Sunday, January 27, 2008

Oh Yeah, Kool-Aid's Here!

Did you drink the Kool-Aid from Mark Shapiro’s stand?
Cleveland Indians Vice President and General Manager Mark Shapiro insists that the Cleveland Indians can win the American League Central Division and compete for the World Series in 2008 with the team they have going to Spring training.
Granted, it is unusual for a team to return almost completely intact from the previous season. This team did win 96 games, tie with the Red Sox for the most wins in baseball.
But we haven’t really improved while most other teams have. And shouldn’t we improve if we want to get by the Red Sox and go to the World Series? Because we had the Red Sox down 3 games to 1, does that make you feel comfortable that we can improve by growing a set of killer instincts? But what about the thrashing we took in the last 3 games of the ALCS? Remember we were out scored in those 3 games 30 – 5, and 35 – 16 in the series. We couldn’t put wood on the ball and our pitchers couldn’t get a strike call, even on the very same pitches that had them lead the league from the All-Star break with the fewest walks. A bigger question would be why didn’t they adjust?
OK, so what about the teams that have improved in our own division? Minnesota, Chicago, and of course Detroit have all bettered themselves. Of the three, Detroit has made the biggest improvement. It is evident just in payroll. Detroit has the 3rd highest payroll in baseball while the Indians reside at 27th.
Here’s hoping the Indians can make them waste their dough like they did with the Yankees last season.
Detroit has a solid batting order from top to bottom. Rodriguez, Guillen, Polanco, Renteria, Cabrera, Jones, Granderson, Ordonez, and Sheffield combined for a .309 average in 2007 and .297 lifetime.
But can the Indians, with what is regarded as the deepest pitching staff in the league, the same staff that lead all of baseball with a 3.56 ERA after the All-Star break, tame the Tigers hitters? What if we do? We still only play them about 18 games a season so we will need help from other teams.
Will Dontrelle Willis return to career form after a rough year? His season can be compared to that of Cliff Lee. But Lee had most of his season with a team that won 96 games while Willis was with the Marlins who won only 71 games.
Other questions? Does Kenny Rogers return effectively? Can the two Rafaels repeat their excellent seasons for the Tribe? Can Hafner get his groove back? Who are our corner outfielders?
There are many questions and many more than what are posed here today, but with Spring training just weeks away, I am starting to get thirsty.

Can I have a taste of that Kool-Aid, Mark?

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