Cleveland Indians 2009 Spring Training Preview

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Cleveland Indians 2009 Spring Training Preview

Thursday we’ll be seeing Pitchers and Catchers report to Spring Training for the Cleveland Indians, officially opening up the new era of the Indians’ complex in Goodyear, Arizona.

In preparation for that and the official start of Spring Training, it’s time to take a complete rundown of all the big storylines and questions surrounding the team. Everything from injuries, prospects to look out for, position battles, possible cuts and of course an extra ring this year, the World Baseball Classic.

So without further hesitation, here is your complete rundown for the Cleveland Indians and their outlook for Spring Training.

Keep an Eye On

Michael Brantley, OF: People just want to see this kid play. Remember, he was in the CC Sabathia trade, but he was acquired after the season ended as the player to be named later. If anything, just pay attention to Michael Brantley, just to see what this kid is all about and if what they say about him is really true. Plus, you never know how much he’ll show that could make him a realistic option in 2009 at some point.

Wes Hodges. 3B: It’s important to track Wes Hodges. Not just to watch Hodges hit the ball, but to see how his defense is coming along. The belief is that Hodges bat is way ahead of the level he’s playing at, but his defense is way below the level he’s playing at. Hodges will be an interesting watch if you are paying attention to the Spring Training scene.

Vinnie Chulk, RP: He’s probably the most intriguing “hack-signing” the Indians brought in. He’s not really a hack though. Chulk has been a part of major league bullpens and he could be a nice option if the Indians don’t want to rush Miller or Meloan into a bullpen spot that won’t see them much action. They’d probably rather go with Edwin Mujica though, before they just throw him to the curb, but Chulk could be with Columbus till Mid-May if no one comes calling.

Prospect Dark Horses

Chris Gimenez, UTIL: Eric Wedge has made it clear he wants the final bench spot to go to someone versatile. If Josh Barfield shows that versatility, he is the favorite to win that spot, but is there anyone more versatile than Chris Gimenez? This is a youngster who can play third and both corner outfield spots, positions the Indians could use security at, and catcher and even hit a little. He doesn’t provide the speed Barfield does, and with Dellucci being your reserve outfielder, it would be nice to have someone other than Carroll who can run on the bench, but Gimenez has a realistic shot to win that bench spot. I’d really hold him high on the totem pole in terms of first player called up in case of an injury, depending on the situation.

John Meloan, RP: Watch out for John Meloan this spring. He was sort of held back in September after being called up, in large part to his workload as a starter with the Dodgers. Now he’s in the bullpen full-time and he could be a surprise winner of the final bullpen spot if things break his way. If he and Adam Miller end up in Columbus’ bullpen, watch out late innings.
Injury Watch

Aaron Laffey, SP: The left elbow issues are all cleared up for Aaron Laffey. It was an issue that probably wouldn’t have held Laffey out if the Tribe really needed him. Laffey has also taken it a step further and has taken Cliff Lee’s advice to strengthen his core to prevent another injury.

Fausto Carmona, SP: The Indians Cy Young contender from 2007 had a bad follow-up season with a few pesky injury issues, one being that hip-pointer from the middle of the season. All indications are though, that Fausto Carmona is healthy and has improved his control.

Anthony Reyes, SP: Like Laffey, Anthony Reyes gave the Indians a little scare with an injury. Instead of pushing it though, the Indians shut Reyes down. He should be healthy and ready to go and if that’s the case, he’ll get a rotation spot to start the year in the rotation.

Carl Pavano, SP: Do we even need to go over this? Carl Pavano has had tons of injuries in his time with the Yankees, but he’s passed the rigorous tests the Cleveland Indians give to all their signings. If you don’t know, the Indians really make people jump through hoops for their physical and the fact that Pavano passed must tell you something. Carl Pavano finished the year with the Yankees and it looks like he has a clean bill of health.

