What I'd like to see in 2014 at the Corner of Carnegie and Ontario
Random Ideas for the 2014 Cleveland Indians
It’s a bright, sunny, cold fall day here at the Corner of Carnegie and Ontario, and oh, what a difference a year makes here at the North Coast.
Has it already been a year?
The Cleveland Indians announced Terry Francona as their manager on October 6, 2012, and presented him at a press conference on October 8, 2012. It’s hard to believe that that a year has gone by.
Yet here we are on October 10, 2013, with a new culture in place, and a run to the playoffs under our belts.
I still can hardly believe it.
So what’s the story this year?
The Cleveland Indians are building off of a playoff run, and are heading into the offseason potentially being able to build a better lineup.
The Indians will be players in the market for several players, including our own free agents, and you can bet they will be making a play.
Have the Indians really made a culture change here in Cleveland?
Will free agents sign in Cleveland, or was it just a quirk in the rules that allowed the Indians to go after players without giving up their first round pick?
Will the Indians spend more than they have budgeted if they think it will make them better?
Can the Indians become a factor in the playoffs in 2014?
There are certainly tons of questions to be answered as we start to say goodbye to 2013 and focus our attention on 2014, and we’ll have plenty of time to talk about it all.
Until then, there are things that I would like to see for the 2014 for the Indians as things stand today. Of course, that could change based on the moving and the shaking between now and March 31, 2014, when the Indians play the Athletics in Oakland
I’ll revisit these and more throughout the hot stove season here at the Corner, but here are some things that I’d like to see happen for the Indians in 2014.
Yan Gomes catches at least 130 games.
I suppose this isn’t rocket science for anyone that follows the Cleveland Indians, but I know there’s a contingent that believes the Indians should split time at catcher between Gomes and Carlos Santana. I’m not one of them. Yan Gomes should be behind the plate as the primary catcher from this point on. I would even argue that Santana should move out of the catcher’s role altogether (and will get to that in a minute).
Without even touching upon Gomes’ offense, he’s the best defensive catcher the Indians have at this point. Might he regress in 2014? He might, but defense generally isn’t something that is a “flash-in-the-pan” statistic, especially for a youngster like Gomes.
It’s the offense that I’m intrigued with. If he continues along the path that he’s on, Gomes should continue to be the primary catcher, and perhaps find a spot in the meat of the batting order. I know some will say that he needs to be given time to prove it, but watching a hole in the offense like Asdrubal Cabrera bat in front of him down the stretch at times should be a good indicator that Gomes needs to begin to be highlighted as a run producer, not protected.
2014 will be his year to shine.
Francisco Lindor becomes the regular shortstop by the all-star break.
I’ve followed minor league baseball for a long time, and I get a unique perspective, watching games in the Carolina League. It’s an interesting league, to say the least, and it’s often extremely telling with regards to how good prospects can be.
With all of that said, Francisco Lindor is far and away the best High A prospect I’ve seen in Kinston or Carolina over the past 13 years.
He’s that good.
Now I don’t know much about his “back injury” that ended his season, but my best guess is that there was a lot of protecting involved in the decision to shut him down. If that’s the case, then Lindor will be a Major League player by the end of 2014.
If it were up to me, I’d give him every chance to claim the spot out of spring training.
Regardless, Lindor should be this team’s primary shortstop by the All-Star break. I’m being a bit safe in that statement, and if you read my columns at all, you’ll know that I’m a firm believer that he’ll be up by May or June. But, Lindor should be with this club by July at the latest.
Let’s keep it simple: HE’S REALLY GOOD.
How good? I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Francisco Lindor’s pre-game fielding is something akin to the defensive version of the ‘90s Indians putting on a power display during pre-game batting practice. He’s that good.
If you watched Lindor playing short during spring training last year with the Indians, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Some will point to his errors as an indicator of poor defense, but that’s just garbage.
Some worry about his offense, and I’m on board with that as well, but it’s better than many think, and getting better every day.
He has a high baseball IQ, and is mature beyond his years. Remember, he’s still a teenager. I promise you. He doesn’t act like one.
Francisco Lindor will be a star, and it should start in 2014.
That is all.
Michael Bourn plays like an all-star, and if the front office doesn’t think that he can be effective, then trade him.
I know that there is a call for the Indians to deal Bourn because of his hefty bounce in salary over the next three years. If they did trade him, I would be totally okay with that. There are plenty of scenarios in which players could replace their lead-off hitter. They wouldn’t be ideal, but there are those scenarios.
Here’s the thing though: when Michael Bourn played well, and it did happen on occasion in 2013, he was absolutely scintillating.
If Michael Bourn has ANYTHING left in the tank, and I think that he does, than he could become a massive difference maker in this offense.
There were those moments, and they were brief, but there were those moments when he brought memories of theKenny Lofton era. He can generate infield hits when he’s on. He can generate havoc on the base paths when he’s on. He can lengthen that lineup.
That’s an ideal situation, and there really isn’t anyone (who plays center right now) on the roster that can do it as well as Bourn can. I love Drew Stubbs, but at the peak of their game, he can’t touch Bourn as a lead-off hitter. The fact that they can be compared says more about Bourn’s regression, than Stubbs being a solid player.
If the regression was a change in leagues, then he needs to stay.
If the regression was his age, then he needs to be traded…and now, while he still has value.
Jose Ramirez needs to become the permanent second baseman, but if they won’t move Kipnis, make him a centerfielder.
Let me just say this now: Jose Ramirez becoming a utility player is a mistake. He’s just too good.
Could he handle it?
Could he be effective at it?
Should he do it?
First and foremost, Jose Ramirez should be the Indians’ primary second baseman. The only problem with that is that Jason Kipnis is there. Kipnis is arguably the best player on the team, and it’s rare that a player of that caliber moves positions. Could Kipnis move? He sure could, but I’m sure the Indians don’t think that’s an optimal move, and would surely devalue his offense a bit. That said, it’s possible, and I’ll get to that later in this piece.
