St. Patrick’s Day Edition- Cleveland Indians

I took a couple days to enjoy the beautiful scenery of Sedona, Arizona. If you haven’t been to the “red rock” country you are missing one of the most beautiful and serene areas of the country. Some folks say Sedona is one of the most beautiful places in the world. If you haven’t gone, picture 360 degrees of red rock mountains with different shapes and size rocks and mountains every place you look. Of course there is a rock shaped liked Snoopy, one like a coffee pot and on and on. A chart of rock formations with their names is available. It’s a breathtaking location. Disagreements, arguments, hostility and the like are left at the door when people visit Sedona. It’s that peaceful and beautiful.

I’m back now, and I’ll be watching the Arizona Diamondbacks face the Chicago Cubs at Sloan Park in Mesa, spring home of the Cubs. I’ll have a blog about the Cubs tomorrow.

Before I left for the brief trip up north I saw the Indians play the Rangers. I have already shared some thoughts on the Texas club. Here are some brief lines at this point of the quickly moving spring about Cleveland.

In a previous blog I indicated the Indians were facing a lack of run scoring output due to limited offensive players in the outfield. Today, they signed Marlon Byrd to a Minor League contract. I think he’ll be on the big league club, sharing time with Lonnie Chisenhall in right field. I see him hitting against the left-handed pitchers that give Chisenhall fits. He may see time in left before Michael Brantley returns. Byrd is especially solid against left-handed pitching and he could give the Tribe the huge offensive boost they need. But Brantley is making tremendous progress and is planning to play in games this weekend.

I have been totally impressed with the swing of Yan Gomes. He continues to hit the ball on the screws and he looks totally healthy after his early season stint on the disabled list last year. If he stays healthy, he’ll be a real factor in the lineup.

I feel a big issue for the Tribe will be their left-handed relievers. So far, I have not been impressed with any among Ross Detwiler, Tom Gorzellany, Joe Thatcher or Giovanny Soto, the only one of the group on the 40-man roster. Can Kyle Crockett win a job? How about T J House out of the pen? I think either of those may be better options than the four I mentioned initially. The Indians really do have to have a lefty or two in the pen. It will be essential in the American League Central if they hope to go anywhere in the standings.

I saw Jose Ramirez play center field. He had trouble with the high sky and bright sun here in Arizona. While it won’t be quite as difficult playing center in Major League parks, I do think Ramirez can be a viable center field option as the Indians move along on the season schedule. He has a solid bat and some speed. What about Tyler Naquin in center? I sure wish they could afford to give him more Minor League development time. For me, that would be ideal. But the position remains weak-even with the return of Michael Brantley and the signing of Marlon Byrd. I would think the Indians want to minimize the throws being made by Brantley-and that means left field only. Can Byrd play center? Well, I don’t know about that. Collin Cowgill? Maybe late in the game as a defensive replacement. His offense is very limited. Rajai Davis? I don’t think he’s a good enough outfielder to play center. Left, yes. Center? Uh,… no. James Ramsey? Will he hit? Joey Butler? Not in center. And so…that brings me back to Naquin. At least in my opinion that leaves Naquin until Abraham Almonte returns from his suspension after 80 games.

Because the Indians don’t have a true center fielder, I think Naquin has to stick.
And then Brantley holds down left with Byrd and Chisenhall in right. Davis becomes a swing outfielder, even playing some center. Where does that leave Joey Butler? They have a lot of outfielders-just no true center fielder. Even if Jose Ramirez gets some playing time there. I just don’t think he is a starting center fielder.

I think I mentioned before that I would have liked to have seen Jason Kipnis play center, as he did when I saw him at Arizona State University. But that’s not happening. No chance. So-lots of names, lots of players, no true picture emerging yet.

I’ll have much more on the Indians later in the spring. Much more on Francisco Lindor and Mike Napoli-two offensive players who I think will make a huge difference in the lineup.

Thank you for following me @BerniePleskoff on twitter.

That’s it. I’m done. For now.


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