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March Reflections on the Cleveland Indians

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One thing is for sure, the Indians are keeping fans and reporters busy this off season with all of their transactions. Not only has the Tribe done what they usually do, which is bring in some young talent to Spring Training and sign some players past their prime to see if they have one more good run left in them, but they also have signed some marquee players who they hope to lead this ball club to the next level.

Before diving into specifics, here’s a rundown of what the Indians have done in the past month:

  • Name Steve Lubratich the director of pro scouting.
  • Named Dave Miller, Bryan Corey, Michael Calitri and Trey Hendricks pro scouts.
  • Promoted Victor Wang to assistant director of pro scouting.
  • Signed right handed pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka to a minor league contract with an invite to Major League Spring Training.
  • Signed free agent Michael Bourn to a four-year contract.
  • Signed infielder Chris McGuiness, left hander T.J. House, outfielder Tim Fedroff, right hander Danny Salazar, right hander Bryan Shaw, right hander Corey Kluber, right hander Zach McAllister, outfielder Michael Brantley, third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall, right hander Cody Allen and right hander Trey Haley to one-year contracts.

The prize of the names above was without a doubt the signing of centerfielder Michael Bourn. Bourn, who spent the last season with the Atlanta Braves, will take over the centerfield job and help bring some consistency to an outfield that has severely lacked that quality for many years.

Bourn has played seven full seasons in the Majors and the 30-year-old had arguably the best season of his career last year. He made the All Star game for the second time and finished 18th in MVP voting in the National League. The two time gold glove award winner finished the season with a .274 batting average with nine homeruns, 26 doubles and 10 triples. Add that to 57 RBI and 42 stolen bases , and the Indians hope they have found someone to consistently produces for the next half-decade.

The Indians no doubt turned some heads when they announced the signing of Daisuke Matsuzaka. The Japanese native has struggled the past few seasons, but few can forget the publicity he garnered when he first came over from Japan. Perhaps unfortunately for the Indians, the rumors regarding his “gyro” ball have died down and the pitcher has gone from mysterious to both hittable and uncontrollable at times. The Tribe brass hope that pairing him back up with new manager Terry Francona will help him find some of the form he became known for.

Coming off a year that was just about as ho-hum as it could be, from a fans’ standpoint, the Indians had to make some noise to get some butts in the seat this season and they have done just that. One of the only reasons the Indians made national news last year was because of their lousy attendance. That looks to be turning the corner and the first indication to support that came when single game tickets went on sale. On that day, it took a whopping six minutes for the Tribe’s home opener to sell out.

It doesn’t hurt that they open up against the Yankees, but the last few years have been a struggle to sell out the home opener. The team often had to wait until just a few days prior to the game to announce the sellout. Hopefully the fans will be able to charge up the Tribe on the field and push them towards a playoff run.

The Tribe also recently announced that one more thing they will do to encourage more people to venture to the park this year is to lower concessions. Many fans were pleased to hear that not only would traditional ballpark food such as hotdogs become cheaper, but the Indians are also offering a smaller beer at a cheaper price as well.

The Indians currently rank third in Cactus League play at 11-5. Theories vary on how much one should put into records during Spring Training, but for a team in transition, winning consistently is always a good thing to do, no matter the setting.

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