Cleveland Indians 2009 Season Preview

Bare KnucksAnalyst IMarch 16, 2009

The Cleveland Indians were the definition of mediocrity in the 2008 season, finishing 81-81, good enough for third place in the AL Central. A year after winning the division and falling one win short of reaching the World Series, the Indians found themselves in a rebuilding phase to some extent.

C.C. Sabathia, a stalwart in the Indians rotation for over seven years, was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers midway through 2008. The main return in that deal was Matt LaPorta, an exceptional hitting left field prospect from the Brewers farm system. This deal will be a positive for Cleveland in the long run, but obviously hurt their team during the duration of last year.

The Indians struggled on the road, finishing nine games under .500, ultimately leading to their demise. Offensively, the Indians were led by Shin-Shoo Choo, who hit .309 with 68 RBI and 66 runs scored. Without a stolen base threat, the Indians found themselves one-dimensional offensively with no player finishing with double-digit steals aside from Grady Sizemore, who had 38. Cliff Lee was the big story for the 2008 Indians, winning the Cy Young Award after finishing with a 22-3 record and a 2.54 ERA.

Cleveland Indians 2009 Preview

Aside from Cliff Lee and Fausto Carmona, the Indians head into 2009 with major questions regarding their starting pitching staff, questions that should lead to a poor finish in what should be a mediocre AL Central Division.

Whether Indians fans want to believe it or not, Cleveland is in a rebuilding phase. The Indians feature arguably the best center fielder in all of baseball in Grady Sizemore. Sizemore hit only .268 in 2008, but managed to slug 33 home runs and produce 90 RBI, very impressive numbers. Sizemore and Choo should anchor an impressive outfield, but a lack of pitching depth will inevitably do in the 2009 Cleveland Indians.

The three through five spots in the rotation will likely feature a mixture of Aaron Laffey, Jeremy Sowers, Anthony Reyes, Scott Lewis, and Carl Pavano, a list of names that doesn’t exactly strike fear in the hearts of opposing hitters. Look for Cleveland to surprisingly finish dead last in the balanced but mediocre division due to a lack of pitching.

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