Before I even do this, we all know the Indians will not be contenders this season at all, and probably not the next either. But they do have a good farm system and some good young players, so maybe they do have a good future.
Starting in their infield. Their first baseman is Matt LaPorta, who was acquired from Milwaukee for CC Sabathia. LaPorta has been somewhat of a disappointment in Cleveland, last year he hit only .221. They had Luis Valbuena starting at second base at the end of the year, but I don’t think they will stick with the .195 hitter there for long. I think Jason Donald is a good fit for them at second base. Their shortstop is Asdrubal Cabrera, who I think is a pretty good ballplayer. He hit .276 this year, and is only 24 years old, so I can see room for him to grow. Something tells me that Jayson Nix is not the Indians long term third baseman. Nix hit .224 with 14 home runs in 331 at bats. However, their only real backup there was Andy Marte, so they might have been happy with Nix. I do think that Cleveland will sign a veteren 3B in the offseason to help up and coming prospect Lonnie Cheisenhall.
We all knew Carlos Santana will be the starting catcher in Cleveland. Santana was having a terrific year with the bat before a home plate collision tore his MCL and he was done for the year. Cleveland had Lou Marson do the rest of the catching for the year, but I doubt if he will be back next season.
I was looking at the Indians outfield to write about and can you believe I forgot about Grady Sizemore? I wouldn’t be sur[prised if you did too. Sizemore has all the potential in the world if he could ever just stay on the field. The Indians do have another good outfeilder however, in Shin-Soo Choo. Choo had another terrific season, hitting .300 with 22 home runs and 90 RBIs, as well as carrying a .401 OBP. Trevor Crowe was supposed to be good too. But he hit just .251 with 2 home runs and a OBP of .302. Micheal Brantley was expected to have a big year, but he hit just .246. I’m sure Cleveland will be happy to welcome Sizemore back.
The Indians have awful pitching. Except for Fausto Carmona, who seems to have turned it around this season. He posted an ERA of 3.77 and pitched over 200 innings. The rest of their rotation was not so good. Josh Tomlin had an ERA that would round to 5.00, Jeanmar Gomez had an ERA of 4.68 with a WHIP of 1.65. However, Gomez is only 22 and I believe he has a bright future.
Carlos Carrasco did have a pretty good year, with an ERA of 3.83. He only started in seven games, but maybe he can anchor the Indians staff in years to come. Aaron Laffey was pretty bad, with a WHIP of 1.62. Another pitcher who might be in their rotation is Justin Masterson. Acquired from Boston for Victor Martinez, Cleveland had high hopes for Masterson. They ended up moving him to the bulppen due to his 4.70 ERA. Masterson is only 25, so he could turn it around. He was at one point the top prospect in the Red Sox system.
The Indians had the worst bullpen in the American League. Tony Sipp had an ERA of 4.14. Frank Herrmann and Joe Smith had bad years as well. They had two bright spots, and those were Rafael and Chris Perez. Chris Perez had an ERA of 1.71, while Rafael had one of 3.25. Maybe that is something Cleveland can build off, but they are going to need more. David Huff, who was sent down to the minors, could be a bullpen piece next year. Or they could go out and sign someone.
That is all I really have to say about the Indians. They are really bad, and will not improve any time soon.
Yesterday we took a look at the Pittsburgh Pirates, now it is time to look at Seattle.
The Mariners were predicted by most people to win the American League West this season, because of their off-season additions. They added Cliff Lee in the trade with the Phillies, signed Chone Figgins, and acquired Brandon League for Brandon Morrow. They were projected to be one of the best defensive and pitching teams in the league.
…..That was not really the case. The Mariners finished 10th in the American League in fielding, only Boston, Kansas City, Cleveland and Anaheim behind them. Figgins had 19 errors, primarily at second base. Josh Wilson had 20, playing shortstop and third base. Jose Lopez made 18 at third base. So that must be the primary concern for the Mariners, right?
No. Have you seen their hitting stats? They finished worst in the American League in runs scored and batting average. And can you see why? Their cleanup hitter, Lopez, hit .239 with three home runs! Their first baseman, Casey Kotchman, hit .217 with nine home runs. Other than Ichiro Suzuki, who hit .315, their highest batting average was .259, by Figgins.
The Mariners will probably look at a first baseman next season. They have Justin Smoak, but he hit only .213 on the season, in both Texas and Seattle. They have Russel Branyan, but despite the twenty five home runs, he hit only .237. And do not be surprised to see Kotchman be non-tendered.
