How do you see Cody Anderson doing next season? He finished great, but I'm skeptical. I think being surrounded by flamethrowers helped.
-- @bhall216 (via Twitter)
As we sit here today, Anderson would be a candidate, but not necessarily a lock, for the fifth spot in the rotation. Obviously, his place on the staff depends on a few things. Cleveland could trade a starter to help its offseason push or add some back-end depth starters, and veteran Josh Tomlin is also in the mix for a job either in the rotation or bullpen.
And, I agree, while Anderson posted a 1.66 ERA over his final seven outings, there are reasons to be skeptical. The big right-hander doesn't blow hitters away, as he relies on control, and his breaking ball still has plenty of room for development. That said, Anderson featured a highly-rated fastball and above-average changeup, and he found a formula that worked for 15 starts (3.05 ERA).
According to Fangraphs, Anderson's fastball had a rating of 6.6, which ranked 12th overall among American League pitchers with at least 90 innings. His changeup had a 1.5 rating, ranking 23rd in the AL (just behind teammate Corey Kluber's 1.7). Anderson did so while averaging 92.2 mph on his fastball and 83.6 mph on his change.
Being surrounded by the likes of Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar and Trevor Bauer surely helped Anderson's learning curve. It also helped having someone like Tomlin around. The veteran Tomlin is also a command-oriented pitcher, so he had a lot of dialogue with Anderson throughout the second half. Anderson looks like a solid fifth starter right now.
Given his back and shoulder injuries in 2015, might Michael Brantley work as the designated hitter more in '16? Does this broaden the offseason outfield search?
-- @SethAdamC (via Twitter)
The good news is that the injury does not involve Brantley's left (throwing) shoulder. The bad news is that his recent surgery involved the most important shoulder for his swing. Once he is back, I don't anticipate Brantley being used much as a DH, except in the standard way of giving him a break here and there. The fact that he'll be out for much or all of April certainly makes adding to the outfield crucial. Cleveland is examining options for both center field and the corners.
What do you think of a Carlos Carrasco-A.J. Pollock trade?
-- @AustenRuwe (via Twitter)
That was an idea proposed by MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince and I think it's one of the more interesting suggestions we've seen for solving what Cleveland needs. Giving up Carrasco would be tough, but Pollock is a plus defender, bats right handed, has hit .311/.363/.498 over the past two years combined and is under team control through 2018. This makes loads of sense as the foundation of a deal, especially given Arizona's need for pitching. That said, the D-backs might be more willing to explore a deal for outfielder Ender Inciarte than Pollock.
Are there any other players who will be posted from overseas that the Indians may bid on?
-- @TheRobMilota (via Twitter)
Since the club bid on Korean slugger Byung Ho Park, it's clear that Cleveland is willing to look toward that market. Another Korean outfielder, Ah-seop Son of the Lotte Giants, is expected to be posted and up for bidding on Monday. He's a corner outfielder with good on-base ability and has been compared to Nori Aoki. Cleveland has also reportedly shown interest in Korean right-hander Seung-Hwan Oh, though he can be signed as a free agent without the posting process.
Do you think a high-profile athlete like LeBron James could help influence free agents to come to Cleveland?
-- Antonio G., Long Beach, Calif.
Before the 2013 season, the Indians rolled out the red carpet for Nick Swisher, who was a premier free agent that winter. Urban Meyer, Jim Tressel and others all joined in the pitch and Swisher signed the biggest free-agent pact in Indians history. I'm not sure how much they helped, though. In the end, the money does the talking. Right now, the Tribe simply isn't in a position to outbid other teams for the top free agents. Not even King James can change that.
With the injury to Brantley, is there any chance outfield prospect Bradley Zimmer is the stating center fielder on Opening Day?
-- @JdotBrady13 (via Twitter)
Will outfield prospect Tyler Naquin be given a shot in Spring Training to win an outfield job with the big league team? If not, when do we see him?
-- @mistahjamess (via Twitter)
Let's knock these two out at once. Zimmer (Cleveland's top Draft pick in 2014) hasn't played above Double-A (49 games). Naquin (a top pick in '12) has logged only 50 games at Triple-A. Don't expect either to be on the Opening Day roster. Right now, just expect to see Naquin added to the 40-man roster next week to avoid having him exposed to the Rule 5 Draft in December. Both outfielders are rising fast and could hit the bigs in '16, but I'd be shocked if either broke camp with the Tribe.