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  1. My big Vegas bet this March was on the Indians to win the AL; I got odds of 60-1 and 45-1. (The folks at the 60-1 book would only cover $200.)

    I think the Indians have a 20% chance to win the division, and from there a titch better than a 15% chance to win the AL, for a 3% chance at the pennant, so true odds of about 30-1. The offense figures to be good, Masterson looks like the real deal, the relief pitching will be much improved and the endline starters will be (fingers in ears) LALALALALA I’M NOT LISTENING.

    The Twins look better, sure. The rest of the division? Not so impressive. Here’s hoping you’re right.

    –JRM

    Comment by JRM — March 25, 2010 @ 5:24 pm

  2. “best run organizations in the game”

    How can they be one of the best run orgs and only finish above .500 twice in 8 years?

    And since they rarely use their young trade chips, it is not an advantage to have them if you don’t use them.

    Comment by Mark — March 25, 2010 @ 5:52 pm

  3. At some point are we going to stop raising the platoon issue with Choo? He has OPSed .800+ against lefties each of the past two seasons.

    Comment by APV — March 25, 2010 @ 6:26 pm

  4. Doesn’t this seem a little high for them? I mean, they’ve only won 143 games the past two seasons. They’ve also had just two winning records in the past 5 (81-81 in 2008). They have some good offensive players in Sizemore Choo, and Cabrera but despite playing in an extreme pitchers park have terrible pitching. And other than Santana they don’t really have any impact prospects (although of course some of their young guys could be great but you can’t really count on that). Finally, they haven’t carried a large payroll in in nearly 10 years (2001) although some of that is because they are a younger team. Do they have the ability and the will to carry a payroll above $100m?

    Comment by Tom — March 25, 2010 @ 6:32 pm

  5. Did you just make this comment out of the blue? I see no mention in the article or any comments about Choo and platoons.

    Comment by Steven Ellingson — March 25, 2010 @ 6:36 pm

  6. Wasn’t it three times? 02, 05, and 07? They only made the playoffs twice in eight years though. I agree though, they’re terribly overrated.

    Comment by Omar — March 25, 2010 @ 7:16 pm

  7. This ranking seems to value process over results, as if the way Cleveland goes about its business is more important than its record on the field. At some point you have to stop grading on a curve and recognize. This team habitually underperforms. Time to start blaming them for it.

    Comment by bflaff — March 25, 2010 @ 7:18 pm

  8. I strongly disagree with this assessment, particularly given their financial limitations now, the questionable returns in the Lee and Sabathia deals and their inability to draft well. The division is weak,but they are the fourth best team right now in the Central.

    Comment by Mark — March 25, 2010 @ 7:25 pm

  9. The Indians appear to be a team that will NEED to win the division to make the playoffs, and with the Twins tending towards competency that might be an issue. The Twins just locked up the second best position player in the game long term, got good value for Carlos Gomez in getting JJ Hardy, and signed Hudson (as obvious as the move was). The Twins are starting to get away from the soft tossing pitchers with good control and weak hitting awful defensive infielders. As of now they’ve got a line up of Span/Hudson/Mauer/Morneau/Cuddyer/Kubel/Thome/Punto. There’s only one really weak player there and the rotation looks solid too, if they can develop another good starter to pair with Baker they’ll be a contender to advance in the playoffs…the Indians will need to do quite a bit to get passed them.

    Comment by Omar — March 25, 2010 @ 7:34 pm

  10. That is ridiculous that you would have Cleveland ahead of the Dodgers. Absolutely ridiculous. Cleveland is nowhere near contending in the next few years and their rotation is in shambles. I was good with all rankings so far until today. I’d be embarrassed if I made a list with such a glaring flaw in it like this.

    I can’t wait to see where the Mariners are on this list to see if I should even come on here to read this series anymore.

    Comment by Ivdown — March 25, 2010 @ 7:46 pm

  11. I could have sworn this team got within 1 win of a world series appearance a few years back. I must be mistaken. There’s no way a habitually underperforming team could have gotten that close to a WS berth that recently.

    Comment by JH — March 25, 2010 @ 7:58 pm

  12. I’m wondering how this team is ranked ahead of the Tigers… Tigers have two players that look head and shoulders above anyone playing for Cleveland, a significantly better year last year and the ability to have a larger payroll.

    Comment by Ozzie Guillen — March 25, 2010 @ 8:05 pm

  13. This is exactly why I question some of the analysis on this site — valuing the process over the result. The only way to judge anything (whether a draft pick, trade, contract) is the final result, not the process that led to the move.