The rest of the infield does not look so pretty. They still have Figgins locked up another four years, and they are stuck with Jose Lopez and Josh Wilson. There is not too much infield depth after that, with Chris Woodward, Matt Tuiasosopoo, and Mark Mangini. I gave you the stats on Lopez, Figgins, and Wilson. The other three? Woodward hit.158, Tuiasosopoo .173, and Mangini .211. So that infield is not looking sharp heading into 2011. They might pick up a guy like Mark Ellis or Bill Hall to backup the infield and solidify some depth.
Now the outfield, which has some promise. Of course you have Ichiro, but what else? The Mariners are very high on left fielder Micheal Saunders. Saunders hit only .211 when he was up this year, with ten home runs. But it was his first year, and he is a top prospect of Seattle. He was ranked as their third prospect going into the season.
Their center fielder, Franklin Gutierrez, is an interesting case in himself. Gutierrez was acquired from Cleveland before the 2009 season. He did not hit for a high average in Cleveland, but he looked like a promising young player. When he was traded to Seattle, he had a career year, hitting .283 with 18 home runs and 16 stolen bases. Seattle had thought they had something in Gutierrez. This season, he hit .245 with 12 home runs. At age 27, in his fifth year, it’s time to say he is what he is.
The Mariners had yet another problem this season, and that is pitching. Many people,myself included, were calling Seattle the best pitching staff in the league because they had Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee. Hernandez had a terrific year, putting up Cy Young numbers with a 2.27 ERA to lead the American League. His WHIP is 1.06. Cliff Lee had himself a good season too…. Just not all in Seattle.
When Seattle knew they had no shot in mid July, they traded Lee to the New York Yankees. The deal was done all but the paperwork, and Seattle was getting Jesus Montero, one of the best prospects in the game. But Texas jumped in at the last second, and offered Justin Smoak, their top prospect. Seattle ripped up their deal with New York, and sent Lee off to Texas, who won their division.
The rest of their rotation served a problem. Ryan Rowland-Smith, who they considered a promising young player, put up an ERA of 6.35 in 27 games. He will most certainly be non-tendered. Luke French, who Seattle acquired from Detroit for Jarrod Washburn, posted a 4.83 ERA. Jason Vargas, who was acquired from the Mets, had a decent year, with a respectable ERA of 3.83. His career best before that was 4.03 with Florida in 2005. Doug Fister’s ERA soared to 4.11, after leading the American League in ERA for around three months. The last pitcher on the Mariner’s staff was David Pauly, with a 4.07. So that pitching and defense thing? Yeah… That didn’t really work.
The bullpen was not much better. David Aardsma, who was Seattle’s closer last season, five blown saves and an ERA of 3.44. Brandon League had a good year, with an ERA of 3.42 13 holds. He did, however, have six blown saves. Garret Olson, who was acquired from Baltimore, had an Earned Run Average of 4.54 with a WHIP of 1.51. Sean White had an ERA north of five. Two young pitchers who had okay years in the M’s pen were Jamey Wright and Brian Sweeny.
So, what do the Mariners have to fix? Not much, just the bullpen, rotation, hitting and defense. That’s all. Some players Seattle may target in the offseason, trade or free agency, are Daisuke Matsuzaka, Juan Uribie, or Cody Ross
I made my before-Spring Training predictions, here are my Opening Day Season predictions. Plus, check out the player to watch feature which gives you a player to watch on each team during the reaguler season.
