Cleveland Indians: Tribe Fans Should Be Thanking Jonathan Lucroy

Apr 3, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers catcher Jonathan Lucroy (25) throws the ball to dugout after a wild pitch by starting pitcher Yu Darvish (not pictured) during the seventh inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington. The Indians defeat the Rangers 8-5. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 3, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers catcher Jonathan Lucroy (25) throws the ball to dugout after a wild pitch by starting pitcher Yu Darvish (not pictured) during the seventh inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington. The Indians defeat the Rangers 8-5. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /
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A player Cleveland Indians fans love to hate, Jonathan Lucroy, struggled on Opening Day. Is it time to forgive and forget?

Surely Cleveland Indians fans had fun piling on Jonathan Lucroy during the Tribe’s come-from-behind Opening Day victory Monday night.

Tribe broadcaster Matt Underwood did, referring to Lucroy as “the catcher from Texas.”

Sure, we all loved seeing Lucroy being unable to corral Yu Darvish‘s Wild Pitch in the seventh inning, which allowed Yandy Diaz to score from third base.

We jumped out of our seats when Andrew Miller went full-blown Miller time on Lucroy in the bottom of the eighth, striking him out on a 97-mile-per-hour fastball.

Underwood, like a lot of Tribe fans, still feel burned by Lucroy, who vetoed a trade to the Indians just before last year’s trade deadline. Lucroy worried about his role with the Indians, because the Tribe already had Yan Gomes locked up to a long-term contract. At the time of the proposed trade, Gomes was injured, and Lucroy didn’t see how he fit into the plans after Gomes came back from injury.

Lucroy can be a free agent after this season, and he stands to make a ton of money as power hitting catcher. He had to be sure he was going to play all of the time, and apparently he didn’t have that assurance.

Clevelanders don’t like it when people don’t want to come to our great city. If you don’t live here, you just don’t get it.

Some will hate Lucroy forever for declining to take employment at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario.

And that’s fine. That’s what being is a fan is all about.

But thanks to Lucroy, not only did his veto galvanize the Indians roster down the stretch, but it kept the Indians’ minor leagues stacked with prospects.

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Francisco Mejia is one of the most coveted prospects in the game after a 50-game hitting streak put him on the national radar as a player in A ball last season. In Spring Training, his stock only continued to go up after he hit .421 in 19 Spring Training at-bats.

Greg Allen has also climbed the prospect ladder. He’ll be starting for the Columbus Clippers in the same outfield as Bradley Zimmer. He’s a former sixth-round pick who is now the Tribe’s ninth rated prospect, according to MLB.com. He projects as a leadoff hitter who can reak havoc on the base baths.

Allen hit for his highest minor league average last season (.295), posted his second highest on-base percentage (.416) and stole 45 bases.

Shortstop Yu-Cheng Chang is also a highly thought of prospect. The Brewers wanted him, and the Yankees were rumored to have talked to the Tribe about him as well.

Chang may not be the most likely guy to play for the Tribe as a result of the Lucroy veto, but it’s a good bet teams will be checking in on him closer to this year’s trade deadline.

Lucroy’s veto has given the Tribe optionality as the team tries to avenge it’s loss in the World Series.

Yan Gomes is back in the fold and played well this spring. People forget, he was once a Silver Slugger Award winner at catcher.

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And the AL Champs  got better this offseason, adding Edwin Encarnacion and reliever Boone Logan. Perhaps the prospects that weren’t traded off last year help bring in the missing piece before this year’s deadline.