Series Preview: Cleveland Indians

Juan Uribe was a key player late last season, and now mans the hot corner in Cleveland

Headlines

Visiting an old friend: With Mets baseball underway, it’s almost easy to forget that the NFL draft is at the end of the month. All eyes are on former Mets’ VP and current Cleveland exec Paul DePodesta. ESPN’s David Flemming wonders if moneyball will work in Cleveland as it did for the NYM

deGrom has a baby now: Jaxon deGrom was introduced to the world Monday night, weighing 7 lbs, 12 oz. Jaxon has not reported any lat soreness and should be good to go for his next scheduled start on April 15th, 2037.

Expensive clothing: A pair of wealthy Mets fans are trying to ‘save’ the jersey Mike Piazza wore on 9/11 from being sold to a private collection. The two investors, Anthony Scaramucci and Tony Lauto, will have to dole out over $170k to keep the jersey in the public eye.

Matz’ Mets Mess: Steven Matz was shelled in his 2016 debut, but will be hoping to rebound in Ohio as he is scheduled to pitch game three in the series. He’ll be going up against some guy name Corey Kluber, who led the AL in the loss column last year despite an extremely impressive 2.97 FIP.

Know Your Foe

If you are heading to Cleveland, or just want to know more about Indians baseball ahead of this series, Caitlin Boron (@CLE_ItIsGone) of BurningRiverBaseball.com has got you covered.

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The Cleveland Indians are a storied franchise and that has been home to some of the greatest players in the history of the sport: ranging from legends like Nap Lajoie and Tris Speaker, to more recent greats in Kenny Lofton, Jim Thome, Omar Vizquel, and Jake Taylor. In your opinion – does Francisco Lindor fit the mold of a future great, and how high are the expectations of him from a fan’s perspective? Is there anyone else in the prospect pipeline or on the current roster that baseball community outside of Cleveland should be made aware of?

After his rookie year, it’s hard not to see a future for the Indians with him as the leader of it. Lindor has always had the attitude that it’s his job to bring his best to the ball park, but the plus is that he absolutely loves doing it. His passion for playing baseball and his love for what he does is more contagious than getting contact drunk at a high school party. He was quoted just before the 2016 season started saying “I want to be in the playoffs. I want to be cold in April, and cold in October.” You couldn’t ask for a better mentality from anyone, let alone a young stud going into his sophomore season. Nothing is scripted. Nothing is an act. Franky Lindor brings every inch of himself into work every day, and it shows. As far as playing, his enthusiasm is through the roof in the way that Nick Swisher’s never was, while being as humble as can be. All of that is reflected in his determination at the plate, and focus on the field. If there is anything more that anyone could want in a future franchise player and leader of the squad than I’ll go out on a limb as say that player doesn’t exist. Francisco Lindor is the real story that fairy tales are based on. Cleveland fans will forever be hesitant and cautious, but the collective belief is that Lindor is the biggest missing piece the Indians have needed since the 90s.

Lindor does baseball stuff good

Asking me to name off minor guys to talk about is like asking me what my favorite bar is, deciding isn’t easy. First of all, I cover the Indians short season squad in Mahoning Valley for BurningRiverBaseball.com, and I am blessed to see the future of the franchise before most others. Last season, the Indians drafted a collection of pitchers that I will drool over for years. Switch-pitcher Ryan Perez was one of them, and my gem of the draft; the way he can top out above 90 mph with his left AND right arm gives me all the best feels. Another pitcher that blew my mind was the young Triston McKenzie, who is ranked in the Indians’ Top 10 prospects. Waiting for the day I get to watch him on the mound is like waiting for Christmas after winning the lottery; I fell in love when I saw the level of deception between his top three pitches, and his 90+ velocity at the wee age of 17. You can quote me years from now, because I believe he has the potential to be the flame-throwing lovechild of Aroldis Chapman and Randy Johnson.

Other pitchers that should be noted would be the Tribe’s first pick from 2015, Brady Aiken, who was dropped from Houston after being picked first in 2014 due to the need of Tommy John surgery. Higher up in the ranks would be guys like Mike Clevinger from Triple A Columbus, Shawn Morimando from Double A Akron, Luis Lugo from High A Lynchburg, and a hopeful comeback year for Kieran Lovegrove in Low A Lake County, just to name a few.

