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"For a likely contender, the Indians don't look very threatening at the positions where the...

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"For a likely contender, the Indians don't look very threatening at the positions where the offensive expectations are the highest. As noted last week, the left-field platoon of Francisco (forecast for 260/.328/.424) and Dellucci (.254/.316/.425) is of a piece with the Tribe's seven-year trend of mediocrity from its corner outfielders, while Garko at first base is similarly lacking in punch (.261/.333/.420). There's slightly more room for optimism here than in some other quarters, however. While shoulder problems eroded Hafner's performance from .308/.419/.611 in 2004-2006 to just .248/.364/.417 in 2007-2008 (including a sub-Mendoza showing last year), off-season surgery to clean out scar tissue offers hope that he can outdo his .248/.352/.422 forecast, even if living up to his $57 million contract through 2012 is a pipe dream. Additionally, top prospect Matt LaPorta, a 2007 first-round pick obtained from the Brewers in the CC Sabathia trade last summer, will start the year in Triple-A, and could provide more punch by slotting in at left field or at first base by mid-season."

Jay Jaffe, Baseball Prospectus
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