? By August, they might get contributions from one of their two impressive young outfielders, Brad Snyder or Franklin Gutierrez, or Marte.
"Last winter I was rehabbing," says Boone. "This winter I could work out and prepare for the season. I feel totally different. I remember I was hitting .151 in the middle of June."
But typical of Boone, he volunteered to be Marte's mentor. "That's what we hope we have working here," says manager Eric Wedge.
The front three of C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee and Jake Westbrook won 48 games in '05. GM Mark Shapiro went out and signed Paul Byrd and Jason Johnson to replace Millwood and Elarton and to eat innings and time until the next wave of starters arrives, led by Jeremy Sowers. And it will not be long with Sowers. The sixth pick in the '04 draft out of Vanderbilt has an uncanny ability to throw pitches wherever he wants whenever he wants. The staff even believes he might be better in the majors because he is so capable of executing game plans. They always worry about Wickman, but the depth around and in front of him should be every bit as good as last year's crew, which led the league in bullpen ERA. Rafael Betancourt only has a 159-35 strikeout-walk ratio the last two seasons. Fernando Cabrera, Mota, Scott Sauerbeck, Matt Miller and perhaps Andrew Brown (who hit 97 on the gun Tuesday) are potential setup men, and Steve Karsay and Danny Graves have shown promise in their comebacks. Graves has shown flashes of his old sinker.
"I'm throwing better than I have in years," says Karsay. "It's amazing what not throwing during the winter can do."
The Indians, like the Braves, will not rely on flashy trades or signings to refuel. In the next 12 months, they will get their energy from within, from Marte, Snyder, Gutierrez, Sowers, Fausto Carmona, et al. Like Bobby Cox, Wedge has the attention of his players, in whom he has tried to instill the values of playing the game the right way.
Do not sleep on the Indians. They will be very good again, and, if healthy, for the foreseeable future.
Indians Prospect Insider: http://www.indiansprospectinsider.com/
Image
User avatar
consigliere
 
Posts: 10822
Joined: Fri Jan 20, 2006 12:22 am
Location: Painesville Twp, OH
Favorite Player: Jeff Stevens
Least Favorite Player: Carl Willis


Return to Cleveland Indians & MLB

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests

cron

Who is online

In total there are 3 users online :: 0 registered, 0 hidden and 3 guests (based on users active over the past 5 minutes)
Most users ever online was 181 on Sat Feb 16, 2013 4:50 pm

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests