The Cleveland Indians off-season is off to a terrible start. The team has failed to make any significant moves before the start of the Winter Meetings Monday in Nashville, talk of trading top players (Cabrera, Choo) have made their rounds, and the latest comments from team president Mark Shapiro this week may just be the icing on the cake.

Shapiro agreed to answer emails from fans regarding the upcoming season. One fan asked him why they should renew their Indians season tickets for the 2013. This is where things went downhill.

Shapiro told the emailer if their only reason for purchasing them was to see the Indians win, “Don’t come”.

When asked to clarify his comments a day later, Shapiro said:

“I told him if the sole reason, the only reason, for renewing is predicated on us winning, then they shouldn’t come,” Shapiro said. “I stand by that. Baseball has to mean more than just being a fan when you win.

“No where are we spending more of our time, more of our energy or more money in trying to win. We all understand that the single-most important thing in baseball is winning and losing. But we are always going to have cycles to when we can win.”

I’m still having trouble figuring out how this concept will translate into that particular fan saying, oh sure, in that case I’ll buy two. Even with a payroll expected to be in the neighbourhood of the $65 million they spent last season, you can still compete. Indians fans were treated to two outstanding and surprising starts to the 2011 and 2012 seasons, only to see them fall quickly after the All-Star break.

Attendance at Progressive Field has been falling fast since the glory days of the late ’90′s. From 1996-2000, the team saw an average of 42,362 fans pack Jacobs Field. Last season, they ranked 29th in MLB, averaging 19,797 fans.

Just who will be on the field for the Tribe come opening day 2013 anyways? Baring any majors moves, here is the 2013 projected lineup and top five in their starting rotation.

 

2013 Projected Lineup (with 2012 stats)
1  RF Shin-Soo Choo: .283/.373/.441
2  2B Jason Kipnis: .257/.335/.379
3  SS Asdrubal Cabrera: .270/.338/.423
4  C Carlos Santana: .252/.365/.420
5  CF Michael Brantley: .288/.348/.402
6  3B Lonnie Chisenhall: .268/.311/.430
7  1B Yan Gomes: .204/.264/.367
8  DH Mike Aviles: .250/.282/.381
9  LF Ezequiel Carrera: .272/.312/.395

Note: This lineup will look a whole lot different if the Indians go through will deals for Cabrera and Choo, which should bring back pitching in return. The Indians don’t have a whole lot of depth at shortstop – Juan Diaz may be the closest to the majors – so getting a shortstop in return may also help.

2013 Projected Rotation (with 2012 stats)
1 Ubaldo Jimenez: 5.40 ERA/5.06 FIP
2 Justin Masterson: 4.93 ERA/4.16 FIP
3 Zach McAllister: 4.24 ERA/4.24 FIP
4 David Huff: 3.38 ERA/4.78 FIP
5 Carlos Carrasco: 4.62 ERA/4.28 FIP

Notes: The Indians intend on receiving pitching for position players, and don’t seem to be active on any free agent pitchers to date.

With this lineup, the Indians run of starting hot will likely come to an end, with a good chance of a last place finish on the horizon. The addition of manager Terry Francona was the one positive so far, but unless you give him players, the fans will stay away until this re-building project is complete.