Cleveland Indians Weekend News and Notes (March 2)

Eric P. Mull-US PRESSWIRE

This week's six pack includes word on Justin Masterson, the batting order, the Tribe's best prospects, and some of the goofiest baseball cards ever printed.

The Indians won Friday's Cactus League game against the White Sox, but scheduled Opening Day starter Justin Masterson was roughed up for 4 runs on 6 hits and didn't finish the three innings he was scheduled to pitch. "I just got underneath quite a few sinkers," Masterson said. "The four-seamer was good, and a threw a couple good changeups." That doesn't sound so bad, until you consider that Masterson threw his sinker on 58% of his pitches last year, so that's the one he really needed working. Scott Kazmir threw two more shutout innings in what continues to be a strong start to the spring for him, so there's that.

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Speaking of Masterson, Jeff Sullivan has an interesting piece at Fangraphs, pointing out that Masterson has had a higher percentage of his pitches in the strike zone called as balls than any other pitcher in baseball. That is to say, he's pitched to the tightest zone in the league, losing an average of one called strike per every two innings pitched. Partially this may be due to something in his delivery/pitch selection (such as his sinker being a tough pitch for umps to read), and it may also have something to do with his catchers (neither Santana nor Marson rates highly as a pitch-framer).

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Also from Fangraphs, Marc Hulet's "Top 15 Prospects" series has been ongoing in recent weeks and yesterday his choices for the Indians were released. Francisco Lindor is at #1 and Trevor Bauer at #2, no surprise there. Unlike recent top 100 lists though, where only those two have received much attention, there are a couple paragraphs for each of the other prospects listed on this one too, so it's a chance to read a bit more about them than you may have before. Hulet mentions Cody Allen as someone ready to be an impact reliever now and also compliments the Indians on doing a great job in the Latin market.

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Bastian's notes from Friday include word that Jason Kipnis is the front-runner for the #3 spot in the lineup (with Bourn leading off and Cabrera hitting second). That's what I expected after Bourn signed, with Swisher and Santana following. It's nice to have a lot of switch hitters, as it makes the lineup harder for opposing managers to attack with their bullpen. Also in those notes: Frank Herrmann has been shut down indefinitely due to a sprained elbow ligament. Considered a bullpen candidate, Hermann could need surgery, which would potentially keep him out for the entire year.

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Michael Clair is a baseball writer with a great sense of humor, he puts together a lot of fun pieces. Yesterday he took a look at one of the stranger sets of baseball cards ever printed, the "Milk Bone Super Stars" series from 1993, featuring Major League players, out of uniform (because this was no licensed by MLB), posing with their dogs. Brett Butler is featured for Tribe fans, but Joe Girardi has my favorite shot. Also, the clothes, those hats! There's a lot to enjoy folks, check it out.

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I'm a pretty big movie fan, so despite not being much for awards shows, I always end up watching the Oscars. I was happy to see Daniel Day-Lewis and Jennifer Lawrence win the lead acting awards, because he's as good or better than any other screen actor on Earth, and she's proving to be damn good too (Silver Linings Playbook sort of fell apart for me towards the end, but she was great. She's also not to be missed in Winter's Bone, from a couple years back). I enjoyed Argo, so while it wasn't my favorite film of 2012, I had no real complaint with it winning. The Academy has certainly done a lot worse. Rather than dwelling on choices I didn't agree with though, here are my favorite Best Picture winners since 1980 (when I was born):

6) Schindler's List (1994)

5) No Country For Old Men (2007)

4) Braveheart (1995)

3) The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

2) Unforgiven (1992)

1) The Return of the King (2003)

Have at it!

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