For the first time in five years, the Tribe has begun their season with two victories (2008 was also the last time the Indians won their Opening Day game). If they win again tonight, it will be the first time since 1998 that they've started 3-0. Sure, Chris Perez already blew a save, but only after Ubaldo Jimenez pitched well, and it's not as if giving up a home run to Jose Bautista is any great crime. The start of the season is a good time for looking at the glass as half full, especially when the glass has just won back-to-back games on the road against a team expected by many to win the toughest division in baseball. So, let's daydream a little...
Maybe Jimenez and Masterson, both of whom have gotten through their first start allowing just one run apiece, are going to get back to going what they did in their best seasons. Jimenez was one of the very best pitchers in baseball back in 2010, which wasn't so long ago, was it? Masterson was great in 2011 and that was practically yesterday, am I right? Maybe those two have begun major rebounds and will give the Indians a dynamic 1-2 punch at the top of their rotation. By midseason those two might become a 2-3 punch, when Trevor Bauer gets called up from Columbus and goes on a tear that ends with him winning the AL Rookie of the Year Award.
Maybe Nick Swisher and Michael are gonna be worth every penny of their big contracts. Maybe their success, coupled with new skipper Terry Francona's track record and reputation, will convince other free agents that Cleveland is the place to be. Maybe Swisher is going to hit 26 home runs and put up an OPS of .850, just like he's averaged over the last four years. Maybe Bourn is going to steal 54 bases and play some of the best outfield defense in baseball, just like he's been doing over the last four years.
Maybe Drew Stubbs is going to play some of the best outfield defense in baseball too, but from right field, and Michael Brantley does the same, but from left field. Maybe Brantley, who took a big step forward in 2012 by cutting down his strikeouts, stepping up his walk rate, and boosting his batting average us going to take another step forward in 2013 and become a star (batting .714 so far!). Maybe Mark Reynolds is hardly going to play any defense at all, but his game-winning home run last night might have been the first of 40 he's going to hit this year.
Maybe Asdrubal Cabrera is going to make the spectacular plays at shortstop we've grown used to seeing from him and the ordinary plays he sometimes hasn't made. Maybe he'll play so well he eliminates any notion of trading him. After all, what need will there be to trade him after the Dolan family decides to run this Ilitch style, damn the bottom line? It could happen! Cabrera might get back to his 2011 numbers and still get traded, because Francisco Lindor might play too damn well to keep him down on the farm any longer. Yeah, he's only 19, what of it? Maybe Cabrera gets traded for Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal, or Carlos Martinez. Scratch that, Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal, and Carlos Martinez.
Maybe Jason Kipnis is just big boned, Maybe after being solid so far, Kipnis is about to take off, just like second basemen Lou Whitaker and Alfonso Soriano did when they turned 26 (as Kipnis did yesterday). Maybe the baby of the lineup, Lonnie "most of my nicknames haven't been very good" Chisenhall is on the verge of breaking out too. Lonnie's .161 isolated power over the last two seasons, do you know which two players in history that lands him between among third basemen so young? Adrian Beltre and Gary Sheffield. Perhaps you've heard of them?
Maybe Carlos Santana is going to stay on the roll he was on in the second half of last season and in the World Baseball Classic this spring. His closest comps among catchers through the age of 26: Gary Carter, Bill Freehan, Ted Simmons, and Gene Tenace. If you know anything about catchers over the last fifty years, you know that's tremendous company Carlos is keeping. Maybe he's headed for the first of many All-Star appearances.
Maybe the Tigers stumble, and the Central is up for grabs. Maybe the Tigers don't stumble, but the Tribe pushes them out of the way and seizes the division by force.
Maybe the road the the World Series detours onto Ontario Street.
And maybe, just maybe, we all party like it's 1948.