During this past Monday night’s “Ohio Baseball Weekly” show on Ultimatesportstalk.com that Mark Donahue and I co-host every week, I was caught by surprise by a question from George, one of our fans. We do a segment every show where fans will email or text us questions about the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds.
The question was I spend time speaking about the negatives surrounding the Tribe, what three things could I say positive about the organization that would give the fans some hope. The answer didn’t come easily to mind and I’m afraid I sputtered when trying to answer it.
In retrospect I wanted to answer the query better. Admittedly it took 12 hours to think about things; however the three things should have been easy to speak about.
The first positive item about this team is Jason Kipnis. The second baseman in just one season has proven to be an integral part of this Indians organization. Kipnis has not only proven to be an asset at the plate, but also in the field.
Kipnis is a converted outfielder and has played second only three years. He doesn’t have the range of a Brandon Phillips or Robinson Cano, but with more experience at the spot he will be able to cover just as much ground.
Kipnis also has been all over the lineup since his call up last July. He started in the 9th spot, but moved up the order the more he saw Big league pitching. This season he began as the Indians ninth place hitter. He consistently has put the ball in play and moved into the third spot, normally the place for your best hitter. Kipnis has proven to be that for the Indians.
Secondly I would have to look at Michael Brantley as a positive. Brantley has not only proven to be the only chip Cleveland received from trading two consecutive Cy Young award winners, but is a player the team can build around.
Brantley was projected as a leadoff man for the Tribe, yet for whatever reason he has not shown he can hit there. Manager Manny Acta has tried him in the second spot, fifth and ninth. Yet Brantley seems to have finally settled in as a dependable fifth place hitter or even number 6. Brantley’s game is not prone to homers, yet he look as though he can be a 10-15 homer guy that drives in 75-80 runs per season.
Without Grady Sizemore, the Indians have been forced to play Brantley in Center full time, and he has flourished. Defensively he has flashed the leather several times, while reminding some of former Gold Glove winner Kenny Lofton on occasion. Brantley has proven to be an absolute positive this season.
Finally there is Asdrubal Cabrera. The shortstop signed an extension earlier this season and is tied up to the team for the next two years. He made the All Star team for the second time and is the front runner for a Gold Glove. Cabrera might be the best acquisition of Mark Shapiro’s tenure as GM. He is a solid piece that, if the ownership desires, can be part of a “Big Three” with Brantley and Kipnis for several years to come.
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