Off the mound: Blaze Ka’ai Tom (A) is a stud Left Fielder with a canon for an arm and one of my favorites without a doubt. Bradly Zimmer and Clint Frazier will start the season in Akron; The heat around these Center Fielders is nothing new. Around the infield, a name that comes to mind before any other would be 1B Bobby “The Assassin” Bradley (A+). His glove is impressive, and his bat is nasty. Others who I recommend following would be Willi Castro, Mark Mathias, Yandy Diaz and Nellie Rodriguez.

Were Cleveland fans generally rooting for the Mets during the 2015 World Series? How difficult has it been to witness the success of the Royals in each of the last two seasons after being so close to a postseason run in 2013?

I don’t know about other Tribe fans, but I’ve been a closet Mets fan since living in New Jersey while they made it to their last playoff run in 2006. There was no way in hell I would have become a Yankees, RedSox, or Phillies fan. Since then I’ve always looked at the Mets as the NL Indians, and cheered for them from a distance. When the World Series came up, I wasn’t about to start rooting for the Royals. I will never downplay their talent and their will to take over baseball no matter how it had to be done. Whatever they had to do to build a machine that does nothing but win, they did it right. To an extent, both teams that made it to the Series last year can inspire some sort of hope for teams who are in similar situations now that the Mets and Royals were in a few seasons ago. They proved that you can be pieces away from a winning team, and still make it and then some. Both teams did it in completely different ways. Some would say KC almost bullied their way into the playoffs after just losing in the world series the year before. Whereas the Mets were only a few pieces away from perfection and found their missing puzzle pieces just in time.

The World Series introduced the baseball world to the Mets’ young pitching; what are your expectations of the Indians when they go up against the Mets hurlers? Anyone in particular that you’d like to see on display at Progressive Field?

To be honest, I’m not sure what to expect. Both teams have pitching rotations that have arms gifted from the baseball gods. During the off season, the Indians added some bats to the mix that have the potential to hold their own. I’ve only seen it work once so far, where each piece did their job to get the win; Mike Napoli going yard, Carlos Santana going yard, rookie Tyler Naquin getting his first hit, and it worked. Can they do it against a staff build almost as solid as our own? I guess we shall see.

As far as guys I want to see, without a doubt Jacob deGrom. Anyone who says otherwise is insane. It’s bigger than just him being a solid starter; I see some weird sort of poetry in the windup of a pitcher, and I think it’s beautiful. Paying that extra attention to their mechanics and the differences in their flow and form for differing pitches. It gives me chills. Also, I’ve always been a Matt Harvey fan since my closet love started, and I’m secretly hoping to see Bartolo Colon, even though his arm and it’s filthiness is still terrifying even at this point in his career.

What are fans hoping for out of the Tribe’s 2016 campaign, and what are we likely to see?

You’re likely to see things happen at ‘The Jake’ that you’ll never see again or anywhere else.Our starting pitching staff will be looking to play to their potential of being one of the best. The look to repeat on leading the league in Ks, while everyone hopes that they also rack up innings pitched – going deep into as many starts as possible. The Indians are led by three ace-quality arms, who each can separate themselves individually from the pack of all other MLB starters while still dominating as a squad. In the last few seasons, eyes were always on Ace Corey Kluber, as they should be, while this year I believe they will refocus to another star flamethrower by the name of Carlos Carrasco. If you see the name “Cookie” come up in an article, a tweet or during a podcast, he would be that same monster.

There is a rumor that is going around that ‘Cleveland Rocks’. Is there any truth to this – particularly when considering the beer scene? We’ve heard of Great Lakes Brewing, and other local ‘must-have’ craft brews?

Yes, the rumor is true, Cleveland does in fact rock. Currently, it’s a frozen town awaiting a late-season Snowpocalypse, but it still rocks! Luckily though when the weather gets iffy, the brews around town flow a little bit smoother. For the last few weeks I’ve been working on a podcast with a friend of mine called Cleveland Baseball And Brews, obviously talking about baseball, but also featuring local beer and the best places to find them. The bar scene is growing in downtown Cleveland and around the city. You can find almost anything to fit every taste. Like something a little different to drink? Try Butcher and Brewer’s Albino Stout, it’s my favorite, and I’ve been looking around town for other bars who have it (Tremont Tap House has it on draft!)

Yum! It looks like Boddington’s and it’s Caitlin’s favorite!

Feeling a little hoppy? Fatheads’ HeadHunter IPA is a solid choice. I’m not the biggest IPA fan, but that I will gladly enjoy, also, the food at Fatheads is amazing. I recommend the pulled-pork ‘headwich’ (a sandwich the size of your head) called “The Devine Swine” and their deep fried pierogis. Also, their daily beer menu changes, so if you see a brew you’re curious to try, make sure to find out if it’s on that day’s list!

