I’m away at a confrence this week so I don’t have much in the way of time to prep this and put it together the way I usually do. The Indians are a team that I think many of us underrate in general. They have an average pitching staff and a better than average offense with a bullpen that can hold it’s own. Are they able to beat the Tigers and take the AL Central crown? Maybe, maybe not.
What I know is that the Mariners are going to need for the bats to show up. We’re over a month and a half into the Season and we need more than one hot hitter going at a time. Otherwise they are going to strand more runners and we’re going to lose more games than we should.
|Seattle Mariners (16-22)||Cleveland Indians (20-16)|
Wednesday, May 16th, 4:05 pt
Felix Hernandez vs Urbaldo Jimenez
Thursday, May 17th, 4:05 pt
Hector Noesi vs Zach Mcallister
|C||Jesus Montero||C||Carlos Santana|
|1B||Justin Smoak||1B||Casey Kotchman|
|2B||Dustin Ackley||2B||Jason Kipnis|
|3B||Kyle Seager||3B||Jose Loepz|
|SS||Brendan Ryan||SS||Asdrubal Cabrera|
|LF||Mike Carp||LF||Shelly Duncan|
|CF||Michael Saunders||CF||Michael Brantley|
|RF||Ichiro Suzuki||RF||Shin-soo Choo|
|DH||John Jaso||DH||Travis Hafner|
|B||Chone Figgins||B||Aaron Cunningham|
|B||Casper Wells||B||Jason Donald|
|B||Alex Liddi||B||Johnny Damon|
|B||Munenori Kawasaki||B||Lou Marson|
Series Preview 3-on-3 questions featuring
Fansided’s Senior Editor of Wahoos on First, Lewie Pollis
Harrison Crow: If I would have told you before the season started that you would be in first place after the first month would you have believed me?
Lewie Pollis: Absolutely. It was clear before the season started that Detroit was the favorite in the AL Central, but I can’t understand why everyone was (and still is) so skeptical about this team. Last year the Indians suffered from ineffective veterans youthful inexperience, and being absolutely hosed by injuries, but they were still basically a .500 team. So doesn’t it make sense that they’d be good with an improved roster, more experience, and better health? The lead might not last, but anyone who completely wrote off the Tribe this winter wasn’t paying attention to what was happening in Cleveland.
HC: Does Urbaldo Jimenez ever become worth the trade and what Cleveland gave up for him?
LP: At this point it’s hard to say that he will. Ubaldo has just looked awful this year—his velocity is down, he’s not getting enough strikeouts, and he’s walking almost seven batters per nine. Is there a chance he turns things around in the next year and a half? Sure. In terms of pure stuff he’s up there with the best pitchers in baseball. But he just hasn’t been the same pitcher since coming to Cleveland, and at this point I’m sure Chris Antonetti would be very happy to call “tradebacks” and reclaim Drew Pomeranz and Alex White.
Indians fans can take some solace (I guess? I don’t like to celebrate young players struggling.) in the fact that White and Pomeranz have been less than impact players in Colorado thus far. White gave up 12 homers in seven outings for the Rockies last year and started 2012 in the minors, while Pomeranz has been demoted after struggling with his control in his first five starts. That said, it’s way too soon to count either of them out. Even forgetting salaries and service time I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that at least Pomeranz will emerge as a better pitcher than Jimenez before Ubaldo’s contract expires.
HC: Do you think the Cleveland front office learned its lesson about buying into fast starts too soon, or do you see them trying to find help in sustaining their early success.
LP: I’m not sure what you mean by “learned its lesson.” The Jimenez deal was definitely an attempt to improve our playoff hopes last year, but he’s under team control through 2013. He wasn’t a half-year rent-a-player, the Indians acquired him to help out for (at least) three pennant races. Other than that the only “buyer” moves they made last year were the trades for Kosuke Fukudome and Jim Thome, neither of whom cost anything of value—not to mention that bringing back Thome bought the team a tremendous amount of goodwill. Anyway, it’s not as though the front office overreacted and bet the farm on a fluky start.
That said, the Indians could definitely look for some outside help if they’re still in the race come July. It’s possible they could go after another impact arm if Jimenez and Justin Masterson continue to struggle and Josh Tomlin’s health is still in question, but they have plenty of capable (if subpar) arms waiting in Triple-A. Going after a bigger bat at first base is a definite possibility—the team loves Casey Kotchman’s defense, but he’s not hitting well at all.
The other place the Tribe might want to upgrade is left field. The Johnny Damon experiment looks like a bust so far and for some reason the team doesn’t seem to have any faith in Shelley Duncan; unless someone steps up before June the Tribe will be betting on Grady Sizemore, but even if he’s really healthy this time he’s nowhere near the player he once was.
LP: Entering Tuesday the Mariners are in third place in the AL West. Can they stay out of the basement all year?