New Year's resolutions for the Indians in 2013
January 1, 2013
Another year has come and gone here at the Indians Baseball Insider.
It has been a busy year here at the IBI as a brand new site was unveiled on February 14th, a new subscription model was introduced, game stories for all the minor league games were added, the site changed its name from Indians Prospect Insider to Indians Baseball Insider, and lots more.
The content was off the charts. The site went from posting 1,028 articles in 2011 to a massive 2,018 articles in 2012. The content was nearly doubled and we had an average of five and a half articles a day! And the hits were off the chart as we went from just under 3,000,000 hits in 2011 to over 70,000,000 hits in 2012!
Thank you to all the readers for their support, and a big thanks to all of the IBI staff who have all chipped in in their own way. What a year…..and we have only seen but the tip of the iceberg with what this site can become.
Now, as for the Indians…..2012 was a very disappointing year and one of the hardest for even the most hardcore Indians fan to endure. Thankfully 2012 is behind all of us and the hope of the 2013 season is ahead of us.
As the New Year begins, the IBI staff shared some of their Indians New Year’s resolutions for this coming year. Enjoy and Happy New Year!
Tony Lastoria: By far, the 2012 season was the most disappointing Indians season for me since I started following them in the late 70s. On the heels of that disappointment I had hope for major changes with their philosophy regarding roster construction, so if there was one thing I wanted them to change going into 2013, it was to dump the passive approach and adopt a much riskier approach to their decision-making process. Well, three months later, the Indians promptly stole my thunder with my New Year’s resolution going into 2013 as they have done everything I hoped they would do and more this offseason.
While their philosophy change was my biggest resolution going into 2013, another resolution I’d like to see stick is this renewed faith by the fan base. As we all know, resolutions are great and all on January 1st but come January 5th or 7th, a lot of them quickly go by the wayside. You have to stick with it and work hard to make it last long term. That is kind of the same thing with these aggressive moves the Indians have made this offseason. They are great in the short term as they have helped create some excitement and restore some faith in the fan base, but if the Indians fall back into their old habits or their moves do not pan out, then all work to help restore the faith in their fans will have been for naught. They need to keep plugging away and working to improve the team and not cut any corners, and if they continue to do that, then it is on the fans to respond by coming to more games.
Oh, and one more resolution if I may, and that is for the Indians to adopt a better marketing campaign. I always felt the “What if” campaign was overdone and missed the mark with connecting the current team with the fans. I like the “memories” angle because baseball is about building memories, but they need to market the players to make the fans want to come to the ballpark and see them. In this day and age of HDTV and the internet, “memories” can be made just as much at home watching as they are live in person.
Happy New Year everyone!
Jim Pete: Coming up with two or three resolutions for this 2013 version of the Cleveland Indians is proving to be a far too difficult task for me, so this is an extremely condensed version.
My resolution for the 2013 Tribe is to give cautious faith to the Cleveland Indians’ front office, as long as Terry Francona is front and center as this team’s field manager. Chris Antonetti’s first transaction of the 2013 season and beyond has proven to be his best move to date as a GM, and I don’t think that it’s hyperbole to say that it could prove to be one of the most important moves of the franchise over the past decade. Of course, that’s easy to say when the team hasn’t played a game yet under Francona. The aggressive nature of the organization off the field heading into next season is certainly a byproduct of the forceful style of play that Francona-led teams have taken in the past on the field.
My resolution stems solely from the faith I have in the aforementioned Terry Francona, who may very well be the best manager in baseball. If he’s not, then he’s certainly in the equation. Don’t ask me, just take a look at his two World Series rings for all the proof you need. Francona has a history of surrounding himself with talent both on and off the field, and the Indians have spared no expense in doing that. Take into account the extremely experienced coaching staff that he nearly unilaterally brought in, and it gives you a clear indication that these aren’t the same Indians we’ve grown accustomed to over the past four or five seasons.
Tune in to Corner of Carnegie and Ontario on Wednesday for a gambit of Indians’ resolutions, as I look at the ownership, the coaching staff, the players, as well as some minor leaguers looking to make some noise next season.
Jeff Ellis: My resolution for the Indians is to no longer use retreads and castoffs as the main way to improve the roster. The last few off seasons the fans have waited and watched while the Indians did nothing then signed whoever was left for little or no money. Prior to this year I think the last big free agent signing was when they had signed Kerry Wood prior to the 2009 season. While that was not the most effective signing it was still a sign that the Indians were committed to winning. This offseason has been the most exciting since the 90's and the excitement has allowed the Indians to steal the month of December from the Browns, and give a team that finished with one of the worst records in baseball positive fan momentum.
