Diving into the depths: Cleveland Indians

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.
Cleveland Indians
Rotation
1. Jake Westbrook
2. Justin Masterson
3. Fausto Carmona
4. David Huff
5. Aaron Laffey
6. Carlos Carrasco
7. Mitch Talbot
8. Jeremy Sowers
9. Hector Ambriz
10. Hector Rondon
11. Rafael Perez
12. Jeanmar Gomez
Talbot, the product of the Kelly Shoppach trade with Tampa Bay, is the only new addition on the pitching side of the 40-man roster.
Westbrook and Masterson figure to enter camp as the only two locks for the rotation, but Carmona and Huff will certainly control their own destinies. If they turn in decent springs, then it should come down to Laffey, Carrasco and Talbot for the last spot. Carrasco is the biggest talent in the group, but the older pitchers may get the benefit of the doubt initially.
Bullpen
1. Kerry Wood
2. Chris Perez
3. Tony Sipp
4. Rafael Perez
5. Jensen Lewis
6. Joe Smith
7. Aaron Laffey
8. Jason Grilli
9. Jess Todd
10. Saul Rivera
11. Mitch Talbot
12. Jeremy Sowers
13. Hector Ambriz
14. Yohan Pino
15. Mike Gosling
16. Steven Wright
17. Neil Wagner
The bullpen is plenty deep, as the Indians have as many interesting relief prospects as any organization in baseball. I’m guessing Laffey will be in the rotation, opening up the last spot for Grilli. There’s been talk of moving Perez into the rotation as well, but the Indians don’t plan on making the switch this spring, since he wouldn’t be in a position to throw 180 innings this season anyway.


Catcher
1. Lou Marson
2. Mike Redmond
3. Carlos Santana
4. Wyatt Toregas
5. Chris Gimenez
First base
1. Matt LaPorta
2. Andy Marte
3. Jordan Brown
4. Shelley Duncan
5. Brian Buscher
Second base
1. Luis Valbuena
2. Mark Grudzielanek
3. Jason Donald
4. Brian Bixler
5. Luis Rodriguez
Third base
1. Jhonny Peralta
2. Andy Marte
3. Jason Donald
4. Brian Buscher
5. Luis Rodriguez
6. Wes Hodges
Shortstop
1. Asdrubal Cabrera
2. Luis Valbuena
3. Jhonny Peralta
4. Jason Donald
5. Luis Rodriguez
6. Brian Bixler
Redmond, who will back up either Marson or Santana, is the only free agent the Indians have signed to a major league contract.
The additions of Grudzy and Bixler suggest that the Indians aren’t sold on Donald as a platoonmate for the left-handed-hitting Valbuena at second base. Odds are that only one will be on the squad in Jamey Carroll’s old role, and Donald’s experience at shortstop might not help his case a whole lot, since Valbuena and Peralta can both play behind Cabrera there.
Left field
1. Michael Brantley
2. Austin Kearns
3. Matt LaPorta
4. Trevor Crowe
5. Jordan Brown
6. Shelley Duncan
Center field
1. Grady Sizemore
2. Michael Brantley
3. Trevor Crowe
4. Austin Kearns
Right field
1. Shin-Soo Choo
2. Austin Kearns
3. Jordan Brown
4. Trevor Crowe
5. Shelley Duncan
Designated hitter
1. Travis Hafner
2. Andy Marte
3. Shelley Duncan
4. Jordan Brown
5. Brian Buscher
I’m putting LaPorta at first base, since the Indians seem to have weaker alternatives there than in left field. I hope the Indians give Kearns every opportunity to take over in left. Brantley played well in 28 games after his callup last season (.313/.358/.348), but his .267/.350/.361 line from Triple-A was hardly awe inspiring. Kearns offers more short-term upside.

The umps have dropped their Ian Kinsler protest

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Over the weekend the World Umpires Association — the umpire’s union —  launched a protest in response to what it feels is Major League Baseball’s failure to adequately address the “escalating attacks” on the men in blue. They were specifically upset that Ian Kinsler didn’t get suspended for his remarks in which he said that Angel Hernandez should get out of the umpiring business because he’s terrible. Apparently to umpires truth is no defense. In any event, they wore white wristbands Saturday night as a sign of solidarity or whatever.

Now that’s over, it seems. At least for the time being. The Association released this statement yesterday afternoon:

“Today, WUA members agreed to the Commissioner’s proposal to meet with the Union’s Governing Board to discuss the concerns on which our white wristband protest is based. We appreciate the Commissioner’s willingness to engage seriously on verbal attacks and other important issues that must be addressed. To demonstrate our good faith, MLB Umpires will remove the protest white wristbands pending the requested meeting.”

As many noted over the weekend — most notably Emma Span of Sports Illustrated — this protest was, at best, tone deaf. While officials are, obviously, due proper respect, a player jawing at an umpire is neither unprecedented nor very serious compared to, well, almost anything that goes on in the game or in society. At a time when people are literally taking to the streets to protest white supremacy, Neo-Nazis and the KKK, asking folks to spare thoughts for some people who sometimes have to take guff over ball and strike calls is not exactly a cause that is going to draw a ton of sympathy. And that’s before you address the fact that the umpires are not innocent when it comes to stoking the animosity between themselves and the players.

I wouldn’t expect to hear too much more out of this other than, perhaps, a relatively non-committal statement from Major League Baseball and a relatively detail-free declaration of victory by the umpires after their meeting.

 

Minor league teams prepare for a “total eclipse of the park”

Salem Volcanoes
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The Salem-Keizer Volcanoes are a class-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. Today, the path of totality of the big solar eclipse we’re not supposed to look at will pass right through the ballpark in which they play. What’s better: the Volcanoes are playing a game against the Hillsboro Hops as it happens.

This was by design: the team’s owner requested this home game when the schedule was made up two years ago specifically to market the heck out of the eclipse. They’re starting the game at 9:30 this morning, Pacific time, in order to maximize the fun. Spectators will receive commemorative eclipse safety glasses to wear. The game will be delayed when the eclipse hits and a NASA scientist named Noah Petro, who is from the area, will talk to the crowd about what is going on.

Salem-Keizer isn’t the only minor league game affected, by the way. There are six games in all which will feature a “total eclipse of the park.” Turn around, bright eyes.

There are no home MLB games going on in the path of totality, but MLB has put together a helpful guide in order to maximize your baseball and eclipse pleasure. If you line up some good beer with that you’l have your very own national pastime syzygy.