Originally written on Burning River Baseball  |  Last updated 11/14/14
There has been no season in recent history where the Indians have entered the season feeling so positive. Everything started with the signing of Terry Francona which completely changed the perspective of everyone in Cleveland. A slew of big free agent signing filled all the holes in the roster when it had looked prior to the end of the season that they would be filled internally or with AAAA Spring Training invitees (like Mike McDade). This has changed the expectations from being picked to finish in fourth, competing with the Minnesota Twins for last place to being contenders for the division title along with the Tigers and White Sox. All this may be a little overblown as the Indians still have a very problematic starting rotation and an offense that is still not on the level of the Tigers or either of the big AL West teams (the Rangers and Angels).  The good news for the Indians is two-fold. First, every part of the team has been improved from the 2012 season (and they actually played very well for the first half of that season). The defense has been dynamically improved, starting with the removal of the lead weights who stood in left field last year and replacing them with the greatest active defensive outfielder, Michael Bourne. With three career centerfielders starting in the outfield, it truly should be a "death to all flying things" situation. The biggest offensive improvement was switching out Casey Kotchman for Nick Swisher and adding a DH (Mark Reynolds) after playing most of 2012 with Travis Hafner on the DL. Even the pitching has improved with Derek Lowe and Tony Sipp (among others) gone, replaced by Brett Myers and a crew of top end relievers. The second point of optimism for the Indians is that this team is not built to win in 2013. Swisher and Bourne each signed four year deals while Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana, Asdrubal Cabrera and the other young Indians that were developed in house are under team control for years to come as well. In fact, the only players signed to one year deals are Myers and Reynolds, who each have replacements already with the team (Trevor Bauer and Jesus Aguilar) who should be upgrades for the 2014 season. This long-term establishment allows the Indians a window of contention much longer than just this year. It also leaves them able to compete this season by using the players signed to single year contracts. Remember to keep this in mind if the Indians struggle at all this year, that it isn't time to panic and pull the rip cord, instead, just relax and enjoy the ride.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Jay Cutler to start again due to Jimmy Clausen concussion

Aldon Smith was reportedly drinking with Ray McDonald

Johnny Manziel ruled out for Week 17 with injury

Dwyane Wade hopes Heat fans give LeBron a warm reception

Adam Silver: No NBA team is tanking

Penguins having three more players tested for mumps

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Jay Cutler is not the answer for the Titans

Josh Smith released by Detroit Pistons in surprising move

13 amazing NFL stats from Week 16

JJ Watt's bloody face defines 2014 campaign

Dominic Raiola insists he didn't intentionally stomp opponent

Jets call themselves the best 3-12 team in NFL history

WATCH: BYU, Memphis fight after Miami Beach Bowl

FSU sends recruit 75 reasons to play for Seminoles

Dale Earnhardt Jr., girlfriend wear great Christmas sweaters

Brandon Marshall: Raiola mocked my mental illness

Don't mess with Seahawks punter Jon Ryan

Niners OT asked Manti Te'o about his fake girlfriend

Darren Sproles' wife Michel fires back at Eagles critics

Steve Smith expects 'couch quarterback' criticism

WATCH: Tennessee walk-on gets scholarship as bowl gift

Raiders player gives game check to young girl in need

Game of the week: Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers

Yankees pay for education of slain officer's children

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

BYU, Memphis fight after bowl game

FSU sends recruit an eccentric pitch

Brandon Marshall unloads on Raiola

Did Aldon Smith violate probation?

Johnny Manziel ruled out for Week 17

An appreciation for Marshawn Lynch's crotch grab touchdown celebrations

D-Wade: Heat fans should cheer LeBron

Niners OT asked Te'o about fake girlfriend

Sproles' wife fires back at Eagles critics

Game of the week: Lions vs. Packers

'Manny' is the must-watch documentary about Manny Pacquiao

Breaking up the Brooklyn Nets

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.