Despite what some downers want you to believe, the Cleveland Indians are once again in the thick of it to start the 2020 season.
It’s almost springtime and that means that pitchers and catchers are to report to Goodyear, Arizona today. They’ll be making that trek looking a bit different this year. Some former icons of Cleveland baseball won’t be there this time. Despite the change in some of the faces, this team brings back the heart and soul of last year’s 93 win club.
Sure, Corey Kluber is gone, but he was all but gone last year and the team still nearly made the playoffs without him, Carlos Carrasco and perennially injured Danny Salazar. This year, only Carrasco is back, with a crop of new, and younger starters around him. Some of them have made a name for themselves already. Like the next two in line to be designated the staff’s Ace, Mike Clevenger, and Shane Bieber.
Outside of that, the same questions that surround this squad surrounded last years. The outfield is a mystery, though it’s fair to say that Tyler Naquin has earned a starting spot. Who’s on first will be more than a 90-year-old comedy sketch for the Indians, and what will our second basemen look like is once again being asked. These questions persisted last year, and the team still won 93 games.
Fans may not have the same optimism as years past, because they equate over-spending on 30-year-old free agents on the downside of their careers as “trying to win”, but keep this in mind; Terry Francona has never managed a losing season in his time with Cleveland. Not only is he a perpetual winner in Cleveland, but he’s had seasons of 93, 91, 102 and 94 wins over his last four years.
Not just that, every year at the deadline over the last four years the ownership group gave club president Chris Antonetti and GM Mike Chernoff the greenlight and money to make major moves to improve the club. This is a team that wins, with a precedent of making smart trades to improve and has shown to be keen eyes on drafting talents.
This isn’t the Los Angeles Dodgers, so stop expecting the team to be run like they are. They’re a team that builds through the draft, and smart trades. Something they’ve done well for years. There is no reason to think the Indians can’t again compete not just for the Central title but for the AL Pennant as well.
If only sports fans would stop worrying about being right and start looking at the facts fo the situation. No matter how much guff you give the Dolan’s ownership, they’ve been overseeing a winning franchise with two AL Championship appearances in a decade. That may not seem like a lot, but from 2002 to 2012, the team only had two winning seasons. I remember that decade of suck. Any real Tribe fan would be willing to have a decade of success, even if the club doesn’t win a World Series trophy, as opposed to one championship win and nine losing seasons around it. Would you rather be an Indians fan or a Marlins fan? Unless you’re crazy desperate to prove a point, you’d honestly rather be an Indians fan.
This team is built for seasonal competition. The way all sports teams should be built. Too many fans want to load up for that ‘one good season’ and damn the future. That’s short-sighted and ignorant. If you want to see how well that works, look at the Cavs.
They’re sitting so pretty now, aren’t they?