The Cleveland Indians finished last season 80-82, short of the .500 mark for the third year in a row. It was manager Manny Acta’s second season with the Indians. He spent the previous three with the Washington Nationals. Cleveland improved by 11 wins over the 2010 team and finished second in the AL Central after finishing fourth in both 2009 and 2010. With opening day not too far away Acta and the Tribe should be looking forward to a very successful season in 2012. Why? His fortune cookie told him so.
Seems like a good enough reason to me.
“That was unbelievable,” Acta said. “I’ve never gotten a fortune cookie talking about sports in my life . . . and I eat a lot of Chinese food. So that was a pleasant surprise.
“What’s so funny about it is I usually don’t even open the cookies, but my friend said, ‘Let’s open it and see what it says.’
Spring training hasn’t gotten off to the best of starts for the Indians. The team is 2-5 so far in the Cactus League. Through his first two starts 2010 All-Star Ubaldo Jimenez is 0-2 with an ERA of 9.00. Often injured outfielder Grady Sizemore had surgery on his back last month and is expected to start the season on the disabled list.
The good news is it’s spring training and these stats and records don’t mean much. Starting pitcher Justin Masterson had a career-high 12 wins last season with a 3.21 ERA in 216 innings and will be at the top of the rotation with Jimenez, who’s looking to regain his form from two years ago. Closer Chris Perez was fourth in the AL in saves (36) and fourth in save percentage (90). Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera won a Silver Slugger Award and had 87 runs, 25 home runs, 92 runs batted in, and 17 steals. You might have overlooked those numbers because he regularly made defensive plays like these. Carlos Santana is a potential All-Star and his 27 HR’s were second among catchers in 2011. Shin-Soo Choo is a near lock for 80 runs, 20 homers, 80 RBI, 20 steals, and .300 average if he plays 140+ games.
The Tigers won the AL Central last year by 15 games, the most by any division winner. And they landed Prince Fielder. Many will pick them as World Series favorites with division champions being a formality. But don’t count out the Indians. Their core is relatively young and continued improvement could keep them within reach of Detroit. Or everyone could have a career year and the Indians could win their first division title since 2007, AL Pennant since 1997, and World Series since 1948. Because you know fortune cookies are always right.