For the Indians, the modifications transcend simply dropping their debated identify.
As a brand new season dawns, the four-time All-Star shortstop and face of the franchise is lengthy gone, traded to the New York Mets this winter together with one in all Cleveland’s hottest gamers and established pitchers. There are holes to fill at brief, first and within the outfield.
Supervisor Terry Francona, who zips round Cleveland on a scooter, is driving a golf cart after surgical procedure. Followers can’t escape the Midwest chilly and watch the Indians discipline grounders or take batting observe within the heat Arizona sunshine.
Issues look quite a bit completely different.
However regardless of their altered state, and gloomy projections about their win complete 2021, the Indians are assured they will contend.
Possibly even do greater than that.
“I do know we’re going to make a variety of noise,” warned slugger Franmil Reyes. “Be careful!”
Bounced by the New York Yankees within the wild-card spherical to finish the shortened 2020 season, the Indians held their first full-squad exercise in Goodyear, Arizona, on Monday in a coaching camp that appears very completely different from ones up to now due to COVID-19 protocols.
However protecting masks, social distancing and participant pods are solely a part of the transformation.
The Indians lastly did what appeared inevitable for years in January by dealing Francisco Lindor, one in all baseball’s finest all-around stars, to the Mets with right-hander Carlos Carrasco for younger infielders Amed Rosario, Andres Gimenez and different prospects.
Cleveland’s seismic commerce got here lower than a month after the membership introduced it’s dropping the identify it has used since 1915 in some unspecified time in the future sooner or later.
However for not less than one other season, they’ll nonetheless be often called the Indians, who’ve been constant winners for a decade.
Cy Younger winner Shane Bieber isn’t anticipating that to vary.
“Very assured,” mentioned Bieber when requested in regards to the membership’s means to remain aggressive. “We had a younger workforce final yr and we’ve bought a younger workforce this yr once more. We have been type of studying on the fly final yr. That’s the great thing about baseball, Main League Baseball particularly, turning over rosters yr after yr.
“You bought to study one another and study on the fly, however I assume if something, it’s lucky we’ve bought fairly a bit longer season this yr, slightly bit extra time to work in direction of our final purpose.”
That might be profitable a World Sequence for the primary time since 1948.
This yr, maybe greater than ever, the Indians, who additionally selected to not re-sign first baseman Carlos Santana or nearer Brad Hand, will depend on a strong beginning employees led by the 25-year-old Bieber. In simply three main league seasons, the right-hander has grow to be one of many AL’s most dominant, front-of-the-rotation starters.
Bieber pulled off pitching’s Triple Crown in 2020, main the majors in wins, ERA and strikeouts. It’s not a stretch to suppose he can’t get higher, which is frightening for opposing hitters and equally worrisome for the Indians, who should pay him market worth in some unspecified time in the future.
The workforce has contractual management of Bieber till 2025 — he’ll be arbitration eligible the subsequent three years — and the right-hander mentioned Monday that he’d welcome an opportunity to speak to the workforce a few long-term contract extension.
“It’s completely one thing I’d be open to,” he mentioned. “However when it comes to conversations, nothing has actually come about. Everyone is type of on the identical web page, you recognize, one step at a time. We’ve got a really new group coming on this yr, and there’s a variety of turnover from final yr, so it’s a distinct look and all people simply type of needs to get the ball rolling, get on the identical web page.
“By way of conversations, it actually hasn’t occurred but, in order that’s one thing I’d like to dive into and hopefully that will likely be reciprocated as effectively.”
After dealing Lindor and Carrasco, the cost-conscious Indians invested among the saved a reimbursement into the roster by signing free agent outfielder Eddie Rosario (1 yr, $8 million) and re-signing second baseman Cesar Hernandez (1 yr, $5 million), two gamers who may help them keep in keeping with the Twins and White Sox within the AL Central.
Reyes, who could get an opportunity to play some first in addition to DH, is energetic on social media. He’s conscious of what’s being mentioned in regards to the Indians this season — and it’s not all flattering.
Expectations are low, and that’s to be anticipated with the modifications.
Reyes, although, feels the Indians are being short-changed.
“It’s not like I’m offended, however I do know my workforce and I do know my teammates,” he mentioned. “I do know we will make a variety of noise. I do know we don’t have Frankie anymore and we don’t have Carlos, however now we have a variety of good gamers. And with Rosario there — each Rosarios — after which the blokes that we bought, I do know they’re superb gamers, too, as a result of I’ve seen them earlier than.”
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