Ok along with myself and many Tribe fans out there I still have a bitter taste in my mouth from last November. Seeing the Cubs celebrate on Progressive Field in a stadium that looked like a neutral site college football game is still haunting to me. What is different now from in years’ past is the anticipation that is surrounding this team. Many Tribe fans believe that this really could be the year the Indians can break through and with good reason.
Let’s remember a few things: 1. The tribe made it all the way to the World Series without Carrasco, Salazar, and Brantley. 2. The Indians did have a 3-1 lead, which tells us that they were good enough to nearly get the job the done. 3. This team is getting better and that is the reason for the optimism. So I know the title of this article reads ” The 2017 Indians better than the 90’s ?” I know a lot of Tribe fans will tell me to pump the brakes but hear me out, this team from top to bottom can be, if not better than those fantastic 90’s teams that fell short of that ultimate prize. Here is why…………………….
Yes, names like Dennis Martinez, Charles Nagy, Chad Ogea, and who can forget “The Bulldog” Orel Hershsier will bring back some great memories of Tribes past. Let’s be real honest here for a second, those guys were outstanding but this pitching staff that the Tribe bolsters now is better. Dennis Martinez and Hershsier were at the tale end of their careers when they got to Cleveland. Chad Ogea and Charles Nagy would be the 4th and 5th starters on this current team. Kluber is in his prime right now and Carrasco and Salazar are not too far behind. Bauer can be reliable when he has all of his fingers, and Tomlin pitched well in postseason until that rough outing in game 6 of the World Series. Also, let’s not forget the former number 1 overall pick Brady Aiken is lurking in the farm system along with ALCS game 5 hero Ryan Merritt.
The bullpen from the 90s versus 2017 is a no contest. This 2017 bullpen may very well be the best bullpen in Indians history. My god and heavens the performance this pen put together last year in the postseason was nothing short of spectacular. With names like Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw, Dan Otero, and how in the world can we forget “Bullpen Jesus”, “Miller Time” Andrew Miller. The bullpen looked virtually un-hittable at times. 90’s bullpen and some guys that were decent but if your going to ask myself or any other Indians fan if you had to choose between Jose Mesa or Andrew Miller closing the door, they will laugh and walk away from you.
Yes it’s really hard to compete against Omar, Kenny, and Sandy for how great they were. But this unit now as a whole is in-fact better. Thome, Belle and Ramirez where not great defenders, though they could hit the ball a mile. The defense now boasts one of if not the best 2B/SS combinations in all of baseball in Francisco Lindor and Jason Kipnis. Now, Lindor may not have the flash that Omar had but he is getting there and Lindor is a much better hitter than Omar. Though the Indians did have Roberto Alomar and Carlos Baerga for short stint I believe Kipnis is the better team player. Michael Brantley is a quality outfielder along with Lonnie Chisenhall and Tyler Naqiun. Many Tribe fans still have their heart set with Sandy, but you can’t go wrong with the defensive play of Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez.
Yes a weird way to compare these two different generations of teams. Unity is huge when it comes to not just baseball but in all of sports. Those 90’s teams had a lot of individual stars who eventually bolted for more money instead of sticking together and fighting through the adversity. That’s where this Indians team is different. You see how much these guys love and enjoy one another. Not saying that those 90’s teams didn’t. You just see it more with this team. You feel as if this team now handles adversity well. And I firmly believe that this team may have “IT” and whatever “IT” is will take this team to where those great 90’s team couldn’t. That is to a championship.