Indians Team Reminds Me of 1994 Team

When reminiscing about the 1994 MLB season, it’s hard to forget that the season was shortened by the players strike. The strike wiped out the rest of the regular season, the playoffs and for the first time in a long time, the World Series.

Even though the season was cut short, it was the beginning of Progressive (then Jacobs) Field era in the mid-90s. With a new stadium and a much different product on the field then the season before, the 1994 Cleveland Indians started winning from the very start and gave reason for fans to believe. The team had it’s ups and downs during that season but the remaining pieces of the puzzle were added a year later.

A lot has changed since that season in 1994, however, this 2011 Cleveland Indians team is very similar to the ’94 team.

While the Dolan family has not spent as much money on the team as their predecessor the late Dick Jacobs did, both teams are similar based on the potential to improve and contend. The ’94 Indians started to piece the puzzle together with a lineup that included Carlos Baerga, Albert Belle, Kenny Lofton, and Omar Vizquel and managed to stay above .500 with that core. As for the 2011 Indians, with a core of Travis Hafner, Asdrubal Cabrera, Michael Brantley, Shin-Soo Choo and Carlos Santana, the team has stayed above .500 for a good portion of the season with room to improve.

When looking at the pitching on both teams, there were a couple of key starters and relievers but both teams needed improvement in the rotation. The ’94 rotation consisted of consistent winners like Dennis Martinez, Charles Nagy, Mark Clark and Chad Ogea and inconsistent pitching from an aging Jack Morris (who would leave the team in August that year) and Albie Lopez. This season’s rotation has consisted of consistent winners such as Justin Masteron, Josh Tomlin, and Carlos Carrasco but has had holes with Mitch Talbot (who was designated for assignment and sent to AAA Columbus), and Fausto Carmona. Both teams had the core of the rotation in place but needed a couple more starters to make it a more powerful rotation.

As for the managers, Mike Hargrove (who managed the team in ’94) and current manager Manny Acta have two different styles but had similar opportunities to succeed early on. Hargrove managed to take the rising talent the Indians had in ’94 and got the team to play competitively during the first few months of the ’94 season while Acta has surprised many this year with the work he has done with the Indians. Not many were sure the ’94 would contend and it was predicted the 2011 Indians would finish last before the Fourth of July would hit. Both managers proved the critics wrong and managed to put competitive teams on the field when they were not supposed to.

While both teams are similar, there is one major difference between the two teams. No one will ever know what the ’94 Indians could have accomplished due to the strike shortened season (the same argument could be made for the ’94 Montreal Expos, who had the best record in baseball at that time) but with no strike or lockout in sight, we will know the fate of the 2011 Cleveland Indians.

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~ by jeffrsabo on August 7, 2011.

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