Free-agent outfielder David Murphy is dead. Cleveland Indians outfielder David Murphy has taken his place. Murphy signed a two-year, $12-million contract with the Indians Tuesday, adding another solid, left-hitting outfielder to a team that never, ever wants to see the wrong side of the platoon advantage.
Positional primacy doesn’t seem to matter to Cleveland. This deal all but ensures that Nick Swisher will play mostly first base in 2014, and that Carlos Santana will mostly be the DH. Michael Brantley and Drew Stubbs, two guys perfectly capable of playing center field, will reprise their 2013 roles as corner outfielders who occasionally get benched for platoon purposes. Instead, the team has set about building a solid team with tons of depth, and an offense that simply can’t be exploited.
Yan Gomes bats right-handed, and right-handed only. In this, he is unique among Indians regulars. Swisher, Santana and Asdrubal Cabrera are switch-hitters. Brantley, Murphy, Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall bat left-handed. Stubbs is a bench player, whereas Murphy counts among the regulars, only because Stubbs will have the short side of whatever platoon he plays his part in. Ryan Raburn will DH and, presumably, see a bit of each outfield corner, adding another potent right-handed bat to the bunch.
The future of the Indians’ rotation, and run prevention in general, is murky. Their defense was surprisingly bad in 2013, and the strikeout-mad pitching staff bailed them out. It’s not overwhelmingly likely that Ubaldo Jimenez will be back. That would leave Justin Masterson and Danny Salazar at the front of the rotation, with a lot of questions (like will Trevor Bauer ever get his career straightened out?) behind them. The bullpen was average last season, but there doesn’t seem to be a ton of upside from there.
Offensively, though, the team that (I’ll just bet) surprised you by scoring the fifth-most runs in the American League last season should be able to replicate or improve upon that figure. That the lineup is even more stacked with lefties than it was in 2013 suggests that, after losing 15 of 19 to the division-champion Tigers and their all-right-handed rotation, the Indians intend to make a strong push for the division title in 2014. Murphy is a positive addition, and should aid them in that pursuit.Next post: A Balanced Schedule: Minnesota Twins – November 20
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