Why the Indians Win It All in 2009

Toady is a off day in Spring Training for the Indians so there is no real news to report so far. 

Ryan at Prose and Ivy recently asked me to comment on his blog about why I think the Indians will win the World Series in 2009. This got me thinking that it would be a great blog post on my blog.
So here it is: Why the Indians Win It All in 2009
1) The offseason was a great one for a mid-market team with limited resources this year that will definitely be hit hard by the economic crisis. They began the offseason with a list of priorities. The first was a closer. They got a top rate closer in Kerry Wood. They could have waited until he was cheaper or a cheaper option was available. However being passive in the offseason clearly did not work last year so they had a target and they hit it. Next they wanted an infielder that was not a first baseman. A third baseman would be ideal but a second baseman or shortstop would work as well. What did they do? They got Mark DeRosa who can play really anywhere and made him their third baseman. DeRosa actually says he feels most comfortable at third. Their third priority was a middle of the rotation starter. They got Carl Pavano. So far this is their most risky and questionable move. I think it will work out for them. He may not be like he was a few years ago but he says he feels more comfortable in Cleveland and feels healthy. So far his spring has not been too impressive but he claims he is fine. The one thing the Indians are giving him that no one else would is a chance. They are showing him that they believe in him and they are willing to let him try to come back. I think this will do a lot for him.
2) The Indians’ offense is shaping up to be one of the most potent offenses in the Majors. Just look at the projected lineup:

Grady Sizemore CF

Mark DeRosa 3B

Victor Martinez C/1B

Jhonny Peralta SS

Travis Hafner DH

Shin Soo Choo RF

Ben Francisco LF

Ryan Garko 1B

Asdrubal Cabrera 2B

Insert Kelly Shoppach for Ryan Garko on days Cliff Lee pitches and whenever else Eric Wedge feels like playing him.

The first six batters are all legit home run threats. Even without home runs there are some scary things happening in that lineup for opposing pitchers. If Grady gets on DeRosa has already said that he would love to figure something out with Grady to make it easier for Grady steal some more bases this year. So there is the stolen base threat. Then there is the RBI threat without a home run. This entire lineup is capable of hitting to drive runs in. 

3) The Indians injury problems seem to be fixed this year. With the exception of Jake Westbrook all of the players that the Indians lost to injury in 2008 are back. Hafner may not be back to his Pronk state just yet but he says he feels great and it is just a matter of time until he gets his rhythm back and finally starts to really drive the ball. Martinez has already shown that his power stroke is back. He has a great spring so far including a few home runs. Anthony Reyes’ elbow problems seem to be fixed. He has had a very dominant spring and has shown his ability to be a very effective fourth starter for the Indians this year. In my opinion Reyes could easily be the third starter for the Indians. He may be if Pavano gets hurt or does not work out as expected. 
4) The Indians bullpen was awful in 2008. In 2009 however it looks to be solid. The bullpen is much more organized; everyone has a role and everyone knows their role. Kerry Wood is already becoming the leader of the pen. His leadership will go a long way in solidifying the bullpen and making the younger pitchers more successful pitchers.
5) Fausto Carmona appears to be back. So far this spring he has shown better command of his pitches and seems to have his rhythm back. His return could be reminiscent of a certain Cliff Lee last year. In 2006 Cliff Lee was very good for the Indians but in 2007 he suffered an injury and was never able to fully recover and return to his previous form. In 2008 he started the season in the Majors and was able to return  to 2006 form and improve on it. I hope the same happens with Carmona and so far it looks that way. It is true that Spring Training numbers do not mean a whole lot in the long run but he is pitching with more confidence and command than he showed last year and that will matter in the long run.
6) Two words: Grady Sizemore. Grady had a small setback early in the spring but he appears to be 100% recovered from his minor groin injury that kept him out of the World Baseball Classic. In my opinion Grady is set to have another monster year for the Indians. I think there is a real chance he will have a 40/40 year. One thing I think Grady can do more of this year is bunt for base hits. I think this will help his average a lot and get him more stolen bases. I also think this is what the team needs more of this year. They have the people back who can hit home runs; they do not need him to be their power bat anymore. I love home runs as much as the next girl but Grady’s first priority this season should be to get on base I think.
The only problem is the starting rotation. If Carl Pavano pitches a solid season the rotation is great. If not, it is shot. I know everyone is saying that the key to the season is Pronk’s return or Martinez’ return. I disagree. Pavano is the key. Everything else is pretty much set. There are very few other questions or unsolved issues. I think his season will set the tone for the rest of the rotation. If the Indians have solid third starter it takes the pressure off of the first two as well as the last two. If Pavano can do that the Indians are good to go. If he is not able to put together at least a solid season I see the Indians finishing still finishing first or second in the division. If they finish first and make the playoffs I do not see them being able to make the World Series let alone win it. 
What do you think about your team’s chances this year? I know everyone is supposed to think that this is the year for their team but I know a lot of you do not think that. I would love to know why and who you think does win it all this year.

