The 2013 Cleveland Indians

Who saw THAT coming?

At the end of last season, I figured that the Indians should just focus on building for 2014/2015, when star shortstop prospect Franicso Lindor would be ready for the big leagues.  Trade Choo, I said, trade Perez, trade Cabrera.  Get young arms and outfielders in return.  As far as I was concerned, there were just too many holes in this team to fill with a traditional Cleveland off-season.

We didn't so much get a traditional Cleveland off-season, did we?

Now, we shouldn't go too crazy about the extra spending we saw this winter.  Keep in mind that the Tribe had a bunch of money come off the books from Travis Hafner alone.  Add in Grady Sizemore and Casey Kotchman and we're right around $20M in savings, an amount that more or less covers what Swisher and Bourn will make this season (as their deals are all back loaded).  But those salaries are going to go up over the next few years, so the payroll is going to get even bigger, which means these deals were still out of left field for the Indians.

What's particularly interesting to me is how fans are excited while simultaneously admitting that the Indians probably can't catch the Tigers!  That's pretty impressive, to get a fan base hot and bothered for a team everyone assumes will come in second.  But at least we have hope to compete, and there are two wild cards now.

That's going to be a fight in and of itself.  There are a lot of vastly improved teams in the American League this year.  My projected AL Central standings (if I'm going with my head and not my heart) is pretty much the same as everyone else's:

1. Tigers
2. Indians
3. Royals
4. White Sox
5. Twins

The Twins are something of a disaster, but it's clear by their off-season moves that they know they're a disaster and they're taking the appropriate steps.  It could be a couple of years before they're back to where they used to be.

I don't think the White Sox have the pitching, offense, or defense to match what they did last year.  It's really just a matter of the fact that they had so many guys with career years last season.  It's just not going to happen again.

The Royals are going to be a pretty volatile team.  Their offense looked so promising two years ago, but the young players that seemed to be the future of this team took huge steps back last season.  The rotation is obviously much better, but it's still not overwhelming.  Both Guthrie and Santana can be as awful as they are great and losing Soria is a big blow for that bullpen.

So if I work under the assumption that the Tribe has to go through the Tigers to win the division, how do they match up?  Let's take a look.

Offense

For all the moves that the Tribe made in the off-season, it was always going to be impossible for them to match Detroit's offense.  They were 6th in the AL in runs scored last season and that was without Victor Martinez.  Cabrera and Fielder could be the best 3-4 combo in baseball and now they're going to add Martinez in.  Imagine Fielder batting between Cabrera and Martinez.  That's just crazy.  Add Tori Hunter and Austin Jackson to that line-up, and you've got a pretty potent offense.

That's not to say the Tribe don't look great on paper.  They actually might have a more consistent offense through the line-up than the Tigers, and they certainly have more speed.  But getting through that 3-4-5 is just too intimidating to give this category to anyone but the Tigers.

Defense

How's this for an easy breakdown of this position: the Indians traded away Peralta so Cabrera could move to short, because Cabrera is a better shortstop.

But if we really want to dig into it, how about the fact that the Tribe has what could be one of the top 5 outfields in all of baseball?  Add in potential all star Kipnis at second, and it's clear that the Indians take this category.

Starting Rotation

Here's where it falls apart.

You would think that the problem is Justin Verlander, but it's not.  No, no one should expect the Tribe to have a pitcher who can match up with the Tigers' ace.  That's just not going to happen.  The problem is that the Tribe doesn't even match up very well after that.  Doug Fister, in particular, is a problem for the Tribe, because at this point we don't even have a starter as good as Detroit's #2.

That isn't to say that we couldn't.  I think Ubaldo is a lost cause, but I think there's hope for Masterson.  He's only been a starter for two years, so his sample size is small.  He also spent last season forced to be perfect, because he had the second worst offense in the American League backing him up.  He'll have more leeway this year, and I think that will make him better.

Beyond Masterson and Jimenez, there's the unlikable Bret Myers, probably Zach MacAllister, and then I would say either Dice-K or Scott Kazmir.  This gives Bauer and Carasco more time in AAA.  I would imagine we'll see both of them in the second half, though.

Regardless, we'd have to have a lot go right to match the Tigers' 2-5, adding in Verlander makes it pretty much impossible.  Tigers take this category.