Jake Westbrook, SP: If you don’t know by now, Jake Westbrook had the dreaded Tommy John surgery in the middle of last season. Optimistic Indians say he’ll be back by mid-year, but we all know how the surgery has its lasting effects. I’m sure Westbrook will be back sometime this year; I’m just not sure, given the Indians cautiousness, if it will be on schedule.

Kelly Shoppach, C: You are probably saying, Kelly Shoppach is on the injury report? Yes, Shoppach underwent offseason knee surgery to clear up some minor issues. Shoppach should be 100% ready to go considering surgery was a success.

Josh Barfield, 2B: Josh Barfield’s dislocated finger is finally located and he should be 100% for this 2009 season and Spring Training. Good for him, because he has a lot to prove and needs to be healthy to do it. He finished the year out, not playing too much, but playing none-the-less.

Shin-Soo Choo, OF: It’s been awhile since Shin-Soo Choo had his Tommy John surgery. After sitting out the start of 2008, Choo went on rehab assignments and then started to make his mark with the big league club in the second half. Everyone knows it takes awhile to fully recover from a Tommy John surgery, not so much for hitters than pitchers, but Choo should be as close to 100% healthy as you can be.

Travis Hafner, DH
: The biggest injury concern for the Cleveland Indians this offseason. It’s Travis Hafner and his ailing elbow. Hafner and the Indians opted for a shoulder procedure, much along the lines of Kelly Shoppach’s knee surgery. They cleaned out all the “junk” that was giving Hafner’s elbow an issue and reportedly, his strength is returning. Hafner won’t be ready to go right out of the gate in Spring Training, but Eric Wedge and Mark Shaprio expect him to be ready to go early and to be 100% for the start of the Regular Season.

Victor Martinez, C
: According to Mark Shapiro, Victor Martinez is 100% healthy after a season in which he went through a surgery to remove bone chips in his elbow. The hamstring that he injured early in 2008 is also fully recovered and both of the injuries are reasons for the lack of power last year. Martinez is ready to go for 2009.
Possible World Baseball Classic Participants

Grady Sizemore, USA: Committed to play in the World Baseball Classic, Grady Sizemore will be roaming the outfield for Team USA. Sizemore should hold up fine and it might actually jump start him for the 2009 season.

Mark DeRosa, USA: He committed to playing for Team USA before his trade to the Chicago Cubs and when the trade went down, both sides deferred to the other. The Indians said if that was his wish, they would let him play, while Mark DeRosa said he’d back out if the Indians wanted him in camp. DeRosa will play and he shouldn’t be affected too much by missing some camp.

Rafael Betancourt, VEN
: You have to wonder how a guy who many think got burned-out from his 2007 workload is going to fair, especially since the last time he did the World Baseball Classic, he started the year off very poorly. Betancourt was on the preliminary roster though and if he’s going to play, he’s going to play.

Rafael Perez, DR: The lefty who is quickly being regarded as one of the few “rubber arms” in the sport can probably hold up with the workload he’s gotten, playing competitive baseball in the Classic and then going off and playing in 2009 full-go.

Jhonny Peralta, DR: He’s kind of overlooked in terms of playing in the game, but he’s one hitter I’d be worried about going in there. Peralta showed some consistency in the second half of last year, not falling into those funks he is prone to fall into and really solidified himself in the clean-up spot. Hopefully if he plays, this doesn’t toy with him.

Shin-Soo Choo, KOR: He’ll definitely be playing for his native land in the World Baseball Classic. Shin-Soo Choo won’t get immunity from his military expectations if he helps Korea to a WBC win, but it’s something he wants to do. His injury is pretty much good, he should be fine playing and who knows, it might get him focused before the season gets underway.

Masa Kobayashi, JAP: If he ends up making what could be a pretty good Japan squad, you have to wonder how good the Indians will feel about that. Masa Kobayashi was held out in the second half of the year because of conditioning and his past workload. If they expect Masa to be the guy from start to finish and hold up with regular use, the Indians cannot like him pitching in the World Baseball Classic.