    Comment by Tom — March 25, 2010 @ 8:16 pm

  14. So when did payroll have anything to do with rankings? The Indians have underachieved the last two years and that is why they made so many changes in the off-season. I don’t think the hitting will be a problem, and i think everyone knows that the pitching was terrible last season.Though with all the moves they made, the Indians have a lot more (high upside) pitching depth, which they have lacked in the past. Right now the Indians are just trying to (hopefully) fix Carmona and get Jake back to winning 15 games, which he has done in the past. They have now converted Masterson to the starters roll full time, and will have a long leash to prove himself this season. He has the stuff. They have plenty of guys to rotate in and out of the rotation with Laffey, Carrasco, Rondon, Talbot, etc. If the pitching improves, the defense will too. I think they are heading in the right direction.

    Comment by Aaron H — March 25, 2010 @ 8:24 pm

  15. Oops…the problem with reading everything through my Google feed. It actually was meant to the previous story on Cleveland (http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CLE/CLE200710050.shtml), and this quote in particular:

    “Yes, Cabrera needs to find the plus defense of his minor league days, and Choo might be a platoon player, but who cares?”

    Comment by APV — March 25, 2010 @ 8:53 pm

  16. Everyone can rip on their rotation, but these aren’t people that are looking at some of the finer details. Low ST ERA (yeah, I know ST doesn’t count for anything) but lots of first pitch strikes from many of the pitchers. Westbrook has improved each outing this spring, and Carmona’s walks, runs allowed, and pitch count per inning are way down. I’m not convinced yet on Masterson, but he certainly is a horse. You could do worse than Talbot and Laffey for #4 and #5. Not to mention that after this year, lots of money will come off the books (Kerry Wood, Jake Westbrook, Jhonny Peralta). That’s almost $25,000,000 that can be spent acquiring additional pieces or extending current pieces for the longer term. I don’t think the Indians are overrated, and if they do well in the next couple of years, there may be many people changing their tune.

    Comment by Marty W — March 25, 2010 @ 9:46 pm

  17. I would have this team ranked in front of every fanbase that it would offend.

    Comment by Reuben — March 25, 2010 @ 9:51 pm

  18. Reasons to like the Indians better than the Dodgers.

    Coletti
    Coletti sub A) Juan Pierre
    Coletti sub B) Andruw Jones
    Coletti sub C) Jason Schmidt

    That the Dodgers have been luckier and have a bigger payroll is no reason to rank them ahead of the Indians.

    Comment by NBarnes — March 25, 2010 @ 10:02 pm

  19. And I thought you only sucked up to the Twins…

    Comment by Sam A — March 25, 2010 @ 10:10 pm

  20. Well, the Dodgers have had 10 more wins total the past five season, 3 playoff appearances to 1 over the same time frame, won 33 more games last season, play in a way bigger market and can and will carry a much larger payroll than the Indians. But you are right, Ned Coletti cancels out all of that.

    Comment by Tom — March 25, 2010 @ 11:30 pm

  21. I agree, Cleveland’s target year is 2012. After that Sizemore’s a FA and Cleveland likely can’t afford to keep him. Without a superstar level player like Sizemore I don’t think that they’ll be able to contend, that’s about a five win player that they’re losing, that’s hard to replace. One year of contention, IMO, doesn’t warrant this spot. It’s not like without Sizemore they’re in a position to contend long term if the Mauer signing is any indication of things to come for the Twins…they could be very difficult to deal with. They’ll need one of Knapp or Hagadone to pan out if they’d like to be a perennial contender without Sizemore. The way I see it their future line up likely looks like:

    CA: Santana
    1B: LaPorta
    2B: Donald
    3B: Chisenhall
    SS: Cabrera
    LF: Crowe (maybe a free agent)
    CF: Brantley
    RF: Choo
    DH: Weglarz

    That could be a pretty interesting line up if players like Santana, LaPorta, Chisenhall, Cabrera, and Weglarz pan out. That being said there’s quite a bit of projection involved in that line up though, but it’s not like those players aren’t without upside or that line up is hard to envision that line up happening.

    The rotation is a different scenario in completely, there’s guys like Nick Hagadone, Jason Knapp, Hector Rondon, Carlos Carassco, Kelvin De La Cruz, and of course Alex White

    Hagadone is coming off TJ and there’s questions about how he’ll handle a larger workload and if he can start, there’s concerns that Knapp’s arm might fall off…Rondon and Carassco I don’t have too many questions about and I’m fairly confident in saying that they’ll have somewhat successful major league careers somewhere. De La Cruz has control issues, health issues, and terrible issues; but again he’s not without upside. There’s questions regarding White’s ultimate role, but I remember his start in the CWS against Arizona, when he was downright filthy. But there’s still quite a bit of potential there.

