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Michael Brantley's health could decide the AL Central race

Morning news & notes for Tuesday, February 2, 2016.

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The sound of baseballs hitting gloves can be heard as teams start to report for Spring Training workouts. Real baseball still feels so distant, but it is only a month or two away (depending on if you count Spring Training baseball as "real" baseball or not).

When the season does roll around, the Cleveland Indians will be without left fielder Michael Brantley for at least two months. How long he is out -- and how effective he is when he returns -- could ultimately affect the outcome of the American League Central race. No pressure.

Indians news

  • Brantley biggest X-factor in competitive AL Central | MLB
    Anthony Castrovince goes in-depth with Michael Brantley's health and how it could decide the AL Central race. Brantley also laughed off the notion that he could be out until August, a rumor that appeared at the beginning of the Winter Meetings when Peter Gammons said, live on MLB Network, that the star left fielder could be out longer than expected. Luckily, that does not seem to be the case anymore. 

  • Francona has lineup decisions with Brantley sidelined | MLB
    With Brantley sidelined until May, Indians skipper Terry Francona has some decisions to make regarding the lineup and depleted outfield. 

  • Hart revisits '98 trade talk for Big Unit | MLB
    In 1998, the Indians almost traded Brian Giles for half a season of Hall of Fame pitcher Randy Johnson. Instead, they traded Giles for Ricardo Rincon, a reliever who was worth 3.0 fWAR over two-and-a-half seasons with the Tribe. Giles, on the other hand, was worth 6.9 fWAR for the Pittsburgh Pirates... in his first season.

  • A Decade of AL Central Attendance | Waiting For Next Year
    Not that you need me to tell you, but Indians attendance has not been great over the past 10 years, and a playoff appearance or two every decade does not magically fix it.

Around the league

  • Someone should tell this Mets minor-league affiliate that "Netflix and chill" probably does not mean what they think it means.
  • The New York Yankees are actually trying to build through their farm system instead of going after huge free agents. One of their rising stars, Greg Bird, is expected to miss all of 2016 following shoulder surgery.
  • I hate that it gets to exist, but this Kansas City Royals billboard is actually really creative.
  • Weird things can happen in baseball, particularly on defense. With that in mind, FanGraphs recently took a look at the strangest such events this past season. At least this year it did not involve Ryan Raburn spiking a baseball into the ground.