David Huff, who is fighting not only to make the club but also to stay on the 40-man roster, got the start and allowed two runs in three innings of work. He allowed a first inning two-run homer to the Cubs' top prospect Javier Baez. He wouldn't allow any more damage, though, and turned things over to Zach McAllister. At this point I think the only way Huff sticks around is as a longman in the bullpen, and the Indians could definitely use one. But I still come back to Huff's performance in Columbus last year and wonder why he's even still on the roster.
Zach McAllister looked very good. Zach has clinched a spot in the rotation, so this performance won't mean a whole lot other than make us feel good about his prospects this season. He struck out three and didn't walk a batter, allowing 3 hits in his four innings of work.
On the hitting front, Jason Kipnis hit his first home run of the spring, a solo shot in the fourth inning. Cedric Hunter had the best lineup of the day, going 3-for-3 with a three-run homer. Ben Francisco, who is fighting for one of two open spots on the bench, hit a double in the sixth inning.
Yan Gomes chose to forego playing for Brazil in the WBC in order to try to make the Indians. He's played some infield positions, but if he's going to stick on a major-league roster, he first and foremost needs to be a backup catcher. If you look at him as a backup catcher with some nice bonuses (better-than-usual bat, ability to play the corners), then you can understand why the Indians were interested in him. Lou Marson is still entrenched as the backup catcher, but if he doesn't hit, Gomes seems a logical alternative, even if he isn't the prototypical backup.
This deserves a separate post, but for now I'll highlight a couple quotes from Terry Pluto's interview with Paul Dolan:
"We heard it, we felt it," said Dolan. "We knew we had to do something. The cycle was heading to the bottom and going to be at the bottom for some time. We couldn't wait another five years for the next wave of minor leaguers to come."
In other words, the franchise was a point where either (a) the payroll had to go up or (b) another 2002/2003-style rebuilding was going to take place. And with the fanbase almost completely disenchanted with the team, the second option would have been disastrous to the finances of the club.
He said the first decision was finding a new manager, "because the atmosphere in the clubhouse was not conducive to winning" during the final months under former manager Manny Acta.
"In every discussion about a new manager, Terry (Francona) was always at the forefront," said Dolan. "I knew him (from 2001) when he was a special consultant with us. Mark and Chris know him very well."
Another reference to Manny Acta losing the clubhouse.
On the Bourn signing...
It was a four-year, $48 million contract. Dolan took a deep breath ...
"Actually, more than one," he said. "This was uncomfortable, but I also knew it was a unique opportunity to get a special talent who will spend the best remaining years of his career with the Indians."
He tried not to think of a contract gone bad.
"But how can you not?" he admitted. "We've not had good luck with some of our longer deals."
And the overall financial picture...
Ticket sales have risen since the moves, especially the Bourn signing. I heard season tickets are approaching 7,000 and single-game and group-sales tickets are up. But Dolan said, "We have no expectations of covering the cost for this year. We will lose money."
It's fairly obvious that the (Cleveland) Dolans don't have very deep pockets, so the Swisher/Bourn signings were a big risk for ownership to take. But it was a risk they almost had to take; they're betting on increase attendance and the future TV money to make up the difference in the medium-term.
Al Ciammaichella is counting down the top 61 (!) Indians prospects, and the first four installments are already up.
Pool C is set already, with Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic winning their first two games of pool play. That means that Venezuela, one of the pre-tournament favorites, will be heading home after their game with Spain. So Asdrubal Cabrera will be back in Arizona in the next couple days.
Pool D is much more muddled, making today's game between the US and Canada pivotal for more than one reason. The winner of the game will move on to Miami, with the loser not only going home in 2013, but having to qualify for the 2017 WBC. Derek Holland will get the start for the US.
This morning Japan blew out the Netherlands to clinch a spot in the semi-finals. Today the Netherlands faces Cuba with the other spot in the semi-finals on the line.
AL Central News
After a great first season as a starter, Chicago has locked up Sale for five years plus two option years. In other words, they are potentially buying out three free agent years. As with all pitchers, a long-term deal is risky, but if Sale maintains this success, the reward will be tremendous.
The "other" pitcher going to the Royals in the Shields/Myers deal has a sore shoulder.
The best MLB game is out, and the reviews are very good. As this is published by Sony, it's a PS3-exclusive game, leaving XBOX 360 owners with MLB 2K13 and Wii and PC owners with nothing.
Today's Classic Clip
This is from Double Indemnity (1944), Billy Wilder's first hit as a director. The script was written by Wilder and Raymond Chandler, and in my opinion is one of the best movie scripts ever written. Both of the stars were playing against type; Fred MacMurray to this point had played romantic leads and had a very likeable persona, and Stanwyck, while she had played some dramatic roles earlier in her career, was mainly known for her comedy roles.
MacMurray plays an insurance salesman who becomes smitten with Stanwyck, who is married to a man she'd like to get rid of in an "accident". This is from their first meeting: