I will admit that I did not see the Indians ponying up for Michael Bourn this offseason. Chris Antonetti certainly kept things quiet until word leaked out about a week ago that his team might be a possibility. That same stealthy approach is typical of Antonetti's offseason: quietly, the Indians have done a great job of upgrading a 94-loss team, bringing veterans like Bourn, Nick Swisher, and the morally-challenged Brett Myers, while trading for an incredibly talented young starter who is major-league ready in Trevor Bauer. Now that the team has committed the money to come this far, it's time to finish the job by taking the last remaining chess-piece on the free-agent board: Kyle Lohse, come to papa.
According to Baseball Prospectus's PECOTA projection system, released yesterday, the pre-Bourn Indians had jumped past the White Sox and Royals and are projected to win roughly half of their games in 2013. That's something along the lines of a 15-win jump, a huge improvement for one offseason. Now, Cleveland still has a way to go to catch the Tigers, who are projected to win 92 games, but even if they can't make up for that gap through some combination of good fortune and good play, they're much closer to the second wild card that MLB added last year. Indeed, if we project the second wild card winners back to 1996, the first 162-game season with the current three-division format, we see that the average "fifth seed" won an average (and also a median) of 89 games, although teams would have won the spot with as few as 84 (the 1997 Anaheim Angels).
With Bourn in Hand, Lohse Makes Sense for the Indians
Let's Go Tribe | Feb 12