Bullpen

We might actually have a better bullpen than we did last year, and we had a pretty good one.  We bring back one of the best 7-8-9 combos in baseball in Smith, Pestano, and Perez.  Our two lefties will go from Sipp/Perez to, I would guess, Hagadone/Hill, which should be an upgrade.  That leaves two spots.  If I had to guess, I'd go with Matt Capps for one, assuming he's recovered from his injuries.  He could be a nice addition, if that's the case.  He's saved more games than anyone else on the team.  The last spot will go to either Matt Albers, Bryan Shaw, or Cody Allen.  My guess at this point would be Shaw; he's got better numbers than the other two.  Shaw might still have options, though, and I'm pretty sure Allen does, so it's entirely possible that good spring gives Albers the edge based on experience.

I honestly have no idea who's in the Tigers' bullpen anymore, aside from, I think, Daniel Schlereth, who we generally shell, and Al Alburquerque.  Oh, there's that Benoit guy, who we also generally shell.  I'm glad Valverde is gone, because he was an ass.

The bottom line, however, is that the Tribe takes this category.

Total

It would seem that we're split 2-2 in the breakdown above, but starting pitching will always be the deciding factor, and offense is generally more important than bullpen.  While defense may win championships, it only wins divisions if they other teams are just god awful, and the Tigers are at least average.

But here's the silver lining: of the categories listed above, pitching is always going to be the most mercurial.  The Indians have enough depth in the bullpen that they should be able to withstand any flukes in performance.  They also have a lot of depth in the starting rotation, even if that depth is fairly average across the board.  It still means consistency.  If the Tribe can get a spike up and the Tigers a spike down, the Indians definitely have a chance of taking the division.

The Future

Something else to consider: the Tribe is in good shape for years to come.  They have a potentially great rotation of Bauer, Carasco, Masterson, and MacAllister all signed for years to come.  They have a superstar replacement in waiting when Cabrera's contract is up after 2014 to go with Kipnis and Chisenhall in the infield.  Swisher and Bourn are all around through 2016 with options through 2017.  Brantley and Santana are also under club control for a few more years.

The moves the Indians made this off-season weren't just for this year, they were for the future, too.

The only thing that really matters at this point, though, is that the Indians are better than they were last year and that they're an intriguing team.  Hopes have never been higher for Indians' fans, and right now that's enough.

2011 Cleveland Indians

Here's your dose of optimism: the Tribe should be better than they were last year.

Granted, that's not going to take much.

This is a make or break year for the Indians.  It's not a matter of contending, because no one really thinks they'll contend.  No, this is the year where this team either makes real strides towards being competitive again or they decide they need to "reload" yet again.



ROTATION

1. Fausto Carmona
2. Carlos Carrasco
3. Justin Masterson
4. Josh Tomlin
5. Mitch Talbot

Pity poor Fausto Carmona.  There's every possibility that Fausto's fate will be determined by those around him.  Unless he suddenly reverts to '07 status, he could end up on the trade block at mid-season if the rest of the Tribe don't show progress.  If "reload" becomes our only option, Fausto will be a big time chip to trade away.

In Carmona's defense, he's turned into a nice #3 starter on a team full of #3 starters.  And while that role would be enough if Carrasco and Masterson have good years in the majors and Alex White and Drew Pomeranz have good years in the minors, it won't be enough if...well, if most of that doesn't happen.

Carrasco is slotted in at #2 to break up Carmona and Masterson, but that's more or less where he's predicted to end up, anyway...assuming he gets his two major issues out of the way: giving up the long ball and giving up big innings.  From what I've read, Carrasco has the raw stuff to be a front of the rotation guy, there are just questions about his mental make up.

Masterson, on the other hand, has physical problems, more specifically issues with his mechanics.  This is the year that will decide whether Masterson is a starter or a reliever, although I take comfort in the knowledge that we'll at least get something out of him.  When he's on, he's really on, but when he's off...

The Jake
Josh Tomlin is an enigma.  I constantly hear about how he doesn't really have the secondary pitches to be a successful big league pitcher, and yet here he is.  At the very least, we can hope that Tomlin's attitude rubs off on the others, since the man appears to be fearless and is a strike throwing machine.

Mitch Talbot is also something of an enigma, given he had a great first half last year and a horrible second half.  Part of that can be chalked up to an injury, but how much can be chalked up to people figuring him out?

It's interesting to note that I don't think either one of these last two guys are in the Tribe's future plans, not with all the talent they have in the minors.

