Kings of Kauffman recently chatted with Steven Kubitza of the Indians’ FanSided affiliate. Instead of talking about the Kansas City Royals, today’s information is about expectations for the enemy. Enjoy!
1. What are your expectations for the Indians this season?
“I’m going to be bold and say the Indians are going to win the World Series. I would say that is a fair expectation with the way the team has played the last two seasons. The roster lost some key pieces in Carlos Santana, Jay Bruce, Bryan Shaw and Joe Smith, but added Yonder Alonso and still has one of the best cores in all of baseball.
I’m not sure the team will have another 102-win season, even with the weak AL Central, but it should be somewhere in the 95-98 win range. It is championship or bust once again after coming so close in 2016.”
2. Who is one under-the-radar player Royals fans should know about?
“Tyler Olson could be a player that Royals fans learn about rather quickly. He made 30 appearances for the Indians in 2017, logging 20 innings without allowing a single run. The Indians already have a dominant lefty in Andrew Miller, and Olson burst onto the scene as his heir apparent last year.
It was a small sample size, but Olson could easily become the third-best piece in the bullpen behind Miller and Cody Allen. Royals fans may be rubbing their eyes to make sure it isn’t actually Miller on the mound. That is until the lefty ace enters the game himself.”
3. Who is the one player that will give Royals fans nightmares in 2018?
“I’ll keep it simple and go with Corey Kluber. It is almost unbelievable how Indians fans can expect greatness from Kluber every single time he takes the mound. But the two-time Cy Young winner continues to amaze. He has a 2.98 career ERA against the Royals, averaging 9.3 K/9 with a 1.062 WHIP.
He only seems to get better as time goes on and there is no reason to expect any regression in 2018. Kluber is perfect for stopping any hot streaks built up by any team and could end a few Royals winning streaks once again in 2018.”
4. Which new member of the Indians will have the best season in 2018?
“The roster didn’t undergo many changes, so I’ll have to go with Yonder Alonso, who is the only real notable addition. He already has six home runs this spring and is coming off a career-best 28 home runs in 2017. It was his first season in which he reached double-digits in home runs, which seems to be due to a change in his swing. His performance this month seems to point to another career year for the slugger, and he will only add to the dominance already featured in the Indians lineup.”
5. How much longer will the Indians’ window remain open? When will it be time for a rebuild?
“2018 may be the final year where the Indians enter the season as a clear contender for the World Series. I say that because both Allen and Miller are free agents at the end of the year. However, players like Olson and Nick Goody easily provide more depth in the bullpen, so the damage may be minimal if the Indians are able to sign one of the two bullpen stars.
The rest of the core is also in place for several years, so this team has 3-4 more years of contending for a title. Even then, I don’t foresee a rebuild anytime soon. If the team keeps Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor in town on long-term deals, it is hard to predict the team even thinking about a rebuild. I say that now knowing that things can change with a few departures or an awful season, but there is too much optimism surrounding this team right now to even fathom a losing season.”
I’d like to thank Steven for doing this Q+A with us. Hopefully, all of you enjoyed this inside look at an AL Central rival. You’ll be able to find a Q+A I did with him on Believeland Ball soon!
Would you like us to do a Q+A with another team, Royals fans? What can we work on next time? Let us know what you think!