Nick Weglarz, CAN
: Nick Weglarz was pretty much the man for Canada in the Olympics and he should make the team for the WBC. It could be a nice little stage for him to show his raw power.

Cirilo Cumberbatch, PAN
: Cumberbatch could start the year in Akron next to Weglarz in the outfield, but if he makes the Panama team, the long-time, but still young, Indian will be fine.

Damaso Espino, PAN
: The Indians aren’t going to worry too much about one of their minor league backup catchers playing in the WBC if Damaso Espino makes the team.

Paolo Espino, PAN
: The young right handed pitcher is probably destined for Kinston this year.

Sung-Wei Tseng, CTP: The Taiwan right-hander could play for the Chinese-Taipei this year in the WBC after getting to Akron last year. Sung-Wei Tseng should return to Akron in the bullpen, but an experience in the WBC couldn’t hurt.
Endangered Species

Andy Marte, 3B: He is probably the most endangered species on this team. He’s a lame-duck and if he doesn’t show something and show something quick, he’ll be on the fast-track back to Columbus, or some other team’s roster. With no versatility, no blinding speed, and the disappointment in terms of power, and just good third-base defense to bring to the table, he’s running on thin ice.

Edwin Mujica, RP
: With no options left, Edwin Mujica is running out of chances with a bullpen that was just rebuilt. Adam Miller and John Meloan are now right there, two obstacles that were not last year, and the heat is on. The lack of options might give Mujica a bit of a leg-up on the competition, but he still has to perform and perform well, something he hasn’t done successfully.

David Dellucci, OF: He probably won’t lose his job out of Spring Training, but if he really doesn’t do anything in the Spring, he’s going to be walking on thin-ice as well.

Position Battles

Final Bullpen Spot
Contenders: Edwin Mujica, Zach Jackson, Adam Miller, John Meloan, Tony Sipp, Rich Rundles, Vinnie Chulk, Greg Aquino, Matt Herges, Jack Cassel
Edwin Mujica has the no-options thing working for him and a lot of major league experience over guys like Adam Miller and Rich Rundles. However he’s got to still prove it. Zach Jackson is in the running for not just the final bullpen spot but also the final rotation spot brings a left-handed option and versatility in terms of pitching multiple roles.

Adam Miller and John Meloan are in similar positions, moving from rotation to bullpen and trying to get consistent innings from that spot. Tony Sipp is recovering from a Tommy John injury and should be ready to go, but probably not ready for Major League action. Rich Rundles got himself a shot at the end of last year and is in consideration being a left-handed pitcher. The four guys on minor league deals all have shots, but Jack Cassel being younger and Vinnie Chulk having some success probably stand the best chance. Greg Aquino could probably be in Columbus to start the year and Matt Herges is old, but has really come in recent years with Colorado.

Fifth Rotation Spot
Contenders: Aaron Laffey, Jeremy Sowers, Scott Lewis, Zach Jackson, David Huff, Kirk Saarloos, Tomo Ohka
Aaron Laffey is probably the favorite given his big league performance and flashes of brilliance over the past few years. He has gone to work in the offseason to get stronger and more conditioned. Jeremy Sowers showed some of that promise from his rookie year when Sal Fasano started catching him regularly, but Fasano is off in Colorado now. Zach Jackson’s performance in the second half of the season since getting called-up has earned him a shot to win a bullpen or a rotation spot.

Meanwhile, Scott Lewis and David Huff have put themselves on the map in different ways last year. Huff soared up the minor league ranks and is now widely regarded as one of the best prospects the Indians have. Huff was shut down due to an innings limit last year, but he has a realistic shot at winning the final rotation spot this Spring. Lewis meanwhile was called up to the Majors thanks to Huff being shut down and a bunch of injuries. He did nothing but show impressive performances despite not pitching much at Triple-A. That however could keep him from winning the final rotation spot.

