Two weeks to go, and the roster picture is getting clearer by the day.
With the starters getting more and more playing time, these games are becoming more interesting, but the game still came down to essentially a minor-league lineup. After the Giants took the lead in the top of the ninth, the five Indians batting in the bottom of the ninth were Juan Diaz, Ryan Rohlinger, Quincy Latimore, Omir Santos, and Delvi Cid. Cid tripled home Latimore and Santos with two outs to give the Indians a walk-off victory. Thanks to it being a night game and featuring the Giants, the ballpark in Goodyear was sold out, so it had at atmosphere unlike most spring training contests, which made the walk-off more memorable than usual.
The takeaways, though, came early in the game, when the lineup was full of Opening Day players. Carlos Carrasco, who likely won't be heading to Toronto in early April, allowed just 2 hits and a run in five innings of work. The Giants' lineup had little major-league talent (having played another game at home earlier in the day), so that line isn't quite as impressive as it might outwardly seem, but still it was another step towards Carrasco regaining the stuff and command he was showing before Tommy John surgery in 2011.
Asdrubal Cabrera and Jason Giambi went deep; Cabrera is recently back from the World Baseball Classic, so it's nice to see that he's still locked in after three games of WBC intensity, and Giambi is showing that he can still provide the Indians major-league power at the age of 42. Barring injury, Giambi is going to make this club, whether it be on Opening Day, or after the Indians go from a 14-pitcher staff to a 13-pitcher staff in the middle of April.
Hoynes gives a status report, and for the most part, it's a good one. Frank Herrmann (Tommy John surgery) has been the only major injury to come from camp, the rest being of the of the minor variety. The only spots on the roster that seem to be doubt are the front-end bullpen spots. Perez (if healthy), Pestano, Smith, Allen, and Hill will take up the seventh-ninth inning spots, but the other 2 or 3 spots are still to be spoken for.
Allen was officially told he's made the club, and that shouldn't come as much of a surprise. You always need a succession plan in the bullpen, as the careers of back-end relievers tends to be short, and Allen seems to be the third closer in line after Perez and Pestano. Joe Smith will likely be gone after this season, and Perez is getting expensive, so it might be sooner rather than later that Allen will be pitching in either the eighth or possible ninth inning.
At this point I think Scott Kazmir has won the fifth starter job, although Francona doesn't want to say anything official with two weeks of camp to go. Daisuke's injury, while not thought to be serious, means that the real question is whether he'll accept going to the minors, not whether he'll make the team. Because he ended last season on a major-league roster and has 6 years of service time, Matsuzaka may elect to become a free agent if he doesn't make the 25-man roster. And even if he goes to the minors, he can again elect free agency if he's not on a major-league roster by June 1st. So if the Indians can convince Matsuzaka to go to Columbus, he's going to be the first starter recalled if there's an injury.
Does the WBC matter? It certainly did to Vinnie Pestano, who gave up what turned out to be the deciding runs in the United States' loss to Puerto Rico.
Choked on the biggest stage of my career. Let a lot of people down tonight, this is something I cared deeply about and will stick with me— Vinnie Pestano (@VinnieP52) March 16, 2013
This wasnt another game in March for me, this was a win or go home for my country and I failed…I hope you know what it meant to me #WBC— Vinnie Pestano (@VinnieP52) March 16, 2013
Pestano will have a couple weeks between now and the regular season to mentally move on from his WBC experience. Craig Kimbrel, who was as close to untouchable as any reliever in the majors last season, gave up two runs to the Dominican Republic in the US' first loss in Pool 1, so it wasn't just Pestano who wasn't himself.
I actually like Ocker's ideas as to how to shorten the season:
• Start every season April 1.
• Schedule four day-night, separate-admission doubleheaders.
• Trim four games off the schedule, leaving 158.
Trimming four games off the schedule will never happen; that's lost revenue, and MLB isn't going to give that up. But I think the scheduled doubleheaders might some day happen for the opposite reason; taking an April game from the schedule and moving it to June or July is going to mean more revenue and more eyeballs watching that game. Having a Sunday doubleheader followed by an off day the next day would mean that clubs wouldn't be playing eight games in a week, and the travel schedule wouldn't dramatically change, either.
Today will mark the first STO broadcast of the year, and although Fox Sports now owns them, not a lot is going to chance. The channel name will remain SportsTime Ohio, though the FOX logo will accompany the STO name. Matt Underwood and Rick Manning will remain the broadcasters, Al Pawlowski and Jason Stanford will continue to do the pre-game and post-game show, and Katie Witham will continue to do reporting spots during the game (and will go on the road as well).
AL Central News
Boesch had almost 1500 Plate appearances with the Tigers over the last three years. The reason the Tigers released Boesch when they did was to save themselves $200k in owed salary; because Boesch was arbitration-eligible player, the Tigers would have had to pay him one-quarter of his salary if he had remained on the roster another day. Instead, the Tigers only owe Boesch one-sixth of his salary.
Boesch didn't have to wait long to find a new club, as he signed with the Yankees soon after his release. Which is probably bad news to Ben Francisco, who was released by the Indians last week, as Boesch signed a major-league contract with New York.
Hosmer didn't hit last year, and he's tweaked a couple portions of his swing in 2013.
The Twins are looking in some non-traditional areas to find someone who can fill out their rotation.
This Week's Classic Clip
Fred Astaire, from Top Hat (1935):