But you have to understand that he is an incredible middle infielder. According to our very own Senior Editor and Akron aficionado Jim Piascik, Ramirez has extremely quick hands, and is ideally suited to the role. I can’t tell a lie…visions of Lindor and Ramirez are dancing in my head.
They could be special
If the Indians decide that Jose Ramirez isn’t going to be their full-time second baseman, then he should move to centerfield.
Please understand this: He can do it.
I’m not as sure on that statement as I am with other players because I haven’t seen him play nearly as much as others, but know that like Lindor, has a high IQ. I know that like Lindor, is extremely mature. I know that like Lindor, he’s an extremely hard worker. The ONLY question is his arm, and Piascik noted that it’s not very strong.
Everything else in his game suits to a jump, it would just take a bit for him to learn the intricacies of the positions. Is it a sure thing. No, but it may be a way to start putting together the strongest lineup the Indians can with the talent they have.
Jose Ramirez is a major league starter, should have a position, and will make the offense better.
Put him at second…but if they don’t think about him at centerfield.
What about Jason Kipnis?
Move him back to the outfield. I don’t care if it’s left or right field, but get him out there. JRam is a superior defender, and his bat is just special. No, he doesn’t, nor will he ever have the power that Kipnis has, but he is a guy that can cause massive difficulties for a pitcher and a defense. He gets on base at a high rate, and can steal bases.
Kipnis has good enough power to be an outstanding outfielder. Think about it…Drew Stubbs was our primary guy out there this year, and he was supplemented by Ryan Raburn. Kipnis is superior to both…and that was his initial position.
Get him out there, and put JRam at second. It fills your right field spot, and it puts a kid that is going to be special at second.
Mike Aviles and Ryan Raburn continue to be bench players, and not starters.
These guys shouldn’t start…period.
I’m not diving too much into this, but both of these guys should have limited at bats, and not be depended on. Their games change when that happens. These two our outstanding utility players, and that’s what they need to be.
Oh, and while we’re at it, Raburn DOESN’T NEED TO PLAY THE INFIELD. That was a mistake from the start for the Tigers. Raburn is golden as the fourth outfielder. Leave him there, where he can be successful.
Danny Salazar plays a full season with the Indians, showcasing why he’s an ace by anyone’s standards.
There are many folks that will disagree with the term ace, and whether or not Danny Salazar is one.
No, he doesn’t have the body of work that I usually point to.
No, he hasn’t played an entire season with the Indians, and I usually point to that as well.
Let’s just say this: his stuff is the best in the entire organization. He’s dominated major league hitters.
He’s an ace…period.
Yes, I suppose you can say that he needs to prove himself in 2014. I get that.
But he’s still an ace.
His K-Rate is ridiculous (11.3).
His Walk Rate is ridiculous (2.6).
His FIP is near ridiculous (3.16).
His xFIP is ludicrous (2.75).
He’s an ace.
He’s the best starter the Indians have RIGHT NOW.
Can’t wait for him to prove me right again, in 2014, when he absolutely dominates from day 1.
Corey Kluber proves to be something more than a one-season wonder.
I’m not going to get into numbers with Corey Kluber. We all know what they were this year, and they were good.
What I worry about with regards to Kluber is that he may be the guy that has a great season out of nowhere, then disappears.
He was never really all that good in the minors.
I mean…he was okay.
He had special stuff.
But he could never really put it all together.
Now he has.
Sure, in 2012 he has a 3.99 xFIP, which perhaps makes his 5+ ERA seem better, but not much better.
So where did this come from?
Is it because of Mickey Callaway?
Is it because of new pitches?
Is it just his natural progression?
If he’s more than a one-hit wonder, this staff will be really…really good, even potentially without Ubaldo and Kazmir.
Let’s hope for the best.
His FIP and xFIP were tremendous, at 3.3 and 3.10, and he became a 2.7 WAR pitcher.
If he’s back, the Indians are in business.
Trevor Bauer becomes the main piece to the Shin-Soo Choo trade.
I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this one, but a lot of people have written off Trevor Bauer.
I’m not there yet.
I think 2014 could be his big year.
My hope is that Mickey Callaway spends some time with Bauer during the offseason. He seems to have a bit of Ubaldo Jimenez in him. Imagine if Callaway can point Bauer in the right direction. Imagine if Bauer becomes an ace again. Imagine if Bauer and Carrasco anchor this staff, for a long, long time.
Yeah, it’s too early to give up on him.
Cody Allen doesn’t become the Indians’ closer, because Carlos Carrasco says so.
Let me just get this out there. I want Cody Allen to be the closer.
Here’s what I want. I want the Cleveland Indians to have a dominant closer. I want the Cleveland Indians to have a guy that just slams the door in the ninth inning. I just want teams to walk into Progressive Field knowing that if it’s a close game in the ninth, it’s over.
I want Allen in that role.
But…I wouldn’t mind Allen having a bit more freedom to maneuver through the late innings.
Enter Carlos Carrasco. I still feel that Carrasco can be an incredible starter, but I’m intrigued with the idea that he could become a closer.
It could explode in our face. We all know that he’s a headcase. We all know that he can’t seem to put it together.
In some weird way, I think that actually could help him in the closer role? No, I’m not saying I want a headhunter as a closer, am I?
But, imagine if a special Carrasco is the closer, with their best reliever in that set up role in the eighth.
I could live with that.
Ubaldo Jimenez signs an Indians-friendly, three-year, $33 million deal, with a fourth-year option that kicks in when he meets an innings threshold.
I know there are a lot of numbers being thrown around with regards to Jimenez, but I also don’t think anyone knows the real number. IBI’s senior editor Steve Orbanek pointed to a piece at MLB Trade Rumors that suggested that Jimenez is currently similar to a guy like Jorge De La Rosa, who signed a three-year, $30 million deal in 2010.
I would love that deal.
I think Jimenez is better than De La Rosa, so their number of three-years and $33 million as the floor, and three-years and $39 million as the ceiling seems to be a nice floor and ceiling. Let’s see if the Indians can get the lower end done, and add some incentive.
