Since most of my thoughts and comments were typed on my phone in the very bright sun, I figured I’d take an opportunity to look back and go over some of my observations.

First of all, spring training is spring training.  You can’t necessarily apply regular-season metrics to players that may be trying out a new pitch, or tweaking a batting stance.  I like to think that there are certain broad generalizations you can make after seeing players in camp for a few weeks.  This is the ninth spring training I’ve attended; the eighth time I’ve seen the Indians in the spring.  There are times I thought the team looked good coming out of camp, only to be hit by injuries and general bad luck.  There are times the Indians looked absolutely terrible, but still managed to have a decent season.  The only time I’ve been completely fooled is last year; I thought the Tribe looked terrible last spring, then they came out of the gate to go 30-15.  They obviously regressed a bit later in the season, but it still was more than I expected of them from spring.  Most of the veterans looked fine to me this year; there was nothing of great concern with any of them.  I figured I’d look at some of the invitees, people competing for spots, and minor league players – who was disappointing and who impressed.

Players that were disappointing to me:

Ezequiel Carrera – He didn’t look very sharp at the plate or in the field.  He had a chance to win the center field spot (pushing Michael Brantley back to left), but I can’t really see that happening out of camp.  He has options left and will probably start the year at Columbus.

David Huff – Huff looked terrible in the game that I saw, although the one positive is that he made adjustments and improved as his appearance progressed.  That’s always been the problem with Huff though – when he’s good, he’s awesome and when he’s terrible, you might as well just shut off the television.  If he’s not locating, his pitches are flat and right over the plate – he might as well set them on a batting tee.  He’s one of those players that I just don’t trust over the long term.  He works well for a few spot starts, but it seems that people either figure him out, or he’s unable to locate.

Ryan Spilborghs – He had some solid years with Colorado; I thought he would come in to camp and make a strong argument for the extra outfield spot.  Spilborghs has had some decent moments, but overall he just hasn’t been that impressive.  He’s been playing a lot of innings too.

Players that impressed me:

Jeanmar Gomez – Thus far, he’s yet to allow an earned run during spring training.  There were some hard hit outs the day I saw him, but for the most part he looked pretty good.

Jose Lopez – He’s still batting over .500 at camp and looked great.  What really impressed me about Lopez is that he really hung in there during many of his at-bats.  For example, he swung and missed at Yu Darvish’s first two pitches in last Tuesday’s game.  He was at 0-2, and looked completely baffled; all of the sudden, he punches the next pitch into center field.  He’s making a strong case to open the season in Cleveland on April 5.

Scott Barnes – Unfortunately I missed Barnes while I was there, but I keep hearing about how good he has looked this spring.  Acquired in the Ryan Garko trade, Barnes could be in Cleveland sooner than we think.

Russ Canzler – He’s also hit very well so far this spring; his average is currently at .435.

I really thought that some of the outfielder invitees would step it up since there are now two spots open (Grady Sizemore’s spot and the fourth outfielder spot) but nobody has really blown me away thus far.  Fred Lewis, Felix Pie, Aaron Cunningham  and Spilborghs haven’t blown me away (although Pie has suffered from an injury).  Shelley Duncan has looked solid (.263 avg. .364 OBP) and probably has an edge.  Trevor Crowe has actually looked decent so far this spring, but he’s often in the game late (so he’s not facing the top pitchers usually) and he’s not even on the 40-man roster at this point.

Opening Day is less than three weeks away, so we’ll see how this shakes out in the very near future!


  • medfest says:

    Thanks for the eyeball report,live and in person is always the best way.

    From what I saw on STO and the MLB channel:

    Gomez’ pitches were moving like crazy,usually the opposite happens in the dry thin Arizona air.He’s pitched well enough to claim the fifth starter spot so far.

    Lopez ate himself out of the big leagues after popping 25 dingers for Seattle in ’09(no mean feat in that ballpark).He looks in great shape,has hit all spring and we all know how much the Tribe needs righty sticks off the bench.

