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The Cleveland Indians Preview: Second Base and Shortstop--EHC Podcast 15--4/8/15

(Photo: Mark Duncan/AP)
Mike Hattery and Jim Pete continue their question to "preview" the Cleveland Indians, position-by-position. I know, by the time they're done, it'll be the All-Star break, but c'mon, It's their third podcast in four days. Dare I say...consistency?

Today, Jim and Mike focus on two of the most important positions on the roster for a variety of reasons: second base and shortstop. Last season, the Indians opened up with Asdrubal Cabrera at shortstop, and Jason Kipnis at second. Before I go any further with this piece, to say that Cabrera was a "shortstop" is borderline criminal, and that's before I get to his offense (Cabrera apologists need to get off that train).

Defensively, Cabrera had turned into a range-less train-wreck, and once Jason Kipnis tore is oblique on April 29th, the Tribe's up-the-middle defense looked like something you'd find festering at Crystal Lake on Friday the 13th.

Why should we be optimistic in 2015?

Well, start with Kipnis. August Fagerstrom wrote an extremely strong debut piece discussing Kipnis and that oblique, and while it focuses on his offense, it's clear that it hindered him in likely everything he did that required movement.

Kipnis struggles defensively anyways. Combine that with the offense, and you have a player that didn't contribute much last season. While it's hard to prove the health of that oblique even now, Kipnis looks better, moves better, and should provide better pop and defense.

Taking Asdrubal's place at short last year was Jose Ramirez, and the youngster will start the season there this year. #JRam looked like a superstar at short compared to Cabrera, and while comps make him look good, so did his stand alone performance. While it's likely that Ramirez won't spend the entire season at short, he will no doubt look better in his sleep, compared to last season (already has). He's rangy, and offensively, can provide speed and chaos in the nine-hole.

Of course, all eyes will be on Columbus, as the #Indians reigning #1 prospect is now knock...knock...knocking on Cleveland's door. How soon with Francisco Lindor make his debut in Cleveland? Can Jose Ramirez fend him off? Will Kipnis stay healthy?

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