Cleveland IndiansManager: Terry Francona
Stadium: Progressive Field
2007 Record: 96-66 (1st in AL Cent)
Team Page | Roster | Schedule
2007: Batting Stats | Runs Scored (ranked 6th in AL)
|2008 FANTASY PROJECTIONS|
|OFF THE BENCH|
The top of the order will create chances. Grady Sizemore had an off-year last season and still ranked second among full-time AL leadoff hitters in OPS at .842. (Detroit's Curtis Granderson led at .926). Having Asdrubal Cabrera as the full-time No. 2 hitter will improve a lineup that was erratic much of the year. The Indians went 23-6 with 5.48 runs per game after inserting Cabrera into the second spot. They were 73-60 with 4.9 runs in all other games. If designated hitter Travis Hafner rebounds from last season's checked-swing funk, the Indians will have a premiere offense.
Opponents can pitch to this lineup. With Franklin Gutierrez getting extended time in right field, the Indians could have as many as five players with more than 110 strikeouts. Third baseman Casey Blake, shortstop Jhonny Peralta, Hafner and Sizemore are all prone to flurries of strikeouts. The strikeouts come from a tendency to become over-aggressive, especially in run-production situations. Blake, Hafner and first baseman Ryan Garko all hit below .235 with runners in scoring position last season. The team overall hit only .255 with runners in scoring position, the third-lowest average in the league.
HITTER TO WATCH:
No one is close, with Cleveland already dealing with too few roster spots for too many players. Jordan Brown, who hit .333/.421/.484 last year at Double- Akron, should reach the big leagues this summer if a spot opens up.
PITCHER TO WATCH:
Reliever Masahide Kobayashi has a potential three-pitch repertoire, with a mid-90s fastball, a slider and a forkball, and plus control. He should be helpful in a middle relief role.
-- Keith Law, Scouts Inc.
JUST THE FACTS
• Pronk's got the power. The Tribe won 96 games even though Travis Hafner, their best offensive player, struggled (.266 BA, 24 HRs). Insiders blame contract negotiations. But now Pronk is locked into a multiyear deal and ready to mash.
• Rafael Perez's stuff is filthy. So nasty, in fact, that coach and former catcher Joel Skinner says even the reliever's fastball breaks six inches.
• They're tough against the run. Opposing base stealers succeeded on 82 percent of attempts in '06, but just 68 percent last season. Credit Victor Martinez for improving his throwing mechanics.
"I'd worry about Joe Borowski as closer, but they have a lot of choices if he fails," says an AL advance scout. "Other than Martinez and Grady Sizemore, you can say that about every part of their team. They don't rely too much on one guy."
"Naming rights are one of the biggest frauds on the fans, because for the most part the public is paying for these stadiums. Progressive Field [formerly Jacobs Field] ought to be called Taxpayers Stadium." -- Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio
-- Buster Olney
How many games will the Indians win in 2008? Do they have the top lineup, rotation, bullpen or manager in their division? Did they do the best job improving their team in the offseason? Register your vote.
Ryan Garko is 27 years old and has plenty of power in his bat. He is somewhat limited due to Cleveland needing to play Victor Martinez at first base twice a week, but if you anticipate when he doesn't play, you can squeeze some nice production out of his 475 at-bats.
There are plenty of signs warning against 19-game winner Fausto Carmona. He crossed the dreaded 200-innings threshold as a 23-year-old last season, he doesn't strike many batters out, and has historically allowed more home runs than he did in 2007. Everything needs to go right for him to have a shot at repeating his stellar numbers.
-- Keith Lipscomb
David Dellucci tore his hamstring away from the bone last June and required season-ending surgery to repair it. The rehab is not an easy process, but Dellucci has been compliant and has not felt any pain in the hamstring since joining the team this spring. His numbers have not been spectacular, but that is to be expected, and may even be a result of some forearm soreness he has been experiencing simultaneously. All in all, he appears in good shape physically to start the season. Now if he can bring his numbers up, he may increase his appearances in the field this year.
-- Stephania Bell