The Cleveland Indians, winners of 92 games a season ago, were ranked as baseball’s 15th-best team in two separate online articles this week.
MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince, formerly a Tribe beat writer, concluded his top-10 series with a look at the best teams in the game. Within the honorable mention section, he wrote this tidbit about the Indians and an AL Central rival:
15. Indians and Royals (tie): As far as I’m concerned, it’s a pick-’em for second-best team in the AL Central. The Indians have a really good offense that could be even better, and the Royals have several tantalizing players who have not yet reached their potential. Both have rotation questions.
The Detroit Tigers, despite the loss of star slugger Prince Fielder, were ranked as Castrovince’s No. 2 team in MLB.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday over at ESPN’s SweetSpot blog, writer David Schoenfield shared his No. 18-13 teams. He concluded the series with the game’s top six teams on Friday. Within Wednesday’s article, here’s a tidbit of what he said about the Tribe.
I’m just the messenger: The red flag for me in Cleveland’s run to the playoffs was that the bullpen was 19th in the majors in ERA and yet went 33-16. A few of those wins came after blown saves, but that’s still an impressive W-L record for a mediocre relief corps. The Indians also lost Smith and replaced him with the erratic Axford. While Cody Allen appears ready to step in as the closer, they also need Axford to provide quality innings in the setup role.
So yes, early reports are not too optimistic about these Indians. If you recall during WFNY’s 2013 predictions, we all were between 80-86 wins. The range likely will be much larger heading into 2014.
Pitchers and catchers report on Tuesday to Goodyear, Arizona. The team’s first game is on Monday, Feb. 17. SportsTimeOhio announced earlier in the week that it will air eight spring training games on TV.
[Related: Could Ubaldo have a Cleveland Homecoming?]