By David Miller @DavidMillerRant on March 12, 2014
As the Cleveland Indians begin their second season under skipper Terry Francona, they will do so with a ton of confidence. They should be confident as they have as good of a chance to improve on their previous season as anyone and they won over 90 games in 2013. Beginning with the bullpen, then the bench followed by the starters and at last the five starting pitchers; here is a prediction of what the Indians’ 25-man roster will be on Opening Day.
Allen hasn’t seen a ton of action yet in spring training but what he has seen has been perfect. He will be one of the top bullpen members for sure this season.
Shaw is also close to perfect this spring season. For the regular season he is a pretty easy choice to fill a critical bullpen spot to start the season.
It is a little bit of a pattern with this group this spring but Rzepczynski has yielded only one hit in three innings as well. Every bullpen needs a couple of good lefties and it looks like he will be a very good one for the Tribe.
For the need of a second lefty the Tribe could do a lot worse than Hagadone. He should be able to play a nice role in the ‘pen if all goes according to plan.
Tomlin is seeking a starting rotation spot. I think he will fall just short of that to start the season but his ability and history with coming out of the bullpen will get him a roster spot for sure.
Finishing off the group will be Pestano who is also perfect this spring through three innings in the early-going. This could be a decent bullpen to say the least. If they all pitch to potential or close to it, it could be one of the best in the division.
Ramirez is a young infielder that really provided a spark off the bench at the end of last season. He has a slow start to the spring thanks to a minor injury but he will be fine by the end and claim this final bench spot.
Mainly an infielder, Aviles is adding outfielder to his résumé this spring and Francona likes what he sees. For Aviles it clearly makes him even more valuable than his 46 RBI did last season. He’ll be there on Opening Day for sure.
Giambi hasn’t done much this spring and his average wasn’t great last season but you can bet he will be on that opening day roster. What he brings to the guys on this team goes far beyond his stat sheet. He is a vital part of the team.
Raburn was a big bat from the bench and as a fourth outfielder last year with 16 home runs and 55 RBI. His numbers will depend on how much playing time he sees overall but if he continues to swing a hot bat like his .600 average this spring, he’ll find a spot somewhere.
Though most of his time will be spent at DH most probably, Santana is able to play third base a little bit and of course can handle catching duties as well. He will be the starting DH most of the time and he makes a great combo with fellow catcher Yan Gomes.
Gomes was able to compile 11 home runs, 38 RBI and 45 runs scored in only 88 games last season. That is why he will be the starting catcher this season. For certain he improves this team at the catcher spot. The Tribe now only has to hope he repeats his performance over the entire 2014 season.
It is really easy to like the easy-going and funny way this guy plays baseball. Just look at the picture for a great example. His contributions go far beyond that however. With 22 home runs and 63 RBI last year he was a very productive member of the team to say the least.
Every team has one man that the opposing team refuses to allow to beat them. He is that team’s MVP and all-star most seasons. Nothing against the other men on this team but Kipnis is clearly that man here. The Tribe need him to repeat his successful 2013 this season.
Though he might not get the press of his fellow middle infielder, Cabrera was no slouch last season with 14 home runs and 64 RBI. His spring looks good already with a high batting average. If there is someone else being primed to take the starting shortstop job away from him, he will make matching his output a tall order.
Chisenhall might end up sharing the time at third base now and then but on Opening Day you can look for his name listed as the starting third baseman in most situations.
Murphy is coming off of a down year where he pressed himself to be too much for the Texas Rangers. This season it is very likely that the Indians will enjoy his prior average performance and do so for a bargain.
Bourn is a quality player beyond a shadow of a doubt. All he really needs to do this season is remain as healthy as he can and the rest will take care of itself.
Brantley might be one of the more under-appreciated outfielders in MLB from last season. He quietly put up a .284 average with 10 home runs, 66 runs scored and 73 RBI. If he can do that every year the Tribe won’t have to wonder about what to do for his outfield spot.
Carrasco has been getting rave reviews from Francona which is always a good sign that he will get the spot he wants most; the fifth starter. The Indians expect him to have a big turnaround season this year and they certainly would benefit from such.
For a solid fourth starter the Indians are doing well with McAllister. He has also had a perfect spring training season so far. That is saying something rather than nothing I assure you. He should be a candidate for double-digit wins in 2014.
Salazar barely got his feet wet in 2013 but he did it well enough that he was considered one of the best starters on the team. The third starter might be a slot low for him on this team but he will at least start around the middle. No one hopes he rises up in priority as much as the Indians themselves do.
A 3.85 ERA and 11 wins in 2013 scratch the surface of what Kluber could do with good run support and a consistent effort from himself. He could really be a plus starter for this team if he is willing to move around as they see fit as well.
Masterson is the ace of this staff without a doubt. He earned it last year and though the Tribe fought through their time without him at the end of the season, he would have been a huge difference maker down the stretch. Look for another all-star caliber year from Masterson.
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