Does he love Cleveland?
We shall see.
Scott Kazmir signs a two-year, $18 million deal.
Like Jimenez, Kazmir is getting a lot of comments on a potential deal. His worth according to sabrmetrics is right at the $13 million dollar range, so there are a few that think he could command a HUGE deal for the 2014 season.
I agree, but not that huge.
Kazmir’s velocity was back this year, and his location was better than ever. His 2.68 walks per nine was the best in his career by a half-run, and that was one season. Look at his numbers. He hovered around four for much of his career.
His 3.51 FIP was his best since 2007, and his xFIP of 3.36 was his best ever.
Does this mean the trend is up for Kazmir?
Does it at least mean he could be a nice lefty with a potential TOR ability on occasion?
So offer him two years and $16-18 million.
If he says no, or gets a better offer?
I really don't want to spend $20 million for a pitcher not named Ubaldo Jimenez or Justin Masterson, but Kazmir may be the exception.
I think they can get it done for less though.
Michael Hattery will have more on Kazmir in tomorrow's Trendspotting, always a worthwhile read. Hattery's the best Indians-centric sabrmetrician goin' today.
The Indians trade Justin Masterson and Asdrubal Cabrera.
I’m not against signing Justin Masterson over Ubaldo Jimenez, and that’s the likely scenario.
Why then, trade Masterson?
You can get something of value for him, and major league ready.
Package Justin Masterson and Asdrubal Cabrera, and go and get yourself a middle-of-the-lineup bat, or another starter.
It takes away the anchor of the staff though, and I am concerned about that, but if everything else falls into place, you could get some incredible value.
Put everyone on the table for a trade if you can improve the team.
This could be a fun offseason.
My perfect lineup at some point in 2014:
- Jose Ramirez, 2B
- Jason Kipnis, RF
- Yan Gomes, C
- Carlos Santana, DH
- Michael Brantley, LF
- Nick Swisher, 1B
- Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B
- Francisco Lindor, SS
- Michael Bourn, CF
There will be trades in there somewhere, but you could insert a bigger bat in there, perhaps at third base? Of course, I’m not AS done on Chisenhall as some, but I would take an improvement there if the Indians could go out and get someone big.
My perfect rotation at some point in 2014:
- Danny Salazar
- Ubaldo Jimenez
- Corey Kluber
- Scott Kazmir
- Trevor Bauer/Zach McAllister/Carlos Carrasco
SUBJECT TO CHANGE!!!!
(c'mon, it's October...;)
Jim is currently the senior editor and Columnist, as well as the host of IBI's weekly online radio shows, Smoke Signals and Cleveland Sports Insiders. You can follow Jim on Twitter @Jim_IBI, or contact him via e-mail at email@example.com.
His "potential", his future ceiling, and how he handled himself against older talent is all outstanding...but unfortunately none of that really matters when looking at how he'd perform in the bigs next season. I'm sure scouts would rave about how "well" he handled himself as a 21 year old in the bigs for the first time...but how did he do compared to other 2Bs in the league?
I bet if you asked your scout buds how they feel about Ramirez starting in the bigs in 2014 for a contender...none would say that's an ideal scenario...
Never say never though. I wouldn't have thought Asdrubal would have been able to help the big league club in 2007 the way he did either (though he had more AAA experience)...
"The biggest question mark for Kipnis is where he fits on the field as going into the draft the past two years this was the primary concern among teams. The Indians left him in the outfield for his professional debut in Mahoning Valley, but after the season decided to try him out at second base during the Fall Instructional League. His performance at second base during the instructional period earned him rave reviews not only by the Indians, but from several scouts from other teams as well. One rival scout out in Instructional League said "if he can stick there he has the bat that could make him explode as a prospect."
While Kipnis is only considered an average defender in the outfield, he is very athletic and has the versatility to play any outfield position. He also displays good instincts and gets good jumps on balls. His throwing arm is a tick below average, easily the weakest tool in his arsenal. The problem is he really does not fit anywhere in the outfield as an everyday major league player as he lacks the plus range of a center fielder and lacks the big bat teams covet from a corner outfielder. As a result, he kind of gets lots in the shuffle as an outfielder and is just another solid prospect. As a second baseman his offensive tools play up and increase his value tremendously. The move to second base makes him move valuable, and worst case is if he can't play there everyday it should provide some versatility for him down the road."
I just see no way the Indians consider a move back to the outfield. He's not good enough to play center field and lacks the arm to play right field. He'd be a left fielder and his value drops immensely where at second base he is an All Star and one of the top players in the league at that position. He's also become a pretty good defender there too.
Everyone knows I love Jose Ramirez. Shoot, I started that bandwagon last year and last offseason and ranked him in my Top 5 this year. He had a very good season at Akron. But he's also not quite a major league starter in my eyes. He's a good handcuff at second or short in the event Kipnis gets hurt or Lindor does not pan out, but the feeling I get from the Indians is they view him as a super utility guy in the making. A guy that can play anywhere in the infield and potentially some outfield and who could start when needed if injury or performance issues arise at third base or shortstop. Hell, he might also be trade bait.
I think he will open up at Columbus as the starting shortstop and/or second baseman....but I think there is an outside shot he is the opening day utility man on the Indians in a bench role. I don't see any way he opens as a starter at a position unless the Indians are just ravaged by injuries. He's a heck of a player, but I don't think he's ready for that nor is he that kind of player. So for me, I say Columbus, bench or trade in that order as for his status by start of net season.
Salazar pans out.
Bauer figures it out...
and the Indians sign one of those three.
Now obviously...that's a big question...but I have no doubt that when they signed Bauer, that was what they were thinking. Money wise....that's the best case scenario...
The Eastern League has always been considered one of the toughest pitcher's leagues in the minors (as is the Carolina League), and Canal Park is a notorious pitcher's park. His slash at Canal Park was a bit better than the total numbers (.296/.361/.380). Trust me, they took note of that. The last three months of the season, he hit .303 (10th in the EL) with a .303/.333/.382 slash, with 13 stolen bases. Trust me, they took note of that too.