BULLPEN

Chris Perez
Tony Sipp
Rafael Perez
Chad Durbin
Vinnie Pestano
Frank Herrmann
Justin Germano

I can't help but feel like the signing of Chad Durbin is going to end up being a head scratcher.  I can see why they did it: they wanted a veteran presence in the bullpen who could protect the youngsters from having to throw too many innings.  And that's fine.  But he hasn't really looked great this spring and there are definitely guys in Columbus that are ready for the show.

In fact, being a veteran might be the only thing to get certain people into this bullpen.  Supposedly, one of these guys will get dropped when Joe Smith returns, but who?  It's going to be someone who deserved to be in this bullpen, when there's a glut of relievers in AAA ready to say the same.

Bullpens are mercurial things, though, and it's always better to have too many solid relievers than too few.  I would expect the Tribe's bullpen to be a strong point this season, which is incredibly hard to believe.

LINE-UP

1. Michael Brantley, CF
2. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
3. Shin-Shoo Choo, RF
4. Carlos Santana, C
5. Travis Hafner, DH
6. Orlando Cabrera, 2B
7. Austin Kearns, LF
8. Matt LaPorta, 1B
9. Jack Hannahan, 3B

This is obviously not going to be the line-up for much of the season, given that Grady Sizemore and Jason Donald are due back at some point.  Although, honestly, if Jack Hannahan plays well and hits well, he could win that job regardless of Donald's health.

And let's also accept the fact that Hannahan and Kearns (again) are trade bait come mid-season.  Depending upon how well Jason Kipnis is doing in Columbus, Cabrera may be as well.  Actually, scratch that, if Donald is back and healthy, I think O. Cabrera is definitely headed out the door before the trade deadline.

So that's 1/3 of our opening day line-up that will most likely be gone by mid-season.  The upside is that at least we'll keep our 1-5, perhaps even our 1-6, depending upon where Sizemore is slotted in.

Obviously, this is the year that Matt LaPorta and Michael Brantley have to prove themselves.  Brantley has shown us more so far, but neither of them have made the jump to quality, every day players.  That has to happen this year, or else the Tribe might start leaning towards the "retooling" I mentioned earlier.

I would expect Kearns to move to the bench when Sizemore returns.  I think we'd all like to see Grady moved down in the order, too, although at this point I'm not sure where -- mostly because I don't think anyone really knows what kind of a hitter Sizemore is these days.  But I don't think putting him back in the lead off spot is wise.

BENCH

Travis Buck, OF

Adam Everett, INF
Lou Marson, C

The decision to go with Marson as the back-up instead of sending down to Columbus where he could get more ABs is an interesting one.  What it says, ultimately, is that they want to focus on pitching and defense in the majors, even if it means putting up with Marson's anemic bat...and possibly a chance at turning Marson into a viable every day catcher.  That's fine, given that Santana is going to be the guy for a while and Chen is moving his way up the minors.

The strange thing about this bench is that Buck, Duncan, and Everett are on borrowed time.  Sizemore will push Kearns to the bench and one of these guys off the 25 man roster; Donald's return will do the same.  The problem for Buck is that, even though he had a good spring, Duncan can play 1st, and LaPorta needs some protection.  Then again, Santana is going to get a few starts there and Hannahan has played there a few times, so perhaps Duncan's experience at that corner isn't as much of a leg up as it appears.


Everett's in a tighter spot.  Even if Donald loses the starting 3rd base job to Hannahan, there's a good chance the Tribe will want him as their utility infielder.  Then again, I believe Donald has options left, and Everett has experience, something the Tribe is focusing on for their infield.


Honestly, it's all going to depend on how these guys perform over the first few weeks.


PREDICTIONS


The Tribe makes progress.  They hold on to Carmona.  They deal Kearns, Hannahan, O. Cabrera, Everett, and Durbin by the trade deadline.  Chisenhall and White get the call at mid-season.


The end the year in 4th in the Central, at 82-80.

2012 WILL Be The End of the World: The Tribe Will Win the World Series

Note: I started this a while ago, but finally got around to finishing it.  Given the events of the last few days (big signings by the Red Sox and Phillies), I'm honestly not as optimistic about baseball in general, let alone the Indians.  Evidently, I wrote this in a simpler time...


You're probably thinking, Kyle, you're insane!  What possibly reasons could you have for thinking this, particularly given how bad the Indians were this year?  Well, notice I didn't say they were going to win the World Series NEXT year.