    They’ll get a high pick in this year’s draft and most likely next year’s. They can take one of the elite HS talents, or Tyler Holt, in this year’s draft…and who knows they may have a shot at Taylor Jungmann in 2011 if everything completely goes to hell this season, or they might take a good college player that will be ready to help in 2013.

    Over all, I feel that this rating is quite bullish, but while Shapiro took a beating in his past two trades…he’s shown the ability to swindle a few less than competent GMs in the past, there’s getting to be fewer of them out there, but they still exist. He’ll have to steal a superstar again somewhere along the way if the Indians want to be WS contenders. One might say that “They’ve been a ‘model’ organization for years, it’s time for the record to reflect the results” and I would agree. Just that, again this season, with that rotation…you likely won’t see the results this year, or even in 2011 probably.

    Comment by Omar — March 26, 2010 @ 12:21 am

  22. I would have to think that the chances are 50/50 between Shapiro getting fired in the next couple of years and the Indians winning the division.

    Comment by brent in Korea — March 26, 2010 @ 12:23 am

  23. Once upon a time, at the start of this series:

    “We’ll break down each team’s present talent, future talent, and the overall health of the organization, at least as we see it.”

    So yes, process is more important than results. Otherwise, the Royals would be ranked higher than some better clubs simply because they won the World Series at some point in the past.

    Comment by ThundaPC — March 26, 2010 @ 12:55 am

  24. Well, this year Mark Shapiro is the GM. Next year he’ll be the Team President. That would put the chances of him getting fired in the next couple years significantly lower than 50/50.

    Comment by ThundaPC — March 26, 2010 @ 1:36 am

  25. As a Tigers fan I gotta ask how can you warrant having the Indians 10 spots ahead of them? I can understand if you like them a little better(even that I disagree with too) but 10 spots? That’s a big difference.

    The Tigers have 3 starters in Verlander, Porcello and Scherzer that Cleveland can’t compare with. I don’t think they have an offensive player in their system that projects better than Cabrera. Even thought the Indians do have a better farm system, the Tigers have 2 power arms in their system in Turner and Crosby that are at the very least equal to Cleveland’s best two arms in their system. Then the Tigers have another top 50 or so prospect in Austin Jackson who projects to be at the least an average everyday CF, and same thing with Scott Sizmore at 2B. Not to mention they have 2 relievers in Schlereth and Perry who have high upside and have what appears to be a premier closer for atleast the next 2 seasons.

    On top of that they have an owner who has shown that he will dish out money and come the end of the season he will have around 60 million of dead weight coming off the books to play with.(assuming he spends it all of course) And to top it off according to most experts the Tigers should finish higher than them this year and have finished higher than the Indians 3 out of the last 4 years including 20 games behind them last year.

    So even though I will say Cleveland has the better farm system is that enough to put them 10 spots better than the Tigers? Personally I don’t think so.

    Comment by Dwight Schrute — March 26, 2010 @ 7:31 am

  26. Correction, sorry Cleveland finished better than the Tigers in 08 too, I thought it was just 07 that they did so actually the Tigers haven’t finished better 3 out of the last 4. Doesn’t really changed my view though.

    Comment by Dwight Schrute — March 26, 2010 @ 7:42 am

  27. Well, no. If option A has an 80% chance of success and B 20%, I’ll say you made the smart choice with option A, even if B ends up being the successful one. If someone choose B, they’d be successful and stupid.

    Comment by Luke in MN — March 26, 2010 @ 10:10 am

  28. That CAN’T be the real Ozzie – way too coherent, not nearly enough swearing…

    Comment by Jason B — March 26, 2010 @ 10:18 am

  29. Perhaps they are the 4th worst team in their division in 2010, but are they the 4th worst organization in terms of how well/poorly run they are?

    That’s a more perinent question in regards to this series of rankings.

    Comment by Jim — March 26, 2010 @ 11:06 am

  30. The Indians’ position players are usually good hitters. But their Achilles heel is usually pitching (except in a year like 2007, and to a lesser extent, 2005).

    Bad pitching hurts the club more than good hitting hurts. As a result, the Indians’ record is usually below what a “Pythagorean” win percentage (of runs scored versus runs allowed) might suggest.

    The Indian club might bet 13th on “Pythagoreans.” But they probably aren’t 13th based on their 2010 probable “record.”

    Comment by Tom Au — March 26, 2010 @ 11:10 am

  31. I’m not sure why you’re assuming that they can’t afford to keep Sizemore. Hafner’s contract is off the books after 2012 provided they do the sane thing and decline his 2013 option, and there are no other big contracts likely to still be there(Kerry Wood, Jhonny Peralta).

