As promised yesterday on Twitter and Saturday here on the blog, this is part two of what will now end up being a three-part offseason series. With all of the moving that the Indians have already done (most of which I think the fans/media generally approve of), there are still spots to be filled as Chris Antonetti looks at his roster for 2013. That’s what today is going to be about. It’s likely that there are still a couple of additions left in the Tribe’s near future.
One way to get a good grip on this is by taking a position-by-position look at the current active roster then filling in each position what some of the rumors might be and where the Indians are going. It’s also the only thing I could think of to keep this from being a jumbled-up mess of thoughts with no direction. I’ll extend this a little more by saving pitchers for later on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Here’s a look at the field players so far:
Catcher- Getting this one out of the way because it seems to be one of the most clear-cut. Carlos Santana should be the man here despite some rumors earlier this winter that he may be dealt. The bottom line is that his recent performances can’t possibly warrant a ton of attention in the way of major prospects, which is what the Indians would want in any deal. Also, for what it’s worth, he led the team in homers last season. With power at a premium, no need to replace the young Santana yet.
1st Base- Mark Reynolds is presumably the every day option here. Like we’ve said already recently, it’s the power and his reasonable OBP that makes him the man for the job. Santana can play here as well in a pinch or if he needs a break behind the dish. For our collective sanity, lets hope that the Matt LaPorta experiment is over.
2nd Base- Jason Kipnis. Not much more to say here.
Shortstop- Continuing our way around the horn, this is where it will get a little interesting. Do the Indians find a deal they really like for Asdrubal Cabrera and let Mike Aviles fill most of the void while top prospect Francisco Lindor continues to ready himself in the minors? This will be a very interesting situation to follow. I have to think that if Antonetti and his scouts get a package with young starting pitching that they like, they will pull the trigger. As much as it would be a shame to see Cabrera (another high profile that the Indians have made considerable efforts to retain) leave, it’s likely that a deal with him included will happen at some point in 2013 if not this winter.
3rd Base- Another position to watch, but as of now Lonnie Chisenhall is the guy, which I like. Chisenhall caught a bad break last season (literally) right when it looked like he was getting comfortable in an extended role at the big league level. It appears that he is going to get his chance to get that extended role in 2013, as Aviles is the only other guy on the conceivable roster that has the ability to occupy the hot corner. Remember, Chisenhall was a top 5 prospect in the Tribe organization during his time in the minors. They believe in his ability at the plate, and haven’t gotten a big enough sample to see it come to fruition. I’m excited to see him back at full strength and starting from day 1. Still very much a possible hit amongst a lot of tough misses for the organization as of late.
Outfield- I’m going to bunch the outfielders together as the last position covered in this portion because they are the group that still has a couple of different options. First, the obvious. Michael Brantley has developed into an above-average big leaguer for the Tribe. It’s likely (I think) that he will shift back to left field so that Drew Stubbs (who has exclusively been a center fielder thus far) can be comfortable. While it may seem out of order that Brantley has to move over for Stubbs, he will still be an everyday starter, and whatever gives Stubbs the best chance to be effective is what the Indians need.
Speaking of Stubbs, he has more than enough range to take over in center, and defensively should be a plus contributor. He also adds some power and base-stealing ability that may help fend off the boos that plagued him in Cincinnati due to his abysmal strikeout total.
Finally, right field. The spot that is now vacant after Shin Soo Choo’s move to the Reds is one that the Indians don’t really have a bonafide option for already in the system. That leads us to the most recent Hot Stove news in Cleveland. Later today (Tuesday, in case you’re reading this late Monday night) Nick Swisher will be in town for a visit with the Tribe brass during which he will likely get a relatively attractive offer. Nick Camino first reported on Twitter today that Swisher is the next major target, and rightfully so.
I really like the idea of Swish (an OSU alum) coming to Cleveland for a couple of reasons. The first one has nothing to do with his ability, but it is the swagger that he brings to the field. It’s evident that he has a blast playing the game, and while calling a guy “a ball-player” is almost always a euphemism for “below-average player with no outstanding tools”, I think it’s a term of endearment for Swisher. To clarify, Nick isn’t one of those below-average guys. I also have a strange feeling that this is a term that a manager like Terry Francona uses in a good way to describe grit and stuff that may or may not actually translate to talent, so I’m getting used to it.
The other reason I would like this move is that Swisher drives in runs, gets on base better than anyone currently on the roster not named Carlos Santana, and hits more home runs than anyone currently on the roster not named Carlos Santana. Those two things are good enough for me.
So come on, Swish. Sign that contract for an ungodly amount of money and come have some fun in Cleveland. You can get as many tickets for family, friends, the entire student body of Ohio State, ex cetera as you want. There’s plenty of room at Progressive.
Next up is the pitching staff. I’ll cover them either today or tomorrow. Until then, Dion Waiters returns for the Cavs tonight against Toronto at The Q. Looking forward to writing something positive about the Cavs soon. Not ready to give up on them yet (hence that fancy basketball floor in the background of the page).
Until then, go Nick Swisher. Go Tribe. Go Cleveland, as always.