T-minus one week until Opening Day! Should be just enough time for me to finish up the new InFamous so I'm distraction-free. Here are your news and links for the day:
Francona teaching Tribe to win
Sports on Earth examines what Terry Francona has done to bring a "winning culture" to Cleveland. We can and have argued for days about the value of managers in MLB, and we can go back-and-forth about "intangibles," but it's hard to escape the feeling that there really is something special about Francona. SoE points out that Tito may be the best in the game at keeping players happy over the course of a grueling season. To me, this is what sets him apart from Manny Acta, who has a great baseball mind, but couldn't seem to make that personal connection with his players. Current Tribe player are in universal agreement on Francona's positive influence. The dude is playing the long game, and somehow, he still found a way to (sort of) win the short game.
#5 starter/final roster spot
As Jason wrote yesterday, the Indians have informed Aaron Harang than he won't be making the Opening Day roster. Bastian reports Chris Antonetti, Mark Shapiro, and Tito Francona's thoughts on the race for the last roster spot. Carlos Carrasco is "in the mix," but Josh Tomlin seems to have impressed the FO the most. Regarding Trevor Bauer, Tito notes that the Tribe is "looking at the big picture," which sounds like a nice way of saying Bauer has no chance. The way things are shaping up, the smart money is on Tomlin for the #5 spot and Carrasco in the bullpen.
The third base situation
Terry Pluto sends some mixed signals about third base, saying he thinks Carlos Santana will "open the season" as the Indians third baseman, but that he would play there "at least a few times a week." So, he's a third baseman, but not the third baseman. Terry Francona is positive about Santana:
"He looks like a third baseman. He has earned our trust."
Kipnis not talking extension
Just like Justin Masterson before him, Jason Kipnis has chosen to focus on his playing rather than his contract extension talks. Unlike Masterson, there hasn't been so much as a rumor that either side has made a move in the negotiations. Kipnis also has some boilerplate comments about the failed discussions between Masterson and the Tribe. I suspect it's impossible, but I'd love to get a bit more insight into how the failed negotiations went over in the clubhouse.
Klubot's creaking gears need oil
Terry Francona is chalking up Corey Kluber's recent struggles to "fatigue" issue, which is apparently a common thing during Spring Training. This is one of those things that I guess as an outsider, is difficult to understand. It's strange to thing pitchers get more fatigued after a few innings in Spring Training than hundreds of innings during the season. Either way, neither Francona nor Kluber seem to be too concerned - Klubes says he's still feeling good.
Tidbits from around MLB
Ortiz signs one-year extension with Red Sox | CBS Sports - One year, $16 million for David Ortiz' 2015 season. He'll be 39 years old.
Mattingly annoyed by Puig | ESPN LA- Dodgers coach Don Mattingly is apparently annoyed by Yasiel Puig's repeated minor injuries. Here's more ammo for all those "he doesn't play the game the RIGHT way" arguments.
Nats star Desmond turns down big contract | CBS Sports - DC offered their star SS Ian Desmond a contract in the neighborhood of 7 years/$90 million.
LGFT Reynolds makes Brewers roster | Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel - Mark Reynolds with platoon at 1B with Lyle Overbay. Go Mary!