As spring arrived so did the smell of baseball. The fresh cut grass, the fresh air, the not so fresh $5 hot dog and the stench of analysts making terrible picks to win the World Series. This year's hype was all about the Cleveland Indians.
I must say after last season the Indians could have been at the top of any amateur analyst's list, but I was just as shocked as I was skeptical about how many top analysts were taking the Tribe to the top. I say no to the Indians this year for a few reasons.
It's no secret the entire Indians roster is very young and "hot". Though look at the teams that win when it counts, they all have one thing in common, crafty veterans. No doubt the Boston Red Sox have been a very successful organization in the past few years and some may say their team is aging but they show no signs of slowing down. The Indians need a veteran leader on the field to "tame" the young talent.
Maybe they should go after Barry Bonds, would he be bad to have as an alternate DH? Sure he would bring controversy at times but maybe that's a fair trade for a seasoned team mate. It certainly couldn't hurt their lineup who only have two players batting over .300.
Does Wedge have what it takes to get them over the hump? Well let's take a closer look at Eric Wedge. After winning the College World Series, Wedge played nine seasons of minor league ball with five organizations and played in the majors briefly in the 1991-1994 seasons with the Red Sox and Rockies. He went on to manage the Indian's minor league system from 1998 through 2002 and with that little experience was called up to become the youngest manager in the bigs since 1985.
I say praise Eric for the wins and blame Shapiro for their losses. Wedge has done a terrific job with what he has been given but ultimately with the current team direction Wedge is too inexperienced to take them to the next level.
Clutch and Durability
One aspect of the game that the Indians are missing is clutch. They need a guy who can step up when it counts. They need to bring in a guy who has been in just about every scenario there is and can remain poised and calm enough for the team to rally around.
Another problem plaguing the Tribe is injuries. They need to work hard on staying healthy to keep their guys in their "grooves" because we all know that time off in baseball is never good.
It could happen... or could it?
The Indians so far are all but proving me wrong with an 18-18 record struggling to stay at .500 and third in the AL Central. With that said the Indians could make a few minor changes before the trade deadline and pull it off, but they won't. They have a stubborn GM stuck on keeping the team young and any Tribe fan will tell you they have a long history of trading away premier talent. So isn't it a dramatic overstatement to say the Indians are going to the World Series?