They are raving about his year in the Eastern League in the front office...and raving about his improvement as the year progress, especially after his injury struggles.
So, that's not just coming from meanderings from me...
His bump to the majors was for speed purposes, but there was more to it than that. Again, that's just not meanderings from my often wreckless brain...but actual statements from the FO.
While you are denigrating his Akron stats, most of the folks that pay attention to the Akron stats within the organization have an entirely different picture.
He's highly thought of right now...certainly higher than most think. As TL said, other organizations took note of his play, and were asking about him a lot during the stretch up to July 31st. We spent a good 10 minutes talking about this very thing on Smoke Signals back in July.
Like I said multiple times...I don't think the Indians start the year of in 2014 with Jose Ramirez supplanting Kipnis...but if they did it and took heat for it out of the gate, it wouldn't be warranted.
The more likely scenario would have Ramirez covering shortstop until Lindor is ready at some point in 2014...then becoming a uber-utility player unless injury changed those plans.
Now, as to where Kipnis was going to play coming out of college...the Indians always intended him to be an infielder. Now, I know he played outfield at Mahoning, but he was never drafted with the intent to play in the outfield, and it had nothing to do with his defense...so not sure where you are getting your information.
They left him in the outfield in the minors, knowing that they wouldn't try him in the infield until they got him in the instructional league, which is what they did after the 2009 season. He was an extremely athletic player though...which is why he could play ANY outfield slot...but they chose to move him at second because of that ability...his work ethic...and the fact that it would make him a plus offensive player utilizing metrics.
There was a lot more to it all than that...but that whole speculation about his playing only left is just that. He didn't have a plus arm, but at worst, his arm was average to perhaps a bit below average. Again, I'm not making that up, but utilizing information garnered from both this site and the scouts at the time.
What made him a plus player was his ethic.
Now would he translate to left or right? Both, but I do agree that left would be his best outfield slot.
but gee Hermie, folks would have spun right into the ground had I suggested moving TWO players for the lowly JRam...
I agree with everything you said, for the most part, about the rotation. Jackson and Masterson assuredly have statistics that are nearly identical, but in two of the three years, Masterson was absurdly better. The question becomes whether or not teams buy into those two years, or the 2012 season. So, my guess is he's likely going to find himself getting a deal in the five-year realm...and 75 sounds right.
My bet is his agent is counting on another big year, which will cement that 80 million figure.
It's all an unknown though with all these pitchers. The Indians may get Kazmir below 9, and Jimenez at ten or below...it all depends on market...
and I don't buy what anyone in the bigs is saying right now. I think they are sending out feelers yes...but amounts? We'll see...
The key is that the Indians need to make sure not to destroy their rotation this year...and again...I'd be fine getting a first rounder out of it.
If he really is asking for 5yr/$75M then I would maybe considering dealing him. Just don't see that though. Everyone gets on Ubaldo for being so inconsistent but has Masterson really been that much better? Huge, huge Masterson fan and was one of the few that wanted him to stay in the rotation when we got him...but he has been up and down here. Sure Ubaldo's 2012 was much worse than Masterson's but can't act like Masterson didn't struggle a lot too. I find it hard to picture Masterson getting that much money on the open market now, even with how pricey pitching has gotten. Masterson has a 9.6 fWAR over the last 3 seasons. Edwin Jackson had a 9.2 fWAR over the previous 3 seasons before signing with the Cubs.
IF you did manage to sign both Ubaldo and Kaz (not sure that's the smartest move though) then I think you could look to move Masterson. One of Kluber, Masterson, McAllister would almost have to go IMO. With Salazar in the fold one would be in AAA...would be McAllister but he's just too good to stick in AAA I think, or better yet too valuable on the trade market. Could trade Masterson as he clearly has the most value of those 3.
Still...a rotation of Masterson, Ubaldo, Salazar, Kazmir, and Kluber for the whole year? I'd probably still hold on to Masterson and go for it in 2014 then. Still can keep salary under control as it's around $83-84M by my count (if you still trade Cabrera/non-tender Perez). Leaves some wiggle room for a bat as a guy like Stubbs could be moved too.
Guess bottom line...IF you sign both Kaz and U...then it does make sense to trade someone from the starting rotation. Not sure I'd choose Masterson, but he'd definitely bring the most back in return (other than maybe Salazar).
And sorry but just can't see any way Ramirez proves he is major league ready in winter ball or spring training. Just not happening. Needs time at AAA. And you don't make a switch with Kipnis mid-season.
Your "B) it would mazimize the lineup with current players, and allow the Indians to focus on other areas." is only true if Ramirez hits, and hits very well...something he didn't do even at AA last year. You're talking about a kid that had a .674 OPS at AA. Yes, he was only 20 and yes he skipped a level. Considering those things he had a good year there. I like him a lot as a prospect too...but expecting him to put up an OPS higher than that .674 in the bigs at 21 is asking WAY, WAY too much from him IMO. Maybe you disagree and that's fine.
Just out of curiosity...what do you honestly expect to see offensively out of J-Ram in 2014? You really think he can leadoff at the major league level? A .325 OBP at AA...again, yes he was 20 but just because a guy is ok at a level at a young age doesn't mean you throw him into a starting role on a playoff team.
You brought up Ernest Riles...not saying he was a better prospect than Ramirez but he had an insanely great year in AA in 1983 (nearly .450 OBP) and a solid (though unspectacular) 1984 season at AAA (still a .362 OBP). If Ramirez was just knocking the cover off the ball then you maybe have an argument here, but just because scouts love Ramirez, doesn't mean he's ready to play in the bigs. To me it's not even about bumping Kipnis to the OF. Ramirez simply needs more time in the minors...and doesn't matter what he does in winter ball or spring training. He may be ready around Memorial Day (still a stretch IMO) but again, you don't make a big switch like that mid-season. Kipnis is no Yount so the effects could be very negative with him if you try it then.
