With just over two weeks until Opening Day, all that remains is the battle for the 25th man on the roster. And of course, making sure that everyone presently ticketed for the 25-man roster remain healthy.
There's also some long-term planning going on as well:
Minors Report: The Sizemore Effect. Anthony Castrovince, indians.com
In effect, any outfield prospect who's worth anything will see time in either right or left. That has some major consequences, such as downgrading the importance of range.
"The two best of the four," farm director Ross Atkins said, "will predominantly play on the corners, regardless of whether they're center-field prospects, because of Grady Sizemore."
Thus Trevor Crowe is now thought of as a left fielder, and Brian Barton a right fielder, even though either can handle center. Franklin Gutierrez, who's much more valuable as a center fielder, could end up as trade bait. But these organizational adjustments are a small price to pay for having Grady Sizemore locked into center field for at least the next six seasons.
Ben Francisco has continued to garner praise, and not only for his defensive versatility:
"I've seen him turn on the toughest fastballs and lay off the toughest breaking balls," Wedge said. "He's spraying the ball around."
Francisco has the skillset to be a very nice fourth outfielder. I don't think he has the defense to start in center every day nor the power to stay at a corner, but his lefty-mashing bat could make Jason Michaels expendable sooner than later.
Tribe Banking on "Low" Payroll. Paul Hoynes, PD
In other news, the sun rose in the east this morning.
How much of a disadvantage that puts the Indians at may quickly become apparent because they start the year with a three-game series against division rival Chicago. The White Sox will enter this season with the biggest payroll in the American League Central at more than $100 million.
The players' uniform numbers aren't preceded by a dollar sign, and ESPN won't be including the players' salary beside their usual statistics during their broadcasts. So I don't understand how the teams' payroll disparities are all that readily apparent. The quality of players isn't all that different, and isn't that what counts?