Cleveland Baseball's Painful New Era

Jan 20, 2021

The Cleveland Indians are now deep into a rebuild. The most recent trade of Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco has all but disbanded what was left of the 2016 World Series team. WKSU sports commentator Terry Pluto says between Lindor and now former star pitcher Corey Kluber signing with the Yankees, this is a painful new era for Cleveland fans.

Kluber to the Yanks

The two-time Cy Young Award-winning pitcher Kluber was the latest to make headlines for another team. After nine seasons with the Indians, the team traded him to the Texas Rangers after the 2019 season. The Indians were concerned about his injuries.

"He pitched one inning and had arm problems," Pluto said.

So, during this offseason, Pluto said Kluber's agents set up a tryout of sorts. There were 24 teams, including the Indians, who showed up to watch him pitch. Then the offers came in. He ended up signing with the New York Yankees.

"They paid $11 million for a guy who pitched only one inning last year and 30 total the previous two years. And $11 million for them is $11 for us because they have a big market and big TV money," Pluto said.

2016 in the rearview

On the subject of pitching, the Indians just traded one of their best pitchers in recent years. Carlos Carrasco, who made his debut with the Indians in 2009, was part of a deal that sent star shortstop Francisco Lindor to the New York Mets earlier this month.

Pluto said dealing Lindor and Carrasco leaves just two players remaining from the 2016 World Series team: Third baseman Jose Ramirez and catcher Roberto Perez.

"None of the pitchers are left. And that was that great staff of Trevor Bauer, Mike Clevinger, Kluber, Carrasco and Josh Tomlin," he said.

So, can the Indians be good at all?

Pluto says the good news is that the Indians have another Cy Young winner in pitcher Shane Bieber. And they'll be hoping their other young pitchers, like Aaron Civale and Triston McKenzie and James Karinchak, can carry them.

"They're going to be filling in with a lot of young guys and hoping manager Terry Francona can turn it around for the best. But by far, this is the biggest challenge for the front office since Francona came in in 2013," Pluto said.

Uncertainty of the minors

And another big challenge for the Indians will be the uncertainty surrounding minor league baseball. The minor leagues didn't play any games last season because of the coronavirus pandemic, which puts a team like the Indians at a big disadvantage.

"The Indians often prefer to start some of the younger prospects in the minors, let them get off to a confident start in April or May, and then bring them up to the big leagues. That's another thing counting against the Indians if the minor leagues are still on hold," Pluto said.