Sunday, December 4, 2011

My Two Cents: Looking at the Indians Off Season

As part of the three-part assignment given by Bill Ivie at, my off-season outlook appears on the BBD site here:

The third article in the series will appear in the spring as I'll take a look at the upcoming season based on the players ready to take the field at the time.

For this most recent writing, however, I believe Beau Mills has the highest potential impact for the team, presuming he'll come up from the minors to help out at first.  As I state in the piece, he could actually take the first base position depending on what the Tribe does there.  I think he has been flying just under the radar but is about to bust loose.  Whether for the Tribe or not, Mills is one to watch in 2012.

Under the generosity of Mr. Ivie, the writers participating in this 3-part project have also been invited to write other guest pieces for BaseballDigest Online.  As always, if something I write gets published there, I'll be sure to share!

NOTE: Thanks to the Internet WayBackMachine, I was able to pull the article! I present here:

 Note from the editor: When Baseball Digest first started in 1944, the magazine gathered writers from all across the country to provide insight to the teams that they covered on a regular basis.  This provided content and coverage that was in depth and more insightful than having national writers cover teams and players that they barely knew.

Our featured bloggers that provided us with the in depth Report Card series that has just concluded are back to give everyone an in depth look at what the off season holds for the major league teams they cover.  A look at what each team needs, what each team has already gained and lost, and some of the youth in each team’s system will be examined in these articles.  You can find all of the author’s information at the bottom of the article.

The Cleveland Indians look to have one of the most talked about, possibly most tumultuous offseasons the team has seen in a while.  As of the writing of this article, the Tribe can’t decide if they are re-signing Grady Sizemore or letting him go.  Not the superstar outfielder he once was, plagued by injury, the Indians were right to cut him in the first place.  The biggest question for his future with the Indians: Will a one-year deal be worth it?

The Indians finished just under the .500 mark in 2011 (80-82) after a rough opening start that then turned into one of the most successful runs the Tribe has seen as of late.  That quickly jump started the roller coaster that saw the Tribe ultimately fall 15 games behind the Tigers by the end of the regular season.  There are a lot of areas to be improved.  Primarily, Indians players have got to stay healthy and have got to be on the field.  As shown in the end-of-year report card, every aspect of the team could stand some help.

With so much up in the air, it’s hard to say just what is in place and what had yet to be determined.  Will Lonnie Chisenhall, Jason Kipnis, Jason Donald, or Jack Hannahan man the second and/or third base positions next season?  Will Chisenhall even start in the Majors?  Pitching seems to be shaping up with the addition of Lowe, and most recently Scott Barnes.  Justin Masterson is the star-to-be on the mound.  Asdrubal Cabrera should be secure in his starting position next season as well as Carlos Santana.  The outfield, however, is anybody’s guess.  It also serves as one of the main areas of improvement.

Possible players seeing the end of their Indians stint: Trevor Crowe and Chad Huffman.  These two may lose their place to the Rule 5 Draft.  The team could probably use either one as trade fodder down the line, which is something I’m sure the team management is taking into consideration.

One player that will hopefully come into his own for 2012 is Beau Mills.  Mills could easily come up from the minors to help out Matt LaPorta at first base.  He has several years’ experience in the Minors and consistently bats better than .260 over the course of his MiLB career.  Last season, he moved up from Akron to Columbus, batting .300 in Akron and finishing in Columbus with a .269.  In 96 games, he had 67 RBIs on 101 hits.  He has been simmering, slowly improving and honing his skills.  If LaPorta can’t stay healthy, Mills could step in and fill the job, providing the Indians don’t have another name or two they are seeking out elsewhere.

And, that is the ultimate move to be seen: what players the Indians are seeking out elsewhere.  The team has a knack for putting together a group of players that ultimately brings one or two diamonds-n-the-rough, which are then usually, and un ceremoniously, dumped (read, traded) to other teams for older players or players that are essentially unknown.  In this offseason, the Indians need to get the positions set and start working on building a team of player, rather than a bunch of guys on the field all wearing the same uniform.

David “Tribecards” Henderson
Tribe Cards

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