While the Cleveland Indians have been relatively quiet during the off-season they have made a couple moves that could have an impact on the team’s success next year. One move, to sign John Axford as the closer, will impact the team, no could about it. Either Axford will rediscover his closing form and accuracy and provide stability to the backend or he could backfire completely. A Chris Perez like middle ground, some good days and some blowups, is possible but less likely.
The team also signed Jeff Francoeur, who the Indians have had interest in, in the past. Francoeur split time last year with the San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals combining to bat .204 with 3HRs and 17 RBIs in 81 games. Francoeur has had quite a bit more success in the past, and as a 30 year old could turn it around, a Scott Kazmir type turn would be amazing. He will have competition with outfield spots filled. Here are some thoughts from our friends at KC Kingdom on Francoeur:
He’s a guy you want to pull for because he is such a great guy, always smiling and hustling – a terrific teammate and clubhouse guy. The problem is he isn’t very good. Very undisciplined at the plate with no interest in improving his bad habits. Terrible against right handers.
He is strictly a right handed bat off the bench at this point.
Defensively, he has on absolute cannon for an arm, and is very accurate. He judges balls poorly, though, and is terrible going back on balls. He has to play so deep to cover for this, he allows a lot of singles to fall that should be caught.
Kansas City fans wanted him gone long before he was; the Royals gave him every opportunity for the light bulb to come on, but it never really did. He has had 2 really decent seasons, 2011 and his rookie year. One other that wasn’t brutal, but mostly he has just been bad.
The Indians also added Scott Atchison a right hander reliever who spent last year with the New York Mets. Atchison was not tendered a contract and became a free agent. His best year was in 2012 with the Boston Red Sox where he appeared in 41 games and had a 1.58 ERA. He is 37 years old and could provide competition to a bullpen that lost Joe Smith, Matt Albers and Chris Perez in the off-season.
The last two are on minor league deals and Axford is a one year deal, do you have confidence in any of these guys? With spending money on Nick Swisher and Michael Bourne last year we knew the team would be penny pinching, but did you expect this little action?