Additions: Orlando Cabrera and Chad Durbin

Subtractions: None

Projected Lineup:
CF Grady Sizemore
SS Asdrubal Cabrera
RF Shin-Soo Choo
DH Travis Hafner
C Carlos Santana
1B Matt LaPorta
2B Orlando Cabrera
3B Jayson Nix
LF Michael Brantley

RHP Fausto Carmona
RHP Justin Masterson
RHP Mitch Talbot
RHP Carlos Carrasco
RHP Josh Tomlin

CL Chris Perez

Cleveland’s rotation figures to inspire a lot of finger-crossing on days when Fausto Carmona isn’t pitching. While Josh Tomlin, Carlos Corrasco, and Mitch Talbot all have the potential to grow into useful starting pitchers, none of them is proven. And there are still doubts that Masterson, who was a capable bullpen arm for the Red Sox, is suited to start.

As for the hitters, the Tribe needs to find out if Carlos Santana can handle a full season of wear and tear behind the plate. They need to see if Michael Brantley, who hit .290 in August and September after an awful first four months, can get on base frequently enough to merit an everyday job. They need to give Grady Sizemore time to recover from offseason microfracture surgery, and Matt LaPorta deserves one last chance to see if he can live up to the hype he generated destroying minor league pitching.

Elsewhere on the diamond, Jason Donald will get a chance to challenge Jayson Nix for the starting third base gig, but regardless of who wins the battle, that player will likely ultimately be supplanted by prospect Lonnie Chisenhall, who Keith Law says has one of the sweetest swings in the minor leagues (ESPN Insider required). Free agent pickup Orlando Cabrera is another placeholder. He’ll likely play second base all season, but it won’t be too long before prospect Jason Kipnis is promoted to the big league club.

Because Cleveland has such a young team, with more young guns on the way, there is reason for optimism. Giving the kids a chance to prove themselves and take their lumps is the prudent move, long term. But it will likely make for a painful 2011 season. Those young players will have zero margin for error since the front office sat on their hands this winter. The 2010 Indians finished 25 games out of first place and this year’s team seems destined for a similar fate, or worse.

Grade: D

-Hot Offseason Action Index-

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