The Cleveland Indians have started their season with 2 series, their third is a double header today. The team stands at 3-3 with a -3 run differential, but with such a small sample that number is currently pretty meaningless. The Indians have extended 3 of their core position players, Michael Brantley, Yan Gomes and Jason Kipnis, while allowing pitchers Scott Kazmir and Ubaldo Jimenez to move on and letting ace Justin Masterson play out his contract. Grantland has the Tribe as the lowest rated amongst their grouping “Flawed Contenders.”
They don’t give a further description of the Indians but here is the group:
Better than some, worse than others, but good enough to contend.
14. Cleveland Indians (3-3, -3)
13. New York Yankees (3-3, -2)
12. Atlanta Braves (4-2, +6)
11. Kansas City Royals (2-3, -3)
10. Texas Rangers (3-3, -7)
9. Pittsburgh Pirates (4-2, +7)
8. San Francisco Giants (5-2, +10)
7. Oakland A’s (3-3, +3)
They do go on to describe the Braves, hence the boldface type, who, like the Indians, have some major concerns in their rotation. For the Braves it is due to injury, the Indians due to free agency and hope in young arms developing.
Flawed contenders may be the best description of the Tribe. They could make a run if the youth of the staff comes together and the lineup and bullpen stay solid. Yet if anyone of those falls apart they don’t have an overwhelming strength that could carry them through a struggle in one area.
How would you rank the Indians so far? What have been the positives? Negatives?