The other resolution is that I would like the Indians to spend the maximum on the draft. Last year they still had over 100K left over in their draft pool, while teams like Toronto were not afraid to go over the pool, as long as it did not cost them picks. They incurred cash penalties, but this did not deter them from spending. Considering the last two years before the draft pool was implemented that the Indians were one of the teams who spent the most on the draft, it should be no problem to spend the extra cash to make sure and maximize the talent brought into the system. You never know when that 23rd round pick is going to turn into another Cody Allen.
Steve Orbanek: With the New Year upon us, it seems like a great moment to think about the Cleveland Indians and what the 2013 team might bring to the table. What is ahead for 2013? Well, let's face it: it cannot possibly get any worse than 2012. After the team and fans alike suffered through one of the most difficult seasons in recent memory, it seems as if any New Year's resolution for the Indians will be a drastic improvement. But to be more concise, the resolution that I suggest is that the Indians continue to push forward with their new approach and new identity.
For a variety of reasons that have been outlined here at IBI, 2012 was considered a major low point for the Tribe. However, it does not have to be that way, and signs are that it won't be that way anymore. We have already seen the Indians show a new aggressive side with the hiring of Terry Francona as manager, the trade for Trevor Bauer and the signing of Nick Swisher. The Indians are never going to be the New York Yankees, but plenty of small market teams have had consistent success (ex. Oakland A's), and many of those teams have had success because of a similar approach to what the Indians have shown so far this offseason. The approach may not immediately bear fruit, but it can and will over time if the Indians remain committed.
Finally, I have one more resolution, but this one is for Indians fans: Show up for games again. I understand that I am somewhat preaching to the choir here, and I also understand that the team will never reach the outstanding attendance numbers of the 1990s. However, think of how nice it would be just to merely average 25,000 fans again, which seems like a more than reasonable number. Plus, fans can no longer use the excuse that the Indians refuse to sign any players. The team just gave Nick Swisher a 4-year, $56 million deal, which should serve as evidence that the team not only wants to win but wants the support of fans. The front office kept up its side of the bargain this offseason. Now it's up to us (the fans) to keep ours.
Jim Piascik: Most of the easy New Year's resolutions have already been accomplished this offseason. A change in organizational approach? Check. A big-time trade with a great return? Check. Sign a keynote free agent? Check. What more is there to improve?
I guess the only place left to upgrade is the starting rotation. I will be happy if the front office finds a way to sign/trade for a starting pitcher or two before Spring Training, thus filling out the rotation and giving the team plenty of depth. Additionally, I would like to see the old Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez return, which would be like adding another two pitchers.
The 2013 season looks promising. Resolving to repair one of the worst starting rotations in baseball would be a worthy New Year's resolution in my view.
Jim Berdysz: Out with the old and in with the new! We hear this saying all the time when it comes to making promising New Year's resolutions each and every year. When thinking of the 2013 Indians, there seems to be no better saying in my mind that fits the outlook of the franchise, now headed by new Tribe manager Terry Francona and a slew of promising new players. Indians ownership has already met one resolution for the new season in the form of spending more money in free agency, but there are certainly more resolutions to be made as the calendar flips to January.
My next resolution for the Tribe in 2013: Not leading the American League with the highest team ERA. As Francona has said repeatedly in his short stint as the Indians skipper, you can never have enough pitching. General manager Chris Antonetti has filled holes offensively, but he can't drop the New Year's ball by not adding a veteran starter that cannot only eat up innings, but more importantly, become a leader on the pitching staff and take pressure off of the rest of the rotation.
Finally, and the most important 2013 New Year's resolution for the Tribe in this coming new year: Become relevant again. If you're like me, this is not a problem, as the Indians are always relevant from Feburary to October no matter how many wins they rack up throughout a season. This instead is for those Tribe fans that have become frustrated with player performance and team ownership. There have been way too many "what ifs" over the last couple seasons that 2013 is the year to put that slogan behind us, and set a resolution to revive both the team and fan base, making baseball in Cleveland a special thing once again.
Michael Goodman: When your team finishes 68-94 and posts their seventh losing season of the past ten, there are quite a few things that you could wish for the New Year to bring. For me, I simply wish to see the Indians improve on one of the most disheartening years I’ve had as a fan. With attendance falling to second worst in baseball and television ratings slumping, they need to find a way to reenergize the fan base. Winning is certainly a good place to start, but winning for a continual period of time will require a better job of developing high quality talent in the minors. As bad as the major league club was last year, the minor league system was plenty discouraging on its own.