    Barnes added that torso turn in his motion and with his lively fastball and a sharp slider he’ll be, at the very least ,an effective reliever in the big leagues.That deceptive delivery could lead to big things for this guy.

    Canzler has a bit of a long swing but he’s a better athlete than I though he was and should be able to play left field along with first and third.

    Masterson looks like he’s ready for a huge season,nice smooth delivery and loads of confidence.

    Hannahan is playing like he’s got the team made,we’ll see.

    All the bull pen guys from last season look at least OK.
    All the bull pen vets they signed in the off season have stunk out the place.
    This will be interesting in relation to the two open spots in the pen and a tough call for Acta and Radinsky.

    Still along way to go til opening day and who knows who’ll pop onto the Tribe’s roster?I hear Johnny Damon is being considered.And a trade is always a possibility .

  • Steve says:

    I still can’t figure out why TB basically gave us Canzler. 3 ml at bats? This kid looks like he has real potential that hasn’t been explored at this level.

  • Steve says:

    Gomez has out pitched Tomlin, if Fausto comes back I think we have a dilemma. Huff may be a lefty but he’s left no doubt as to where he belongs.

  • jigboy22 says:

    I’m very cautious when it comes to Tomlin. Yes he did decent last year, but the increase in AVG based on the 2nd and 3rd time through the rotation screams bullpen guy. Why not? Seems logical. Gomez has impressed and I like “stuff” guys rather than “control” guys. You can play devils advocate for the stuff/control argument all day, but I think the ceiling is higer for “stuff” guys.

    To each their own.

    Not concerned about Ubaldo yet. If he’s still tanking after 2-3 starts then we can start sweating.

    Other notes:
    -Hafner is hitting well
    -Surprised about J Lopez.
    -Liking Lowe’s rebound potential
    -Worried about Sipp
    -How’s Kipnis doing?

    Thanks for the breakdown!

  • Stephanie Liscio says:

    The only bullpen vet that’s looked anywhere respectable is Chris Seddon; but I’ve usually seen him in the game late, when he’s facing other teams’ B and C list players. Johnny Damon would be an interesting grab. That’s the only bad thing about watching in person – depending on location, I can’t always see that much (especially with pitchers). One day my dad said “Oh LaPorta looked good today.” and I replied “LaPorta looked terrible!” I checked his stats, and he’d gone 2-4…I even live blogged one of his hits. I guess it can be deceptive!

    Jimenez was terrible against the Reds, but decent against the Diamondbacks the other day. I’m still not sure what to make of him at this point…he definitely hasn’t wowed me, but his velocity is supposedly back up to normal at least. Masterson on the other hand, does look sharp.

    I was kind of baffled by Tampa Bay giving up on Canzler. He looks solid so far, but TB is usually a pretty good judge of talent. Hopefully it’s a mistake on their part in the Tribe’s favor!

    I really hope Tomlin can hold it together this year and that his arm is healthy. Huff is just not consistent enough, and many times just isn’t fooling anyone.

    Hafner has looked really good so far. One funny observation – all of the on-deck hitters were standing, watching the pitcher and trying to get a read. Not Hafner. Just pacing back and forth, swinging the bat. When he’d come up, he’d do fine…whatever works for you! Sipp has definitely struggled…I can only hope that he’s working on something, or just a little bit behind schedule (wishful thinking). Choo has looked pretty good…last time I checked he was hitting around .300 this spring. Kipnis had some really solid hits while I was there as well.

    They sent some people down to minor league camp today, one of which was Ezequiel Carrera. So he’s officially out of the outfield mix.

  • No Saint says:

    Nothing that I have read, heard or seen remotely makes me believe this team will be as good as (er as lucky as) it was last season. The Dolan’s inability or unwillingness to keep this team relevant in the baseball world has killed the product. MLB–Commissioner Bud Light–should take teams away from owners who have done to the Indians what the Dolans have done to the Indians.

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