April 24, 2014

Ten Bold Predictions: 2009 Cleveland Indians

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A little while back, I polled the rest of the guys here at WFNY.  With the Tribe season kicking off in approximately 70 hours, I figured it would be a good time to get some opinions in print, so that we can all come back to this in September to see who was right.  Or, more importantly, who was way off.

The questions range from what to expect from Travis Hafner and Kerry Wood, all the way to who we’ll be seeing in the “transactions” column of the Plain Dealer sooner than later.

The responses are after the jump.  Feel free to add your own in the comments.

1. Number of at bats for Travis Hafner

High end: 500
Low end: 300

This one was all over the map.  Jacob and TD are on the low end with 300.  Rick wasn’t far behind the bear curve with 310.  Craig and Rock are relative believers, with Craig taking the high end of 500.  For the team’s sake, let’s hope he’s right.  I placed myself firmly in the middle, but not because I think that he’ll be injured per se.  I think that the team will use a handful of different lineups that will feature Ryan Garko, Kelly Shoppach and Victor Martinez as designated hitters.  Maybe even mix a little Matt LaPorta in there for good measure.

2. Starting pitcher with second-highest number of wins

Majority answer: Cliff Lee

This one was surprising.  Five of the eight writers think that Fausto Carmona will outshine Lee as our ace this season, which is very intriguing.  Not much regression on Lee’s end as much as a bounce-back season from he of the headlock-and-face punch.  TD actually has Anthony Reyes with one less win than Lee, providing at least three double-digit winners.  Refreshing, given the question marks involving the rotation. 

3. Starting left fielder on July 1

Majority answer: Ben Francisco
Others receiving votes: Matt LaPorta, David Dellucci

The general feeling is that with a healthy lineup, Benny Francisco will not be forced to hit third – providing a lot less pressure and a lot more room to flourish.  Jacob feels that LaPorta is primed for a huge start in Columbus, forcing Eric Wedge and Mark Shapiro to add him to the big league roster.  There are plenty of fans that would love to see this happen.  Craig, however, feels that the team obviously has it in for TD and will make Dellucci earn all $12 million of his contract this season.  Perhaps we may have another candidate for negative VORP?

4. Lead-off hitter on August 1

Unanimous answer: Grady Sizemore

While none of us deviated from the norm, it was not always because we feel Grady is best-suited for that role.  Most of us would love to see a higher contact ratio at the top of the order, but Michael Brantley seems to be about a year away (he’s only 20-years old), and Grady was an All Star at the top of our order.  Let’s just hope that our 7-through-9 hitters can be on base when he decides to put on in the right field seats.

carl-pavano-huh 5. Number of innings pitched by Carl Pavano

High end: 175
Low end: 40

Both Rick and DP are believers in the former Mr. Milano.  For the record, I was the only other writer with triple-digit innings; so I’m somewhat of a believer.  Any number of innings in the 80s was a popular pick with Jacob, Rock, TD and Denny all slotting their answers under 90.  Craig apparently has zero faith in our off-season acquisition, going with a max of ten starts and a four-inning average.  The scary thing is, is that this would surprise absolutely no one.

6. Number of saves for Kerry Wood

High end: 42
Low end: 27

So, even the most bearish of estimates has K  Wood tossing a pretty good season.  All reports coming out of spring training have been amazing.  Zero earned runs, and no health issues since the lower back fiasco.  After the years of Bob Wickman and Joe Borowski, this could be a very welcomed change of pace.  Mr. Outlier himself, Craig, has Wood pegged on the high end.  If he’s right, this means very, very good things.  He just won’t be making many of these saves on days where “C. Pavano” is the scheduled starter.

7. Number of Indians named to the AL All Star team

Answer range: 2 to 4

Grady Sizemore and Victor Martinez are the two names that are touted the most.  This is intriguing due to the fact that not only is Carmona pegged for a rebound, but many of us have a lot of faith in V-Mart’s resurgence.  Others getting a nod include Cliff Lee, Fausto Carmona and Kerry Wood.  If healthy, Wood may get a hard look due to Francisco Rodriguez heading to the National League.  Joe Nathan, Mo Rivera and Johnathan Paplebon will be tough to overpass, but anything’s possible.  Anyone think Jhonny Peralta could get the nod?  Off of the top, what other shortstops in the AL could get a look?  Jeter will get the starting nod, but I think he could get some serious consideration.

