2011 MLB Preview: Cleveland Indians

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2011 MLB Preview: Cleveland Indians
Norm Hall/Getty Images

9 Innings Blog will be bringing you previews of every Major League Baseball team for the next 30 days. This is in accordance with our 30 teams in 30 days series. Today we’re bringing you the 2011 preview of the fledgling Cleveland Indians ball club. The Indians have prospects waiting to prosper in their organization, but I do not think this year will be the year each of them peak to their full potential.

The Indians did not have such a great season last year, finishing fourth in the American League Central division with a record of 69-93 which were only two games better than the Royals who finished in fifth.

The Indians made some deals during the season too trading away SS Jhonny Peralta to Detroit, closer Kerry Wood and outfielder Austin Kearns to the New York Yankees and RHP Jake Westbrook to St. Louis.

The bright spot for Cleveland was in their rotation as Fausto Carmona was 13-14 but had an ERA of 3.77 and 124 strikeouts. Carmona will try to get back into form this season as well even though trade rumors swirled around him this offseason.

If Cleveland has any chance of being a contender this season, Grady Sizemore needs to be healthy along with Travis Hafner. Sizemore has missed a majority of the past few seasons with knee troubles and he’s coming off microfracture knee surgery this offseason which will probably make him miss Opening Day. Hafner played in 118 games last season. Hafner’s power numbers have been down and they need to pick back up.

If Sizemore and Pronk get back to full form, they will make outfielder Shin-Soo Choo even more dangerous. The Korean sensation is ready for another great year in Cleveland after coming off his second straight season of hitting more than 20 homers and third straight season of batting over .300. Choo is dangerous and if he can get going, he can do some real damage at the ballpark this summer.

However, I do not think the Indians are going places. I have them last in the Central.

Key Addition: Orlando Cabrera, 2B

Breakout Player: Carlos Santana

Prediction: Fifth AL Central

Starters
CA: Carlos Santana
1B: Matt LaPorta
2B: Orlando Cabrera
3B: Jayson Nix
SS: Asdrubal Cabrera
OF: Austin Kearns
OF: Shin-Soo Choo
OF: Michael Brantley
DH: Travis Hafner

Pitching Rotation
SP: Fausto Carmona
SP: Justin Masterson
SP: Mitch Talbot
SP: Josh Tomlin
SP: Carlos Carrasco

RP: Chad Durbin
RP: Jensen Lewis
RP: Vinnie Pestano
RP: Tony Sipp
RP: Joe Smith
RP: Rafael Perez
CP: Chris Perez

Bench
CA: Lou Marson
INFL Jason Donald
OF: Trevor Crowe
OF: Shelley Duncan

Top Prospects
1). Jason Kipnis, 2B
2). Alex White, RHP
3). Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B
4). Drew Pomeranz, LHP
5). Nick Weglarz, OF

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