By Greg Gulas
With Major League Baseball’s spring training about a month away, Cleveland Indians radio announcer Jim Rosenhaus is gearing up for his first preseason broadcast on Feb. 23 when the Tribe meets the Cincinnati Reds.
Speaking to the Curbstone Coaches on Monday at Avion Banquet Center, Rosenhaus said the Indians will have a different look, but there’s always turnover from one season to the next.
“We lost a lot of guys and I think fans are worried, but here’s an interesting stat that I just saw today,” Rosenhaus said. “From 1996-97, we had 12 new players on the roster and all we did that year was go to the World Series.
“Manager Terry Francona was in town last week and he was telling me sometimes it’s alright to shake up a roster,” the broadcaster said. “We have some work to do between now and spring training, so fans can expect some signings or trades.
“I’ll be surprised if there isn’t more movement.”
Rosenhaus has spent the offseason coaching his son Cole’s first-grade basketball team and watching his other son Nathan, a sophomore at Bay High School, play hockey.
He said he keeps in touch with his radio partner Tom Hamilton in the offseason, calling him the ultimate professional behind the microphone.
“What you hear is what you get,” Rosenhaus said. “He still works at it as hard today as he did when I started with him 13 years ago.
“He has a tremendous work ethic and it is a real pleasure to work with him. It is my opinion that when the Baseball Hall of Fame presents their next Ford Frick Award for current MLB markets in 2020, he should be their next choice.”
Rosenhaus said last year was fun because the Indians were the prohibitive favorite to win the Central Division, then went out and won a third consecutive divisional crown.
“Francisco Lindor had a great year and our starting pitching was the strength of the team,” Rosenhaus said. “Corey Kluber won 20 games, Trevor Bauer might have won the Cy Young if he did not get hurt and Carlos Carrasco also had a great year with 17 wins. Mike Clevinger won 13 games, Shane Bieber 11 and all are back.”
After being swept by the Houston Astros in the ALDS, the Indians front office has been anything but stagnant.
“We unloaded some salaries to get younger and now have some salary relief,” Rosenhaus said. “We had record payrolls the last few years and now have some flexibility in that area.”
Unloaded from last season were notable offensive contributors Yon Gomes, Yonder Alonzo and Edwin Encarnacion.
Kluber’s name has been bantered about the entire offseason.
“Corey gives you 20 wins and 200 innings so if the Indians were to move Kluber, then they would need to be blown away,” he said.
The former voice of the University of Buffalo men’s basketball team added that last weekend’s Tribe Fest at Cleveland’s Downtown Convention Center was a real hit.
“We had a record crowd with former players like Kenny Lofton, Carlos Baerga and Lenny Barker joining current players for some baseball fun,” he said. “There were interactive games for the kids and a wiffle ball field that everyone enjoyed.”
Rosenhaus feels that Lindor is the best player in baseball.
“When you look at Manny Machado and Bryce Harper’s numbers, Lindor’s are better.”