Though the Cleveland Indians had multiple holes to fill from last season’s miserable 69-93 ledger, the only thing the club did in the offseason was to sign 36-year-old infielder Orlando Cabrera.
Cabrera, who will be playing for his seventh team in the last 14 seasons, spent the 2010 campaign with the Cincinnati Reds where he hit .263 with 33 doubles, four homers and 42 RBI in 123 games.
The native of Columbia led the Reds with 119 starts at shortstop, hit .326 against left-handed pitching and batted .306 in the second half of the season.
The lack of moves, as well as some health issues, were all oddsmakers needed to know when they set Cleveland’s future books prices and the club’s over/under’ win total.
Pete Korner, who distributes the betting line to the majority of Nevada sports books as owner of the Sports Club, has assigned the Indians an over/under win total of 70 ½. That’s the fewest wins of any team not named the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Korner also made Cleveland a 200/1 long shot to capture the World Series, 100/1 to take the AL pennant and 30/1 to win the AL Central crown.
Cleveland’s health issues involve Grady Sizemore, Carlos Santana and Travis Hafner.
Sizemore was hobbled by an elbow injury two years ago, and the three-time all-star centerfielder missed most of last season after having surgery on his left knee. The 28-year-old managed just 128 at-bats in 33 games and hit .211.
Hafner hasn’t played a full season since 2007 due to a shoulder injury. The big lefty’s days as a feared power hitter have passed. He swatted just 13 round trippers with 50 RBI last season in 396 at bats encompassing just 118 games.
Santana looked like a rising star during the first two months of the 2010 campaign, but he injured his knee during a home-plate collision and had season-ending surgery. The 24-year-old finished with six homers, 22 RBI and a .260 batting average in 46 games.
The pitching staff is frighteningly thin after Fausto Carmona, who is coming off his best season since 2007. Though the hard-throwing righty went just 13-14, he posted a respectable 3.77 ERA and had four complete games.
Chris Perez stepped up last season and provided the team with a fairly reliable closer. The 6-foot-4, 240-pound right-hander converted 23 saves in 27 opportunities, had a nifty 1.71 ERA and fanned 61 batters in 63 innings.
Cleveland went 18-31 during the first two months of the 2010 campaign. They could improve right out of the gate a bit this season by playing 27 home games in April and May. Unfortunately, the Tribe must make two trips to the West Coast during the first two months, including playing the Angels twice in Anaheim.
Interleague competition will include home games against the Reds, Pirates and Rockies and road outings versus San Francisco, Arizona and Cincinnati.
The Indians were a dismal 5-13 against NL competition last year. They were 38-43 at home, 31-50 on the road, 18-28 versus southpaw starters, 23-21 in one-run games and 6-6 in extra innings.
Things might get even worse for the Tribe if they can’t stay out of the trainer’s room. That might mean a trip to the AL Central basement with fewer wins than they accumulated last year.
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