Blog Entry

Even if they fade, Indians are a 2011 success

Posted on: June 10, 2011 8:19 pm
NEW YORK -- There are two questions worth asking about the Indians, and there's no reason the answer to the two has to be the same.

Question 1: Can the Indians at least stay in the American League Central race all season, and maybe even win it?

Question 2: Will 2011 be a successful year for the Indians?

A lot of people are starting to suspect that the answer to the first question is no. The Tigers are hot, the White Sox may be getting hot, and the Indians' flaws have started to show. Their five-game lead shrunk to a one-game lead in just eight days, and there's every chance that next week's first-place battle in Detroit will begin with the Tigers -- and not the Indians -- in first place.

But even if the Indians never see first place again this year, even if they struggle to hold on with a winning record (they entered the weekend 34-26, after a 30-15 start), there's absolutely no doubt that the answer to the second question is yes.

As much as we talk about the Royals as the rising team in the Central (the team to watch in 2013, as I called them this spring), what's happened in the first 2 1/2 months proves that the Indians are every bit as much a team to watch for the next few years.

I missed that this spring. So did every scout I've talked to who saw the Indians in Arizona.

So, in some ways, did the Indians themselves.

"It's gone quicker than we thought," manager Manny Acta said Friday. "It's fun, because it's actually shortened up the plan."

The key so far has been the development of 25-year-old shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and 24-year-old outfielder Michael Brantley, who now look like players you could build around. Indians veterans say that Cabrera's leadership skills have impressed them every bit as much as his considerable on-field skills.

"He's got that 'it' factor," infielder Adam Everett said. "And it's fun to watch."

Indians players also rave about pitchers Alex White (currently on the disabled list with a finger problem) and Drew Pomeranz (currently at Class A Kinston).

Reliever Chad Durbin, who spent the last three years with the Phillies, said that even this rough stretch will be good for the Indians youngsters.

"It's outstanding for guys to learn how you feel when you win," Durbin said. "But it's also good to learn how to handle it when you don't -- especially when you're in first place. It's different to be a lead horse in any race."

The Indians have been the lead horse in the AL Central since April 7. There's every chance that run at the top will come to an end soon, every chance that this Indians team isn't good enough or ready enough to hang in there all season.

But there's also every reason to think that the Indians will be heard from again very soon.

"It bodes really well," Durbin agreed.

And long-term, that's more important than a couple of months in first place.


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Even if they fade, Indians are a 2011 success

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Even if they fade, Indians are a 2011 success

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