Cleveland Indians earned benefit of the doubt despite slow offseason

Cleveland Indians Jose Ramirez (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
Cleveland Indians Jose Ramirez (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /

As everyone cracks the Cleveland Indians for playing on the cheap, perhaps the front office delivers the benefit of the doubt in 2019.

The offseason was as exciting as long toss and the Cleveland Indians were hammered plenty for slashing payroll despite have a clear path toward their fourth straight AL Central crown.

I’ve complained. Our Voice of the Fan, Ric McElroy has complained. You can’t really blame us.

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Key pieces from the lineup such as Edwin Encarnacion and Yan Gomes disappeared in cost-saving trades, while Michael Brantley, Andrew Miller and Cody Allen departed through free agency. If an effort was made to keep either member of that trio, it’s been ken secret.

Even with all of the moves, or lack there of, the Indians are still heavy favorites in the AL Central, which is the worst division in baseball.

The Indians still boast the best starting rotation, one through five, in the MLB. The offense is expected to take a step back in 2019, and the projects hold that a weaker lineup will still be good, enough, thanks to Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, Mike Clevinger and Shane Bieber.

Considering the Indians have been booted from the ALDS the past two seasons, perhaps the organization should be given the benefit of the doubt for how they’ll approach the upcoming campaign.

With a middle of the order that’s severely been weakened, the Indians can’t account for Edwin Encarnacion to mash a three-run homer, or Yan Gomes to shame a double down the third base line.

The Indians are going to have to reach base, and then be aggressive in how they come home.

Granted, the Indians are counting on a lot of ifs. If Tyler Naquin plays like he did in the first two months of 2016. If Jake Bauers proves why he was regarded as a top 100 prospect. If all Jordan Luplow needed was a chance. If Bradley Zimmer‘s shoulder heals and he finally learns to hit.

It’s unclear whether the Tribe will be able to get on base enough, but if they can be, it will be fun watching Terry Francona figuring out how to move everyone around, because if the Indians do have something in this lineup, it’ speed.

As the bullpen, guys with track record have been added in the form of Tyler Clippard, Alex Wilson.

And who knows, perhaps someone such as Hanley Ramirez squeezes one more great season out his career.

This front office is known for buying lottery tickets and usually gets at least one to hit every season.

While the Indians are expected to build a sizable lead in the division, everyone’s well aware of potential flaws. Hopefully, this helps the Tribe keep the gas down on the pedal en route to the postseason.

In 2017, the win streak was all consuming. Last year, the Central race was kaput by the All-Star break.

That 2016 team was hungry and expectedly arrived in the World Series, coming one game away from winning the whole thing.

Hanley Ramirez has a great chance to make this roster. dark. Next

This team isn’t as good as that club, but the hunger to prove itself should certainly be there and will be worth watching all summer.