Are The Indians Turning A New Leaf?
The Indians have fallen short the last few seasons with the same core of players, and a few offseason moves has given them a shallower lineup. They traded Edwin Encarnacion away, let Josh Donaldson and Michael Brantley walk, and traded Yonder Alonso. The backend depth is a little more thin these days for Cleveland, as the outfield lacks power, there might be a move in need if they want to strengthen their squad. The core of Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor are in for the long run at their age, and give the Indians great options to try and keep pushing, or use them as a build around core for the future. They have been floating around their pitchers in trade rumors, and at Corey Kluber’s age, selling off might be a way to go with the likely return he would get. With the American League making a major step forward each season, Cleveland might be looking at this team deciding if they can truly get over the hump in the postseason.
Can Jake Bauers and Carlos Santana Provide The Power?
Losing Edwin Encarnacion and Yonder Alonso isn’t a drastic loss for Cleveland, but it does leave a need for power. They returned Carlos Santana to his long time team, and also added Jake Bauers, who was a sneaky good bat for Tampa Bay last season. Santana will command the DH role, leaving the first base spot for Bauers. Projections have about 35 combined home runs between the two, which would be a good addition if Ramirez and Lindor are both going to hit over 30 HR again. However, Encarnacion still hit 32 home runs at age 35, and Alonso had 23. This team doesn’t have as much power in the back half anymore, and will need a lot of production from their front five hitters. Santana hit 24 HR in 161 games last season, and was somewhat unlucky in a Phillies uniform according to his batted ball stats. Bauers is just 23 years old this season, and had 11 HR in 388 PA last year. He is still adjusting to big league pitching, but has potential to be a 20-30 HR player.
Is Cleveland Relying Too Much On Lindor and Ramirez?
One of Cleveland’s best perks over the last few seasons was having many names to rely on in the lineup. They are now a very top heavy lineup, and their stars will have to play extremely well if Cleveland wants to keep pace with what they have been doing the last few seasons. They are both easy 20/20 players if they stay healthy, and both nearly knocked 40 HR a piece last season. They are top 20 players in this league, and Cleveland making some moves is showing they are willing to put more pressure on them to produce at this level. If we see a random drop off, or teams start to approach them differently, Cleveland might not have the healthy win total they have been accustomed to over the last few years.