Cleveland Indians Sunday News and Notes: March 23, 2014

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The cuts are coming daily now.

Yesterday's Game

Indians recap (Saturday): Corey Kluber struggles for third start in a row - Let's Go Tribe

Corey Kluber hits sixth-inning wall as Rockies pound Cleveland Indians, 14-6 | cleveland.com

Rockies 14, Indians 6: Marla Ridenour's final thoughts - Cleveland Indians - Ohio

Kluber didn't give up any runs until the fifth inning, so you could blame his tough outing on Corey getting stretched out for the regular season, but that he only struck out one is also concerning. Stuff doesn't wait until the regular season to show up, and at least in Kluber's last few outings it has been there. The good news is that Corey has one more start before the games start to count, so perhaps he'll wipe away these lingering worries.

Indians News

The DiaTribe: Lazy Sunday with the President, v. 2014

Al interviews Mark Shapiro, and like last year's version, it's a great read. Topics include free agency strategy (including the Qualifying Offer), starting pitching, Mickey Callaway, and the financial state of the club.

Vinnie Pestano, Elliot Johnson make Cleveland Indians' roster; Jeff Francoeur, Matt Carson cut | cleveland.com

As with last year, Terry Francona is letting everyone know as possible as to who is making the club. Yesterday it was revealed that both Elliot Johnson and Vinnie Pestano will come north with the Indians. And with that news, it was also revealed who will not make the club, as the team released Jeff Francoeur and sent Matt Carson to minor-league camp. Both Francouer and Carson are career outfielders, so it's pretty obvious that Johnson won the job by proving that he'll be able to play the outfield regularly. None of the projected bench regulars are what you'd consider natural outfielders (Johnson, Ryan Raburn, and Mike Aviles), but all three can play there, along with several other positions, and given Terry Francona's predilection for big bullpens, versatility is what the Indians were looking for. And also another infielder could be useful, especially if Lonnie Chisenhall does end up going to Columbus.

To prepare a spot for the winner of the Johnson/Francoeur/Carson battle, the Indians had previously designated David Adams for assignment, and yesterday it was revealed that the Baltimore Orioles had claimed him on waivers. Adams played much of the 2013 season in New York, so perhaps the Orioles liked what they saw from him. In an amusing coincidence, they made room for Adams by designated former Tribe prospect Kelvin de la Cruz for assignment. Lord Kelvin was lost to the waiver wire in 2012 when the Indians added Casey Kotchman (sorry for reminding you) to their 40-man roster, and has spent the last couple years being the 40th man on clubs' 40-man rosters.

This spring training was a very important one for Vinnie Pestano, who had a 2013 to forget. After the season, Pestano was eligible for arbitration, and although the Indians tendered him a contract, that could also have sent him to Columbus if he had a bad spring, and if he didn't improve in Columbus, would almost certainly non-tender him after the 2014 campaign. That worst-case scenario could still happen, but Vinnie took a major step in righting things by looking like he did in 2011-2012.

Latest 25-man/40-man Roster

(click to embiggen)

March_23_2014_medium

There were a lot of cuts this past week, leaving us with just three (or four if you stretch it) open battles:

1) Chisenhall/Santana - Third Base

This is kind of an odd battle, as Carlos Santana is obviously in the starting lineup regardless of what happens, but if Santana convinces Terry Francona that he can play third base, Chisenhall will be optioned to Columbus with another position player (probably a catcher) taking his place on the 25-man roster. I still think Chisenhall will start the season as the regular third baseman, with Carlos Santana playing there occasionally while also backing up Yan Gomes.

2) Tomlin/Carrasco/Bauer/Harang - 5th Starter

Each of these four has an opportunity of starting the season in the rotation, though I still think Tomlin has the leg up. Harang could be added just to give the Indians more starting depth, but thus far he hasn't looked very good in games.

3) Carrasco/Wood/Lee/Atchison/Tomin - Bullpen (1 or 2 spots)

I think the Indians will start the season with eight relievers, and if that's the case, two of these pitchers will make the club. Carrasco is out of options, so either he makes the rotation, the bullpen, or has to be outrighted. I think Blake Wood has the leg up on the other spot given how he's looked this spring.

4) Bourn/Bourn's hamstring/Morgan - Center Field

It's looking likely now that Michael Bourn will start the season on the Disabled List, and if that's the case, it looks like Nyjer Morgan will make the club. At least that seems the case given that both Jeff Francoeur and Matt Carson were cut yesterday.

Other MLB News

Dodgers 7, Diamondbacks 5: Sweep in Sydney - True Blue LA

The Dodgers swept the Diamondbacks in their short two-game series in Australia. Now the two clubs return to the US, play some more exhibition games, and pick up the regular season games on Monday.

AL Central News

Scherzer, Tigers end contract discussions until after 2014 season - Bless You Boys

It looks like Max Scherzer will join James Shields, Jon Lester, and Justin Masterson as free agents after the season. I was a bit surprised that the Tigers weren't able to sign Scherzer given their resources, but then I realized that Scherzer's agent is Scott Boras, and Boras clients almost always go to free agency.

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