A few guys on the Indians roster are starting to look like how they did in 2007. Jhonny Peralta has been hitting the ball well of late, and playing better defense at 3rd base. Grady Sizemore has been hot all Spring and is looking healthy, the 2nd spot in the batting order seems to be agreeing with him. Andy Marte has been hitting very well, 2 home runs in his limited playing time, trying to make the most of what is his most likely last chance with the Indians. Travis Hafner has hit 2 monstrous homeruns in the last 2 games he has played. I know it is still just over 2 weeks until the regular season begins, but I can’t help myself from getting really excited about the offensive potential of this Indians team. Shin-Soo Choo we all know is a stud, Grady Sizemore will get many more RBI opportunities in the 2-hole, Asdrubal Cabrera is a good leadoff guy while we wait for Michael Brantley (who it looks like more and more everday will break camp with the big league club as Russel Branyan continues to be a ghost), Matt LaPorta has been hitting well, Jhonny Pertalta looks more motivated and in better shape, Andy Marte looks like he could be a solid contributor off of the bench, Lou Marson and our other catchers have been doing pretty well, and then there is that big DH with the vomit-inducing large contract. Oh wait, he is hitting the ball like he is healthy… and it looks like his shoulder might not be the big issue this year. If how he is hitting and responding thus far in Spring Training with an increased workload and a new approach, the Indians could have regained a big presence in the middle of the order. I know this might just be me getting too excited, or reading way too much into this whole Spring Training thing, but it is an exciting prospect. Exciting to me as a huge Pronk fan who was very unwilling to give up on him the last few years. I think patience is being rewarded, and if distance on homeruns is any indication of his strength being increased than I would say it is a good sign. His homerun the other day, Thursday I believe it was, travelled close to 450 feet. To dead center field, it was a no doubt about it bomb. It definitely looked like the 2006-2007 era Hafner. He followed that up today with a moon shot to right field in the Indians 8 run 2nd inning. I could not find a reported distance on today’s homer, but it went all the way to the cat walk beyond the right field bleachers at the Indians Spring Training facility, easily pushing the distance of about 420 feet.
Monster homeruns and large RBI totals are what we grew accustomed to with Hafner as one of the best and most feared hitters in the American League back when the team was winning 90 games and screwing up all of our lives in the playoffs. And while it is VERY early, it is a very encouraged sign. Overall, the Spring Training performance of the team and most of the players has been very pleasant and surprising. I am starting to feel less and less dumb every day for having predicted the team to potentially compete in the division, and scoring in the range of 800+ runs this year. The entire unit looks like it is going to be very potent day in and day out, and sometimes having one of the most dangerous offenses can counter act some pitching deficiencies.
All of this aside, I have a suspicion that the year might be less depressing than we all were anticipating, and the team seems to be energized with a fresh coaching staff, new approach and a new year with lower expectations. Hopefully the Tribe doesn’t make me eat my words and look like an idiot once again, but we can only wait and see. If Pronk can complete his return to prowess, at 32, he could potentially have several more years of successful DH’ing and 30+ home runs. It is a very positive sign for a team that needs it’s anchor back in the middle of the order.