While we could ask for world peace as a holiday wish, we all realize that it’s a little bit too complicated of an ask for Santa or our family and friends to pull off, so we need to aim our sights a little lower.
So, with that practical approach, let’s consider some realistic holiday wishes for our 2023 Cleveland Guardians.
Healthy seasons for the team in general, and for José Ramírez, Mike Zunino, Aaron Civale, and Daniel Espino, in specific.
Perhaps the biggest x-factor for the 2023 Guardians and beyond would be to see Daniel Espino put his shoulder and knee issues behind him and become a contributor for the major league team at some point this season. But, of course, seeing José Ramírez put his torn thumb ligament firmly in the rearview mirror, having a healthy Civale build on the highest strikeout rate of his young career, and Mike Zunino make a full recovery from thoracic outlet syndrome are also absolutely crucial needs for the 2023 campaign. Plus, seeing all these fun players healthy enough to stay on the field is just plain fun.
Let Oscar Gonzalez’s miraculous ability to walk less than 4% of the time and yet put up a 120 wRC+ be real, please, please, PLEASE!
From the time that Gonzalez hit 41 homers in the minors in 2021, talent evaluators have been concerned with his inability to consistently take a walk. Can a hitter with one of the worst chase rates in baseball and a 37th percentile whiff rate really manage to put up above-average offensive seasons consistently? I don’t know, but I do know that I really, really hope he can. From walking up to the Spongebob Squarepants theme song to his boyish, wide grins, to flipping his bat to the moon after walk-off hits, I would like nothing more than to see Gonzalez as the Guardians RF/DH for the foreseeable future.
More magic dust so the Guardians continue to get the most out of pitchers in their development system.
For a solid six years now, the Guardians have managed to find a version of Santa’s magic dust to sprinkle on pitchers, getting the most out of castoffs/Rule 5’s like Enyel De Los Santos and Trevor Stephan and drafting a developing effective to great starters like Josh Tomlin and Aaron Civale, and Corey Kluber and Shane Bieber. Pitchers like Tanner Bibee are drafted and find an extra 3-4 miles per hour on their fastball (to be serious for a minute, we know this involves finding hard-working players like Bibee who do what it takes to get the most out of themselves). Other major league teams continue to poach talent from the Cleveland coaching ranks and yet the pitching factory churns along.
May their effectiveness reign forevermore, forevermore.
Four spirits ready to visit Paul Dolan for encouragement to spend the money needed to make a title run.
Perhaps Bill Veeck plays the role of Jacob Marley in our version of this classic Christmas tale, but I just want to be sure that as the Guardians enter into 2023 with a team that made the playoffs in 2022 as the youngest team in baseball that the owner of the team sees this as an incentive to spend to help push them over the top to maximize their chances at ending a World Series title drought about to turn 75 years old. I can accept the roster in its current state entering the season, but, come July, we need to see aggressiveness from both the front office and ownership to add as needed to fill roster holes and make this team a real threat to the likes of the Astros and Yankees in October.
An organization committed to making their work and fan environments welcoming to all people
As Trevor Bauer, unfortunately, re-enters the public spotlight, I am reminded of the Guardians organization’s missteps in the Mickey Calloway scandal and the recent news of T.J. House coming out and expressing his discomfort with the concept of doing so while playing. I hope the team can use these events not as reasons to endure some sort of public flogging but as an incentive to make any necessary changes to ensure that people of all races, backgrounds, beliefs, sexualities, and genders feel welcome to be a part of a winning and welcoming culture in Cleveland. I believe this can be the case in Cleveland, but it’s definitely something that putting an intentional focus on would help all of us Guardians fans be proud of rooting for a team that is not only successful on the team but making honest attempts to be the best they can be off it, as well.
Happy Holidays to the readers and staff of Covering the Corner. Looking forward to the 2023 year rooting on this team with you!