IBI Digest: 2/23/14 - 3/1/14
Recapping the week on Indians Baseball Insider
With live baseball officially returning this week in the form of spring exhibition play, the flurry of questions that have been raised this offseason can finally begin to be answered. Questions such as whether Carlos Santana can play third base on a regular basis or if Carlos Carrasco can translate whatever mindset he had in the bullpen late last season to the starting rotation. It is also the time where fans can get their first look at newcomers such as David Murphy and John Axford or key prospects like Carlos Moncrief and Joe Wendle. And last, but not least, we shall see the 2014 Cleveland Indians start to take shape as the trim-down process will soon begin with the roster.
Here's what happened this week on IBI:
2014 IBI Top 50 Prospects: #23 CA Eric Haase: While he still has some developing to do, Eric Haase's ceiling is still high enough to be excited about. His defense, offense and power are things to keep an eye on over the next couple seasons as he continues to work his way up through the system.
2014 IBI Top 50 Prospects: #22 LHP Shawn Morimando: In a franchise starved for left-handed pitching, Shawn Morimando has emerged as one of the top starting pitching prospects in the farm system. The young southpaw made his mark at high-A Carolina last season and figures to start 2014 there before eventually being promoted to AA Akron, barring injury.
2014 IBI Top 50 Prospects: #21 SS Ronny Rodriguez: As of right now, it's tough to see where Ronny Rodriguez fits in on the depth chart as well as which affilliate he will start the year at with Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindorprojected to be the primary shortstops at the AAA and AA levels, respectively. He will need to get regular at-bats somewhere, though, considering that he is in the process of making adjustments at the plate.
2014 IBI Top 50 Prospects: #20 LHP T.J. House: After re-establishing himself as a legitimate major league pitching prospect, T.J. House has emerged as a potential dark-horse candidate for the Indians starting rotation this spring. However, with more experienced pitchers also vying for the job, he may start the year down in AAA Columbus.
2014 IBI Top 50 Prospects: #19 OF Jordan Smith: Embodying the consistency comparable to Paul O'Neil and the Indians' own Michael Brantley, Jordan Smith has been a prospect that doesn't impress in any one given area, but his overall production on offense and defense has been steady over the span of his professional career thus far. He projects to open the year at AA Akron.
2014 IBI Top 50 Prospects: #18 OF Anthony Santander: This outfielder was signed out of Venezuela by the Indians in the summer of 2011 and possesses physical tools that have been compared to Miguel Cabrera. However, injuries have slowed his development over the start of his professional career. He is expected to be fully recovered, though, and should start the year at single-A Lake County.
MLB Storylines: Orioles capitalize on Cruz's crashing market: Even though they had to forfeit a second draft pick after signing Ubaldo Jimenez, Baltimore has chosen to take advantage of Nelson Cruz's slow-developing market and sign him at a bargain price. Andy Nichols discusses the signing and other news and notes.
IBI Power Poll: Winning the World Series?: 2014 will mark 66 years since the Indians last won a World Series. The question is will they win one in the near future or even in our lifetimes? Jim Pete asks fans if they think it will happen in this week's Power Poll.
MLB Storylines: Gardner gets extension from Yankees: Extension talks have been all the rage this offseason and Brett Gardner is the latest to receive a multi-year deal as the Yankees have decided to keep him around for at least the next four seasons. The Angels are also discussing an extension with superstar outfielder Mike Trout. Andy Nichols reports.
Tribe Happenings: The importance of the Indians "Fab Five": With Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir gone to free agency and Justin Masterson potentially entering his last season with the Tribe, Tony Lastoria examines whether the team has the internal depth to sustain the losses.
Indians Notebook: Spring games begin this week: With exhibition play set to begin this week, Steve Orbanek takes time to give an overview of the different questions that need to be addressed or allowed to play out over the course of the spring, including Carlos Carrasco pitching in the rotation, Carlos Santana playing at third base and Vinnie Pestano returning to his dominant setup man form.
