Tuesday, March 24

And Spring Training Rolled On

I was prompted by our editor Andy to write up a Tribe post to fill in the waxing gap that is late March here at the FCF, especially given the Siena win over OSU in the NCAA tournament. Just in case I didn't mention it a few times already, Spring Training isn't exactly a time of excitement and intrigue for the Indians. The real show is the fact that baseball is back. The Indians as an organization aren't ones to have a classic battle in Spring Training for a starting position. The only real question marks coming into the spring were the fifth starter and the seventh reliever. Not exactly what you would consider high intrigue. If you didn't already know, mlb.com Indians reporter Anthony Castrovince has done an excellent job tackling what he has named the excruciating minutia of the day. Look, this spring stuff isn't exactly exciting.

So another week has gone by and the WBC is mercifully over and what have we learned?

- Lee looked better his second time out. He did a better job of throwing pitches other than his fastball. If you remember last week Cliff was touched up for more runs in his debut than he gave up in all of the 2008 Cy Young campaign. It was pointed out that this performance was a) Lee's first outing of the year so he had to be rusty, b) he threw only fastballs to work on his release and spotting this pitch he used so effectively last year, and c) Lee was also pitching against the Texas Rangers, the team he will face Opening Day in Arlington in a couple weeks. Obviously Lee didn't want to give the Rangers' hitters too good a look. Look for his remaining outings to be increasingly more gamelike.

- I love Michael Brantley. Have you heard a bad word about this guy? Because I haven't. His stats thus far this spring are: .343 OBP, .344 Slugging, and a .313 average. Brantley was the player named later in the CC trade. While he isn't one to impress with his power, his ability to make contact and his speed have been impressive.

- A Hoynes report quoted a scout as mentioning how Hafner hasn't regained any of his bat speed. This, combined with his inability to drive the ball in spring training games, has drawn into question Hafner's prospective effectiveness this season. Castrovince took on a few questions in his last mailbag where he was more optimistic, pointing out that Hafner's bat speed is too subjective of a quantity to be overly concerned about. He also mentions that Hafner's pitch recognition isn't yet up to speed - slow that down and everything else gets messed up and a swing is bound to look slow. Time will tell - unless Hafner jumps out of the gates fast, this will be discussed at length for the rest of the season.

- A few weeks back I talked about Asdrubal Cabrera's offensive output being a little light. Well he's turned it around and now sits on a .405 OBP. Goes to show what I know. Hopefully last year's second half can be marked down as a big lesson learned for Cabrera.

- Victor Martinez is back, mark it down.

- It will be nice to see Mark DeRosa's return to the Indians lineup after a solid WBC performance.

- Zach Jackson and Scott Lewis are my favorites for the remaining reliever and starting pitching spots. Sowers got sent down today so it is Lewis or Laffey. This was Laffey's job to lose and I think he did, but I don't run a ball team so what do I know.

- I hear Barfield, while learning every position but pitcher, catcher, and second base, is still a little light with the bat. Oh well.

12 Days to Opening Day
Go Tribe!
(AP Photo/Paul Connors)

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