It has been 483 days since the Rajai Davis two run home run to left wasn’t enough to win a World Series Trophy for the Cleveland Indians.
Now that you’ve stopped crying, I have a big question. Are the Cleveland Indians trying to recapture the Magic they had in 2016? I am not saying that the 2017 season wasn’t magical, because it was. A 22 game win streak is not something to scoff at. But a loss to the Yankees in the Divisional Series of the playoffs is something we won’t soon forget.
Of course, it is WAAYYYYY too early to tell, but it would seem like the Indians are trying build a ball club that can go the distance in 2018. It is only spring training, but some rather interesting, and thought provoking moves have been made since the training season began.
Move Number 1: The Cleveland Indians sign Rajai Davis to a Minor League contract.
Rajai Davis was a big part of the magic that we saw at Progressive Field back in 2016. Not only was he a threat on the base paths, but we watched as his bat came to life in key situations. Perfect example is the 8th inning of Game 7 of the 2016 World Series. As the video shows, the Indians were trailing the Chicago Cubs 6-4 in the 8th, when Davis hit a screaming line drive home run with a runner on second to tie it up. The Announcers went crazy, and Hammy had one of his famous mini-strokes. But it wasn’t enough to propel them into the lead to win.
A little over a week ago, after losing him to the Athletics, and watching him play for the Red Sox, the Indians signed Rajai Davis to a Minor League contract. What does that mean? Well, its pretty cut and dry. Rajai Davis has been signed to the Cleveland Indians farm system (Columbus, Akron, Lake County, Lynchburg, and Mahoning Valley). He IS with the team down in Arizona at the moment, as an invitee to Spring Training. He basically needs to try out for the team, to be able to play for the actual Indians. If he doesn’t make it, which would be a bummer, he becomes a minor league player, likely in Columbus. At the age of 37, nobody wants to be on a minor league team. So that will be where Rajai will have to decide what he wants to do. He can continue playing in the Minors until he is needed up top, or he can work with the Indians and his agent, to get traded to another team.
The EXACT same situation covers the next, and possibly the most EXCITING move the Indians have made.
Move Number 2: The Cleveland Indians sign Mike Napoli to a Minor League contract.
Thats right, the party is likely at Napoli’s right now. He is home, or at least he is for a little while. Many Cleveland fans were saddened to see Mike Napoli get signed by the Texas Rangers again in 2017 after losing him to free agency. But none more sad than Napoli
himself. (Or at least, that’s how it looked.)
Napoli had a lack luster season in 2017, only batting .193 with 29 home runs, in contrast with his 2016 season with the Indians, batting .239 with 34 home runs. The “Party at Napoli” train came to a screeching halt in the off season between 16 and 17 when the Indians signed 1B Edwin Encarnacion. It wasn’t that the Indians didn’t want Nap, but he wanted too much money, versus what they were willing to pay for someone who’s bat went to sleep during the World Series.
But as we see right now with Rajai Davis, Napoli is in the Minor League system for the Indians currently. The Indians are cognizant of the fact that Nap will likely be picked up by another team if he doesn’t get the invite to the Big League team for the season, but only time will tell.
A few more moves that the Indians have made during the offseason, and this Spring Training, are also to try and beef up the team. Melvin Upton Jr was signed to a Minor League contract as well. It seems that the Indians are trying to contend with the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, who are stacking up their rosters for this upcoming season. Giancarlo Stanton joined Aaron Judge and the Yankees, solidifying their position as a strength in the American League.
What I am going to leave you with, is MY OPINION, as a long time baseball fan, and self proclaimed analyst.
Here is what I think the Indians 25 man roster SHOULD look like, when Game 1 of the
Starting Pitchers: Corey Kluber, Danny Salazar, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, and Mike Clevenger.
Bullpen: Josh Tomlin, Nick Goody, Dan Otero, Andrew Miller, & Cody Allen
Catchers: Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez
First Base: Yonder Alonzo and Mike Napoli
Second Base: Jason Kipnis
Shortstop: Francisco Lindor
Third Base: Jose Ramirez
Left Field: Michael Brantley
Center Field: Bradley Zimmer and Rajai Davis
Right Field: Lonnie Chisenhall and Brandon Guyer
Bench: Yandy Diaz and Giovanny Urshella
Designated Hitter: Edwin Encarnacion
Why do I say this??? The Starting rotation is insane. Kluber is a two time Cy Young winner, with Carrasco hot on his heels. Rumor has it that Bauer could be a contender for this year’s Cy Young as well. Salazar and Clevenger are solid pitchers, but if needed could be swapped out for the bullpen, either leaving a spot open, or bringing in Tomlin to start. The bullpen is top notch, with Miller and Allen as the closing duo.
The Indians need bats more than anything this year. New York and Boston have been stacking up, and be honest, who are we likely to see in the playoffs? With Alonzo being lefty, Napoli as a righty, could be used for left handed opponents. You have GREAT speed in the outfield with Zimmer, but with him coming off his injury, it might be a good idea to alternate with Davis. Not to mention that Davis’s bat isn’t half bad. Then you have the rest of the lineup. Kipnis has already showed his strength during spring training, and we already know that Lindor and Ramirez have some crazy batting power.
Only time will tell what the plans are going to be. But as an Indians fan, all I can hope for is good health, and Tom Hamilton on the radio.