Tomo Ohka and Kirk Saarloos are both guys who could start or be in the bullpen in some way. They could be in Columbus, but their chances of making the opening day roster are slim.

Final Bench Spot
Contenders: Josh Barfield, Andy Marte, Luis Valbuena, Chris Gimenez, Trevor Crowe, Michael Brantley, Matt LaPorta, Jesus Merchan, Wilson Valdez
The outlook for Josh Barfield went from bleak to somewhat optimistic when the Indians said they’d like to see Barfield make the team as a backup infielder. It’s far better than being in Columbus or traded to another team. He can be the favorite if he shows he can play multiple positions. Andy Marte is a guy who can only really play third and flash good defense, he’s quickly running out of time.

Luis Valbuena was acquired in the Franklin Gutierrez-Joe Smith trade and the Indians wanting him to get everyday at-bats in Triple-A could keep him from winning the spot, but he can play the middle infield spots. Chris Gimenez is probably the most versatile player of this group as a player who can catch, play third, even first and both corner outfield spots, he has a realistic shot to win this spot. Trevor Crowe might have a leg-up on both Michael Brantley, being both on the 40-man roster and in the organization longer. That is if the Indians wanted to go the route of five outfielders, but that is unlikely. Jesus Merchan and Wilson Valdez will probably be Triple-A depth options, but you have to at least throw their names out there. Both middle infielders who would only be needed in the Majors in a pinch.
Five Burning Questions Headed into Spring Training

1. How much will Travis Hafner play?
He probably won’t start every other day at first, but hopefully by the end of Spring Training, he shows he is healthy enough to start everyday, but I wouldn’t expect Eric Wedge to do that too much. Remember that this is Spring Training, so not even regular players who are healthy play every day, or even the whole game. Who knows how Wedge will handle Hafner when he’s ready to go, but let’s just hope he shows Wedge that he can go out every day and play.

2. Who can make a statement with an impressive spring?
The guy who can really make a statement with his play, even though it’s just Spring Training and the numbers really don’t mean a whole too much, is Ryan Garko. A lot of doubt is surrounding Ryan Garko and many even called for him to be trade bait. But Garko went to work in the offseason and he knows the pressure is on for him to perform. I think Garko is a man on a mission and he’s going to use Spring Training to prove he should be the regular first baseman.

Hopefully that is a springboard into the regular season, where he can prove he is good hitter and he belongs on this team. I’ve got a lot of stock in Ryan Garko putting some things together this year and showing the world that he isn’t just a singles hitter who bunches up his RBIs.

3. Out of the “Veterans” on Minor League deals, who has the best shot at making the club?

I think it’s obvious that Vinnie Chulk is the only one that has a realistic shot, but even that is a very shaky idea.

The Indians are going to give that rotation spot up for grabs to a player they believe in, be it Aaron Laffey or David Huff. There really isn’t a contender that is legit for the bench spot, so that leaves the Bullpen and the potential of Chulk. However, while he has a shot, I wouldn’t be expecting anything amazing. Chulk would have to out-pitch a large number of youngsters.

Not to mention, the Indians would probably rather give one last go-around to Edwin Mujica, rather than give up on him for a guy they could probably send to Triple-A to start the year, Chulk being that guy, even though he’s more of a veteran. He has till the 15th of May to make the big league club or else he can go elsewhere, but that won’t impact the Indians’ decision.

4. How much will the World Baseball Classic impact the Tribe?

It could potentially impact them very much. Their starting third baseman and center fielder are both going to be playing for Team USA in Mark DeRosa and Grady Sizemore. Plus, two of their more important bullpen options in the Rafael-tandem, Betancourt and Perez, could be pitching for their respective teams.

They could also lose their starting shortstop in Jhonny Peralta to the Dominican Republic. Thankfully, they avoided Cy Young winner Cliff Lee pitching for Team USA, starting catcher Victor Martinez opting to focus on the Indians and staying healthy, and Fausto Carmona not going to pitch for the Dominican.

