CLEVELAND, Ohio – Manager Terry Francona can always use a little help from his friends.
For this reason, the Indians beat writers Joe Noga and Paul Hoynes and asked their Subtext subscribers on Wednesday for their opinion on the Indians’ line-up, rotation and bullpen for the 2021 season. Spring training starts next week and the Indians’ first spring training game is February 28th. So it’s that time of year.
We posted two lineups on Wednesday, one against the right and one against the left, a starting rotation and a bullpen. We then invited subtexters to join the conversation as we discussed the topics on the Cleveland Baseball Talk podcasts on Wednesday and Thursday.
We wrote the following in the subtext on Wednesday:
Indians against right-handers: 1. 2B Cesar Hernandez (S), 2. CF Oscar Mercado (R), 3. 3B Jose Ramirez (S), 4. LF Eddie Rosario (L), 5. DH Franmil Reyes (R), 6. RF Josh Naylor (L), 7. SS Amed Rosario (R), 8. 1B Bobby Bradley (L) and 9. C Roberto Perez (R).
Indians against left-handers: 1. 2B Hernandez (S), 2. CF Mercado (R), 3. 3B Ramirez (S), 4. DH Reyes (R), 5. LF Rosario (L), 6. RF Jordan Luplow ( R), 7. SS A. Rosario (R), 8. Perez (R), 9. 1B Bradley (L).
Starting rotation: RHP Shane Bieber, RHP Zach Plesac, RHP Aaron Civale, RHP Triston McKenzie and RHP Cal Quantrill. It should be noted that after Bieber, Noga came in second for Civale because of his long life and consistency in the sprint of 60 games last year.
Bullpen: RHP James Karinchak, RHP Nick Wittgren, RHP Emmanuel Clase, RHP Phil Maton, RHP Adam Plutko, RHP Bryan Shaw, LHP Anthony Gose and RHP Heath Hembree (if the Indians drive with an eight-man pen).
Here’s an example of what we’ve heard from our subtext audience.
In terms of lineup, a Toledo area subscriber liked Amed Rosario in 2nd place versus right and left handed and dropped Mercado in 9th place to take advantage of his speed. Against the right he took a gamble and beat the left Eddie Rosario, Naylor and Bradly Zimmer or Jake Bauers one after the other in places five to seven. He’d better have a couple of right-handers on the bench to pinch late in the game.
Against left-handers, he suggested that right-handers who beat Yu Chang should get a first base chance along with Naylor.
He liked our rotation pick but made an interesting proposition for fourth and fifth place. With last year’s 60-game season capping the number of innings starters thrown, he wondered if the Indians could spin a number of starters through these spots to make sure McKenzie and Quantrill weren’t overworked. The Indians have options in Plutko, Logan Allen, Scott Moss, Trevor Stephan, Jordan Humphreys, and Sam Hentges.
In the monastery, he and Stephan took seventh place, with the leftists Allen and Gose fighting for eighth place if necessary. He had a feeling that Zimmer, Chang, and Bauers would make up the final 26-man roster.
A subtexter for area code 267 in Philadelphia felt that Mercado and Bradley should start the season in the AAA Columbus class. He wants to give Bauers a shot on the first base, with Naylor helping him.
He felt Zimmer was being overlooked as an option in midfield. He suggested the Indians go on a bargain hunt and lo and behold, they had come to terms with the experienced center fielder Billy Hamilton on a minor league deal on Thursday evening. He also felt the Indians needed a right handed man to push Bauers / Bradley onto first base.
Regarding the young shortstop Andres Gimenez, who joined the Indians from the Mets in the Francisco Lindor-Carlos Carrasco deal with Amed Rosario, he thought Gimenez should open in Columbus. He believed Rosario’s offense would help the Indians keep fighting for as long as possible.
An upbeat copywriter from the Columbus area said he only had two problems – first base and midfield. After Carlos Santana moved to Kansas City, the Indians first needed Bradley, Bauers or Naylor to produce. In midfield there will be competition between Mercado, Zimmer and Hamilton. Ben Gamel, who agreed to a minor league deal with the Indians on Thursday, has played at the center before, but never regularly in the major leagues.
The regular season starts on April 1st. Until then, the Indians only have to have 26 players. There are many options right now at the Indian executive offices in Progressive Field and Goodyear, Arizona. There will be a lot more clarity by opening day.
New Indian face masks for sale: Here, you can purchase Cleveland Indian-themed face covers for coronavirus protection, including a single mask ($ 14.99) and a 3-pack ($ 24.99). All MLB proceeds are donated to charity.
More Indian coverage