Cleveland Indians: FoS’ Mailbag Preview Part One

Mar 20, 2017; Goodyear, AZ, USA; A detailed view of the Cactus League logo on the jersey of Cleveland Indians center fielder Bradley Zimmer (78) before the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Goodyear Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 20, 2017; Goodyear, AZ, USA; A detailed view of the Cactus League logo on the jersey of Cleveland Indians center fielder Bradley Zimmer (78) before the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Goodyear Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /

What questions do you have as we prepare for another season of Cleveland Indians baseball?

It’s almost the best time of the year! Cleveland Indians baseball is right around the corner which means the Factory of Sadness Mailbag Preview for 2017 has begun. We’ve got questions from all over and no time to waste.

There’s still time to get your questions answered, so let us know what you need to know about the defending AL Champs!

Can Michael Brantley find his 2015 self? And if not who is his best replacement?

This might be the million dollar question for the 2017 Indians. Michael Brantley has looked sharp in his at-bats this spring. All indications are that Brantley is healthy and ready to resume his role as one of the most complete players in the American League.

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That said, expectations for Brantley need to be tempered. I doubt we see the near-MVP level Brantley, but according to, perhaps somewhere in between his 7.0 WAR 2014 campaign and his 3.7 WAR 2015 . What will help is that this is the best lineup that Brantley has had around him at any point in his career.

What do you make of the Cleveland Cavaliers being down 3-1 and winning it all and our Indians up 3-1 and losing the World Series?

Both the Golden State Warriors and the Chicago Cubs were favored to win. While the Cavs had a transcendent superstar, so did the Cubs. The Tribe simply ran out of pitching depth by Game 7. At the end of the day, it was a great run and that’s about all of the thought it requires.

Any concerns on a sluggish start to the WBC players who may have not gotten enough mechanical work in?

I think the “reading between the lines” question is should we be worried about Andrew Miller. Short answer, no. Long answer, Miller will find a way to continue to work into game shape for the 2017 season.

He pitched a ton of high stress innings for the Indians last year and he has earned a rough patch in games that ultimately don’t matter. There’s no reason to think Miller’s poor outings in the spring and at the WBC will cause long-term concern.

Who’s on the verge of breaking out on the scene? We saw Jose Ramirez come into his own and Tyler Naquin give us a massive spark last year. With Yandy Diaz not having anywhere to go in the field or the DH role, and Giovanny Urshela‘s bat being a “work in progress”, do you see a dark horse emerging?

If Cleveland were to move past Diaz, who is the odds on favorite to win the third base job, with Ramirez moving to second to begin the season, then it gets a bit harder. To frame the response, let’s move past guys that are going to open the year in AAA. That removes Urshela as well as Erik Gonzalez.

Forced to pick a major league player, I’ll say Trevor Bauer. Is he mercurial? Yes. Is he at times just weird? Yes, but he is still so young and is just now starting to figure out each component of his approach.

Bauer has gotten better every year and was actually a 3.0 WAR pitcher last season according to Going into only his age 27 season, Bauer is well positioned to make a big jump.s

Will the Indians dominate the Central Division again?

Absolutely. I already wrote about how the Tribe is clearly the best team in a down AL Central. The Detroit Tigers are old and sluggish. Meanwhile, the Kansas City Royals traded away Wade Davis and are relying on bounce-back seasons from multiple players despite their lack of pitching depth.

The Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins are rebuilding for the future. At the end of the season, the Indians will win the Central by at least five games.

How do you split time behind the plate? Both Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez have their share of pros and cons.

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Both have their pros and cons, but they’re essentially the same player. They are good defensive catchers, with the edge there going to Perez. Both are below average right handed bats that can punish bad fastballs, with Gomes having a better track record as a Silver Slugger.

The choice is a tough one, but Gomes gets the nod as the higher paid option. Don’t forget that Perez struggled mightily last year and missed a considerable amount of time with injuries of his own. Gomes will get the start until he either struggles or gets hurt again.

Does the Indians get above .500 in April? It seems like they are always slow starting out of spring training.

I really hope so! I do think the Indians get through May in the black. There’s a series against the Arizona Diamondbacks, two against the White Sox, and a four game set against the Twins.

April will really only go as well as they can pending back to back series against the Seattle Mariners and the Houston Astros at the end of the month. If the Indians go 16-9 in April, that would be fantastic.

Which is more of a threat to Cleveland’s morale: High injury count or low attendance numbers?

Our first attendance question! Injuries won’t derail the morale of the team because of manager Terry Francona. The magic of the red scooter has a way of keeping that clubhouse upbeat.

Remember, Chris Gimenez was the team’s starting catcher for a huge chunk of the year because both catchers got hurt. Brantley missed almost all of the season. Despite all of that and they were so close to winning a championship.

Attendance, though, is always going to be in the discussion. After years of floating at the bottom league wide, the buzz around Jacobs….err…Progressive Field was a huge reason for the team’s success down the road.

Next: 5 Players Who Are Keys To Cleveland's Success

I worry that it took a 14 game win streak to get there in 2016. I’ve said it before that Tribe fans need to show up more. Tickets are cheap, the RTA runs downtown, and the team is a winner. The same folks that don’t show up are often the same ones that spend $100 on Browns tickets to cry for four hours every Sunday.