Monday, March 14

Wait, Opening Day is how soon?

Before we get to the Indians Spring Training and the inevitable discussions on Opening Day rosters and batting order I want to discuss a topic that has been bothering me a little, which is the loss of Indians beat writer Anthony Castrovince and his replacement, Jordan Bastian.

Obviously in a perfect world every beat writer would be from the town they cover, like Castrovince, and would be very good and funny, like Castrovince. But now we get Bastian, who is from Chicago and attended Michigan State, and at times in his Twitter feed will remind me in jarring fashion that he isn't from around here, even though I live like 250 miles from Cleveland. It doesn't make Bastian any less of a writer but it is annoying. Obviously in a perfect world every beat writer would be from the town they cover. Anyone else with me on this? OK enough rambling about beat writers on to rambling about the Indians.

Let's discuss the Indians situations with regard to the positions.

Catcher - Carlos Santana is coming off what looked like a really good introduction to the majors, a debut that unfortunately ended in reconstructive knee surgery. That 144 OPS+ will be a welcome addition to this team for an entire season. I will, however, mention that Carlos has seen some time at first base this spring.

First base - This is Matt LaPorta's position to lose and boy has he looked less than mediocre. Matty is coming off a season where he had 425 PA and posted a .668 OPS and a 88 OPS+.

Second base - Who are we going with here? Luis Valbuena? Jason Nix? Orlando Cabrera? I like Lando, but second base for the Indians will likely see a cavalcade of players destined to stump Andy on a Sporcle in the not too distant future.

Shortstop - Asdrubal Cabrera (our second Cabrera) only played 97 games last year and in doing so posted his lowest ever OPS+ of 90. Still, this is one position that you don't have to worry about, and thank god for that.

Third base - Before his recent hand injury I was glad to see the handsome Jason Donald being worked out at third this spring. In 88 games with the Tribe last year Donald sported a 94 OPS+ which for a rookie on this team is impressive. However if Jason misses significant time we might see Nix or Lando at third Opening Day.

Outfield - Sorry ladies, but Sizemore will not be ready for Opening Day - actually I believe he's being targeted for late April at the earliest. So we're left with the likes of Shin-Soo Choo, Michael Brantley, Shelly Duncan, Trevor "Columbus Resident" Crowe, and Austin Kearns. This pretty much is the squad from last year. Thank the baseball gods for blessing us with Choo and curse the baseball demons for making Scott Boras his agent.

Starting Pitching - After Fausto Carmona and Justin Masterson this should get troublesome. The likes of Carlos Carrasco, Mitch Talbot, and Jeanmar Gomez will likely see some time, but getting five guys up to about 20 games started isn't very likely.

Relief Pitching - Chris Perez was nothing short of a revelation in 2010. Actually you might be looking forward to the relief corps this year of Raffy Perez, Tony Sipp, Joe Smith, Jensen Lewis, and others, but we've been fooled by promising bullpen squads before. Let's hope getting to Pure Rage Perez will happen with regular consistency in 2011.

DH - Yeah I was hoping I forgot too. I want to write an Onion Sports article titled "Indians hoping Hafner forgets to make the trip to Cleveland if no one mentions it to him." Yes our DH is set to make $11.5 mil this year and will likely not be an everyday player. I haven't done the math (or even looked it up) but this will likely represent in the neighborhood of 1/5 of the Indians total salary.

So there you go - thank goodness for Shin-Soo Choo.

Me at Opening Day - "Choo what do you think about the North Koreans revealing that they have an active Uranium enrichment facility?!"

Go Tribe!

(AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)


Andy said...

So we're leading with Jayson Nix photos now, is that what we're doing?

Caskranowich was superb - not one bit surprised that he got a promotion for his work.

What, no plug for FCF's sponsorship of gator4god on baseball-reference? What am I paying you for?

I'm hoping your reference to Donald's looks is a reference to my ill-fated wedding party remark last summer. I can't believe there wasn't a record screeching in the background.

I think we'll see at least one breakout pitcher in the rotation. Tomlin looks like he might win the 5th slot.

PRP made the 2nd half of the Indians season very interesting. He was just a delight to watch.

"How do you think your nation should respond to the unprovoked shelling of Yeonpyeong Island by the North?!"

John said...

I suspect your first comment is a critique of my poor grammar and proofreading skills. Point taken, but this is my spring training too. Just ask Hafner and his four hits (three singles and a double) how spring training it going.

The photos available from spring training are pretty bad. I didn't want to showcase Choo (that will happen enough) and due to much of the baseball activity occurring mid-day most of the photos have the player's face shaded by their cap. That image of Nix should serve as a reminder of the issues facing this team.

I was totally going to plug the FCF sponsorship of Laporta's page but then it slipped my mind while daydreaming about how Mike and I were going to go through Major League to spot all the non-star player names.