Friday, February 22, 2013

2013 MLB Season Breakdown: Cleveland Indians

I must admit when I moved to Cleveland, the Indians were the team I was the least excited about.  I enjoy watching basketball, hockey and football much more.  I only went to one Tribe game (a win though!) with Boomer and frankly, there wasn't much to get excited about.  Fast forward half a year and things have changed ever so slightly.  The thing about any team and its fans is excitement.  What do I mean?  I mean a fan base needs to know the direction of the franchise.  The Cavs are rebuilding through Kyrie Irving and the youngsters.  The Browns have a new owner and look to finally challenge in the AFC North.  The Blue Jackets have a new Hockey Operations President and a hard working attitude.

What do the Indians have?  Well at the end of the 2012 regular season...almost nothing.  Spring training is now upon us (make sure to check out Boomer's preview for both the Tribe and the Reds) and there's palpable excitement in the air here in the city.  And it's not only because we are set to begin another season but also due to the changes made.  Francona, Swisher, Bourn, Reynolds, Stubbs, Dice-K, Bauer, Kazmir, and Giambi have breathed a new air of life into Believeland.  I'll be the first to tell you I don't care much for baseball in the same way Boomer doesn't care much for hockey.  But either of us will tell you that when there's something to get excited about, no matter how small or trivial, we will give it a chance.  Boomer knows the CBJ are going to be wildly different.  I now know the Indians have the same opportunity.

So pencil me in as an Indians convert.  I miss living in a baseball town (previously lived in the HOTlanta and watched the Braves religiously).  I won't promise I'll sit and watch EVERY game.  I mean HELLO they play 162 of these suckers but I am attending the home opener versus those Yankees.  So without further ado, let's see what our Cleveland Indians are up against this 2013 Regular Season and the March to October.  Thank you to the Indians website for these great calendar graphics sssssss...

FYI:  The Indians finished 68-94 last season.  That was good for second to last in the American League and fifth worst in all of MLB.  They finished 20 games back of the Central winning Detroit Tigers and 25 games of the second wild card spot.  Historically the AL Central isn't normally the strongest division and will most likely provide one playoff team.  However, the goal for the Tribe is to get in no matter what so here we come second wild card spot!!!

Projected Starting Line Up
1 CF Michael Bourn
2 SS Asdrubal Cabrera
3 2B Jason Kipnis
4 1B Nick Swisher
5 C Carlos Santana
6 DH Mark Reynolds
7 LF Michael Brantley
8 3B Lonnie Chisenhall
9 RF Drew Stubbs

Projected Starting Rotation
1 RHP Ubaldo Jimenez 
2 RHP Justin Masterson
3 RHP Brett Myers
4 RHP Zach McAllister 
5 RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka

Projected Closer
RHP Chris Perez


If the Indians split the two game and four game series along with winning two of every three game series, the team will finish with 100 wins.  Having said that, not one team won a 100 games last year so it's false thinking to believe that will happen.  What's to believe is the notion.  Every series you want to win the majority or split at worst.  When you do that, it's mathematically sound that you will end up with a winning record.  If you look back over the past five seasons, it's going to take about 90 wins to compete for a wild card spot.  In the AL Central, 90 wins will put at least in the top two and have a high chance of winning that division.  How can they get to 90?  Let's find get that green...if you know what I mean


This month features 27 games.  To stay on pace for 90, the Tribe will need to win 15.  Only 11 are at home in Progressive Field.  Not an easy start but very doable.  Right away, two of the more exciting teams to keep and eye out for play against each other.  The Blue Jays and Indians completely reloaded this year with managers and players.  Knowing they'll have the always solid Rays to follow, the Tribe will need to get off to a good start before coming home for their tied-for-longest homestand and home opening series against the Yankees, White Sox and Red Sox.  They'll then head on their tied-for-longest road trip through Houston, Chicago, and Kansas City.  They finish with a game against the Phillies.  

April Prediction:  14-13 with 9 Divisional Games


Now we got 28 games.  The Tribe will need to win 16 to stay on pace for 90.  They'll finish their quickie with Philly before taking on the Twins and A's.  Then it's the first match up with those hated Tigers and another two game quickie with Philly.  Next up is the Mariners and Tigers again followed by a road trip to Fenway.  Memorial Day week features the yearly interstate rivalry with the Reds with two on the road and two at home.  Finally we get a game with Tampa to finish the month.  The Tribe have a real chance to play well with 17 games at home.

May Prediction:  16-12 with 8 Divisional Games


Another 27 games but this time the Tribe will be traveling for 16 of them.  Again they will need to win 15 to stay on pace for the coveted 90 W's.  They'll start by finishing their three game stint vs Tampa then a tough road trip to Yankee Stadium, the Tigers and the now Josh Hamilton-less Rangers.  The tough stretch will then continue at home versus a completely stacked Nationals squad.  Just when you think it gets slightly easier vs KC and Minnesota they are right back on the road in Baltimore and Chi Town.  This is going to be a very tough month for the Tribe!

June Prediction:  12-15 with 12 big Divisional Games


Ah yes, the All Star Game month.  Only 25 games this month with the Summer Classic being played at the relatively new Mets stadium Citi Field in the Big Apple.  They've got a very favorable stanza of 16 home games.  They'll need to win about 14 games to stay on pace for the big 90.  With their other huge 10 game homestand before the All Star festivities will be a nice stretch to win some games.  Even their road trip to Minnesota and Seattle is quite manageable.  The final home stretch this month will be tough though.

July Prediction:  15-10 with 16 enormous Divisional Games


With the trade deadline having passed, hopefully it won't be a fire sale and we're still competitive heading into the dog day month of summer that is August baseball.  With 17 of the 28 games on the road, this will be another difficult month for the Indians.  Can they win the 16 games?  I'm not confident.  Road trips to Oakland, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Detroit does not bode well.  Even their home stretches feature those dang Angels and Tigers.  They have a lot of southern games this month which means it will be HOT.

August Prediction:  12-16 with another important 13 Divisional Games including six with the Tigers.


WE MADE IT!  The final month of the grueling six month grind that is a Major League Baseball season.  Seriously.  They play six months only to have a champion crowned in less than a month.  Crazy!  History has told us you just need to be in the hunt here to have a chance.  Teams have had epic meltdowns to blow a seemingly locked playoff spot and teams doing the opposite storming back late.  With 27 games again (if you hadn't noticed, the regular is to have 3 days off per month minus July), the Tribe finish with 15 games at home but the final four in the Twin Cities...get it?? That's why they're called the Twins!!  The team has a great chance to finish strong against plenty of games versus the Twins, Astros, Royals, and Mets.

September Prediction:  15-12 with a hardcore 17 Divisional Games!


If you ask me, a winning season is just what the doctor ordered here in Cleveland.  That probably won't be good enough for a Wild Card spot but it will definitely keep them in the hunt for the Central Division heading into the final month.  I think the new management and players will rub off for quite some time with a good record heading into August.  That month will be the key to setting them up for a legit finish in the Central.  It's also the month where they could fall off pace.  If they stay healthy and get quality starting pitching, these team will definitely surprise some people.