CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – The Indians 2012 season went from somewhat promising to complete disaster over an 11-day stretch that saw the team go from 3.5 games back to 10.5 by the time it was over.
Now with 2012 almost a forgone conclusion as lost, it’s already time to start thinking ahead as to what type of team may take the field in 2013.
Today, we will break down the roster a bit as far as the positions go and how they are shaping up for next season.
Catcher - Carlos Santana has played better as of late, but still is hitting just .239 entering Saturday. Nevertheless, they are committed to him long term as they inked him to a two-year deal before the year started. Lou Marson is just fine as the backup.
First Base – Major position of need for the Indians. By the way, it also was entering 2012. Casey Kotchman is making $3 mil on the Indians payroll this year, and clearly isn’t the answer. He’s hitting just .226 with 10 homers, and while his glove has been good, he’s made 5 errors this year.
The Indians seem determined to shut the door on ever giving Matt LaPorta a real shot to play the position long term, and that means they have the option of either bringing back Kotchman with a new deal, or going in another direction.
Here’s a vote for another direction – though don’t count on it being one with much money behind it.
Second Base - Jason Kipnis is just fine, and likely will be close to or on the All-Star team for the AL in 2013.
Shortstop – Asdrubal Cabrera isn’t having quite the fallout he did in the second half of 2011, and is still hitting .283 with 11 homers and 49 RBI entering Saturday. Inked a two-year extension and will be here for awhile, and the future of the position seems in good hands with first-round pick Francisco Lindor tearing it up in his first year in the minors.
Third Base – Much like first base, a HUGE spot of need on this team. Jack Hannahan started the season on fire, then got hurt and has been a shell of himself since, hitting just .231 with 4 homers and 23 RBI. Jose Lopez was here for awhile, and Lonnie Chisenhall could be the answer, but he’s had issues staying healthy.
I can see Chisenahll starting the season and finally getting a long term shot at the position, and Hannahan, who is still good with the glove, behind him as the backup. This is a spot they clearly need to figure out.
Left Field – What a disaster 2012 has been for this spot. Shelley Duncan and Johnny Damon have played there most of the season, and Duncan is hitting just .219 and Damon is out of a job at this point after a total washout joining the team on the fly in April.
It would be great to see the team invest some sort of money in this position, as clearly they need someone with pop, and the LF spot is an area that needs it. Problem is, they don’t seem to do that, and the long term plan in LF is as muddled as ever right now.
Center Fielder - Michael Brantley isn’t putting up the power numbers (4 homers) but he’s near .300 in average (.293) and has been as solid as anyone at the plate this year. Looks like the end for Grady Sizemore, as he hasn’t been able to play a game this year.
I like how Brantley has come back from his wrist injury last August and has played well enough to stay in the spot for a long time to come.
Right Field - Unless the team moves Shin-Soo Choo in the offseason, he’ll start the season as the RF after having a solid 2012. Choo has another full year left on his deal, and everyone will speculate the Indians will move him, and if they get a good offer, they just may.
For now though, let’s say that Choo isn’t moved, making him a shoe-in as the starting right fielder come opening day 2013.
Starting Rotation – The Indians will have up to three holes to fill for 2013, which is not a good sign considering this was supposed to be an area of strength entering 2012. Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez will be back at the 1-2 spots, but after that there’s a couple guys that will be fighting it out for 3-4-5.
Zach McAllister has gotten better, and could be the teams #3 starter entering 2013. Corey Kluber is another arm they like, and his last 6 weeks of 2012 will go a long way in determining if he will be here next year.
After that, there’s a couple names to consider. The first will be Roberto Hernandez, who will finally take the mound on Wednesday in Los Angeles. The Indians have a $6 mil option for him for 2013, and his last six weeks of 2013 will determine if they pick that up or not.
Jeanmar Gomez started 2012 as the number five starter, and was okay early, but fell apart and was shipped to Columbus in June. David Huff is another arm in Columbus that just never seems destined to be a long-term answer for the rotation.
The one name to keep in mind is Carlos Carrasco, who is coming off Tommy John surgery, but could find his way into the rotation by default with a good spring in 2013.
Then there’s Josh Tomlin, who again started the season as a starter, but was moved to the pen after getting shelled in his last few starts. Another guy that could make his way back into the rotation with a solid spring.
Overall, it’s going to look a lot different from opening day 2012, which was as follows: Masterson, Jimenez, Derek Lowe, Tomlin and Gomez.
Bullpen - The back end of the pen with Chris Perez as the closer and Vinnie Pestano as the 8th inning guy seem set. That is unless a major offseason move is made and one is moved, which doesn’t appear likely.
After that, almost all roles need to be studied, as the pen overall has been a nightmare this season. Joe Smith appears to be the other name that is safe, but after that, it’s a bunch of guys that simply have not been good enough.
Tony Sipp is one name that could be on the way out, as he’s been basically terrible this year, sporting a 0-2 mark with a 4.76 ERA. Nick Hagadone busted up his pitching arm after an awful July outing vs the Rays, but will have every shot to again be in the pen in 2013.
Esmail Rogers has been decent since coming for cash from the Rockies, and could stick with the team next season for cheap.
The names after that include Cody Allen, Frank Herrmann, Raffy Perez and Scott Barnes. The names of 2012 here and gone – Dan Wheeler, Jairo Asencio, Jeremy Accardo.
Bottom line, they will give a lot of arms, a lot of looks come next spring to round out the pen.