AL East Player to watch:
Boston Red Sox (Jacoby Ellsbury)
New York Yankees (Marcus Thames)
Tampa Bay Rays (Ben Zobrist)
Baltimore Orioles (Nolan Reimold)
Toronto Blue Jays (Adam Lind)
Minnesota Twins (Orlando Hudson)
Chicago White Sox (Jake Peavy)
Kansas City Royals (Rick Ankeil)
Detroit Tigers (Austin Jackson)
Cleveland Indians (Micheal Brantly)
Seattle Mariners (Chone Figgins)
Anaheim Angels (Kendry Morales)
Texas Rangers (Neftali Feliz)
Oakland Athletics (Brett Anderson)
Philadelphia Phillies (Jayson Werth)
Atlanta Braves (Jason Heyward)
Florida Marlins (Mike Stanton)
Washington Nationals (Nyjer Morgan)
New York Mets (Kiko Calero)
St.Louis Cardinals (Colby Rasmus)
Chicago Cubs (Randy Wells)
Cincinatti Reds (Aroldis Chapman)
Milwakee Brewers (Alcades Escobar)
Houston Astros (Hunter Pence)
Pittsburgh Pirates (Garrett Jones)
Colorado Rockies (Jason Hammel)
Los Angeles Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw)
San Fransisco Giants (Madison Bumgarner)
Arizona D-backs (Justin Upton)
San Diego Padres (Clayton Richard)
1. Evan Longoria
2. Joe Mauer
3. Kendry Morales
1. Albert Pujols
2. Chase Utley
3. Ryan Braun
AL Cy Young
1. Jon Lester
2. Cliff Lee
3. Zack Greinke
NL Cy Young
1. Roy Halladay
2. Chris Carpenter
3. Tim Lincecum
1. Brain Matusz
2. Austin Jackson
3. Desmond Jennings
1. Jason Heyward
2. Mike Stanton
3. Madison Bumgarner
1. Don Wakamtsu
2. Ron Gardenhire
3. Joe Maddon
1. Bobby Cox
2. Tony LaRusa
3. Freddi Gonzalez
AL Comeback Player
NL Comeback Player
Those are my predicitions. My Internationl League predictions will be sometime next week.
Here is the second edition of the Total Bases Mailbag. Sorry it came so late, as I was at the Red Sox game today!
Q: When will Bill Simmons be answering questions?
I kid. I kid.
How do you feel watching your Celtics limp the playoffs?
A: Thanks for the question Shaun, and no, Bill Simmons will not be here, haha. I am concerned about the Celtics. But KG and Pierce look healthy again, along with Ray finally shooting again. I know they will get by the first round, but I’m worried for when they have to face the Hawks or Cavs.
Q: What do you think of the Cleveland Indians this year?
Do they pose a threat to the Central or not? Don’t let up on the answer either, it is your opinion.
And how do you think the Red Sox will fair this year?
A: Hey Ted! Honestly, I don’t see the Indians going anywhere for a while. I like their outfield a lot, and their offense, but they need more pitching to make noise. I can see a team like the Royals surprising a lot in the Central.
I like the Red Sox more than a lot of people. I love the rotation, offense, and defense, plus their minor league depth. They have guys like Bates and Reddick who can step in if needed. It’ll be a fun year.
Thanks to everyone who submitted questions, the mailbag will return again next Sunday. Submit your questions here or at the Best Boston Sports .com message boards. Remember, anything Red Sox, Celtics, Pats, Bruins or their leagues. Any Minor League questions as well.
New York Yankees
Boston Red Sox
Tampa Bay Rays
Toronto Blue Jays
Chicago White Sox
Kansas City Royals
New York Mets
San Fransisco Giants
San Diego Padres
AL MVP Top 3:
Evan Longoria- Rays
Joe Mauer- Twins
Kendry Morales- Angels
Red Sox MVP:
AL Cy Young Top 3:
Jon Lester- Red Sox
Zack Greinke- Royals
Cliff Lee- Mariners
Red Sox Cy Young:
NL MVP Top 3:
Albert Pujols- Cardinals
Jayson Werth- Phillies
Ryan Braun- Brwers
NL CY Youn Top 3:
Josh Johnson- Marlins
Tim Lincecum- Giants
Carlos Zambrano- Cubs
Desmond Jennings- Rays
Jason Heyward- Braves
The Baltimore Orioles will compete with the Rays for the #3 spot in the AL East
The Royals will have a record around .500
Mike Cameron will hit 25 HRs
The Reds will finish over .500
The Blue Jays will have the second worst record in baseball, ahead of only the Mets
I will be right about at least one thing here(I told you, bold predictions)
As first reported by this blog yesterday, Tony LaRussa will remain the Cardinals manager.
Mark McGwire will be the Cards hitting coach.
The Red Sox will soon start extension talks with Victor Martinez.
Dan Duquete is rumored to be in line for the Blue Jays GM job.
Manny Acta will be the Indians manager.
Braves start extension talks with SP Tim Hudson.
The Toronto Blue Jays will be interested in Arnoldis Chapman.
The Clevland Indians never offered Cliff Lee an extension.
The Brewers are interested in LHP Mark Mudler.
Tony LaRussa will lilkley manage the Cardinals next year.