Key Additions—Orlando Cabrera, Austin Kearns
Key Losses—Jhonny Peralta
Lineup—If this lineup would live up to their potential, with young guys such as Santana, LaPorta, and Brantley, and Grady Sizemore could come back and be the player he once was, the Indians could surprise some people. However while I love Santana, I just don’t believe that LaPorta or Brantley are above average major league hitters. They are solid in RF with the emergence of Shin-Soo Choo, but their infield may be as weak as any in the majors. Also, if Sizemore does come back and return to old form, my hunch is they try to maximize his value and deal him. Not exactly what Tribe fans want to hear.
Rotation—They are fairly young with this rotation, but it isn’t nearly as bad as what people tend to think. Fausto Carmona was highly sought after in the offseason, meaning not only the Indians think highly of him but others around the league do as well. And Justin Masterson has the chance to be a very good major league starter. If Carlos Carrasco can live up to his potential, they have the makings of at least a competitive major league rotation. The big question marks come at the back end, as how will the young guys perform. But at the very least there should be optimism with what the Indians are building.
Bullpen—This is where it gets ugly. While Chris Perez has pretty good stuff, he just doesn’t excite me as a closer. And outside of Perez, I don’t think they have another arm in the bullpen that is capable of shutting down major league hitters. So as much as I think the lineup and rotation may be slightly underrated, I think that no matter your thoughts of this bullpen you are overrating them. I just see no way they are able to get out hitters.
Impact Rookie—Nick Weglarz, OF. While the Indians will see MLB debuts from blue chip prospects Lonnie Chisenhall, Alex White, and Jason Kipnis by year’s end, Weglarz is the closest to be ready to contribute. Weglarz has power and a patient eye, but his defense is his achilles heel making DH his best position.
Outlook—The Indians are obviously still in rebuild mode and they don’t resemble a team that used to have Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia in the rotation. Right now those trades do not appear to have landed much for the Tribe, but Carrasco and a few of the young guys in the Lee trade still have a chance to prove me wrong. But I do like what they are doing, as they have players that can be built around in Masterson and Santana. If Sizemore can bounce back and they can get some value in return, they may be able to compete within a few years.
Brad Koesters, MLB Correspondent
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