It's nice to finally be talking about actual baseball games, even if yesterday's game got rained out (yes, it rained in Arizona). But before that the Indians played three games in Goodyear against the Reds, and while we don't want to make any conclusions from three very meaningless games, it's always interesting to see how the playing time is divvied up, especially for the players who are fighting for jobs. That shows what the coaching is thinking at least going into spring training.
For instance, in Friday's game, Scott Atchison pitched after John Axford but before Cody Allen, which tells me they're giving him a legitimate chance of winning a job. Granted, Atchison faced Argenis Diaz, LGFT Max Ramirez, and Juan Durn, not exact Phillips/Votto/Bruce, but if he continues to get middle inning work he'll be facing starters soon enough.
David Cooper is another one that is being used like a player who is getting a legitimate shot at making the club. Cooper started in Friday's game, although he only got one at-bat. He also started Wednesday's Cactus League opener. He and Jesus Aguilar at this point would be the top two first basemen in the minors, and both would probably go to Columbus. The Indians have been interested in Cooper since the end of last year, when they signed him in the hopes of him helping the club down the stretch. They ultimately decided not to bring him up, but then signed him to a major-league contract, which is rarely done for players who were minor-league free agents. The reason Cooper was even available is because he had major experimental spinal cord surgery last April. Before that he seemed on track to compete for a starting job in Toronto.
With the outfield depth still rather shallow, Morgan could snag a spot on the roster if there's an injury, or if not, will probably make an appearance in Cleveland at some point during the season.
This could revolutionize the way we look at defensive statistics. I've been skeptical at even the more advanced defensive statistics out there, and it looks like finally we'll have a way of actually measuring the subtle aspects of playing defense, from reaction time to acceleration to running speed to route running to positioning. Check out the video at the top of the article to see what the new analytical tool will look like. This is exciting stuff.
AL Central News
This bears repeating: don't pay too much attention to spring training stats.
A big blow to the Twins, as Sano (who is among the best prospects in baseball) was probably going to play at least a portion of the season in Minnesota. Tommy John surgery rehab for a position is shorter than the timing for a pitcher, so he'll be ready to go perhaps by the time the Arizona Fall League begins, but still, he'll be missing some crucial development time.
This of course should not prevent the clubhouse staff at Progressive Field from putting several taco supremes in his locker before his starts.