Going 'round and around
Over on the Indians.com site, I’ve begun a weekly “Around the Horn” series examining each position and the outlook for 2010. We start where the game always starts (and, unfortunately, sometimes ends) — the starting rotation.
Regarding the potential Opening Day roster, the Indians, like all teams, have a lot of moving parts at the moment, so it’s impossible to form an accurate projection. But let’s take a swing at it, shall we?
A precursor: Rightly or wrongly, I’m going to assume Matt LaPorta enters April needing a couple more weeks of rehab from his October surgeries. I’m going to assume Michael Brantley is sent to Triple-A for a little more seasoning. I’m going to assume a few non-roster invitees are given the benefit of the doubt and break camp with the club. And I’m going to assume no other major injuries are sustained in camp.
Obviously, some of these are bold assumptions. But let’s go with it…
Rotation (in no particular order): Jake Westbrook, Fausto Carmona, Justin Masterson, Mitch Talbot and Jeremy Sowers.
If Talbot gets through camp healthy, I think the Indians will find a spot for him. I just have no idea where. It could be in the bullpen, opening the door for Aaron Laffey or David Huff in the rotation. For now, I’ll place him here. And for whatever reason, I see the Indians giving Sowers (who, like Talbot, is out of options) one last chance to make it at this level.
Bullpen: Kerry Wood, Chris Perez, Rafael Perez, Tony Sipp, Jensen Lewis, Joe Smith and Jason Grilli.
The X factor here, again, is Talbot. He could bump somebody, depending on spring performance. And I admittedly have no earthly idea what Grilli’s got in the tank. Just have a hunch they’ll make room for him.
Catcher: Lou Marson, Wyatt Toregas.
Carlos Santana’s on deck.
First base: Andy Marte, Shelley Duncan.
World Series! (Even as I type this first base outlook, I have no real faith that it’s accurate. The Indians had just better hope LaPorta heals on time.)
Second base: Luis Valbuena, TBD.
The TBD would be the as-yet-undetermined, right-handed utility guy who will spell Valbuena against lefties. At the moment, the only in-house options are prospect Jason Donald and non-roster invitee Luis Rodriguez.
Shortstop: Asdrubal Cabrera.
All-Star in the making.
Third base: Jhonny Peralta.
Trade bait in the making.
Outfield: Grady Sizemore, Shin-Soo Choo, Austin Kearns and Trevor Crowe.
I hope I’m wrong about Brantley, because he’s fun to watch. But it’s important to remember that as good as he was in September, he still had some struggles in Triple-A and might be in line for some second-year adjustments. We’ll see.
Designated hitter: Travis Hafner.
And he should be ready to play more than three games in a row. Not bad for 11.5 million bucks.
Ladies and gentlemen, your 2010 Cleveland Indians! … Maybe.