A Graphic Look at the Window to Win: Cleveland Indians


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Just in time for prospect season, we take a look at the idea of "windows" and a team's prime time to win. Inspired by what seems to be a once every three years rebuild for the Oakland Athletics, is there going to be a time where all their premier prospects hit and they'll have the best chance to win? Here we present the pleasures of trying to maximize production during one's service time.

Eighth in the series, we look at the Cleveland Indians. Ranked 27th overall by John Sickels, they have 0 A-rated prospects, 3 B-rated prospects, and 18 that are C-rated. Here's what Sickels says about their abundance of C-rated talent:

Indians fans may be discouraged by the large number of C+ grades, but they shouldn't be. While some of those C+s are future role players or relievers, the younger members of the group are high-ceiling guys who are just too raw or far away to get a higher grade just yet, but who could blossom within the next year or two. I'm thinking particularly of Araujo, Sterling, and the group of hitters who were backing them up in the Arizona Rookie League. The 2013 and 2014 lists could see a lot of those guys bumped up into the B-range (or maybe even higher) if they develop properly.

How does this system full of lower level talent affect their window to compete?

Taking a look back at the Indians of the late-2000's, it was just 2007 where they last made it to the playoffs with Cliff Lee/CC Sabathia tandem. The players they've gotten back are still blossoming and hopefully won't look like a total bust as Paul Hoynes from Cleveland.com might suggest. Here's what those hauls brought in:

CC Sabathia to Brewers for:
-Matt LaPorta
-Michael Brantley
-Rob Bryson
-Zach Jackson

Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco to the Phillies for:
-Jason Knapp
-Carlos Carrasco
-Jason Donald
-Lou Marson

LaPorta and Brantley will hopefully live up to their value with more playing time this season; Donald can expand on his 112 wRC+ in 143 plate appearances. Below is what their current roster looks like for 2012.

*New acquisition, Current roster info from MLB Depth Charts

Starting Lineup
1 CF Grady Sizemore
2 2B Jason Kipnis
3 SS Asdrubal Cabrera
4 C Carlos Santana
5 DH Travis Hafner
6 RF Shin-Soo Choo
7 1B Casey Kotchman*
8 3B Lonnie Chisenhall
9 LF Michael Brantley

Bench
C Lou Marson
1B/3B Jack Hannahan
IF Jason Donald
OF Aaron Cunningham

Starting Rotation
1 RHP Ubaldo Jimenez
2 RHP Justin Masterson
3 RHP Derek Lowe*
4 RHP Josh Tomlin
5 RHP Kevin Slowey

Bullpen
CL RHP Chris Perez
SU RHP Vinnie Pestano
SU LHP Tony Sipp
MID RHP Joe Smith
MID LHP Rafael Perez
MID RHP Dan Wheeler*
LR RHP Frank Herrmann

Others
RHP Carlos Carrasco + underwent Tommy John surgery in September 2011
RHP Roberto Hernandez Heredia (aka Fausto Carmona) UPDATE 1/20 - status unclear after he was arrested for identity fraud in the D.R. UPDATE 1/24 - will miss all of Spring Training

There seems to be quite a bit of infield prospects in their system, so it'll be interesting to see what they decide do with Asdrubal Cabrera. If he continues trending up, he can quite possibly for traded for prospects to make room for top prospect Francisco Lindor's arrival in 2015.

The Indians surprised a lot of people staying above .500 through the month of July, finishing at 80-82, and their closest to .500 since their Cliff Lee-led squad in 2008. There's a lot of promise here, but much like their division-mates the Royals and the Twins, they have quite the hill to climb in overcoming the new Detroit Tigers. As 2011 showed, they are best suited to try to win now. With their young squad performing now, they might even want to try to extend or offer new contracts to Choo and Cabrera so they can play through 2013. Would it be crazy to trade Lindor (in a few years) in a package for some players to help win?

See the previous graphics in this series: Mariners | Athletics | Astros | Cubs | Pirates | Royals | Twins

Check out FUNGraphs.info or follow me @cobradave for more.

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