I definitely like out of the box ideas....just not a fan of this one (at least not in 2014, maybe winter 2015).
but if he's going to cost the Indians above $15 million a year, and in the five year range...
I don't want to touch it.
If they can swing a deal to get someone with more control, I'd go for it in a heartbeat, and would also be okay with tendering him for that first round pick.
For those that would say this would kill the trust between the fans and the team, I say that's utterly and complete garbage. The assumption is that the Indians have done nothing else.
In the Masterson scenario, they likely would have spent money on other players...
and while people can drop the hammer on signing Kazmir for 9 million a year (two more than Myers mind you), and Ubaldo for 11 million...THOSE WOULD BE BARGAINS for players with similar capabilities.
What I'm saying here is trying to trade the player that the league would see has having the most value, and that other teams would be willing to sign to a deal after this year is up.
Masterson is that guy because of his body of work...I just don't want to deal with a Sanchez or likely better deal for a 31 year old pitcher that really isn't an ace.
So, to be honest, if that HURTS the relationship between fans that don't show up anyways...
Many of the reasons that I'm seeing I get, but some are making this move to be laughable...when
A. it's happened before with far better players than Kipnis, and...far worse players than Ramirex
B. it would mazimize the lineup with current players, and allow the Indians to focus on other areas.
That's why they bumped him to Akron. That's why they'd start him at second.
You aren't just going to anoint him the heir apparent at second.
I honestly don't recall hearing ANYTHING about his arm, but 2009 was a long time ago.
Is there some scouting report you're seeing that I'm not?
There aren't many throws from second base to anywhere that would showcase that ability.
He moved to second to maximize his offense. As I recall, it had nothing to do with his arm.
To be fair...skipping triple a was the least relevant point
But I don't think saying he skipped AAA is really a fair point to use. He skipped because the Tribe was in a playoff race and wanted some speed on the bench. He didn't "skip" AAA because of how talented he was overall. I'd be shocked if he's not in AAA to start the year.
Yount was AN MVP AND GOLD GLOVE AT SHORTSTOP IN 1982.
In 1984, as a 28-year-old, he had a .298/.362/.441 slash, with 16 homers and 80 RBI for the Brew Crew at short.
They moved him to left field for Ernest Riles to play short to mazimize their position players. Yount went on to win the MVP again as a centerfielder in 1989.
Jason Kipnis used to play in the outfield. They moved him to second to maximize his offense. Now, in right field, Drew Stubbs and Ryan Raburn is in his way.
...and Jose Ramirez is way better than some folks here are giving him credit for. There's a reason why he skipped High A and Triple A (thusfar).
Now, I will readily admit that it's not optimal to have to rookies at short and second...but perhaps these two are the exception to the rule.
If not though, I'd have NO problem putting JRam in at second, moving Kipnis to Right (he's played there before) and keeping Drubs until the deadline, trading him, adding Aviles until the end of the year, and peppering in Lindor.
Then next year starting Lindor.
Personally...I'd have no trouble starting them both now...but I know that's not the conservative approach.
As far as Kipnis and his arm...he has a weak arm? I don't know that it was ever a knock on him in the outfield. He may not have a plus arm...but moving him to right or left (where he's played before_ and needs a decent arm makes a lot more sense than third. Rumor has it you need an arm there too.
My point here is that Kipnis has a game that's more versatile offensively than Jose Ramirez. Ramirez has a middle infield skill set.
His skill set is very similar to Michael Brantley, as a matter of fact...but I think with a much higher ceiling because he's a better fielder at his position, has better speed, and I think makes better contact.
Brantley's knock has always been his position. He's a great fielder, but offensively, you'd want a guy with more pop.
I'm getting off track here...but you get my point.
My point is Ramirez is better than most people think. Some will say it's because I've got a minor league spin on many things, and that's true...but...
JRam is better than many prospects that I've watched through the years. He's certainly on the plane prospect wise that Kipnis was...and I'm not pulling that out of a hat. He SKIPPED Carolina and Columbus...AND WAS 20 YEARS OLD.
I'm guessing the Indians feel the same way too.
Now, moving Kipnis takes two things...
1. Guts (because if I suggest it and it gets shredded, imagine what happens if they do it)
2. Team-Kip has to be willing to do it, as Thome was with his move to first.
It's not likely to happen, but possible.
My point here is I'd rather have JRam in the lineup daily at a regular position...than bouncing around from place to place two or three days a week...tops.
I agree the Tribe could use a middle of the order power bat....but why do you say a right handed power bat?
Tribe had the best record in all of baseball against LH starting pitchers. They also had the highest team OPS against LH pitching in all of baseball.
The Tribe IMO needs a big power hitting LEFTY bat, not a righty. Tigers throw out 5 righties....if you want to beat them, need a big LH bat.
Santana and Swisher are both switch hitters obviously so will hit LH against a righty...but both guys hit better from the right side.
Fangraphs had him with a 2012 WAR of 7.6, tied for 4th place in all of major league baseball with somebody named Miguel Cabrera, and ahead of guys like Chris Davis and Robinson Cano.
He's 27 years old and signed for three more seasons.
I don't think we're getting Carlos Gomez.
However, I could possibly see trading Masterson or one of our other starters for a right-handed power bat, if one is available. Especially if we resign Kazmir, which would give us a rotation of Masterson, Kazmir, Salazar, McAllister, and Kluber with Bauer, Tomln and Carrasco in reserve. It seems reasonable to replace Masterson with Tomlin or Carrasco if you can get a run producer in the middle of the lineup.
Especially if they think Carrasco or Bauer is going to emerge as a solid starter by next season at the latest.
Trading Masterson also frees up a lot of money it would take to extend his contract beyond next season.
I'd take Mathew, Hermie13 & Tony as basically the conventional status quo response; a tweak here and there rather than go big and bold as Jim suggests.
