Tales from the Central: Cleveland Indians
Image courtesy of © David Richard-USA TODAY SportsWe’re more than well versed on the Minnesota Twins but what does the view of this club, and those it competes with, look like through the lens of invested influencers from around the division? In recent years, the Cleveland Indians have been among the best teams in baseball, nearly taking home a World Series in the process. Now they’re stripping it down and have spent this offseason dealing most of their notable names.
I caught up with You Tube content creator Preston Miklich, better known as Fuzzy. Having started out as an MLB The Show content creator, he’s since branched into recapping big-league action and has always made it well known he’s a die-hard Cleveland fan despite living in Las Vegas. Here’s what he had to say about where things stand currently:
Twins Daily: You are the chairman of the Grady Sizemore fan club but explain your Indians fandom as a whole. Living in Las Vegas, how did it start and what are some of your best memories concerning the club?
Fuzzy: I was born in 1996, so at that point Las Vegas didn’t have any professional teams. This meant that I had the opportunity to pick and choose my favorite clubs. I chose the Indians due to the fact that my grandfather was born in Mayfield Heights, which is a city just outside of Cleveland. He gave me a Grady Sizemore jersey back in 2005, and the rest is history. I was able to fit into it up until the 2016 World Series, which ultimately translated into severe depression and weight gain. Needless to say, the jersey is no longer able to be worn.
TD: It's been a tough offseason with so many key pieces dealt from Cleveland. What has that done to anticipation for the 2021 season, and how do you feel about the organization moving forward while drastically slashing payroll?
F: It’s embarrassing, quite frankly, but it’s also the reality of life of being a Cleveland baseball fan. In my lifetime the Indians have lost or traded away Manny Ramirez, CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee, Victor Martinez, Michael Brantley, Trevor Bauer, Corey Kluber, Mike Clevinger and Francisco Lindor. Those are some massive names, and to not have a single World Series to show of it is mind-numbing. I have a feeling that Andres Jimenez is going to be a stud. But also, Jose Ramirez might be out the door fairly soon. They received so many IF prospects in last few trades that it’s almost impossible to see a situation in which JRam plays past 2021/2022. So, unless Jimenez hits at an .850-OPS clip, and Oscar Mercado hits like he did his rookie season, I don’t have any reason to hope for even a top 20 offense.
TD: Having only Jose Ramirez remaining on the offensive side of things in terms of star talent, who are some prospects you're hoping to see get a chance and run with opportunity in 2021? The pitching should still be impressive, what do you like there?
F: Nolan Jones. Tyler Freeman. If those two dudes don’t get called up at some point in the season, I will seriously question the direction of this organization. I have faith though, as Terry Francona leads all AL managers in wins since he got the gig. We aren’t the Yankees, but we somehow seem to beat everyone in drafting star players. For my sake, let's hope Jones and Freeman see some action so we can gauge the future a bit better on the offensive side of things. I say that because I have zero doubt that Shane Bieber, Zach Plesac, Triston McKenzie, and Aaron Civale are going to be extraordinary for the next half-decade.
TD: Cleveland has had a significant run of strong Postseason teams dating back to 2016. What was so great about those clubs and what could've they done differently to come up with a championship during that run?
F: I would build a time machine and figure out a way to prevent that Game 7 rain delay. That’s all I got. The 2016 World Series MVP should have been Mother Nature, not Ben Zobrist. Other than that, the Indians were beat by better teams. However, I am super bummed that Emmanuel Clase was suspended, as I truly think he would have gotten Gio Urshela out in Game 2 of the 2020 Wild Card Series. We then would have scored 786 runs of JA Happ in Game 3 and proceed to go undefeated the rest of the playoffs en route to winning the World Series.
TD: Starting a rebuild of sorts, how quickly do you see Cleveland returning to relevance and with an organization that has often excelled in developing prospects, could that impact how quickly they are once again a force?
F: The White Sox look like world-beaters at the moment, so 2021 to me is basically a wash. I do think the Indians will be a better than average squad, but the offense will struggle with consistency. All I can do is cross my fingers and hope that Nolan Jones, Tyler Freeman and Bobby Bradley all figure it out at the Major League level.
TD: As a fan of a competitor in the Central, what's your take on the Twins in 2021 and beyond?
F: As of January 21st, I don’t see the Twins as a huge threat to the White Sox. I almost laughed when I read that the Twins had signed JA Happ, or as I call him, Home Run Happ. But hey, to each their own. I do believe that Alex Kiriloff will end up being a decent Major Leaguer, but nothing more than maybe prime Nick Markakis. Even then, that’s solid production. However, because of the D- to F offseason thus far for the 2021 Twins, I don’t have much to provide in regards to a take on future success.
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