A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP THE INDIANS
There's hope for the future, but it's going to be another tough year. Getting to .500 will be a stretch. They'll be better in the second half when their prospects start coming up. . . . Grady Sizemore is the player who makes the lineup go. Speed is such a big part of his game, and if it doesn't come back because of the left-knee injuries, he's never going to be the same player. . . . The reason they signed Nick Johnson is the concern they have with Matt LaPorta. He looks lost at times, not tracking the ball well and committing way too early with his hands. I'm sure they're starting to wonder if he's a long-term solution at first. . . . Shin-Soo Choo is the player they want to build around. Last year you could see him relax and get more comfortable. He's only getting better. . . . Carlos Santana's development is ahead of schedule. The ball is jumping off his bat. . . . Lonnie Chisenhall looks special—he hits for average and power, he hits lefties, he's a plus defensive player at third. At 22 years old, he's close to being an impact guy. . . . If they could unload Travis Hafner's contract, trust me, they would. . . . There's not a bona fide No. 1 or No. 2 starter. Fausto Carmona has shown flashes, but even this spring he's been electric one start and can't find his control the next. . . . I'd rather see Justin Masterson in the bullpen, with his unusual delivery and how his stuff plays. . . . We may see Drew Pomeranz in July. He has a 95-mph fastball, a plus curveball and good mound presence. Pomeranz and Alex White are guys they can build a staff around.
April 3, 2011
WITH 2010 STATISTICS
MANAGER MANNY ACTA
2ND SEASON WITH INDIANS
Indians pitchers with 100 or more strikeouts in 2010; the other 29 teams averaged 3.7. Given that staff-wide failure to miss bats—along with the AL's highest walk rate (3.6 BB/9)—it's easy to see why Cleveland tied the Royals for worst OBP-against (.342) in the league.
The Indians are, at best, the second-worst team in the AL Central, and they have nothing close to a talent core that can push for a division title. This season is about figuring out whether Grady Sizemore can bounce back, whether Carlos Santana is going to be a star post--knee injury and whether Matt LaPorta, Asdrubal Cabrera and Michael Brantley will ever reach their potential. In that context, it's not clear whether Jason Donald, 26, or Luis Valbuena, 25, should play second base, but it is certain that a 36-year-old converted shortstop in decline should not. Orlando Cabrera brings nothing to the table: His defensive range has slipped, his OBP (.303 last year) hurts the team, he has very little speed left and he hasn't played second base in this century. There's no reason to move Donald to third base—where he has no experience and where his bat may not be up to par—to make room for an older, inferior player at Donald's best position. (Valbuena, Jayson Nix or Jack Hannahan are options at third if Donald shifts across the infield.) The Indians don't need leadership or experience; they need to let their best players play.