Cleveland Indians: 2018 New Year’s resolutions

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 11: Giovanny Urshela
CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 11: Giovanny Urshela /

Another exciting Cleveland Indians’ season will soon be here. Before it gets here though, let’s take a look at what needs to be changed in the new year!

New Year’s resolutions get plenty of hype prior to January 1. Millions of people make their resolutions in hopes of a better life. For many of them though, all that gets achieved is the list being written. For the Cleveland Indians, more than that needs to occur.

The Tribe has been on one impressive run and although the case can be made that their window is closing, they will have another successful season. Cleveland has won at least 81 games since 2013, with their highest total being 102 last season.

Hopefully, the Indians can get close to a triple-digit number again in 2018. To do so and achieve everything imaginable, changes must be made but what are they?

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The first new year’s resolution is likely a combined effort. Assuming Jason Kipnis plays the outfield or gets dealt, Cleveland will need help in the infield.

To keep Kipnis part of the outfield equation especially, solidifying third base is key with Jose Ramirez likely then becoming the next second baseman. Therefore, either via an individual effort or a combined platoon of Yandy Diaz and Giovanny Urshela happens. To make this a reality, at least one but ideally both steps their games up.

Diaz was too inconsistent in 2017 and he doesn’t have a true position. According to, Diaz had a 0.3 WAR with a slash line of .263/.343/.392/.735 to go along with 13 RBI.

If Urshela could hit at the MLB level, this wouldn’t be a discussion. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

The potential is there for Urshela but for some reason, he cannot be relied on consistently. He’s had his chances but has not improved each year in some way.

Playing just 67 games last season per baseball-reference doesn’t help his eye at the plate either so something has to give. If Urshela cannot get enough playing time and put up respectable numbers based on those games, it will be time to move past him as a 3B option.

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Initially, until one or both comes around, plan on Kipnis at second and Ramirez at third.

Next up on the new year’s resolutions is how Terry Francona manages. Francona is one great skipper, but at times he relies too much on veterans. No, I am not saying he should throw rookies into the fire. Rather, playing those younger players more often earlier in the season would be nice.

Cleveland could have made to the 2017 World Series, but frankly, they were burnt out and peaked by the time the playoffs arrived. If Francona played a Diaz, for example, more often than a Michael Brantley, Lonnie Chisenhall, Jason Kipnis etc., throughout the season, when it was evident they were injured or struggled mightily, perhaps their postseason run would have lasted longer.

For some, watching former reliever Bryan Shaw coming in as often as he did and giving up runs, thus decreasing a comfortable lead at times could also be a perfect example too.

Now, Francona doesn’t have control over the next resolution but he could help persuade the next move: Re-sign shortstop Francisco Lindor. The former first-round pick is a face of the franchise and perhaps the best player at his position in all of MLB.

I don’t want to see star players in their prime leave the Indians. To make that happen, a new deal must get done.

Cleveland’s front office has been trying to extend Lindor’s contract even though he is under contract through 2021. Still, why wait knowing the kind of talent he is?

Lindor is a generational talent and it would be a great feeling knowing the cornerstone is locked in even longer. Cleveland doesn’t sign players to contracts bigger markets can offer but for someone like Lindor, they need to make that an exception. In the meantime, an extension doesn’t look like it will happen soon.

Cleveland went for it all last season as evident by the acquisition of outfielder Jay Bruce, who is now a free agent. It’s unlikely he will come back to Cleveland but you never know.

That said, even though contracts are bigger for players like Brantley and Kipnis this season, conducting business on a limited basis shouldn’t happen.

Regardless of what else the front office does during the offseason, it will be evident soon enough what they need to improve upon. What has held them back — whether that be finances, holding onto an average prospect rather than trading him, or something else stops in 2018.

Indians’ fans deserve a World Series-winning team. Of course, it wouldn’t be wise to trade a top but finally trading second-tier prospects (or prospects they’ve had reservations about in general) could be beneficial.

Rather than doing what has gotten them just short of winning it all, how about thinking outside the box more?

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Not all of these will happen but they would help in their own ways in both the short and long-term outlooks of the team.