I would like to give my observations on the Cleveland Indians ever 15-20 games or so for the 2012 season. The first 15 games is a small sample but here are some thoughts:
- Jack Hannahan is pretty much the man. The front office did a really good job assessing which 3B would be a better fit for this team. Prior to the season I was hoping Hannahan would find himself on the opening day roster and that he would be a nice asset to have just because of his defense at the hot corner with a staff heavy on groundball pitchers. Anything he contributed at the plate was going to be a bonus in my mind. It turns out this guy might not only be a great defender, but a pretty nice hitter as well. I don't think he'll hit .360 and put up an OPS near 1.000 like he is playing out of his mind right now, but I am starting to think what he did at the end of the season might not be just a mirage. He is quickly turning into one of the better players on our team.
- The guy that wears #48 on the 2012 Indians might be the closet thing Tribe fans have seen to "Pronk" since 2006. He is very intimidating at the plate and I wonder if he is finally healthy; and what kind of numbers he could put up if he is. I hope this isn't his last year in organization. I would love to see him retire as a Cleveland Indian.
- The approach at the plate has been much, much better the past three series. I wanted to punch a hole while watching some of the AB's these guys took against Toronto and Chicago earlier this year. I like the patient approach and these guys doing the "small" things to drive in runs. I don't know if Bruce Fields is to credit or not, or maybe the fact that we are leading the league in games where the Royals are our opponents, but whatever the case is, I like it.
- Asdrubal Cabrera is the real deal. I love having him hit at the top of the order. There is not many short stops I would take over him in the MLB right now. My god does Carlos Santana know how to get on base. I am not going to mind him hitting .240 again this year if he keeps up the .400 OBP. I love his approach to the plate this year. How many pitches did he see last night just himself? 30??? As with Asdrubal, he is on the short list of top players at his position.
- Not that Choo is off to a "bad start" by any means but I wonder if we will ever see the 2008-2010 version that was a top 25 player in baseball anymore?? Boras might even have trouble getting the Shin-Soo Choo of the last 180 games a huge pay day. Its hard to complain about a guy with a .375 OBP, but maybe this Choo is better suited for #2 spot in the order with Asdrubal leading off??
- Michael Brantley just might not be very good. The first half of last season I was ready to write his name atop the Tribe's lineup card for the next several seasons. I am thinking more and more that 4th outfielder is a role better suited for him. Which means Grady Sizemore can't come back quick enough because we really could use a center fielder. Unless Matt LaPorta comes up and starts to mash, we might really having absolutely nothing to show for trading C.C. Sabathia. Kind of depressing.
- I can't believe I am typing this, but would Trevor Crowe be worse than what Brantley and Cunningham have contributed to the Indians so far? I am starting to wonder if maybe he won't force himself onto the roster at some point.
Jason Kipnis is pretty darn good. Casey Kotchman sort of stinks. He turned into Grady Sizemore pre-injuries for two games against KC the other week, but besides that...he has turned into Casey Kotchman pre 2011. I wonder with the emergence of Jack Hannahan, if maybe Chiz dosen't try and learn how to play 1B?
- Small sample size, but maybe Justin Masterson isn't an ace? He looked amazing on opening day, and looked like he belongs in Colombus the next three starts. Please prove me wrong, Justin.
- I am glad the Atlanta Braves are paying Derek Lowe $10 mil to pitch for us. He has been pretty darn good so far. Ubaldo and Tomlin have shown a lot of promise and potential. Jeanmar Gomez has been down right nasty in 9 innings of work.
- I'm not too worried about the bullpen. I think there is still a lot of terrific arms in there. Sipp has looked pretty bad but in a worse case scenario if dosen't get it together we have a guy named Nick Hadagone who is more than ready to contribute. I have a lot fo faith in Smith, Perez & Perez, Wheeler and especially Pestano.
- If I needed an emergency starter for whatever reason, I think Scott Barnes would be my guy. Hagadone, Chen Lee, Bryan Price, Bryce Stowell and Rob Bryson should all log innings at the MLB level at some point this year. I wouldn't be apposed to Cord Phelps taking Jose Lopez's roster spot ASAP either.
- Post AS lineup??? Droobs, Choo, Pronk, Santana, Grady, Damon, Kipnis, Hannahan, Chiz??