(CLEVELAND) -- My mind is racing. It feels like the Indians have done more this current offseason than the previous three combined. Instead of re-heating and re-packaging the same pieces, the Tribe along with new manager Terry Francona are looking elsewhere to improve their roster.
This new approach to their offseason has Indians fans buzzing with excitement and it has this beat reporter staying a little bit more busy than usual. Free agent signings like Nick Swisher and Mark Reynolds, taking players off the roster like Russ Canzler and Jeanmar Gomez and a three-team trade which sent Shin-Soo Choo to Cincinnati and brought Trevor Bauer and Drew Stubbs to Cleveland have highlighted the Tribe's offseason and they might not be done yet.
With thoughts continually swirling, here are just five to ponder for now:
1. Francona = instant respect: Despite his two World Series rings that he won in Boston with the Red Sox, ending "The Curse" not once - but twice, it still took until this week to understand how much respect and credibility new Tribe skipper Terry Francona has throughout Major League Baseball. In talks I have had with current Indians players, he is completely respected virtually throughout the entire clubhouse already. Michael Brantley told me he brings instant credibility to the Indians. Everyone realizes his credentials and if the Tribe does not succeed over the next few years under his watch, they won't have a manager to blame again. Without Francona, new outfielder Nick Swisher probably would not be here in Cleveland.
2. Debate in center field: Who will play center field for the Cleveland Indians next season? It's a question we should know the answer to by the time position players report to Goodyear, Ariz. however it is a thought worth pondering right now. It will either be Michael Brantley or Drew Stubbs in center field for the Tribe come Opening Day 2013. Yes, Brantley played center field for the Indians last season, however Stubbs, who was acquired by Cleveland in the three-team trade that sent Shin-Soo Choo and Jason Donald to Cincinnati, has been the Reds everyday center fielder the last couple of seasons. If I had to guess, I'd say it is Stubbs that gets the nod come spring training to man center field. However, Brantley has made it clear not only to me on "Indians Hot Stove Weekly" on WTAM 1100, but he even told Francona he prefers playing center field and wants to play center field.
3. Nick Swisher: For now, let's forget his .272 average from last season and even his 24 HRs and 93 RBIs. Those numbers will certainly help the Indians and the fact that Swisher hits from both sides of the plate is an added bonus. But I have never seen anybody this excited to come to Cleveland since former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar. The pure joy and excitement from Swisher at last week's introductory press conference was like something I have never seen before. We are talking about Cleveland...not Chicago, not New York, not even Los Angeles, we are talking about Cleveland. I want to substitute Allen Iverson's famous "practice" rant with the word Cleveland in this instance. However, being born and raised here I think it is tremendous for fans to see that somebody actually wants to be here. Swisher's positive attitude should influence the clubhouse and if the team is winning, it could be a nice formula for success.
4. More power: Finally the Indians have some reliable power pieces in their lineup. Along with Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis who have shown pop at times, the Tribe has added Mark Reynolds and Nick Swisher, which is over 45 home runs combined from a year ago. I'm not a chick that digs the long ball, but I do believe in driving the baseball and how instant runs off of something like a homer or a double can change the complexion of a baseball game.
5. Spring training right around the corner: My final thought is quick. Total Tribe Coverage on-air on WTAM 1100 and right here at WTAM.com will begin on Feb. 12. I arrive in Goodyear, Ariz. on Feb. 11 to cover the Indians in spring camp. Spring training is earlier this year because of the World Baseball Classic. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @CaminoTribe and check back here at WTAM.com for the latest news, blogs, videos and pictures surrounding your Cleveland Indians.
- Nick Camino