“Unfinished business” was the motto for the Cleveland Indians following a disappointing 2013 postseason, but 2014 did not go as planned as the Indians missed the playoffs. While there is no catch phrase or motto going into this year, the message and goal is clear. Get back to the World Series and win the whole thing this time.
The 2017 spring was a good one for the Tribe, and one that allowed the team to answer some questions. With Jason Kipnis starting the year on the DL, Jose Ramirez will man every day duties at second base for the time being. This raised a question as to who would hold it down at the third base corner. Well, the answer is Yandy Diaz. Hitting well over .300 last year in Columbus and putting together a .458 average through the spring, Diaz looks poised to make an impact in his temporary stint until Kipnis is able to return.
One area where there are almost no questions is the pitching. Both the starting rotation and the bullpen have tons of depth and look to be another big factor in a successful Tribe season. Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco will once again headline the starting rotation while Andrew Miller, Cody Allen, and newly added Boone Logan will look to give the bullpen plenty of big arms. After a 2016 season that featured great pitching, it will once again need to be electric if the Tribe hope to once again win the Central.
The offense looks tremendous on paper but that comes to no one’s surprise. The return of Michael Brantley and the addition of Edwin Encarnacion reinforce an already solid Tribe offense that features plenty of power mixed with decent speed. Carlos Santana will once again look to keep his batting average up and not just rely on walks the whole year. Jose Ramirez, after essentially making up for Brantley in 2016, will look to continue his role as the do-it-all guy on this Indians ballclub. The outfield may be where this team has the most depth, as Lonnie Chisenhall, Tyler Naquin, Michael Brantley, Abraham Almonte, Austin Jackson, and Brandon Guyer have all proved to be legitimate big league hitters.
During the earlier parts of spring training I had a chance to sit down with the Cleveland Indians Senior Director of Communications, Curtis Danburg. Danburg talked about getting attendance numbers up this year following such a tremendous 2016 and adding more star power in the off season. Danburg said, “oh it’s absolutely huge”, when asked about how adding someone like Edwin Encarnacion can impact marketing to the fans. The 2016 postseason has also been a big factor when it comes to ticket sales. Danburg told me, “I think even fans that maybe weren’t engaged became engaged and really got to know these guys”, hinting at how the personal attachment to the team is a huge boost when it comes to fans coming to games. The Indians finished last season 28th in attendance and will surely look to improve upon that number this year.
2017 will be a fun season for the Cleveland Indians, one that will most likely resemble a roller coaster with plenty of ups and downs. The keys to making it back to the World Series are simple. Get quality outings from your starters, give them run support, play decent defense, and avoid the injury bug. If the Indians can do these things, they could very well be holding up a World Series trophy come this October.
Check out my phone interview with Curtis Danburg below!