11 comments

  1. juliasrants

    Melissa – the Indians do look good. The Red Sox, I feel though, will go all the way. We have great depth in our bullpen and I really like our lineup. Even with all the injuries we had last season we made it to within one game of the World Series. If we can stay injury free I see little that can stop us. I just want it to begin all ready!!!!

    Julia
    http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

  2. Erin Kathleen

    I don’t know if the Indians will win it all (though it wouldn’t surprise me), but I do think they’ll end up winning the division. Basically for all the reasons you just listed. I think my Twins will give you guys a tough time, but I think in the end the Indians have more depth and more offensive power. It’s going to be an interesting year, though. -Erinhttp://plunking-gomez.mlblogs.com

  3. Lissi

    Julia- I expected nothing less from you. 🙂
    Erin- The Twins will be our only problem I think. Y’all play the game so well I get nervous every time we play you! I do think we will finish first but I have the Twins second. And it will be avery interesting year especially in our division and the AL East I think.

  4. redstatebluestate

    I think the Indians have the best shot in that division but so much depends on health. That’s why I give the Central to the Twins. They always seem to put it together somehow. Best of luck though! I really hope Pavano turns things around. We need a feel-good story in MLB right now.
    –Jeff
    http://redstatebluestate.mlblogs.com/

  5. Kaybee

    The Indians look great! The Padres’ offense will be a lot better this year, that’s for sure. But the pitching will be a huge question mark. That will be our downfall. I hope that we at least exceed expectations.
    http://kaybee.mlblogs.com

  6. Jane Heller

    Melissa, you certainly make a great case for your Indians. They sound scary! But I’ve got to pick my Yankees. Solid rotation plus a mix of veterans and a very speedy rookie in center. But, as Jeff wrote, it all comes down to health – the big variable.

    http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

  7. Orangebird

    I have multiple reasons to believe thta the Orioles are this years Rays.
    1. It’s the 20th anniversary of the why noy us season were we almost won the divsion after have 20+ game losing streak the previous season. Ask Ztaknek for more details.
    2. We did two things to boost revenue which should payy off: they changed uniforms (like the Rays did) and signed a Japanese player.
    3. We have God in Catchers gear (that’s his nickname now) waiting to be called up and go on tear ( just like Rays had Evan “I’m Not Married To Tony Parker” Longoria)
    4. We are due for one, 11 (rhymes with meeking) seasons below .500, we are due like the Rays were.
    5. Orioles Magic is real!
    6. My blog is our Goodluck charm.

  8. Lissi

    Jeff- If we’re healthy we win, hands down. I think we should be able to stay mostly healthy. We do need a feel good story and I hope it is Pavano.
    Kaybee- I think the Padres may surprise some people this year. I don’t think they will win the division but I do think they will do better than what people are saying.
    Jane- Health will be a big factor, as always.
    Jordan- Nice reasons. I thought Nick Markakis was a god. You may not have known this but the Indians are also due. 60 years without a WS win and 10 without a WS appearance.
    Canuck- Thanks and no I didn’t really expect anything else from a lot of people.
    Elizabeth- I hope they can avoid the injury bug but this year it has been rampant. Maybe it will all even out though. 🙂

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