I am taken with Jims suggestion on trying to lure a blockbuster trade - and think it has real traction. Masterson's stock is sky high, and ACab has enough of a recent track record to offset his regression - making him a very tempting risk.
I agree with Daingean that it's unrealistic to expect another #2 like starter back. But I don't believe that is what the Front Office would expect when making such an offering.
I would rather see us retain Masterson on a 2 year - but I don't thing that is possible. What I do expect is that we can risk loosing him given what is developing.
Why weren't we respected even given our run in Sept? Why was every pundit from here to Tokyo ruling out the Indians as a legit postseason contender?
Because we were 16 games under .500 against the winning teas that were postseason contenders.
And that wasn't because of pitching. Or defense. It was because we didn't have a Chris Davis or Adrian Beltran or even an aging Victor Martinez to anchor our offensive lineup.
A few teams come to mind - The Angels in our league, and the Brewers or Rockies; Franchises that have the bat we need - and are motivated to make a move. They are in deep trouble with their fan base for falling out of contention - and - all are IN NEED OF A 2ND AND AS A RESULT WEAK UP THE MIDDLE.
The Brewers and Rockies have great SS - and Aybar is pretty decent (certainly way better than ACab defensively) But none has solved their problem at 2B. With the Angels there is a bigger hole at 3b ACab could potentially fill.
How about Carlos Gonzalez?
How about Carlos Gomez + pitching or Ryan Braun gets a fresh start?
And finally in Anaheim I'd take the risk on Trumbo - who has been the odd man out with Trout's emergence and the adding of Pujols and Hamilton.
None of these are cost prohibitive except Braun, and given his fall, restructuring is in order.
In any event, given the advances we have seen, as well as the potential arms yet to break out, it's the dynamic steady bat this team needs to make it to the next level.
That isn't coming from below. You only can get it through trading for it.
Likewise, I love Masterson, but I don't buy trading him hurts us so much. You can easily go out and supplement keeping Kazmir with a B-list journeyman veteran arm to balance what is emerging.
But you put a bat like Braun, or Gonzalez into our order and we are not going 16 games under against the AL elite.
We are part of the AL elite.
And this time, just as we say for the last week of the season, you will have over 10k season ticket holders.
Reason I can't see Kipnis to 3B is same reason I don't like him in RF. Don't like his arm enough. He probably could play the spot, but seems fine at 2B. Don't think you want to mess with a good thing.
Your lineup you listed on has 8 guys (and your roster only 24). Just curisous but who's your SS in that scenario? Or did you just forget Cabrera?
Also, think if we are going to sign either of the two pitchers we have to pony up for Ubaldo, 3 for 39 max seems about right, and let Kazmir walk. We could be onto something special at the top with Masterson, Ubaldo, Salazar.
I think Yan will catch roughly 2 games for Santana's 1. So something more like 100-110 games for Yan.
I agree, Lindor should be in the 2014 plans, probably mid-season. However, they're in a bit of a pickle at SS. I don't see them being able to move Asdrubal, which would make it very hard to bring Lindor up as anything other than a September callup.
I think we will see marginal improvement from Bourn next season. If a team is willing to take on his contract, I think a trade makes a lot of sense, just because that money can be spent elsewhere and have more of an impact. But I don't think he's going anywhere.
I can't imagine the org. moving Kipnis off 2B, but it is definitely something they should consider. He was dead last among qualified 2B in UZR this year. As much as his defense at 2B has improved, it is still solidly below major league average. His bat is obviously fantastic.
I'm not nearly as confident that Ramirez can be an everyday player in 2013. He will be entering his age 21 season, though, so the possibility of increased power is very real. I do not see CF in his future. He's an outstanding athlete, but CF is incredibly difficult. In the end, I see Ramirez as a great trade chip for the Indians.
Agree completely on Aviles/Raburn. 80 games at most from each. The way they used Raburn for the first 5 months of the season was perfect.
Trevor Bauer... yikes. Cross your fingers, and hope he can clean up the mechanics and still become a mid-rotation guy. At this point, that's looking very unlikely. However, he's still only 23.
Allen, Pestano, Shaw, Carrasco should all be in the mix for closer. Just pick one in spring training and stick with it. The worst thing this franchise can do is go out and sign a FA closer, as is being suggested by other people here. "Closer" is such an overrated idea. The Indians have a wealth of young, cost-controlled power arms in the system. Paying to bring in a closer is a complete waste of money
I don't think there's any way we re-sign Ubaldo, but I do think we will bring Kazmir back on a 2 for $18, 3 for $25 deal or something like that. With Kazmir in the fold, we have a solid rotation going into 2014.
I don't see Masterson going anywhere. In an ideal world, we would have a farm full of arms like the Rays so we could deal guys like Masterson at their peak values like the Rays did with Shields and will do with Price this year. Unfortunately, dealing him leaves too big of a hole in the rotation in a year that we have a chance to compete. But there's no way the Indians should or will pay 4-5 Free Agency years. We're a small market team, we can't try to pay for elite FA pitching.
I see Giambi back, getting about the same $ as this year.
That leaves one bench spot left, and I'd suggest Nate McLouth as a possibility. He should be available for a 2-3 year deal around $5-6M per year, plays solid outfield defense, and is a decent left handed bat to platoon with Stubbs.
Lineup: Kipnis, Swisher, Brantley, Santana, Gomes, Bourn, Chisenhall, McLouth
Bench: Aviles, Raburn, Giambi, Stubbs
Rotation: Masterson, Salazar, Kazmir, Kluber, McAllister (Tomlin, Bauer, House at AAA for spot starts)
Bullpen: Carrasco, Wood, Hagadone, Shaw, Rzepczynski, Pestano, Allen (Barnes, Lee, Soto, Crockett, Guilmet, Haley, Adams at AAA)
Payroll for the team I just suggested: $91M
Yan Gomes as the starting catcher. I too am not a fan of Santana and Yan "splitting" time. Gomes needs to get the bulk of the duties. Sure maybe Santana still catches like 20 games, but he has regressed the last 2 years defensively and is a liability back there. Consider how good our starting pitching was from the end of August on.....what changed? Gomes behind the plate full time.
