|Cleveland Indians 2003 Preview||| Print ||
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on March 29, 2003
3rd in AL Central 20.5 games back.
Home: Jacobs Field
The 2003 Indians are a team in transition. However, unlike many fans of perpetually rebuilding teams, Indians fans have a lot to look forward to. This year will not be a great one, and in truth, and the team will probably be weaker than last year. However, considering the amount of young talent the Indians possess, it will be a fun team to watch.
Ellis Burks and Karim Garcia look ready to anchor the lineup and provide the heart of the offensive spark. Garcia looked awesome the second half of last season with a .297 / 16 home run rampage. If he’s for real, he’s going to have a tremendous season.
Add to the mix are the dynamic duo of Travis Hafner and Ben Broussard - who’ve been tearing it up this spring - and you have the germ of a future powerhouse. On top of that they have Brandon Phillips, Montreal’s top prospect last season who came over in the Bartolo Colon deal. Phillips won the starting second base job with an outstanding spring.
Also worth mentioning are Milton Bradley who is running out of time to prove he can be a star, and Matt Lawton who is still trying to regain his form. Both are poised to step up, it only remains to be seen if they can handle it.
The last piece in the puzzle is catcher Victor Martinez who should be joining the team at some point this season. As a player he’s similar to Mike Piazza. His strength is his bat, not his defense. He’d be best served by spending the season at triple A, but it’s unlikely he’ll stay in the minors the whole season.
The Indian’s rotation has been set. Going into opening day the rotation looks like this: C.C. Sabathia, Ricardo Rodriguez, Brian Anderson, Jason Davis and Jason Bere. Without question Sabathia is the class of the staff but he still has a long way to go to realize his potential. If he stays in shape and works on his conditioning he could have a tremendous year. However, being the best pitcher on a weak staff often leads to overwork.
The rest of the staff is nothing special but the Tribe does have quite a few young arms who are almost ready for the big time. Chief among these are lefties Cliff Lee and Billy Traber. Lucky for the Indians they are one of the deepest in talent in the minor league system.
This is the start of a serious rebuilding effort. Ellis Burks is the last of the big name veterans on this team, and how long he’ll be around before the kids all get their chances is probably a big question. This team should put on a great show, even without being competitive. If everything goes according to plan, Cleveland will be a power again in about three years.