In fact, I have some advice for the Tribe front office going into the winter of 2010: don't spend any money.

Two Team Town

Anthony Castrovince, the former Tribe beat writer for MLB.com, once mentioned that Cleveland is a 2 sport town that has 3 teams.  If you look at the area's economics, its media market, and the amount of competition around it (I have a friend who grew up in Toledo who's a Tigers fan -- an Ohio native who supports a team from another state!  But Detroit is closer than Cleveland), Castrovince is totally right.  There's no reason to believe that a city like Cleveland could ever truly support 3 teams, aside from keeping one on life support while the other two flourish.

Sadly, one of the two teams supported by Cleveland will always be the Browns.  I don't say "sadly" because I don't love the Browns -- Ernest Byner's fumble made me cry -- but because the Browns sell out every game no matter how bad they are.  What kind of a message is that sending to their front office?  I'm sure the people in charge are very nice and truly want to win, but they are making money even when they lose.  There's no real accountability for the Browns.

(There are legitimate factors for why the Browns always sell out, not the least of which is the fact that you can go to all 8 home games and have seen 50% of the Browns' season, whereas 8 home games in basketball is 1/10 of the season, in baseball it's 5%)

This leave the Cavs and the Indians to fight over the second spot in Clevelanders hearts and wallets.  Over the last few years, obviously, this hasn't been much of a battle, given one particular player.  But that d-bag is gone now, which means the #2 spot is, in theory, up for grabs again.

So wouldn't it make sense for the Indians' front office to start shelling out the cash to put a better team on the field since, in theory, the fans are there to be won over?  Doesn't it seem like the perfect opportunity to actually invest money and know they'll make it back?


Hold Steady

Looking at it from a strictly marketing standpoint, it's going to be a year before those fans buying Cavs tickets will be looking at other options.  A lot of this will be out of defiance in the fact of King D-bag.  Fans are going to support the Cavs perhaps like never before, although I'm sure a certain percentage will jump ship right away.  But slowly fewer and fewer fans will show up, no longer willing to spend cash on a team that's lacking the entertainment value it once had.

Again, this will probably take another year, and while that means the Tribe could take advantage of it for the 2011 season, it's not the only opening they'll get.

Then there's the most obvious reason to not spend money this winter: what would they spend it on?

Even if the Tribe added $50M to their payroll, who would they sign?  This team currently has holes pretty much everywhere, and $50M would be like putting a Band-Aid on a gaping chest wound.  Not only that, but any truly talented players would go elsewhere, as it's clear the Tribe won't compete next year because of the aforementioned holes.  On top of that, most high end players aren't going to sign single year contracts, which means any deals signed this winter would be on the books for the following year, at least.

No, the absolute best thing the Tribe can do this winter is save their money for the winter of 2011, when they have a better idea of what they need.  Because they have to fill SOME holes from within or they are completely done.


Why Is There Hope For 2012?

Over the course of a full season next year, we'll see if Matt LaPorta will get better at first and if Jason Donald will get better at second.  I have reason to believe that both will, as they seem to have the type of make-up that suggests they'll only get better with time.  LaPorta has been a streaky hitter, so a full season at the major league level (without getting booted for a rental like he was this year) will show us just which way his streakiness is going to take him.  Donald's actually been pretty consistent at the plate, so given a full season next year I'd expect him to be a .260 hitter with a good OBP.

Next year also gives the Tribe time to find a third baseman.  Is it the much hyped, now cooling Goedert?  Or will Chisenhall make a smooth transition to Columbus next year, proving he's ready to take the reins in 2012?  Or will they have to take that money they saved and go get a free agent?  I have no idea, but we'll know better AFTER 2011.

Two big factors in considering 2011 another lost season are the injuries to Grady SizemoreSizemore and a healthy, experienced Santana in the middle of our line-up.  That's big time.

Another season also gives Michael Brantley time to mature.  He's looked like the guy we all expected him to be since he got recalled from Columbus this last time, and it would be shocking if he weren't in the line-up every day next season.  Again, a full season at the major league level will only help him.

That's two injuries, three guys who need more experience, and a giant question mark that will start to clear up over the course of the 2011 season.


But What About Pitching?

