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Weekend Update

Sorry for the light blogging recently; I've just changed jobs, and the commute is pretty far for me. As I get used to things, the post output should get better.

I'd like to take a look at the right field/first base situation. In the past two weeks, the Indians have started four different players at first and three diffent players in right field. Here's a rundown of the suspects:

(1) Casey Blake, RF/1B. Blake has actually been a productive player for about the last month or so. It's obvious (or at least should be obvious) that he's not an everyday right fielder, but he can be a useful player. He's probably best used as a supersub type, splitting his time between first, third, and the corner outfield spots. Put him at the bottom of your order, and he'll be a nuisance to opposing pitchers.

(2) Ben Broussard, 1B. Benched after a long slump, Broussard is probably the "best" defenseve first baseman on the roster (I use the word best loosely given what his competition is). There's a real good chance he'll be traded or non-tendered after the year, but I don't see the harm in actually playing him for the remainder of the year.

(3) Jose Hernandez, 1B/RF. Jose is a versatile player and mashes left-handers. Right now he's filling in for Ronnie Belliard at second, but his main role this season has been at first base against left-handers. He's also the primary backup at third. Again, he's a great guy to have on your bench, particularly if you players in your starting lineup who struggle against southpaws.

(4) Jeff Liefer, 1B/RF. Jeff has some past major-league experience, and has had a good season with the Bisons. As a bat off the bench, he's OK (although you could probably do better). With Ben Broussard around, he's pretty much redundant. Liefer is a poor defensive outfielder, and not much better at first base. But he's the missing piece to Buffalo's playoff push.

(5) Jason Dubois, 1B/RF. This contact-challenged right-hander is probably best used in a situation where a team wants a platoon at DH. The Indians don't need a platoon there, and they already have a platoon at first. So Dubois is probably heading back to Buffalo when the Indians bring another pitcher up (because of course you can't go with eleven pitchers for too long).

So there you have it. The 2005 Indians are an odd team, because they've been a pretty good offensive team with a bunch of bit players at two of the traditional big run-producing positions. Of course it helps when you have tremendous offensive talents at catcher, shortstop, and center field, positions where offensive production is a bonus. I guess it should go without saying that the Indians need to upgrade these two positions this offseason, but I guess I said it anyway.

A couple questions have been asked about option status for next year, and why it's important for 40-man roster consideration. The short answer is this: if you have a player you don't think will be good enough to play in the majors next season, he better have some options remaining. This is one of the reasons why Francisco Cruceta was DFAd; he's out of options after this season. Here's the other players on the 40-man who are under the Indians' control in 2006 with no more options:

Josh Bard
Victor Martinez

RHP Andrew Brown
RHP Fernando Cabrera
LHP Arthur Rhodes
RHP David Riske
LHP Brian Tallet

LHP CC Sabathia
RHP Jake Westbrook

2B Ronnie Belliard*
3B Aaron Boone
1B Ben Broussard
1B Travis Hafner
1B Jeff Liefer
SS Jhonny Peralta
IF Brandon Phillips
IF Ramon Vazquez

Casey Blake
Jason Dubois**

*If the Indians pick up Belliard's 2006 team option
**Educated guess

As you can see, the biggest bottlenecks are in the bullpen and the infield, though you'll probably see at least a couple infielders gone before this becomes an issue. Brian Tallet may be the most difficult decision for the Indians going into Spring Training, next year's Cliff Bartosh, so to speak. If Brandon Phillips hasn't been traded, he's probably the utility infielder. Jason Dubois is another problem if in fact he's out of options.