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Did The Tribe Win Last Night? | November 21, 2017

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Positional Battles Begin To Emerge As Tribe Prepares For Goodyear

 

 

By Sean Tuttle

With spring training quickly approaching, the Indians front office has put the coaching staff in a decent situation. Most would agree that it is better to have more than one capable position player than one questionable one.

In the past few days, the Indians have acquired utility player and the 2011 International League MVP, Russ Canzler, as well as free agent first baseman, Casey Kotchman.

It seems like an undeniable certainty that Kotchman will get the nod to start at first base as soon as spring training begins, but what of Canzler? Canzler played four positions last season: first base, third base, left field and right field. With Michael Brantley and Shin-Soo Choo locking up the corner outfield positions, the competition for third is heating up.

Currently, the Indians reported depth chart had Jack Hannahan over Lonnie Chisenhall at third base, Carlos Santana over Matt LaPorta at first base and Choo as the lone right fielder.

It seems that this is a major question that may or may not be resolved in spring training. The good news for the Tribe is that they now have plenty of depth at the corners to adjust and tinker if things don’t pan out the way they expect.

Another interesting scenario is the outlook of the pitching rotation. The Indians currently list seven starting pitchers on their depth chart. At the current moment they still list Fausto Carmona, or the pitcher formerly known as Carmona, second on the rotation. Holding down the current fifth spot is Derek Lowe who is coming off his worst season in the show (9-17).

With Carmona being on the Restricted List, and his 2012 season in jeopardy, another battle to watch in Spring Training is the race for the fifth spot in the rotation.

Newly acquired Kevin Slowey seems to be the favorite for the job, despite an injury-filled and awful 2011 season. David Huff is another candidate, but his 2011 season had several ups and downs. Jeanmar Gomez will have the opportunity to prove he deserves at least some consideration while out in Goodyear.

Some other key battles Indian fans should pay close attention to during spring training is at center field. If Sizemore continues to produce, or show the lack of production, like he did in 2011. I, nor several Indians fans, would be the least bit surprised if Ezequiel Carrera took over later in the season, and Sizemore found himself among a nasty nest of trade rumors, or worse…released.

The competition at catcher may be an interesting development. Lou Marson is slated as the starter right now, but with the acquiring of Kotchman, Santana’s chances of playing at first are slim. It is also widely noted that Santana does not care to play catcher. This could be the start of some locker room issues, and the possibility of another trade.

One thing is for sure, Jason Kipnis, Travis Hafner, Brantley and Choo have their positions locked up. The bullpen is in decent shape with the resigning of Rafael Perez, not to mention Chris Perez closing.

It looks like LaPorta is headed “Back to the Minors”, and won’t be headed back to Cleveland anytime soon.

Photo:  Jared Wickerham/Getty Images