I met Clint Frazier at the 2013 Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year Awards where he was honored for baseball of course. He was in great company as you can see in the photo above. He’s in the top left in the photo, and you’ll recognize basketball prodigy Andrew Wiggins in the photo as well.
I also had the opportunity to interview Frazier as you can see in the video below. Frazier comes across as a great kid who is also very confident in his abilities and his career prospects. He seems like the kind of guy that can be an anchor in your clubhouse.
Of course that’s great news for the Indians, who made Frazier their top pick in the 2013 baseball draft. The selection got great reviews around baseball circles, and things have worked out well so far. Frazier batted .297 with a .362 on-base percentage and 21 extra-base hits. Baseball America then named him the top prospect in the Arizona Summer League. So far so good!
Check out the video and you’ll probably be hearing much more from him in years to come.
The Tribe has stayed in the hunt all season, but they’ve fallen on their faces several times when they’ve had a critical series. The Detroit sweep comes to mind right away, but it’s happened many times.
Then of course they bounce back just when everyone is ready to write them off.
But now the Indians have Houston coming to town and they’re just a half game out of the Wild Card. They need to win at least three games in this four-game series. A sweep would be ideal of course. Then they have the White Sox and the Twins to finish off the season. It’s all set up for them, but they have to step up and grab it.
It seems like the Indians have blown the season on numerous occasions – most spectacularly by getting swept at home by Detroit and then most recently by getting swept on the road in Atlanta. But this team keeps coming back and hanging around.
Justin Masterson is hurt, but now Corey Kluber will be back to possibly save the day as the starting pitching is keeping the Tribe alive.
Baseball is a funny sport, and despite all of their problems the Indians would have a shot if they manage to get into the playoffs. We’re all obsessed with the Browns right now, but I’m not giving up on the Tribe yet.
Mark Reynolds got off to such a great start for the Indians that many fans were clamoring for the Tribe to sign him to a long-term contract earlier this season. Then reality set in a Reynolds went a month without getting an RBI.
The Indians designated Reynolds for assignment today, effectively giving up on the slugger for 2013. Meanwhile, they locked up Ryan Raburn with a contract extension earlier in the week. The obviously feel Raburn can continue to provide power from the right side of the plate, and they couldn’t afford to wait for Reynolds to rediscover his stroke. That’s even more true as the Indians continue to scuffle against the Tigers.
With all the pain we’ve suffered as Cleveland sports fans, the 1994 baseball strike doesn’t get mentioned as often. We all remember the incredible Indians team from 1995 that won 100 games in a shortened season. But that young team was coming into its own in 1994 and was poised to make the playoffs. That Indians team was robbed of a chance to make the World Series and possibly win a title for Cleveland. Check out this photo of the Indians All Stars posted by SI Vault and you’ll be reminded of the incredible team that was denied by fate.
Practically everyone in Cleveland loves Terry Francona, and for good reason. His hiring signaled that the Dolans were finally serious about fielding a competitive team again, and the flurry of moves that followed led to the competitive roster we have now.
We’re also learning to appreciate Francona’s style. He’s a players’ manager, and he also preaches patience. And he know what he’s doing, so in most instances his approach plays dividends. Early in the season many fans wanted to cut Ubaldo Jimenez and move Jason Kipnis down in the lineup. Now Kipnis is on fire and Ubaldo is at least showing flashes of his old, All-Star form. Patience is a virtue with Francona. He understands that it’s a long season.
But, no manager gets it right all the time, and every approach sometimes fails you, at least in the short term. Yesterday’s meltdown in Boston was one of those days. Chris Perez didn’t have it. As we know now, he was hurt, but in his desire to be there for his teammates he basically let them down by blowing an easy 3-run save opportunity. But more blame goes on Francona, who seemed much more concerned with supporting his closer than winning the game. But in the end he lost the game and probably made things even worse for Perez, who will have nightmares after this outing.
Perhaps the Indians are getting a little lucky. Even in a beleaguered sports town like Cleveland luck has to turn your way at least a little from time to time. With Scott Kazmir returning to All Star form and Ubaldo Jimenez suddenly looking at least competent, the Indians appear to have a starting rotation that can support the rejuvenated offense and solid bullpen in a run to the playoffs.
Or maybe we have a front office that’s made some shrewd moves at a time when ownership finally ponied up enough money to give them a fighting chance. Chris Antonetti certainly deserves some credit for taking a chance on Kazmir and plucking out guys like Mark Reynolds and Ryan Raburn.