The hiring of Francona and signing of Nick Swisher have created positive buzz around the club this offseason, which was an absolute necessity. Francona brings some credibility to the clubhouse and front office and Swisher’s contract signals that the Indians are willing to finally spend some money. They’ve needed a guy like Swisher in the outfield for years and for years the front office has balked at spending the money that would be needed. This change in approach is certainly welcomed, but it’s not a cure-all. Swisher and Francona don’t make a 68 win team a playoff team. For the Indians to win in 2013 they have to have big seasons from guys like Carlos Santana, Jason Kipnis, Lonnie Chisenhall, Justin Masterson, and Ubaldo Jimenez.
Either way, the major league team seems to be in a decent position to improve on last year’s disaster, but players like Chris Perez, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Justin Masterson won’t be here forever. Mark Reynolds is only a one-year deal and holes still exist across the roster now and in years coming. It’s been a long time since the Indians have reaped the rewards of homegrown talent, but it’s a necessity for sustaining a winning team. We need to see talented young players move through the system and be in position to take over some of the holes on the roster in 2014 and 2015. This is what I want to see most in the New Year. Oh, and keeping the injuries to a minimal at all levels would be nice too!
Sean Mahon: Setting things straight: Are we contenders? Pretenders? In betweeners? I propose the Indians set their resolution by establishing a strategic plan for contention, and it does not consist of playing it by ear, and basing plans on record. They have proven too many times before that playing it by ear throws off the plan in the long term, and that’s what 2008-2012 has primarily been.
My ideal Indians resolution is to trade off spare parts and depreciating assets for young, high minors talent or young upside players with years of control like Peter Bourjos, Eric Hosmer, etc. What can the Indians get for Ubaldo? Asdrubal? Is Chisenhall the future? Who will man first base long-term? This does sound like the conventional wisdom of rebuilding a team, but the Indians issue the last few year has been “selling off too soon” before they determine if they’re legit or not. Making a plan and sticking to it seems like a new tactic for the Tribe and an appropriate resolution to the last five seasons of volatility, uncertainty and hope.
In the infamous word of Dennis Green, “They are who we thought they were!” The problem with the Indians is that we don’t know exactly who they are… giving out the biggest free agent contract in the franchise’s history doesn’t exactly align well with the plan. Trial and error cannot be an option again.
Jason Ruggiero: The Indians 2012 season is one I am still trying to forget. Thankfully the front office has made some smart moves to reload this team for the short and long-term. However, with the calendar flipping over to 2013 it's time to forget the good and the bad from 2012 and focus on what the Indians should resolve to accomplish in this new year.
1.) To play a complete season of baseball. The Tribe got off to a fast start in both 2011 and 2012 but could not keep up their winning ways. 2011 could be described as fading down the stretch but 2012 was just a complete disaster. The front office has rekindled some interest and hope in the fanbase with their off-season moves but the next step to stomp out negativity would be to play competitive baseball over the course of an entire season. Every team will have streaks and slumps but last year's collapse must be a thing of the past.
2.) Continue to build this team for the long-term. No one wants to go through another re-build, but even less appealing is to look out into the future and see endless cycles of competing and re-building, with good players only here until they are traded away. Chris Antonetti and Mark Shapiro have to find ways to make this team competitive for the long-term. They have rekindled some enthusiasm with their off-season maneuvering but they need to show Indians' fans that they plan on building a solid core of players and competing year-after-year. Certainly they are hamstrung by a smaller market and the economics of the greater Cleveland area but if they want to compete and make themselves relevant against the other entertainment options Cleveland has to offer they must find ways to consistently compete and retain the good players they develop.
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I have never regretted rooting for them.
However, I am as excited about this upcoming year as I have been about any year in a while.
Antonetti has done a great job of building enthusiasm for the current team while continuing to stock the team with promising young players such as Paulino, Lindor, Haley, etc.
Baseball is about winning, but it's also about the art of playing the game, and I have felt privileged to see Minoso, Colavito, Held, Alomars, Vizquel, Thome, Score, McDowell, Tiant, Perrys, Grant, Sizemore, Hafner, Lee, and look forward to next season seeing Swisher, Reynolds, Chisenahall, Stubbs, Kipnis,...
I fear that last year was the year of the left handed batting order and this year will be the year of the strike out.