That was Then...
It was a tough season for the Tribe in 2012, as they finished 20 games behind the Division leader and only two from the basement.
Their rough season featured an 11-game losing streak and would eventually cost manager Manny Acta his job.
When they were able to get leads late into games, one of the team's strengths was their bullpen and specifically closer Chris Perez who collected 39 saves with a 3.59 ERA.
The Indians struggled all season with a lack of power; catcher Carlos Santana led the team with 18 home runs.
Second baseman Jason Kipnis was one of many that struggled at the plate for the Indians, but has continued to show marked improvements in the field.
One of the worrying things from the 2012 season was the performance of starter Ubaldo Jimenez, who led the league with 17 losses.
When the Indians acquired Jimenez they were hoping he would develop into a true staff ace but instead he seems to be quickly heading in the other direction, making it very hard for them to build their rotation.
...This is Now
The Bourn Identity
Landing one of the key free-agents this off-season will change the look of the Indians entire attack. Michael Bourn will bring speed and excitement to the top of the Indians' lineup
There were many off-season changes for the Indians, starting with the manager and down through the lineup.
Two-time World Series winning manager Terry Francona will assume the reigns of the team, after spending one year in the broadcast booth after leaving the Boston Red Sox.
Bourn was signed away from the Atlanta Braves and he will look to inject a spark into the lineup as well as provide top quality outfield defence.
One of the best clubhouse guys in the league, Nick Swisher, was also added through free agency. He should find time in both the outfield and at the first base position.
Justin Masterson will make the opening day start for the Indians and be counted on to be the top man in their rotation. Though he isn’t a household name, he does have the type of talent to be a solid major league starter, however asking him to be the ace could be more than he can handle.
Alongside Perez in the bullpen, the Indians also have solid reliever Vinnie Pestano, meaning they should be able to turn a lot of games into seven inning contests, assuming they are able to get leads.
If the lineup can gel and Francona can pull the right strings, the Indians could be surprise contenders in the Central.
If their rotation gets beat up or suffers injuries, their lack of depth will prove to be a major problem.
Every year, we look for players 26-years-old or younger that could make an impact on their team in the upcoming season. The player might have already established himself with a regular role with the team, or he could make their mark later on in the season.
Past Picks: 2012 - Jason Kipnis, 2011 - Carlos Santana, 2010 - Matt LaPorta, 2009 - Jensen Lewis, 2008 - Fausto Carmona, 2007 - Jeremy Sowers, 2006 - Fernando Cabrera, 2005 - Jhonny Peralta, 2004 - Victor Martinez, 2003 - Brandon Phillips
The youthful Indians open the season ranked 27th.
Slugging C Carlos Santana is the top-ranked Indian, at 28th overall.
For a team that doesn't necessarily project to be a contender, the Indians offer some fine fantasy value, particularly when it comes to upside plays.
Start with C Carlos Santana, who could still hit for a higher average, but his power makes him one of the top handful of catchers available.
The middle infield duo of 2B Jason Kipnis and SS Asdrubal Cabrera is appealing too. Kipnis isn't as proven, but swiped 31 bases last season and showed enough power to think he could be even better going forward.
Speedster CF Michael Bourn has no power, but his steals, runs and batting average can all be strong. On the other hand, 1B Nick Swisher doesn't run and probably won't hit for average, but he's hit at least 20 home runs in eight straight seasons.
The pitching is a total roll of the dice. Closer Chris Perez is proven, but starters Zach McAllister, Justin Masterson, Brett Myers or Ubaldo Jimenez are all risk-reward picks. Same goes for RF Drew Stubbs or young 3B Lonnie Chisenhall.