8. First member of the Indians sent down to Triple-A Columbus

Majority answer: Scott Lewis
Others receiving votes: Carl Pavano, Josh Barfield, Trevor Crowe

I had a feeling that this one would come down to the coveted fifth starter.  TD thinks that Scotty Lewis will outlast the recovery of David Dellucci, which will result in Trevor Crowe getting to cash in another option.  Rick thought a bit outside the box and chose Barfield, and he may be on to something since Andy Marte went yard yesterday.  Or maybe he’s banking on Barfield not hitting the ball at all – similar to spring training – and the team deciding that keeping him on the roster for his pinch running abilities may not be worth the spot.

9. First member of the Indians called up from Triple-A Columbus

Majority answer: Aaron Laffey
Others receiving votes: Matt LaPorta, Jeremy Sowers, Jon Meloan

Okay, Rock didn’t exactly choose Jon Meloan, but I made an executive decision to answer his “relief pitcher” response.  There’s a very solid chance that Masa Kobayashi has a short leash this year, resulting in one of the Clipper relievers to get a look with the big boys.  If they need a lefty, Rich Rundles could get the nod.  The rest of the staff thinks that Scott Lewis falters a bit out of the gate, resulting in the best starter in Columbus getting a look.  Rick feels that Sowers may outperform Laffey over the start of the season.  And sticking with his original prediction, Jacob is banking on huge things from Matt LaPorta.

10. Place of the Indians within the central come post season

Majority answer: First

Those that didn’t choose first are superstitious, or think the Twins may have a rotation that is simply better than ours.  Those that feel that the Tribe will win the division don’t exactly think that we’ll put up a huge win-total, but do think that we will take advantage of a relatively weak division.  Ninety wins should get the job done, and until proven wrong, it should be a two-team race between Cleveland and the Twins.  Sure, Detroit or Chicago could rebound.  Kansas City may finally take advantage of their touted prospects.  But until this happens, I have no problem feeling that the Tribe takes the top spot.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com DP

    For #5, I did include the caveat of “How many of Pavano’s innings are *good* innings remains to be seen…” Just sayin’…

  • http://www.NoLogoNeeded.com Don_NoLogoNeeded.com

    Number of times Don and Aaron from NoLogoNeeded.com phone their wives in a drunken stupor to come get them after an evening watching the Indians’ AAA affiliate at the brand new Huntington Park in downtown Columbus.

    High end: 12 times
    Low end: 4 times

  • LaundroMat

    I find the question of Peralta as an All Star SS very interesting. Of course, he won’t start. And he may be snubbed due to the at-least-one-player-from-every-team policy. But I think there’s a good chance that it would indeed be a snub (i.e., he’d be qualified).

    My starting left-fielder on July 1 is Jamey Carroll (I predict that the regular(s) will get rest that day).

  • Kevin

    You should call this entry “A few bold predictions mixed in with dozens of safe ones..” Grady Sizemore hitting leadoff on August 1st, way to boldly go out on a limb fellas.

  • Pat in CA

    How about first Indian to hit 10 home runs?

    Peralta.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Jacob Rosen

    Victor Martinez on the All-Star team? That has to be a stretch considering how well he has been slugging the ball in the last two seasons..

    I think Fausto is primed for a huge year, while LaPorta never really was able to get off to a good start in Akron last year. One week he was here, then in Olympics, then off to Buffalo for a bit, then back and around. He was all over the place, and this year he will have a chance to settle in and zone in. Dellucci is dead meat, and Crowe is not a Major League hitter, and never has truly shown the potential consistently over his minor league career.

  • JM

    Number of times Wedge says we take it one game at a time and we have grinders: only every game! Lol I kid I love Wedgie.

  • Kumar

    Indians are installed as favorites for Central Division by Vegas. Indians are 3/2, Tigers, 5/2 and the Twins are 11/4.
    To win the world series the Indians are 20/1, the same as the Rays.
    Looks like there are many expert believers in the Indians.