It’s not great, but it could be worse.
Being the baseball nerd that I am, last night with some friends we went over the entire 2019 Indians schedule. What did we come up with? An Indians squad that went 94-68 in the regular season.
Obviously, it is far too early for this to be a set in stone prediction, but it doesn’t seem too unrealistic. The Indians’ schedule really isn’t that difficult. They still have the top pitching rotation in the American League and their division, which was awfully weak last season, got slightly better in the offseason.
As the season draws closer (pitchers and catchers report in one week from today) a lot of who will even be on the roster still remains in question.
I’ll be brutally honest, I am much less confident for this squad going into the 2019 season than I was going into the 2017 or 2018 season. It looks like the Indians perennially bad seasons are much closer to happening in the future than the success the team has enjoyed over the last four years.
Going over the roster position by position, there is not a single spot where this team improved from last year during the offseason.
Let’s start with the outfield, you lose Dr. Smooth, a solid starting outfielder to free agency. You also lose the phenom that never was in Lonnie Chisenhall (who no one should lose any sleep over). But that leaves you with Greg Allen, Tyler Naquin, Bradley Zimmer (maybe), Jake Bauers and Jason Kipnis (hopefully not), as your potential outfielders to start the year.
Infield defense is pretty solid with Lindor, Ramirez, and Santana. The only looming issue here is Jason Kipnis, but what can ya do?
Catching is really the other major issue this team has heading into the season. Losing a veteran leader and above average defender in Yan Gomes with no real clear replacement is a huge question mark for the Tribe. I’m not comfortable with Eric Haase or Robby P as the every day catcher for this team.
In reality, the Indians will once again rely on their dominant starting pitching to carry them through the season and hopefully make a deep postseason push. The bullpen is definitely a shaky spot but may be shored up with the returns of Danny Salazar and Cody Anderson in different roles.
However, it’s a long season ahead and I can’t wait for it to begin #RollTribe #UpNext.