They will have Shin-Soo Choo honoring his heritage by playing for the Korean team, but without possible military immunity on the line. Masa Kobayashi could be with Japan but that ends the list of possible Major Leaguers playing for a team in the WBC.

Hopefully the Tribe avoids any injuries and all of their players don’t start out the year in a funk for participating in the Classic.

5. How much will an injury change the overall outlook?

Depending on where the injury is, it could really have an impact on this team. An injury to Pavano or Reyes could bump another starter up to the Major Leagues, and as we’ve seen in the past from guys like Laffey and Carmona, they could hold onto that spot. An injury to the bullpen could save Edwin Mujica’s job for a little longer.

Heck, depending on where it is, we could see one of the outfielders earlier than expected, or even Andy Marte could be in the same boat as Mujica, as someone who is prolonging his stay thanks to an injury.

Injuries happen, you hope they don’t, but they do and they could impact the team before the season even gets going. Hopefully if there are injuries, they aren’t severe and they don’t have a lasting impact on the club and we can see what the best potential 25-man roster has for the 2009 season.
25 Man Roster Projections

Starting Lineup
C – Victor Martinez
1B – Ryan Garko
2B – Asdrubal Cabrera
3B – Mark DeRosa
SS – Jhonny Peralta
LF – Ben Francisco
CF – Grady Sizemore
RF – Shin-Soo Choo
DH – Travis Hafner

Bench
C – Kelly Shoppach
IF – Jamey Carroll
IF – Josh Barfield
OF – David Dellucci

Starting Rotation
1. Cliff Lee
2. Fausto Carmona
3. Carl Pavano
4. Anthony Reyes
5. Aaron Laffey

Bullpen
Closer – Kerry Wood
8th Inning – Jensen Lewis
7th/8th Inning – Rafael Perez
7th Inning – Rafael Betancourt
6th Inning – Masahide Kobayashi
RH Specialist – Joe Smith
Long Relief – Zach Jackson

This is the ideal situation, with no injuries happening, so obviously, this could very well go out the window if something comes up. But my favorite to win the final bench spot is Josh Barfield because of his speed. I think he’ll show he can at least hold down outfield and shortstop in a pinch, which gives him a leg-up on Gimenez and Marte. I like Aaron Laffey to win the final rotation spot because I really like what I’ve heard from him and the Indians in terms of his offseason progress and strengthening of his workouts.

Finally in a bit of a shocker, I’ve gone with Zach Jackson to win the final bullpen spot as a true long-relief pitcher with the ability to come in and be that situational lefty to compliment Joe Smith and save Rafael Perez as a rover between seventh and eighth inning situations. This means Edwin Mujica is placed on waivers and I can’t see him passing and returning to Columbus.

Provided that everything above comes to fruition, and there is a good chance it won’t as I mentioned, here is the four-deep depth chart and the first pitchers up that correspond with that 25-man roster.
Four-Deep Depth Chart
Catcher: Victor Martinez, Kelly Shoppach, Chris Gimenez, Wyatt Toregas
There could be many ways that Chris Gimenez finds himself on the Major League roster this year, not as many for Wyatt Toregas, but still possible. Victor Martinez is the man and Shoppach is the backup. He’ll play more than most backups, but he’s still the second option. Gimenez could make the club as a utility player out of spring but if he doesn’t, he’ll probably be the first up if an injury happens to any of Shoppach, Martinez or even Ryan Garko. They could also go with the players who’s playing the best, but Gimenez has more upside and versatility.

First Base: Ryan Garko, Victor Martinez, Jordan Brown, Michael Aubrey

No one is replacing Ryan Garko right now. Victor Martinez will still catch a lot, even if he sees time at First, but it’s Garko’s job. Jordan Brown probably has moved ahead of Michael Aubrey in terms of first base, and I’d even think Matt LaPorta would be an option at first before Aubrey, but since he’s still around and the Indians want LaPorta to e an outfield, Aubrey gets the nod. If Garko were to go down with an injury, the first move however would be to move Victor to first and play Shoppach at catcher most of the time.