And finally, we might have one of the best managers and coaching staffs in baseball with Terry Francona leading the teeam. It’s hard to put too much blame on Manny Acta when ownership tied the hands of the front office, but Acta didn’t exactly get the most out of his team. With Francona we have a proven champion and someone who clearly knows more about baseball than everyone in the Cleveland sports media combined. He and his staff have been working tirelessly with Jimenez and Kazmir, and when everyone was panicking about Jimenez, Tito knew that patience was needed. Jimenez may still disappoint everyone, but he seems to have a fighting chance with the coaching he’s been getting.
Throw in some breaks like incompetent umpires and the Indians are on a roll heading into a weekend showdown with the Tigers. It’s still very early, and we all know baseball seasons can turn on a dime, but this fast start feels different than previous years. This team is very deep on offense, giving Francona endless options to play matchup baseball with his lineup, and suddenly the pitching looks like it can turn into a strength as well. And we have some insurance with guys like Trevor Bauer at AAA. They definitely have my attention . . .
Baseball is very hard to predict from year to year, and one of the reasons has to do with the unpredictability of starting pitching. And then we have guys like Ubaldo Jimenez. He has a ton of talent, but he also has a delivery that can easily get out of whack. The results can be hideous, but then he can put together dominating performances like he did last night.
I love what the Indians are doing after years of running the franchise on the cheap, and Terry Francona is an excellent manager. But, we all know that the team’s success this season will depend on the team’s very unpredictable starting pitching. It’s unpredictable because we have young talent mixed in with guys like Jimenez and reclamation projects like Scott Kazmir. Let’s keep our fingers crossed. With a little luck the Tribe might stumble into a starting rotation that helps them compete for a playoff spot.
It’s no secret that the Cleveland Indians had a pretty rough time last season, plummeting toward the latter half after a strong beginning. There’s still a lot of hope for the 2013 season, however, since the Indians had a very productive winter making a lot of progress in (hopefully) the right direction. Let’s look at the changes the Indians have implements that just might get them into the playoffs, and maybe even the World Series.
The first thing the Cleveland Indians did this winter was grab some new baseball gloves for the many new members they’ve welcomed onto their team. Having traded a lot of players and signing a couple of free agents, the Indians have revamped their lineup in hopes of bringing stronger players to their team. Matt Albers, Brett Myers, Nick Swisher, and Bryan Shaw have all been added to the Cleveland Indians, giving the proud city of Cleveland hope for this season.
When they began signing their new players, the Indians forewent trying to save money on their payroll by obtaining young players and instead put their money into getting well-known talent. This makes their budget for the upcoming season pretty tight, but it should also assist in helping them regain the immense losses that they incurred last season. It’s definitely a step in the right direction for the team.
Ubaldo Jimenez was the height of discussion last season as his performance continued to decline since the Cleveland Indians brought him onboard in 2010. A very talented pitcher in the past, he was called a disappointment by a lot of Indians fans for his 5.25 ERA (the second worst for the entire year). He plans to step it up in this upcoming season though. Throughout winter, Jimenez spent a lot of time with the Indians’ pitching coach to better his performance and solidify his techniques, admitting that last year was really bad for him. If he takes the training to heart, the boost in Jimenez’s ERA will be a huge advantage for the Cleveland Indians this season.
Carlos Carrasco should also be returning to the Indians this year after having undergone surgery in his elbow. Always a promising player for the team, the return of Carrasco will also benefit the Cleveland Indians immensely and will definitely help them in their upward mobility toward the playoffs. Scott Kazmir, who pitched during the winter league, will also be joining the team this year after being gone from the majors since 2011.
What the Cleveland Indians need is consistency and a strong lineup of fresh, talented players will provide that. If they can continue to scout out the best players and train the ones they already have, they will definitely be on mark to potentially make the playoffs, even if they aren’t quite ready to get back into the World Series.
From my perspective, the Indians have been a mess since they traded Cliff Lee for a bag of beans. Last year was a mess with the idiotic re-signing of Grady Sizemore and the miserly approach of the Dolans.
But since they added Terry Francona as the new manager, I have to say I’m impressed with the approach of the front office. The signing of Nick Swisher is excellent news, as he rounds out a lineup that has a legitimate bat at every spot in the order. Yes, a couple of them are strikeout machines, but now they can be parked later in the batting order where their power will be a plus.
I’m still hoping the Tribe moves Chris Perez, not because I have anything against him, but just because closers are overvalued, and they should be able to get real value in return while handing the closer job to Vinnie Pestano.