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Indians broadcaster still optimistic about season

BEAVER TOWNSHIP — Spring Training is a little over a month away, and Cleveland Indians broadcaster Jim Rosenhaus is already gearing up for his first spring training broadcast, which takes place Feb. 22.

Like the players, Rosenhaus is excited when spring training begins because that means opening day is just around the corner.

Rosenhaus told the Curbstone Coaches during Monday’s meeting at Avion Banquet Center that the Indians will still be very competitive despite some changes from last year’s team.

“We’ve been on a great seven-year stretch, and while we haven’t won a World Series in a while, we’re still in line to put a team on the field that can reach the post-season,” Rosenhaus said.

“The Washington Nationals are living proof that anything can happen once you make it to the post-season, and the Indians can do it as well.”

If the Indians do qualify for the post-season and a make deep post-season run, they’ll have to do it without pitcher Corey Kluber, their two-time Cy Young Award winner who led the team to the 2016 World Series and is now a member of the Texas Rangers’ staff.

“Corey has meant so much to the organization, and with two Cy Young awards to his credit, he’s been the backbone of the teams that have made it to the post-season,” he said. “We’re going to miss the fact that other pitchers learned from him, but remember, we didn’t have him a lot last season through no fault of his own.

“It would be nice to have the two-time, Cy Young, Corey Kluber, but we still figured out how to win. Starting pitching has been a source of strength for the Indians, but that deal brought us a reliever, outfielder and second baseman which are all areas of need for us. We bolstered our bullpen and even moved some dollars around. The front office felt it was the right time to move him, certainly something they didn’t want to do but felt they had to do.”

One trade that worked out for the Tribe last year was when they traded catcher Yan Gomes to the Washington Nationals after the 2018 campaign.

“Many said, ‘How could you trade Yan Gomes?’ but that worked out for us,” Rosenhaus said. “It opened up playing time behind the plate for Roberto Perez and he went on to win a Gold Glove. He had a tremendous year, plus we received two prospects in Daniel Johnson and Jefry Rodriguez.

“Daniel will contend for a roster spot, if not on opening day then during the season and could very well become this year’s Oscar Mercado. It’s just a part of the game and because of our market size.”

Rosenhaus said it will be great to have shortstop Francisco Lindor back to start the season.

“Francisco should be with us on opening day unless the front office gets a call with a ridiculous offer,” Rosenhaus said. “Chris Antonetti, team president, feels strongly that we can win a World Series with him on the roster. In my opinion only, there are just three or four teams that can afford to sign him. The Indians love him, and he loves Cleveland, and while it’s a longshot to keep him, we’ll do our best to maximize him to win a World Series.”

Many in the audience, including Rosenhaus, agree that Terry Francona is the best manager in baseball.

“The game is changing,” he said. “Analytics are encouraged by the front office, and Terry respects that side of the game, but he also looks at the human side very effectively. He’s done really well by combining both areas, and the Indians have taken advantage of that.”

Rosenhaus will enter his 14th season in the catbird seat working alongside Tom Hamilton, whom he calls one of the very best to ever call a game.

“He’s the best,” Rosenhaus said. “He was one of eight finalists for Baseball Hall of Fame’s Ford Frick Award this year and is an icon in northeast Ohio. Everyone here loves him and the places that we go nationally, people love him as well. I’ll be surprised if he isn’t in the Baseball Hall of Fame one day.”

Next Monday, Youngstown Phantoms assistant coaches Jeff Potter and Nick Peruzzi will serve as guest speakers.