Second Base: Asdrubal Cabrera, Josh Barfield, Jamey Carroll, Luis Valbuena
Jamey Carroll may end up playing just as much second base as Barfield, but given that second base is his natural position, and the Indians don’t appear to be planning on having a true third baseman anywhere on the roster at this point, Carroll will get a majority of the third base spots. Valbuena is a player the Indians will want to get regular at bats, but his infield flexibility is nice.

Third Base: Mark DeRosa, Jamey Carroll, Jhonny Peralta, Wes Hodges
Like mentioned, Carroll will probably see most of the third base starts when DeRosa or someone like Peralta needs a rest. Peralta could find himself starting a few games at third, or be the regular third-baseman depending on how things shake out. If Wes Hodges is starting at third at some point, he’s either lighting it up and his defense has really improved, or things have gone very bad up North.

Shortstop: Jhonny Peralta, Asdrubal Cabrera, Luis Valbuena, Jesus Merchan
We all know that on days Peralta won’t start at short, it probably means Cabrera will shift over there. If Barfield shows he can play it, he might play it in a pinch, but Jesus Merchan could probably be on call if something happens, but he’d be the Andy Gonzalez option of 2009. Since Valbuena is on the 40 man, if the Indians really need a starting shortstop, they could get him up to start everyday, but that is unlikely.

Left Field: Ben Francisco, David Dellucci, Trevor Crowe, Matt LaPorta

Ben Francisco gets the first shot at left field, if something happens David Dellucci would probably get a shot, but he’s on thin ice to begin with. Trevor Crowe would probably be the ideal “first” choice to be called up, but in terms of any outfield position, but Matt LaPorta could very well be breathing down people’s necks if he lights up Triple-A.

Center Field: Grady Sizemore, Ben Francisco, Trevor Crowe, Michael Brantley
We all know Grady Sizemore is the man in center. Francisco could probably take over if Grady would have to miss time with Franklin Gutierrez gone. Trevor Crowe and Michael Brantley are both guys capable of handling center field.

Right Field: Shin-Soo Choo, Ben Francisco, Trevor Crowe, Michael Brantley
Again, Choo will be getting the first shot at right and again Francisco’s versatility in the outfield will let him play there if need-be. Crowe is again probably ideally the first outfielder up, but Brantley is there as well.

On-Call Pitchers

Starting Rotation

1. Jeremy Sowers
2. David Huff
3. Scott Lewis
4. Tomo Ohka
Depending on what happens in Spring Training, Sowers will probably be the first in-line to get a shot and even though he has a 40 man roster spot, I’d expect Scott Lewis to be behind David Huff if injury were to arise. Tomo Ohka is the “Matt Ginter Situation” of 2009. If Ohka is pitching, something isn’t right.

Bullpen
1. Adam Miller
2. Vinnie Chulk
3. John Meloan
4. Rich Rundles
Adam Miller could very well be the first man up if he doesn’t make the roster right out of Spring Training. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Vinnie Chulk going to Columbus, and in the risk of calling up a Miller or a Meloan and letting them waste away without regular innings, the Indians call up the veteran Chulk. Rundles is definitely in the mix and should be an important part of the Columbus bullpen.Projected Lineups

VS RHP
CF – Grady Sizemore, L
3B – Mark DeRosa, R
*C – Victor Martinez, S
SS – Jhonny Peralta, R
DH – Travis Hafner, L
*1B – Ryan Garko, R
RF – Shin-Soo Choo, L
LF – Ben Francisco, R
2B – Asdrubal Cabrera, S

VS LHP

CF – Grady Sizemore, L
3B – Mark DeRosa, R
*C – Victor Martinez, S
SS – Jhonny Peralta, R
DH – Travis Hafner, L
*1B – Ryan Garko, R
RF – Shin-Soo Choo, L
LF – Ben Francisco, R
2B – Asdrubal Cabrera, S

*Kelly Shoppach will catch Cliff Lee, pushing Victor Martinez to 1B on Most Days

You may be wondering, wow that really is the same lineup for both handed pitchers, but let me explain. It will probably be the same set-lineup both right and left handed pitchers, but there will be constant changes. Such as the one with Shoppach and Martinez catching the different pitchers, it kind of makes a left-right platoon at first between Martinez and Garko rather complicated.

