Spring Training Begins In A Week For Indians: Tribe Notes & Links

By T.J. ZUPPE, 92.3 The Fan Indians Beat Reporter

Close your eyes.

(Not for too long… or else how will you read this?)

Now, imagine this:

Warm sun. Green grass. The crack of the bat.

An endless supply of Dubble Bubble.

A week from today, pitchers and catchers will be officially walking through the front doors of the Cleveland Indians’ complex in Goodyear, Arizona.

If that baseball thought doesn’t fill you with a sense of warmth and happiness, seek medical help. You may be dead inside.

Regardless of your outlook for Tribe this season, the start of Spring Training signifies all that is right and good about the game of baseball. Hope is tied closely to nearly every club — possibly more than any sport at the start of their respective campaigns.

For fans, it is the calm before the chaotic storm of wild emotions. For players, it is about preparing for a grind like no other.

For managers and coaches, it is about finding 25 guys best equipped to handle the 162-game marathon. And for the front office, it is about getting their first look at the club they carefully assembled in the off-season.

There will be plenty of time for debate. But for right now, just enjoy this moment.

Baseball, it will be so wonderful to see you again. We hope you’ve been well.

Rotation Rank:

The Indians’ starting rotation projects to be one of the better groups in baseball this season (and is extremely cost effective), but where will the Tribe’s starting five rank among their peers in 2015?

Anthony Castrovince attempted to tackle that subject, ranking baseball’s Top 10 rotations for the upcoming campaign.

The Indians are ranked sixth on the list, led by reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber and second half breakout performer Carlos Carrasco. Gavin Floyd, Trevor Bauer, Danny Salazar and T.J. House will make this staff one of the most intriguing to watch this season.

For more on the Tribe’ rotation, listen to last week’s Tribe Beat Podcast where I’m joined by August Fagerstrom of Fangraphs.com and we further examine Cleveland’s starting five.

Castrovince, however, ranked the Tribe’s bullpen just outside the Top 10.

Scouting Albers, Zito:

There’s a reason for the old adage: You can never have enough pitching.

Because it’s true.

The Indians could use some more depth, especially in the bullpen, and with that in mind, the team reportedly took a closer look at pitchers Matt Albers and Barry Zito.

Albers appeared in 56 games for the Tribe in 2013, but shoulder problems limited him to just eight games for the Houston Astros last season. Depending on his health, he certainly could present some potential appeal to Cleveland.

The left-handed Zito did not pitch in the big leagues in 2014.

12 teams, according to MLBTradeRumors.com, watched the two hurlers throw on Tuesday in Houston.

A contest you don’t want to win:

Free agency comes with its risks, that much is certain. Anytime a club inks a free agent to a long-term or multi-year contract, there is a strong possibility the contract could come back to bite the signing team.

The hope is the squad signing the player gets a few good years of return on the investment before inevitably regretting the terms down the road.

Unfortunately, when it comes to Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher, neither long-term deal has worked out the way the Indians had intended at this point.

Justin Lada of Wahoo’s on First asks the question: Which contract is worse?

The other Francisco:

Baseball Prospectus recently released their list of the Top 101 Prospect of 2015, and three Indians minor leaguers made the cut.

Shortstop Francisco Lindor (no.4) and outfielder Clint Frazier (no. 89) appear on the list. But as Jason Lukehart of Let’s Go Tribe points out, one of the three comes as a bit of a surprise.

Aren’t projections fun?

Every season, prior to the start of the campaign, everyone puts together their projected finishes in each of baseball’s divisions. Oddly enough, only when we are correct are we willing to remind anyone of our prognostications.

Otherwise, burn them. I said burn them!

In light of James Shield’s decision to sign with the San Diego Padres, Fangraphs has released their updated projected finishes for each club.

They see the Indians (84-78) finishing in second place in the AL Central, one game behind the Detroit Tigers (85-77) in 2015. In that projection, Cleveland would finish tied with the Toronto Blue Jays, Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Angels in the AL Wild Card standings.

That’s four teams for two spots. In that case, let the tie-breaking Wild Card madness commence!

Tweet of the week:

AL Central Links:

— The Kansas City star says despite James Shields’ departure for San Diego, the Royals beat baseball’s system with James Shields trade.

— The son of former Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen fired off some angry tweets at the White Sox.

— Minnesota Twins pitcher Trevor May thinks ’15 could be his breakout season.

— The Detroit Tigers say Victor Martinez will be ready to compete at the start of the 2015 campaign.

Archive: 92.3 The Fan Tribe Beat Podcasts

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