Cleveland Indians: Early Returns Indicate This Will Be One Fun Summer

Apr 3, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; The Cleveland Indians celebrate after defeating the Texas Rangers 8-5 at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 3, 2017; Arlington, TX, USA; The Cleveland Indians celebrate after defeating the Texas Rangers 8-5 at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

The Cleveland Indians will enter this season as one of the most complete teams in the MLB. After making it to the World Series, what should fans expect coming into the year?

The regular season is finally here and the Indians look good. Really good.

Most MLB reporters have penciled in the Cleveland Indians/Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs as the league representatives for the World Series. All three teams have made the necessary moves to be a serious contender for the season.

The Tribe made a splash with the signing of one of the best hitters in the MLB, Edwin Encarnacion.

After putting together his best season with the Toronto Blue Jays with 42 homeruns and 127 RBI’s, Encarnacion signed a three-year, $65 million deal to join the Indians. So what was the motivating factor that led him to the club?

His belief that the Indians will win the World Series.

This was one of the best moves the franchise has made since signing Roberto Alomar in 1999. His contract was for three-years, $21 million at the time.

Encarnacions’ bat automatically adds power to an already tough lineup, and he will also be protected with Michael Brantley batting third.

It will be interesting to see what manager Terry Francona does in the middle of the lineup. Will he switch Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez, or leave it as it is?  In Spring Training, Ramirez has been batting third for most of the games. He hit fifth last season, Lindor batted third.

So far, Lindor is batting second with Ramirez hitting fifth.

While Encarnacion was the biggest signing of the year, there was one that went under the radar.

The signing of left-handed pitcher Boone Logan.

In nine Spring Training games, he had one win, with a 10.13 ERA and 11 strikeouts.  He’s struggled for most of it, but it’s nothing that Tribe fans should worry about. He can easily turn it around once the regular season begins. In two regular-season appearances, Logan’s played as advertised. In two games, he’s faced two batters and recorded two outs.

He was one of the best lefties available in free agency, and the Indians were able to sign him to a one-year, $6.5 million deal.  I can’t remember the last time the Indians were able to sign two top players at their position!

They’ve usually been a team that will trade for an arm before or after the trading deadline, but this year, they went for it.

In his career, Logan has been tough on lefties, but he’s gotten better on righties in the last few years. According to lefties batted .139 against him, while righties hit .211 last season.

If Logan can return to his 2016 form this season, opposing teams will have no answer for the duo of himself or Andrew Miller. He will potentially be used as a LOOGY (left-handed specialist) in certain matchups.

He made his debut on Monday in the seventh inning against the Texas Rangers, faced one batter, and struck him out.

However, the biggest question is how the team will do without Jason Kipnis for a few games. Kipnis is the leader of the club, and his presence will be missed.

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The energy, stolen bases, and timely hitting he brings is a huge factor, but this team is deep enough to make up for it.

For right now, Ramirez is the second baseman with Yandy Diaz playing third. Diaz went 1-for-4 against the Rangers, and made a great defensive stop against Nomar Mazara in the fifth inning.

Although they have only played one game, the Indians already look like a team to be reckoned with.

They were down against the Rangers 5-1 early, but clutch bullpen pitching and hitting decided the game in the end, and gave the Tribe the 8-5 victory.

It had the feel of the infamous 1995 team. That team would be down runs against opponents, but fans just knew that a comeback would be imminent, and most times, it was.

I only see the  Houston Astros and Red Sox as the only challenges for the Indians in the American League. They’re the only teams that comes close with good hitting and pitching depth.

Next: 5 Bold Indians Predictions

The only threat I see in theAL Central is the Detroit Tigers. They still have a formidable rotation with Justin Verlander, Jordan Zimmermann and Michael Fulmer–and a tough lineup with Miguel Cabrera and Co., but It’s not enough to conquer all the ways the Tribe can defeat them in the end.