You’ll see Choo get set against some left-handed pitchers, DeRosa maybe in right and then Carroll starting at third, but more often than not, the Indians are going to want to see Choo hit the lefties at some point.

With all the possible flexibility for most of the Indians players, there will be all sorts of mixing and matching going on, that the pitchers on the mound really won’t matter in terms of what hand they are throwing from, but rather who they are and what Indian pitcher is opposing them.

With that said, I’d expect those guys to get the majority of the starts at those positions, baring injury of course.

DeRosa will slot into the second spot by virtue of what Wedge has said and just because of experience. I’ve got Victor Martinez in the three hole because he’s the best overall-hitter on this team and because of what he did last year, I’ve put Peralta in the clean-up spot.

Mainly because Travis Hafner is hitting fifth and it’s important to take some pressure off him early. I don’t think that’s how it will end up, but that’s how I think it should start out. Garko, Choo, Francisco follow him and I believe that’s the order it will look like, unless Wedge doesn’t want to do the alternation of right and left handed hitters. Cabrera is in the nine-hole to start the year.

You will notice that a lefties and righties do not follow each other at any point in this lineup. It really was not by design, but it could present all sorts of matchup bullpen problems for teams late in the game.
Quick Hits
• Jeremy Sowers’ velocity is in question and not because it’s down, but rather because it’s up. The problem lies with his difference between his fastball and his change-up. His fastball still isn’t enough to just blow past hitters and his change-up is starting to look like a dead fastball.
• The Indians didn’t bring back any of their free agents on minor league deals; they must have not shown enough.
• Ryan Garko lives in Arizona, so he’s been able to take advantage of the new complex rather easily.
• No one seems to be talking much about Asdrubal Cabrera and if they do it’s because they are talking about Jhonny Peralta moving. You have to wonder where Wedge wants Cabrera to hit in the lineup at this point and if he’ll gradually increase the pressure on him.
• Fausto Carmona pitched well in front of Carl Willis and new bullpen coach Chuck Hernandez during the winter leagues. They said his control looked better than it did last year.
• Masa Kobayashi seems like the odd-man out in the bullpen, but the reduced dependency on him might let Wedge space out his innings a little better. Seeing has he an option next year though and not a set contract, he could be on the chopping block like David Dellucci.
• Since Jordan Brown wasn’t rostered and survived the Rule V draft and now Michael Aubrey is no longer on the 40-man, you have to wonder which the Indians would prefer and if Aubrey’s major league experience has anything to do with it.
• New Indians Mark DeRosa and Kerry Wood were a big part of the Cubs clubhouse last year, hopefully they can make up for the loss in presence of Casey Blake, Paul Byrd, Joe Borowski, and CC Sabathia.

Final Outook
So there it is; a complete look at Spring Training battles and everything under the Arizona sun. There is a lot of information to take in for Spring Training, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a lot will change.

You must tread on the waters of Spring Training very lightly. Stats don’t mean a whole lot, but there is still stuff to take out of it. Unless you constantly watching drills, games, and everything else for one team, it’s hard to get a firm grasp on what could happen based off game statistics.

With that in mind, enjoy the greatest time of the year for fans and players of all 30 teams. A time that everyone has hope for their team as the day those magical words of Pitchers and Catchers Report are uttered. It’s the time we all believe there is a shot at the World Series.

Originally posted at The Tribe Daily, click here to view original post.

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