25 on the 25
By Anthony Castrovince/MLB.com
This spring, I’ve written countless words about the outlook for the Indians’ Opening Day roster. Today, here are 25 words each about the 25 guys.
(Did you notice that introductory paragraph was exactly 25 words? We’re off to a great start!)
MICHAEL BRANTLEY: Will he be the Grady Sizemore to Russell Branyan’s Juan Gonzalez? We’ll see. Brantley has all the tools to become the Indians’ long-term leadoff man.
ASDRUBAL CABRERA: Exceeded every expectation at the plate and so smooth in the field. Will be fun to watch for years, considering he keeps watching his weight.
FAUSTO CARMONA: Sensational spring calms some fears that the 2007 Carmona is dead and gone. But I’ll believe it when he makes Torii Hunter feel “hungover” again.
SHIN-SOO CHOO: With five tools and a tireless work ethic, Choo might wear a Tribe uniform in the Midsummer Classic this year (but not South Korean camouflage).
MARK GRUDZIELANEK: “Jamey Carroll, The Sequel.” At 39, “Grudz” brings a needed veteran presence to this clubhouse. Had an impressive camp, considering he missed all of 2009.
TRAVIS HAFNER: Won’t quite be a return to “Pronkville,” but don’t rule out the possibility of 30 homers, if healthy. Finally driving the ball to all fields.
DAVID HUFF: Won a team-high 11 games last year, but not without fair share of rookie hiccups. Intense competitor with the intelligence to put it all together.
AUSTIN KEARNS: Injury prone veteran who will help out in a bench role. Solid defender in the outfield. Can add late pop. “A pro’s pro,” says Acta.
AARON LAFFEY: Whether Wedge or Acta, the Indians always find ways to leave Laffey out of the rotation. He always works his way in. It’ll happen again.
MATT LaPORTA: Fair or not, it’s up to him to make fans stop bemoaning the Sabathia trade. Tribe’s really counting on the right-handed power he can provide.
JENSEN LEWIS: Deceptive righty probably has a future in broadcasting when he’s done getting people out. He didn’t get enough out last year. It was Souvenir City.
LOU MARSON: Viewed primarily as a placeholder for Carlos Santana, but has strengths in handling a pitching staff. At the plate, lots of patience but no power.
ANDY MARTE: It’s been four years since he was acquired and billed as the “third baseman of the future.” The future’s now past, but Marte’s still here.
JUSTIN MASTERSON: Has the size and stuff to be an effective starter. Still, don’t be shocked if he’s in the back end of the bullpen by June.
JHONNY PERALTA: Expect the usual. Slow April, some defensive foibles, some sizzling stretches. At year’s end, he’ll have 85 RBIs. But will he be with the Indians?
CHRIS PEREZ: Great arm, great kid and, most importantly, great hair. He has the stuff to close. And now, with Kerry Wood out, he has the opportunity.
RAFAEL PEREZ: Lanky lefty had abominable ’09 but appears to have recovered with winter and spring performances. Starting in 2011 isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
MIKE REDMOND: Carmona’s personal catcher will earn every penny of his $850,000 salary if he keeps Fausto in line and under control. Naked BP also a plus.
TONY SIPP: The pride of Pascagoula piles on the strikeouts, thanks to deceptive delivery. If he can control his fastball, he’ll remain effective against righties and lefties.
GRADY SIZEMORE: Still slightly miscast, this time as a No. 2 hitter, but back to being the picture of health (insert picture joke here). An All-Star again.
JOE SMITH: The reliever with the most boring name in baseball had first season in Cleveland marred by health issues. Wants to prove he’s not “all right.”
MITCH TALBOT: Deep arsenal and calm demeanor helped him pile up wins in Triple-A. Freed from the Rays, he has a chance to pile them up here.
LUIS VALBUENA: Makes great DP partner for Cabrera. But was the power displayed in 2009 a mirage, and will he be left out when lefties are in?
JAKE WESTBROOK: Opening Day is an outing nearly two years in the making. Needs to find his old sink or the Indians are sunk from the start.
JAMEY WRIGHT: Found his niche as a durable reliever. Can eat up middle innings when the starters falter. Who’s taller? Him or Masterson? Too close to call.