    True, many of their young players(Choo, Cabrera, most likely LaPorta, etc.) will be arbitration-eligible, unless Cleveland does the smart thing and negotiates long-term contracts that buy out those players’ arb years(and a few years of free agency) before that. But I don’t think there will be any one player beyond Sizemore who is overly expensive on the 2012 payroll, and I could see Cleveland offering a big extension in the 2011-2012 offseason(after they pick up his 2012 option first) to keep Sizemore around as the team’s centerpiece for 2013 and beyond.

    Also, in your prospective lineup, whither Luis Valbuena and Michael Aubrey?

    Comment by Jim — March 26, 2010 @ 11:23 am

  32. In particular, I have to think their high-leverage relievers have hurt their real W/L vs. pythag W/L over recent years in a fairly predictable way.

    Comment by Luke in MN — March 26, 2010 @ 12:19 pm

  33. Luke if you picked the option that succeeded then you aren’t stupid

    Comment by Luke in MN is wrong — March 26, 2010 @ 1:50 pm

  34. That quote doesn’t seem to say anything about process being more important than results. Even if it did, if I was getting the results the Tribe was, I’d question the process anyway. New coach, new GM and rebuilding the roster is a big blinking sign that the Tribe is going back to square one, so I don’t know why anyone would suggest that the plan is going just dandy.

    Comment by bflaff — March 26, 2010 @ 1:52 pm

  35. That they are in one of the worst economies in the US and ownership is willing to spend 10 dollars a year on Cap. Their system is easily top 3 if not the best in game and for a team who cleans hose due to financial strains, they get a great haul for the people they move. They got 2 top 50 prospects for CC and Santana in and of himself is a steal for Blake and to get Meloan on top of that? Great move. And not to mention that they got Choo for Ben Broussard…

    THAT is why they are a solid org and i undestand they arent winning but if their pitching comes around then i really feel like they can push the Twins for that division. Oh, and if just one of laporta, santana, and brantley make a difference. They have a legit chance

    Comment by King Kong — March 26, 2010 @ 2:23 pm

  36. @Luke in MN

    The problem is that you never know for sure whether Option A has a 80% success rate and Option B has a 20% success rate. You or I (or Dave Cameron or whoever) can say those numbers but they are just guesses. The only thing that matters it the end result, not the thought process or justification for a move. If the Phillies had their choice of either Raul Ibanez or BJ Upton to start in LF for them last season, I’m sure it would be nearly unanimous that Upton was the better option. But if you went along with the 99% consensus and picked Upton to be your LF’er would you feel like it was the right move?

    Comment by Tom — March 26, 2010 @ 2:41 pm

  37. In 02 they lost 88 games. They have been in the playoffs only once in 8 years.

    Comment by Mark — March 26, 2010 @ 6:08 pm

  38. Wow, that’s dumb. Despite the GM and owners the Dodgers have still put forth a better team the last 2 seasons than all but the Phillies. Last season the Dodgers were the best team in the NL through the start of the NLCS. The farm system is only getting better and the Dodgers team as a whole did not change besides Hudson and Wolf, and they are replaceable overall.

    You are flat out wrong with everything you’ve said in this post.

    Comment by Ivdown — March 26, 2010 @ 11:10 pm

  39. This article is a prime example of an emerging lack of objectivity here.

    Because Mark Shapiro is liked, for whatever reason, despite making the two worst tank trades in recent memory, for Lee and VMart, you gloss over the fact he signed Russell Branyan to a deal worse than any signed by, say, Omar Minaya.

    Comment by JayCee — March 27, 2010 @ 8:38 am

  40. He signed Branyan to a $2 million deal. It’s not like he gave him partial ownership of the ball club.

    outside of his 2008 draft (and maybe 2009), you can chastise Shapiro all you want about the way he has conducted drafts. His first round picks, less Chisenhall and Alex White, have been so god awful it’s almost laughable. Most of the free agents he has selected have been burtal as well. Lightning in a bottle rarely strikes more than once. Shap hit with Millwood and has been striking out ever since.

    But the current baseball conditions are so porous that he has no option other than trading away top talent at their peak (CC, VMart, Lee) to get top prospects/medium-top prospects so he can start the cycle all over again. Don’t blame Shappy. Cleveland ain’t NY or LA.

    So yes, Shapiro sucks at drafting (and really, he doesn’t even do the drafting). But he must be mentioned as one of the elite GM’s at scouting other teams’ talent and acquiring other teams’ talent:

    Hafner, Choo, Asdrubal Cabrera, Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips, Cliff Lee, Matt LaPorta, Michael Brantley, Carlos Santana, Masterson, Chris Perez, Nick Hagadone, Jason Knapp, Franklyn Guitierrez, Louis Valbuena, just to name a few.

    Comment by Mitch — April 5, 2010 @ 3:57 pm

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