By the end of this week 1/10 of the season will be over.
So what I have I seen so far?
Brantley - Right now Michael Brantley looks like a former very good player, a former all-star, who has had his skills diminished by a serious shoulder injury. To me, this means one of two things:
(1) He is getting by on guile and experience and this is as good, essentially, as it's going to get with him.
(2) He is still knocking off the rust from a long layoff from baseball and will only get stronger as the season goes on.
Well, the Indians truly know which one it is, or highly suspect which one it is. Let's hope it is (2) as if it is (1) I doubt that they ever acknowledge it, even to themselves, and so we will be left for a long time to come with an easy out in the middle of the order.
Encarnacion - There is no way in hell that this guy is done, right? I mean 39 homers per year for a while. Again, like Brantley, he looks like a former star player getting by on experience. I think in his case he breaks out of it big time this week and what we have see so far is his idea of a slump.
Diaz - All you have to do is look at the peripherals to see that he needs more minor league refinement. I can't wait for a healthy..
Kipnis - Looking at him so far in the minors he looks good. He looks like he is not having shoulder troubles at all. Then again, neither does Brantley and when I saw McGwire toward the end of his career when his production fell of a cliff, neither did he...at least to my eye. We don't need walking wounded, per se, but right now I would rather have him than Diaz.
Gomes - What can you say? Offensively, he JUST PLAIN SUCKS. Either he has just not gotten in the rhythm yet or he is done. I would say he has until the end of May and if he hasn't figured it out by then sending to the minors....probably for good.
Starting Pitching - Kluber and Tomlin do not look sharp right now. Bauer, Salazar and Carrasco have their innings/games where they look good. It is too early to make any judgements but, gut feeling, I think they are OK physically and mentally. I think they will all get stronger as the season gets along. For those worried about Tomlin, I think he has gone through these things before.
Bullpen - So far no red flags but the jury is still out. Miller was not sharp last night in relief of Kluber and Shaw has his moments. Goody looks better than Armstrong for the last spot but, frankly, I would rather have a veteran like Blanton than either of them.
Bench - I still see this, counting the OF platoons, as a strength of this tea. Still have to sort out the outfielders but I don't think I would change a thing about the construction of this bench.
So, at 5-7 it doesn't look good so far But, at this point, the record doesn't mean anything. It is how we are playing. If things work out and guys stay/get healthy, we will look like the team of last year, only better.
Just like we planned.