Also agree on Lindor. Didn't see him much in person at Carolina...but the times I did...wow. That play he made the 2nd game of the year to end the game....I've only seen one SS ever make a play like that in person in my life....Omar. And can probably count on one hand how many I've seen make a play like that even on TV (Ozzie, Omar). I don't want the Tribe to rush him, but man his glove is ready NOW. I think at worst you have an Elcides Escobar on your hands next year. Honestly that may be better than either Aviles or Cabrera at SS. Lindor's bat should develop far beyond Escobar's too.
Agree on possibly moving Bourn. Again, I was not a huge fan of this deal at the time it was made. Didn't think it was bad but just never been a big Bourn fan. He's never been a top leadoff hitter and even bringing up Kenny Lofton's name when discussing him is a disgrace to Lofton. I definitely think he can improve next year, but Kipnis is a better leadoff option.
Agree on Bauer. How many people said Martin Perez and Julio Teahran were terrible trade targets for the Tribe last winter because there stock was so low and probably wouldn't amount to much? I know I did (as did many others here). Bauer's stock is down and had a bad year...it happens. McAllister was thrown away essentially by the Yanks after a bad year in AAA and look at what we have now. Bauer has a much higher ceiling/stuff than McAllister. If he can get his head right, he can still be very special. Salazar and Bauer 1-2 could be CC-Lee in a few years.
Agree on Salazar too....though think it may take a year or two before he gets to that "Ace" level. Worry a bit about the inning bump.
Agree on Kazmir and Ubaldo signings. I'm all for letting Ubaldo walk, but if you can get him on a 3-year, $33M deal I'd do it. And while Kaz came out of nowhere and could fall flat again, this a 2 year under $20M deal is fair. Risky maybe but not terribly.
Agree on Kluber. Admit I never saw him as a starter. Maybe a #5 but thought for sure he was headed to the pen where he could be a lockdown setup guy, potentially a closer. Glad to be wrong. Seems like he can sustain this success.
Agree partially on a few things...
Raburn and Aviles as bench guys. Think platoon is a better term than bench with Raburn. I think he should start against lefties all the time. Hit them well throughout his career. Aviles...I think he can be your starting SS...at least for half a year. He started there for Boston and wasn't horrendous. Bat is subpar but defense is average at least which helps. Think he'd be a fine starting option til Lindor is ready. Agree his best role is utility guy though.
Agree on trading Cabrera....if the return is resonable. Think you could hang on to him til next summer and still deal him. Use him as your stopgap starter til Lindor is ready.
Do disagree some...
trading Masterson. Agree with Tony, think this sends a bad message. I can see though where this would be good for the team if you signed both Ubaldo and Kaz (don't think it happens though), but losing your leader in your rotation can be tough on the team/fanbase.
Santana at DH...you didn't really talk about this but have him there. I agree with Daingean on him in RF. Not the most athletic guy but better arm than Manny Ramirez had and we lived with him out there for 7+ seasons.
Kipnis to the OF....I could maybe see him in LF, but he doesn't have the arm IMO for RF. Big knock on him coming out of school was his arm and range in CF. Was gonna have to move to LF and teams felt his bat wouldn't play there (slight miscalculation). It's why the Indians (and the Padres before them) drafted him with the intention of moving him to 2B. Arm is fine there. If you moved Bourn and moved Brantley to CF, maybe you try Kipnis in LF, but agree he's becoming a stud 2B and not sure you want to mess with that. I like Ramirez but just don't see him as good enough to move Kipnis...at least not yet.
Disagree on both Allen and Carrasco as closer. I'd go Allen over Carrasco. I agree here with Daingean again. Just don't see Carrasco as mentally tough enough for the job. If anyone on the current team would be the closer IMO it should be Shaw. Allen can take the 8th and Carrasco (if in the pen) can try the 7th with Lee, Guilment and others.
I don't see any indication that Ramirez is ready to start in the bigs in 2014. He didn't even play that well in AA.
As for moving Kipnis, that would probably result in a downgrade in RF. Stubbs is great defensively and hits lefties well. Raburn was so productive they gave him a new contract. I don't see where Kipnis in RF is an upgrade over a Stubbs/Raburn platoon.
I agree with trading Bourn and Cabrera, however.
I'd try to sign Kazmir since he'll be more affordable than Ubaldo. I'd give Ubaldo the tender so we get a first round pick for him when he leaves for more money than we can afford to pay.
I agree with Tony that they will most likely sign or trade for a closer. I expect Joe Smith will leave in free agency so they'll need Allen, Shaw, and Carrasco for the 7th and 8th. If Pestano makes a comeback it will be a bonus. I agree that Wood and his 100 mph heat could be a factor next year, and I like CC Lee. I doubt the Indians will fork over the money needed to sign Smith with all those other possibilities.
Asdrubal will be in a salary drive year. I expect he'll come back and have a much better season. If we can get something of value I'd trade him, but I'm not giving him away for nothing.
If Bourn doesn't project to be lead-off then I'd look to exploring a trade.....I wouldn't give him away but I'd look but there may be a market for a CF (we do have Stubbs or Brantley for CF....would prefer Stubbs there if no Bourn).
Not a fan of Carrasco as closer. He doesn't handle the pressure well at times as a starter.
I also hope Vinny returns to his former self.
I like the idea of replacing Bourn as the lead-off man as he strikes out way too much. Ramirez seems the ideal candidate as he is a high OBP player with great speed. If Bourn can be traded then that would be great, as Stubbs would not be that much of a drop-off if allowed to play his best position at CF, but he is $8-9 million cheaper than Bourn.
I agree that Aviles is ideally not an everyday player, but if Asdrubal's $10 million contract can be dumped in a trade then as a short-term measure (until Lindor comes up) then simply using Aviles & Ramirez at SS makes a lot of sense.