MLB Storylines: MLB officially bans home plate collisions: After months of internal speculation and negotiation, Major League Baseball has officially ruled to limit home plate collisions starting this season on an experimental basis. Plus, the Indians have opened extension talks with Jason Kipnis. Andy Nichols has all the latest.
Final 2013-2014 Winter Ball stats: With spring training now underway, Tony Lastoria has compiled and calculated all this past offseason's winter ball stats for Indians players and posted them in this article.
Swinging for the Fences: The Goon Squad Shuffle: With several prospects and non-roster invitees in camp to compete for spots on the roster, Jake Dungan speculates which players will make up the Goon Squad in 2014 and what possible combinations Terry Francona could use to coordinate the bench.
MLB Storylines: Cubs still exploring Samardzija trade: With extension talks still at a standstill between the Cubs and Jeff Samadzija, there have been reports of a trade still being a possibility before opening day. Meanwhile, Ervin Santana is expected to maintain his asking price despite the season being a month away. Andy Nichols has all the latest.
2014 Key Players: Danny Salazar: Michael Goodman kicks off his preseason series looking at which players will be integral to the Indians' success in 2014 starting with Danny Salazar. The young right-hander burst onto the scene in 2013 with little warning and now figures to be a key element in the rotation this season with the potential of becoming an ace.
Indians drop spring opener to Reds, 8-3: Live baseball returns for the first time in 2014 and the Indians took on the Reds at Goodyear Ballpark in their Cactus League opener. Unfortunately it was Cincinnati who came out on top 8-3 as Indians pitching faltered. Jim Berdysz recaps the action.
MLB Storylines: Groundwork for Trout's mega-extension set?: While talks will continue between the Angels and Mike Trout, they have avoided arbitration in the meantime on a one-year deal. In Tribe news, Carlos Santana is set to make his live-game debut in the second Cactus League game for the Tribe. Andy Nichols reports the latest news and notes.
What's New at Progressive Field in 2014?: Jim Berdysz provides an overview of what promotions and other innovations Tribe fans can expect when they pay a visit to Progressive Field this season.
Asdrubal Cabrera: At the corner of BABIP and plate discipline: Asdrubal Cabrera had a career worst season in many categories in 2013, but when he did hit the ball, he hit it very well. The problem has been regression in plate discipline for the former All-Star shortstop. John Grimm explains in-depth.
Tribe returns favor with 12-3 blowout win over Cincinnati: After suffering defeat at the hands of the Reds in blowout fashion in their Cactus League opener, the Indians returned the favor and then some with a 12-3 victory over Cincinnati in the second game. Jake Dungan recaps the highlights.
MLB Storylines: Could Cliff Lee be dealt this season?: If Philadelphia falls out of contention, recent reports indicate that they may be open to trading left-hander Cliff Lee before the deadline. Also, Justin Masterson has expressed interest in staying in Cleveland for a few more years. Andrew Zajac discusses all the latest news from around the league.
Indians preview capsules: The non-roster invite pitchers: Tony Lastoria begins preseason previews of different groups of players on the team starting with the non-roster invite pitchers, highlighted by veteran hurlers Shaun Marcum, Aaron Harang and Scott Atchison.
Indians shutout Reds 4-0 to win two straight: The Tribe finishes off the exhibition opening series against the Reds with two straight wins with Friday's victory primarily a result of dominant pitching. Offensively, it was Ryan Raburn and Carlos Moncrief who helped put runs on the board. Jim Berdysz reports the highlights.
MLB Storylines: Could Sano be headed for Tommy John?: The first major injury of the spring has cropped up as top Twins and MLB prospect Miguel Sano could be on his way to Tommy John surgery, which would sideline him for all of 2014. Andrew Zajac discusses the latest speculation on Sano and other news.
Trend Spotting: Spring optimism abounds: In a transcribed discussion about spring training, Michael Hattery, Jim Pete and Steve Orbanek discuss why there is a reason to be optimistic this spring with the Tribe in a variety of different areas.
Jake Dungan is a communications student at Stark State College and an intern with the Akron RubberDucks. Follow him on Twitter @MajorLeagueJake.