Of the 8 starters the Tribe has used so far this year, only 2 of them have really earned starting spots next year: Fausto 4.0 and Mitch Talbot.  Fausto 4.0 is clearly better than original Fausto (the closer) or Fausto 3.0 (send to rookie league), but I'd love to see movement towards Fausto 2.0 (4th in Cy Young voting).  I think that a full season with his new mechanics will start moving Carmona in that direction.  I would not be surprised to see him have a great year in 2011, ideally to set up him up for another fantastic year in 2012.  Talbot, on the other hand, appears to be fading as the season goes on, but that's not surprising, considering a stint on the DL to go along with his first year in the majors.  Another year will only bring maturity.

What do we do after those two?  Carlos Carrasco is definitely in that group.  Yes, he had a horrid time of it last September, but I think he was rushed up to prove the Lee deal wasn't a complete bust.  He's really turned his season around in Columbus and he definitely has the raw stuff to dominate.  I'm hoping he finds his way into the rotation next year so he can get a full season under his belt before the championship campaign of 2012.  I think he could be a front of the rotation type of guy.

I consider Carrasco and Justin Masterson to be equals, but only because they came over at the same time.  But Masterson clearly has front of the rotation stuff and proved it a few times over the season.  He also proved that has some work to do.  Again, though, the talent is there.

The last member of my 2012 rotation will most likely be a rookie, but he's a guy who is dominating in Akron right now and also has the stuff to be a front of the rotation type of guy.  That would be Alex White, and if you don't believe me go check out his numbers for the Aeros.  Assuming he keeps up his performance, I would be shocked if he didn't start 2011 with the Clippers, then ideally fighting for a rotation spot in Cleveland come 2012.

Moving up along with White from Akron will be big time arm Nick Hagadone, who has been used out of the bullpen, but who could get moved to the rotation.  I'm going to assume they'll stick with him as a reliever for now.  He came over in the Victor Martinez deal.  He's a lefty, which is nice, as I don't have much faith in Rafael Perez or Tony Sipp, regardless of how well they've pitched as of late.  I don't see R. Perez returning to his 2007 form.  I figure the 2 lefties in our 2012 bullpen will be Hagadone and Laffey, who also gives the Tribe length.

I don't know if I consider Joe Smith a part of the bullpen's future and I'm not entirely sure when his contract is up, anyway.  I think we've seen the real Frank Hermann who, like Josh Tomlin and Jeanmar Gomez, managed to pitch well despite himself when first getting the call.  Germano is interesting, but I honestly can't imagine a guy who was formerly in the Japanese league and could only get an audition from the Tribe is going to maintain the level he's pitching at now.  If so, more power to him, but I just don't see it.

Still, that leaves 3 spots open in the bullpen for guys like Jess Todd, Josh Judy, and perhaps even a free agent.  At the very least, I think the back of our bullpen should be pretty tough.

I Know

Yes, I realize there are a lot of "if's" up there.  There are an awful lot of players who need to pan out, but in my defense I've left out a bunch of guys in the minors who could step in if need be.  And, again, not spending any money during this off-season means we should have some money for next off-season.  I also think that if we should real improvement on the field, to the point of ending the year above .500, the front office will pounce and add the free agents we need.  Because at that point we'll have fewer holes and at that point time will be on the Tribe's side as far as winning over fans is concerned.

So, yes, the Indians will win the World Series in late October and then six weeks later the world will end...

...but it will end with me happy.

2010 Cleveland Indians Preview

Is it that time already? No, I don't mean Baseball season, I mean rebuilding season! Ah, "rebuilding," a word that Tribe fans know only too well. We rebuild more than we win! Hey-oh!

So let's get down to it, shall we? Here's your 2010 Cleveland Indians, broken down by category.

The Good

The Tribe has two good things going for it this year, it's line-up and it's line-up. By that I mean that we've got some quality guys on the team, both talent-wise and personality-wise. This is a very easy team to like. I don't know what it's like to support a team with a guy like Josh Beckett or Milton Bradley on it (okay, shut up, I do know -- and we even had Albert Belle!), but most of the guys wearing Indians jerseys this year seem like guys you want to support. And you know, when most of the team are just old enough to drink, you take what you can get.

1. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
2. Grady Sizemore, CF
3. Shin-Soo Choo, RF
4. Travis Hafner, DH
5. Jhonny Peralta, 3B
6. Matt LaPorta, 1B
7. Luis Valbuena, 2B
8. Lou Marson, C
9. Michael Brantley, LF

While spring training doesn't really mean a lot, it seems like this is a line-up that's going to drive in some runs. We've got a nice combination of speed and power, a balance we've rarely had, although the fact that we're so left handed heavy could be a problem.

