Regular Articles

2006 Record: 78-84
Fourth in the AL Central – 18.0 games back

New Warriors in the Tribe
RP R Roberto Hernandez - Free Agency (New York Mets)
CL Joe Borowski - Free Agency (Florida Marlins)
RP Aaron Fultz - Free Agency (Philadelphia Phillies)
OF Trot Nixon - Free Agency (Boston Red Sox)
OF David Dellucci - Free Agency (Philadelphia Phillies)
2B Josh Barfield - Trade (San Diego Padres)
RP Cliff Politte - Minor League Free Agency (Chicago White Sox).

Exiles
3B Kevin Kouzmanoff - Trade (San Diego Padres)
RP Andrew Brown - Trade (San Diego Padres)
3B Aaron Boone - Free Agency (Florida Marlins),
RP Jeremy Guthrie - Waiver Claim (Baltimore Orioles)
RP Danny Graves - Free Agency (Colorado Rockies).

The Skinny: After a disappointing 2006 campaign the Indians needed to take a good look at themselves and the teams in their division. Despite the record the Tribe didn’t play bad baseball last season but fell in the standings because everyone else in the division managed to get better. Unfortunately adding pitching -- an almost impossible task -- was the main thing they needed to work on.

Strengths: Offense. The Tribe is no slouch when it comes to the ability to score runs and the addition of power hitting outfielder David Dellucci and Josh Barfield should only enhance the numbers but up by Travis Hafner, Victor Martinez and Grady Sizemore. Youngsters Ryan Garko and Andre Marte should also continue to develop into solid offensive players.

Weaknesses: Starting pitching. I have little doubt that the Tribe can patch together a moderately successful bullpen but the starting pitching is a huge question after C.C. Sabathia and Jake Westbrook. You can pencil Cliff Lee in at the number three spot despite his struggles last season, and the Indians seem committed to the eminently hittable Paul Byrd as the number 4 guy.

As far as the bullpen goes the question of who closes for this team is still an issue. Bob Wickman wasn’t the answer so the Indians looked elsewhere and acquired the questionable Keith Foulke from Boston as an upgrade. Foulke wasn’t happy and decided to retire rather than pitch leaving the Tribe back where they were at the end of the offseason – without a real closer.

Potential Lineup

CF Grady Sizemore
SS Jhonny Peralta
C Victor Martinez
DH Travis Hafner
RF Casey Blake
LF David Dellucci / Jason Michaels
1B Ryan Garko
3B Andy Marte
2B Josh Barfield

Potential Rotation

C.C. Sabathia
Jake Westbrook
Cliff Lee
Paul Byrd
Jeremy Sowers

Keys to success: The Indians need to strike gold in the pitching department and get good seasons from Cliff Lee and Paul Byrd for them to have any chance of success.

Prediction: A third place finish with a slightly better than .500 record. Changes and injury elsewhere in the division might give them a chance to make a charge at the division title but it’s a long shot. The Twins, White Sox and Tigers just have more pitching and the Royals look to have improved as well.