Aftera year-long hiatus from managing, Terry Francona now is at the helm ofthe Cleveland Indians, a franchise that has not been to the playoffssince 2007. The two-time World Series winner as the manager of theBoston Red Sox must find a way to help this team avoid the second halfcollapses that have marred their previous two seasons.
Moreover,Francona must find a way to win with a rotation that lost more games(76) than any other team in the American League. Justin Masterson, whomanaged just 11 wins and a 4.93 ERA last season, is the top returningpitcher for The Tribe.
CloserChris Perez returns as the lead-man in a bullpen that representsperhaps the strongest part of the Indians team. Perez had 39 saves forCleveland in 2012.
Inan attempt to bolster their bats, the Indians most impactful additionwas outfielder Nick Swisher who hit .274 with 24 HR and 93 RBI for theYankees last season. Beyond Swisher, the Indians have a consistent, butnot powerful, hitter in Michael Brantley who led Cleveland with a .288average last season.
Catcher Carlos Santana was the leading power hitter for the Indians last season but mustered only 18 HR.
Onone hand, Indians fans can be encouraged that a proven winner likeFrancona is now leading their club. On the other, there is little reasonto believe that the Indians will show much progress from a team thathas consistently lost 90+ games the last few years.