Another great beer that is a must is from Platform Brew House, New Cleveland Palesner, and it’s flawless. They’re located in Cleveland, though their collection of new aged beers is popping up everywhere.

There are also places that you can buy all sorts of beers, local, domestic, international, and weird. Lily’s Handmade Chocolates in Tremont makes treats from scratch that are to die for, while also housing an impressive selection of brews and wines for any taste. It’s tucked away at the point of a fork in the road, but within walking distance from other great placed to check out in that area.

Cleveland has taken so many steps forward into the world of great food and beer, and so much of it is central to everything.The few options I gave you are just an inch into the ridiculous-amazingness of what my city has to offer, and I encourage you and anyone else that visits my home to explore and be as bold as possible.

What else is out there that you’d recommend to a visiting fan for good eats and suds?

Living just 10 minutes from the ballpark, the outskirts of the city are my favorite places to venture. Tremont, Ohio is a fantastic little spot with mind blowing views of the city. Bars like Fat Cats, Bourbon Street Barrel Room and Edison’s are all amazing choices, with equally amazing beers and food. All of them, and others, are within walking distance of each other, though make sure that you’re ready for a search when parking. Fat Cats is a small joint, cozy but classy. It’s not the place to go for bar food, though their burgers are very good. They offer dishes like fried cheese in tomato jam, sweet potato shrimp, and squash risotto, accompanied with a smaller selection of draft and craft brews. Walk outside after a lovely evening, and take a few steps down the street to the most beautiful view of downtown. If pizza is more your style, Edison’s is a must. Want bacon on the ‘za? Expect a pound of it per piece, they do not disappoint. I must point out though that Edison’s pizza and Edison’s bar are two different places, though they share the same building. What is nice is that while waiting for your pizza, you are welcome to step next door and enjoy a drink in the most gorgeous little bar. Bourbon Street Barrel Room is only a few steps away also, very swanky, comfortable, warm and very inviting. You walk in and you know you’re in for something good. Hush Puppies and Abita brews are a must. I tried my first taste of alligator here, and I was sold.

Ohio City and Lakewood are two other cities where you can find just about anything. From Soho’s whiskey and dreamy friend chicken and waffles in Ohio city, to 16Bit’s beer fueled grownup arcade and lack of kitchen (allowing you to order out from ANYWHERE around town; Melt, Angelo’s Pizza, Boho Pizza, Degan’s Kicthen and Bar, just to name a few…) in Lakewood, the options are limitless.

Thanks again to Caitlin for her thoughtful, comprehensive analysis!

Standings & Probables

Nationals 6-1 .857
Phillies 4-5 .444
Marlins 3-4 .429
Mets 3-5 .375
Braves 0-8 .000

Friday, April 15 Bartolo Colon (0-1  1.23 ERA) vs. Cody Anderson (0-0 3.00 ERA)

Saturday, April 16 Matt Harvey (0-2 4.63 ERA) vs. Josh Tomlin (0-0 0.00 ERA)

Sunday, April 17 Steven Matz (0-1 1,000,000 ERA) vs. Corey Kluber (0-2 4.85 ERA)

Beer From the Bad Guys

Rockmill Brewery Petite Saison

The beer of choice for this series is a Belgium style saison that hails from Lancaster, Ohio – about two and half hours south of Progressive Field. The nose of the beer was pleasant – an aroma of yeast and banana complimented by orange peel, lemon, and cardamom. FullSizeRender(1)

I had high expectations before the first sniff; the beer is presented beautifully and cost a pretty penny. Unfortunately, my expectations were lost in the dark fog that billowed up in my glass as I poured the suds for tasting. I had ordered this beer online and had been anticipating this particular review for a couple of weeks. Through google image searches, I was expecting haziness, but not to this extent. I’m not sure if it would be fair to give the beer a full review for this reason; I’m going to give Rockmill Brewery the benefit of the doubt here and assume that my bottle either sat too long or something happened in the shipping process. Even at its presumed worst, the beer wasn’t terrible. You can tell that it is intended for easy drinking, as it was light on the palate but still had some complexity in the flavors (very similar to what was present in the nose). There was some funkiness to the taste however, and it was bit flat – but it’s hard to really know if that was unique to my bottle.

No Scouting Report. Hopefully the Mets travel to Ohio better than this beer traveled from Ohio, because I don’t think our offense can get much flatter than it has been in New York!

Let’s Go Mets!!!

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