CLEVELAND, Ohio – For Indian fans, this winter has been dark.
The team reduced the payroll and traded veterans such as Yan Gomes, Yonder Alonso and Edwin Encarnacion.
Michael Brantley, Andrew Miller and Cody Allen went to free agency.
The great addition of the tribe out of season? The old friend Carlos Santana.
So what should fans think about their team, which has won three consecutive titles in the weak central division of the American League?
"It starts with the entrances."
The tribe manager, Terry Francona, repeated it more than once during spring training. Francona also said he did not think the Indians would trade one of their starters, contrary to low-season rumors.
A discussion about the team also begins with the players that they have – and they have a few stars.
MLB.com ranked the top 100 baseball players in 2019.
The Indians have six on the list.
They have two players in the top 10: Francisco Lindor (4th) and Jose Maria Ramirez (9th).
Think about it: the tribe's soldiers rank higher than the free agents Manny Machado (14) and Bryce Harper (15).
Obviously, the list is subjective, despite the complex analytical approach of MLB.com.
Who was ahead of Lindor?
1. Mike Trout, center of the Angels player.
2. The Red Sox right camper, Mookie Betts.
3. Nolan Arenado, third baseman in the Rockies.
Lindor, 25, is struggling with the first major injury of his three and a half year career in the league, a contracted calf muscle. It is debatable for the opening of the season on March 28th.
Lindor is truly a star, from his mighty bat to his sparkling defense, to a smile that illuminates the heart of any fan of Tribe.
But there should be some concern about Ramirez, despite his brilliant statistics of 2018: 0.270 (0.939 OPS) with 39 circuits and 105 RBIs.
In the last six weeks of the season, he beat .167 (22 of 137) with two homers. Ramirez, who hit the switch, has suddenly become obsessed with his errands. His swing became longer and he was often fooled by slow tricks at the outside corner.
Ramirez is talented enough to adapt. He just needs to remember that his shorter and faster swing has made him a star player.
THE FOUR GREAT
Corey Kluber (# 23), Trevor Bauer (41), Carlos Carrasco (66) and Mike Clevinger (82) occupy the following four spots.
Kluber (20-7, 2.89 ERA) and Bauer (12-6, 2.21 ERA) receive the most attention.
Carrasco was 17-17 with a 3.38 ERA last season. Over the past four years, Carrasco has had a record of 60-36 with an average of 3.31 in 3 years. He is remarkably coherent.
Clevinger was 13-8 with an ERA 3.02.
Despite the playoffs of the starting rotation over the last two games, this gives the tribe a chance to play a pivotal role in October.
HOW DOES TRIBE INCLUDE?
The Indians have six players in the top 100, but what about other contenders for the American League?
Here are the Yankees: they have eight.
Then come Boston and Houston, each with six.
None of the candidates has more than two starting pitchers on the list. But they have many more positional players than the Indians.
How about 2018?
The Indians also had six in the top 100:
So, they actually had six in the top 50 last year.
The Indians traded Encarnacion against Santana (not one of the top 100 this year). Miller signed with St. Louis as a free agent.
Encarnacion and Miller are not in the top 100.
The only player recently out on the list is Brantley (75), who signed with Houston. Brantley will likely be the biggest off-season defeat of the tribe. He is a star player who leaves a team that does not have established players among the big players.
But four pitchers in the top 100?
This is a reason to hope for Tribe fans.