You chose to move straight forward to spring training. I applaud your faith in the roster. And, guess what: immediately the young studs are showing their hunger to be on a big league club. Both Jordan Luplow and Jake Bauers rake in Arizona, batting over .400 with OPS north of 1.200. In the bullpen, Jon Edwards lives up to the hype, striking out a dozen batters while walking just three in 11 innings of work, allowing only two earned runs.
After an offseason of cost-cutting and rampant speculation about the team’s inactivity, things are looking good heading to Minnesota for the season opener. But, it’s Minnesota, and the March 28th game is snowed out after a storm drops half a foot on the Twin Cities. Under pressure from the league to get games in, Twins officials push forward with a game on the 29th despite bitterly cold temperatures. At game time, the temperature is 28 degrees, making it the second coldest game in Minnesota history. Things go alright in a typically low-scoring game, until the fifth, when Corey Kluber develops a blister from gripping the ball too hard, trying to get a feel for his breaking pitches. He leaves the game and hits the disabled list, where he will linger through the month of April.
Cody Anderson slots into the rotation and does as well as expected for a fifth starter (i.e., better than Tomlin last year), but April 17th in Seattle, Jose Ramirez slips rounding first base and tears his meniscus. The injury does not require surgery, but does sideline the slugging third baseman for six weeks. Yu Chang and Max Moroff provide slightly better than replacement level performance in Ramirez’s stead, but the Indians’ lack of offensive firepower and uneven bullpen has the team at a middling 30-28 at the end of May.
The AL Central is, as expected, poor again this season. Despite adding a few big names, the Twins are unable to muster much, with Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton continuing to underwhelm. The Royals and Tigers look very much like full-on rebuilding teams, but the White Sox have surprised many. After swooping in for Manny Machado a week before Spring Training with a 10-year $250 million deal, they added Brett Anderson and Gio Gonzalez on cheap one-year deals and have reaped the rewards. At 33-23, the White Sox hold the advantage in the Central as the summer kicks into gear.
As the GM, you have to decide:
Do you stand pat, expecting the White Sox to fade and the return of Jose Ramirez to bolster the Indians down the stretch? Click here to make no moves.
Or do you wade into the trade market and try to find an impact bat or reliever? Click here to make a midseason trade.