Can the Tribe compete in 2013?
On the heels of their disappointing 2012 season, many assumed the Tribe would go into ‘rebuilding’ mode once again in the offseason. Things were looking bleak for the the Tribe in October 2012. They had slumped to the end of consecutive once-promising campaigns, as another upstart first half was long-overshadowed by an abysmal August. Cocksure closer Chris Perez was blaming management, while the objects of his affection—the envied Detroit Tigers—ran away with another division crown en route to the AL Pennant. Third year manager Manny Acta was unceremoniously dismissed a mere two weeks after fans were assured his job was secure. By season’s end, the scant fan interest that remained was focused on hiring then-interim manager Sandy Alomar as the full-time skipper for 2013. Somewhere, there were petitions being written for the unappreciated Russ Canzler to be given a spot at one of the team’s many black hole corner positions.
On October 6, the course of events took a sweeping change when Terry Francona was hired as the team’s next manager. While this move represented a promising first step, the Tribe was still facing the hard reality that their projected 2013 outfield included Shelley Duncan and Ezekiel Carrera, and they were absent a first baseman and DH. There were even faint whispers to bring back yesteryear stars Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner on minor league contracts.
The Tribe’s pleasantly surprising free agent splash gave fans the audacity to believe the team has a chance to compete in 2013. While such optimism has been dampened by a sluggish start, the season is still young.
A team facing an identity crisis will go nowhere. To say the Indians are ‘rebuilding while remaining competitive’ is to cover your tracks for not meeting expectations. Chris Antonetti signed Nick Swisher, Mark Reynolds and Michael Bourn to make this team a contender. It’s not often that the penny-pinching Larry Dolan will open his checkbook, and now that he has, the team must respond in turn. You simply don’t spend $118 million in the offseason to have a season of .500 expectations. If winning is indeed the order of the day, the Tribe must trot out the starting pitchers who give their revamped offense the best chance to win. Right now, Trevor Bauer is one of those options.