This line-up should only improve come mid-season, if Michael Brantley is able to make the move to lead-off, which moves everyone down in the order. Add to that hitting machine Carlos Santana and suddenly even the bottom third will be pretty loaded.

As for this team in the field? Well, at the very least we should have one of the best outfields in baseball. Sizemore and Brantley are insanely fast, and Choo's not too shabby himself. And what Choo lacks in speed, he makes up for with a canon of an arm.

The infield should be interesting. Cabrera and Valbuena have the potential to be defensive stars, but potential isn't fact. Lord knows they're going to get lots of practice, given our rotation.

The Bad

I use the term "the bad" loosely. Our rotation isn't necessarily bad, per se; it's just not that impressive:

1. Jake Westbrook
2. Fausto Carmona
3. Justin Masterson
4. David Huff
5. Mitch Talbot

When your "ace" is a guy who has always and will always be more of a #3 guy, you know you have problems. He also happens to be a guy who hasn't pitched in the majors in nearly two years.

And what new twist will we see in the saga of Fausto Carmona? We expected him to be great last season after a stellar spring, but we got quite the opposite. He's been even better this spring, so what does that mean for this year? Of all the guys in this rotation, he's the only one with ace type stuff. A Fausto Carmona that can come close to 2007 levels would change the entire complexion of this rotation.

Justin Masterson was our 7th best starter coming out of spring, yet was handed the job going in. The front office seems determined to make him a starter. If I had to guess, I'd say he has half a season to prove himself or he'll get moved to the bullpen.

David Huff is only our #4 starter because he's the only left hander in the group. He wasn't particularly impressive in spring training or last year, regardless of his win total (which is a reflection of nothing). I would be shocked if he's not back in Columbus by mid-season, given that he has options remaining and there are others in AAA who could easily earn a chance.

Mitch Talbot had one bad outing in spring training, but was otherwise unbelievable. It's hard to believe that he's really this good, given that we got him for Kelly Shoppach. But the Rays had a couple of really great pitchers ahead of him in their farm system. He hasn't had much success the few times he's gotten called up, but maybe this had changed.

I would guess a few of these guys won't be around come mid-season, be it because of performance or trades (Westbrook specifically in that second group). But we have some nice options in Columbus, all of whom had great springs, like Carrasco, Rondon, and Pino. And evidently Scott Lewis is on the mend in AAA.

The Ugly

The Tribe did an awful lot to try to improve the bullpen, but sadly none of it seems to be working out just yet. Losing Kerry Wood for a few months is obviously a problem, but the upside is that this means he won't reach his vesting option, which means other teams will have interest in him come mid-season, assuming he's back and healthy.

The loss of Wood has pushed Chris Perez into the closer role, which is what he was bound for eventually, anyway. I'm just not sure he's ready for it yet, but we're going to get a lot of that this year.

While Rafael Perez has looked good and actually made a few starts in winter ball, I would imagine he'll be the lefty set up man to go with Joe Smith as our righty set up man. Smith has had a rough spring, mostly when trying to get him to go beyond just a few right handed hitters. Still, he'll be fine as a right handed expert, which is at least something.

Jamey Wright also had a good spring, but I don't know how much that really means. His career ERA is over 5. Yes, he's a veteran, which is good to have, but he's not exactly the kind of pitcher you get excited about in your bullpen, particularly given that he's currently one of the better guys we have, in comparison.

Tony Sipp has had an awful spring. He doesn't have much experience and can be kind of erratic, so his pre-season performance isn't encouraging.

Jensen Lewis is Jensen Lewis. He is what he is.

Finally, there's Aaron Laffey, who had a good spring as a starter and got moved to the bullpen yet again. Laffey should do well here and will definitely help, it's just sad that it's come to this for the second year in a row. It will be interesting to see how long he's in the bullpen, especially considering how many guys in the rotation might be gone by mid-season.

Predictions

Jake Westbrook, Kerry Wood, Jhonny Peralta, and Lou Marson will all get dealt at mid-season. Andy Marte will be the every day 3B while Lonnie Chisenhall gets moved up to AAA. David Huff will get sent down, leaving two openings in the rotation which will be filled by Carlos Carrasco and Aaron Laffey. Carlos Santana will get the call to catch.

It might be optimistic, but I'm going to say we'll finish 81-81 and 3rd in the Central, ahead of Kansas City and Chicago, and behind the Twins and the Tigers.