The season has concluded for the Indians this year. This season has been an atrocious let down, to say the least. The worst of it wasn’t the record breaking losing streaks of various forms, the early season bullpen meltdown, the late season rotation woes, the offense being unable to hit in the clutch, etc. For me, the worst of it was when we dumped nearly every player that we could afford to release and replace. I even believe that had Grady been healthy, and had Kerry Wood been effective, we would have attempted to trade them as well. For me, losing Victor hurt the most. Even though trading back to back Cy Young winners is a rather humiliating thing to do, I think I could have been talked in to it, had the prospects been appealing. But, Victor was the heart and soul of this team, and had been in the organization since he was 17. I think the emotion he showed when he learned he was traded was similar to that of most every true Indian fan out there. Well, I could go on about the negative aspects of this season for hours. But, I don’t want to think about that. Rather, I will address the good things that have happened this season, and make me look forward to that hallowed day when pitchers and catchers report.
1. Shin Soo Choo
I won’t lie, he has become one of my favorite Indians. In his first full season, he achieved 20 HR – 20 SB. He has the attitude that makes me like him all the more. He continually wants to develop himself as a player, and was concerned at the rate he struck out with runners on base. I really look forward to seeing this guy perform in the future.
I’ve always liked a team that has a tight defensive middle infield. With these two, I see the potential I haven’t seen since the Vizquel/Alomar days. Asdrubal has shown himself to be a stellar defender as well as an exceptional, disciplined hitter. Valbuena has surprised me with the amount of pop he has at the plate as well. While not putting in a full season, he still had 10 home runs. I would like to see him hit for average better, but I won’t complain about him hitting an even .250 his rookie campaign.
3. The Possibilities of a Speedy Lineup
Let’s say that with the emergence of Michael Brantley as an everyday player, it allows Grady Sizemore to move back in the lineup (if he is comfortable with such a move). Imagine this:
1. Michael Brantley (LF) (L)
2. Asdrubal Cabrera (SS) (S)
3. Grady Sizemore (CF) (L)
4. Shin Soo Choo (RF) (L)
5. Travis Hafner (DH) (L)
6. Matt LaPorta (1B) (R)
7. Jhonny Peralta (3B) (R)
8. Lou Marson (C) (R)
9. Luis Valbuena (2B) (L)
How many lineups in the American League can boast that their first FOUR batters are a threat to steal? It would give us the ability to both manufacture runs, and hit for power in the middle of our lineup. The only problem with this is that the lefties and righties are all nicely grouped together. Therefore, I doubt we’d see this that often.
4. Justin Masterson
While his transition from reliever to starter has been a rough one, I must say I was thrilled to watch this. With out a doubt, he needs to find some solution against left-handed hitters. This night was heavy on righties, but nevertheless, a truly stellar outing. He went all nine innings, only allowed one run and struck out 12. It was a good ending to a troublesome season. I hope we can see more outings like this in 2010.
5. David Huff
I’ve heard it said from various sources that David Huff is in the mix to compete for a rotation spot next year. Frankly, this is a little unfair. I think the fourth or fifth spot is his to lose. Here are his final stats for his rookie season:
While some of these numbers aren’t amazing (OBA, ERA, WHIP), I think that all things considered, it was a solid year for Huff, and a good rookie campaign. In a rotation that had three 10+ game losers, the fact that Huff was able to come through with the only 10+ game winner speaks well in his favor. Let’s not forget that in his last five starts he was 4-1 with a 2.18 ERA.
When we have so little options and questions marks in next year’s rotation, Huff has to have a spot. I look forward to seeing what he can do next year.
It was nice to see the key acquisitions of the C.C. Sabathia deal play this season. I see so much potential in both guys. I think neither of them can qualify for Rookie of the Year in 2010, as they’ve both put in too many at bats this season. However, now that they have seen consistent MLB pitching, I think they both will not only see a lot of playing time next year, but will be high impact players.
With such a young team, I really look forward to these two guys next year. Both are coming off injuries or have been limited in playing time. Having both of them healthy will really add some insurance to our young lineup. I think it goes without question that Grady will have a good year, once he has recovered. However, I must say it was wonderful to have Hafner back in the lineup on a somewhat consistent basis this year. While I don’t think his shoulder will ever be the same, I don’t think a 20-30 home run season is out of the question, if he is able to play somewhat consistently and without trouble.
8. New Staff, New Possibilites
While, I could never say with certainty where the problems truly were in the coaching staff, I think a fresh perspective with a fresh team will be good. Who the new manager will be is anyone’s guess at this point. I’ve heard Bobby Valentine’s name tossed about once or twice. I think the Farrell possibility has been thoroughly shot down. However, with a team that has seen so much time at AAA this past year, I think Columbus’ skipper, Torey Lovullo, will have a fair shot.
I do know one thing for sure…my dreams of having Victor Martinez as a player/manager have been extinguished. While it was never a real likelihood, I must say, I wanted it bad.
While I think we won’t do much better than a .500 season next year (I will talk about our pitching woes later), I do have some things to look forward to.
Until next time, folks!