Two of the last three years I picked the Cleveland Indians to win the World Series. The only year I didn’t, they fell just short when the Red Sox came back from down 3 games to 1 in 2007. Last year, the Indians were a popular pick, although not as “hot” as the Tigers. This year, that chatter seems to have fallen off yet again and I’m not sure why.
Last year, the Indians figured their season was over early and parted ways with reigning Cy Young winner CC Sabathia before midseason. Who was the last reigning Cy Young winner to be traded while holding the Cy Young crown? (Hint: I’ve already used this pitcher in a previous trivia question) (Double Bonus Hint: the traded pitcher was dealt for someone on this Indians team in the trade following being named Cy Young winner.)
Anytime a team adds a dependable (when healthy) pitcher like Kerry Wood and trades for an under-rated everyday guy who’s exceptional in a utility role like Mark DeRosa to a team that went 44-28 down the stretch, don’t you have to be considered armed and dangerous? Travis Hafner is expected to be healthy, Victor Martinez is expected to be healthy, Fausto Carmona is expected to be healthy and Grady Sizemore may be the best player in baseball that nobody talks about.
There aren’t many people that expect a repeat performance out of Cliff Lee in 2009 (count me among those). However, Lee is and always has been a good pitcher. The biggest question, is can he lead the team from Game 1 through Game 162 and beyond? Continuing with pitching questions, is what effect Carl Pavano can have on this staff. If he’s even mediocre, he becomes one of the best free agent moves of this offseason. If not, the Indians have plenty of youngsters to fill in, I’m just not sure the end outcome will be as bright.
1997 marked the first Cy Young of Pedro Martinez career and it was for the Montreal Expos (the only one in franchise history). Of course, 23 days after the Marlins doused the Indians in Game 7 of the World Series, Martinez was shipped to Boston for Carl Pavano (and Tony Armas, Jr. as the player to be named later). We all know how well that deal worked for Boston and Montreal.
Outside of the top three teams in the AL East, the Indians should be considered the best team in the American League. Of course all of this is tied directly to the pitching staff. CC Sabathia and Bartolo Colon are no longer the aces for this staff. So long as Lee or Carmona can fill those shoes the Indians will be playing deep into October.
I have no doubts about the talent on this team. I think they stay healthy and Eric Wedge does another great job for the Indians getting another playoff berth. (you’ll have to wait for my post-season preview after I’m done with all the teams to find out how far they go)
94-78; 1st Place AL Central.