The "extend Masterson" calls are a lot like the "extend Kipnis" calls. These are guys who will be over 30 when they hit free agency. Their best years are likely to be behind them at that point. Pretty much guaranteed to be an overpay where you could find better value elsewhere.
I do believe there is absolutely no way Kipnis is going to be moved off 2nd base. Jose Ramirez is not the kind of player you do that for, especially when you have arguably the second or third best second baseman in baseball already. Ramirez is likely going to be a utility player in the big leagues initially and then when an opportunity arises due to injury or performance he could get a shot at the everyday shortstop or second base gig.
I'm also no fan of Cody Allen as closer. I just don't see it with him. Not consistent enough and needs more experience in high leverage situations late in games since he primarily has only worked the 6th and 7th inning in his career. I still believe the closer comes from another organization via a trade or in FA.
I would be against a Masterson trade. Sends the wrong message to a fan base the Indians are trying to bring back. They have to find a way to start keeping some of these guys to restore the faith rather than people continuing to count down the days before the arbitration years end and FA begins so they should trade x player.
Couldn't agree more with your points about Yan Gomes and Lindor. Gomes in my opinion has all star potential and should establish himself as one of the best catchers in the American League next year.
I would much rather sign Masterson long term than Jimenez because he is far more consistent. JImenez has the higher ceiling but he is just way too much of a risk for a medium market team. I would let Jimenez walk and sign Scott Kazmir for something in the range of 3 years $27 million.
As far as the closer situation I would not like to see Cody Allen there because he is a 2 pitch pitcher and often his breaking ball isn't working. I love his arm but he throws a straight fastball. I'm holding out hope that Pestano can close next year but my next option would be Brian Shaw. Smith probably priced his way out of Cleveland but I think a sleeper for the bullpen is Blake Wood, the kid has a heck of an arm.
don't disagree with trading masterson for a hitter. cabby I would trade regardless.
still ticked that gomes was kept behind cabby all year. bit us big time in the wild card game when cabby hit into the dp with gomes on deck.
not giving up on bauer at all, but it is very troubling he's still working on a delivery at this stage of his career! kinda ridiculous for the 3d pick in the draft recently.
and lindor should come up mid year to save service time.
would not give jimenez a 3 yr deal. nothing in his history says consistency. I would go with the odds and let him go after tendering him.
I like the idea of moving Kipnis to the outfield and trading Cabrera, Masterson and Ronny Rod for a young FOR starter (Wacha?). We could then trade Bourn and his huge salary for a marginal prospect and sign Mike Napoli to a 4 year $55 million and Ubaldo for 4 years $70 million.
1 Ramirez 2 Kipnis 3 Napoli 4 Santana 5 Gomes 6 Brantley 7 Swisher 8 Chisenhall 9 Lindor
1 Jimenez 2 Salazar 3 Wacha 4 Kluber 5 McAllister
Carrasco Lee Shaw Wood Pestano Rzepcynski Allen(CL)
Jimenez + Napoli = $31 million per year
Bourn + Cabrera + Masterson + Perez + Smith + Reynolds + Myers + Stubbs = $47 million paid last year
(with Bourn Cab Masterson and Perez due a lot more next year)
This is financially doable; our lineup and rotation would be filthy.
The Indians mean business this time!
by doing what they did the last time.(i.e. CC Sabathia). Either you build the team for winning NOW or you blow it up..
Your "plan" puts a raw rookie at shortstop who you hope will develop in three months next to a raw rookie at second baseman that has 12 at bats... along with a guy who just completed his first full year as a catcher..
Don't you think having a little bit of experience / veteran leadership up the middle might be worthwhile?????!!!
You need to rethink your plan.. This team isn't rebuilding.. smh...
Aren't Lindor and Ramirez switch hitters, which would give them five potential righties in the batting order? Is there an all lefty rule for the outfield we don't know about? Will it create some sort of Nexus?
I agree with signing Masterson, but do think it may be more realistic to sign Kazmir and Ubaldo to cheaper deals. If so, that's te way I go.
I wouldn't be suprised to see a serious regression out of Yan. Im a big believer in the sophomore slump and it seems especially prevalent in catchers as the physical and mental ware and tare is unique to that position and especially with guys that dont have a sterling pedigree. Dealing with the pressures of expectations while the league adjusts to you has proven time and time again to have a serious impact on guys after their breakout season. Id count on Carlos being the main man behind the dish out of the gate while giving Yan every opportunity to earn back that everyday spot.
Also, I think you can leave both Kip and Jose in the infield. I kinda of see Jose as trade bait. Maybe package him with Droobs to a short stop needy team as they can have a talented guy in a contract year AND a talented long term solution. If not trade him then I like the idea of him at 3rd. He can step in for Lonnie if he continues to struggle. I know some would say his bat doesnt play at 3rd but Kips would, so just imagine that they swapped positions. If both Ramirez and Lonnie show they beling then move Lonnie to 1st and Swish to right.
A comment on the bullpen. I think Pestanos going to bounce back this year. In fact, I wasnt surprised he had a "dead arm" season after three years of over-use. He could easily be the closer or primary set-up man for most of the season next year.
I wouldnt be surprised to see Salzaar come in a little dead armed this season with the Jump in innings. Hopefully they still handle him carefully.
Dont like the the idea of giving multi-year deals to Kazmir or Ubaldo. I think Ubaldo will just earn too much for a guy who's short-comings we're all to familiar with. Kazmir is also NOT worth the risk. Having said that, that means we need to lock up Masty and leave the 5th spot for that flier spring trainging invite guy with hopes that Bauer and/or CarCar can fill it eventually.
On last years big signings... I think they both bounce back, especially Bourne (Swisher was actually performed close to his career averages.) Base stealers claim they lose a step in age but gain a step in experience which is why I think Bourne had a down year in the new league with new pitchers and can improve his walk/SB rate next year. At the very least I think he offers more value than any internal alternative or anything he could fetch in a trade.
All-in-all I base a lot of my expectations on breakout guys regressing and proven guys bouncing back.