Thanks to ESPN (for showing an Indians’ Spring Training game) and to the genius that invented TiVo (watched 24 last night in 1 hour 20 minutes in case you needed another reason to get it), I was able to catch the Tribe-Mets game from Monday afternoon.
Here are the impressions from the couch:
- The stars of the game were Grady Sizemore, who went 3-3 with 2 doubles and a HR, and Andy Marte, who hit 2 doubles (one to left, one to right). Other players made some contributions, but those two really stood out.
- A lot of face time was given to Sizemore as well as a lot of hype surrounding his talent. It’s easy to forget that this time last year, Sizemore was a long shot to make the team and was eventually called up ONLY after Juan Gone went down with the hammy injury. It didn’t take long, but people are starting to notice Grady, and rightfully so. And, the scary thing is that last year seemed to just be scratching the surface. If it’s possible, he’s playing with more confidence than last year.
- I was excited to see Marte in action, as you can only learn so much about a player from stats and scouts’ rave reviews about him. After watching him play, though, know this – this kid is the real deal. First, he belted a Tom Glavine fastball off of the LF wall, driving in Ryan Garko (who had also lined a hit to left off of the future Hall of Famer); then he went opposite field with a drive to the wall off of Jose Lima (after Lima had mowed down Garko and Kelly Shoppach). His swing is very fluid and his hits off of big-league pitchers (granted, Lima is marginal) were no cheap shots, they were crushed. The ball jumps off of his bat. Plus, he’s built like a ballplayer; similar to Jhonny Peralta, but a little bigger. He looks like he belongs NOW. I’ll be very interested to see how long they can keep Marte out of Cleveland, because he’s not far off, right now.
- Garko displayed some patience at the plate and showed that he can hit, particularly with his at-bat against Glavine. He’s a big, thick guy that looks like a catcher, so he’s not going to win any footraces. Speaking of thick guys, Kelly Shoppach (who didn’t do anything too noteworthy) has legs that look like tree trunks. Where Victor has a body that doesn’t necessarily look like a catcher’s, Shoppach does.
- Jason Michaels (or J-Mike, as Wedgie referred to him when he was talking to the announcers) laid down a nice situational bunt to move Grady over. I’m not a huge fan of bunting, but maybe this will shut up all of those guys that call the radio and say that they’re better bunters than anyone on the Indians. Also, Michaels resembles Lenny Dykstra with a perm.
- Brandon Phillips (who, if you’ve read the DiaTribe before, you know is not one of my favorites) didn’t do anything to change my impression of him. He still has that big swing and seems to swing at everything. Phillips is reminiscent of Kenny Lofton. Not the young Lofton that played in the late 1990’s, though; the Lofton now. He seems to have attended the Kenny Lofton “the only way to get paid is to hit homers” school over the winter. He even emulates Lofton, right down to flipping the bat when he walks.
- Ryan Mulhern, who was the Indians’ Minor League Position Player of the Year last year, didn’t look too impressive. As a 25 year old who didn’t seem real comfortable at 1B, he seems to project as more of a Ryan Ludwick or Jason Dubois. He’s a big RH hitter with power, but he may just top out at the AAA level, like a Jason Cooper.
- Jason Davis seems to have toned down his motion, where he seems to be a little more in control. His arms and legs no longer flail around as he falls off of the mound in his follow-through. It didn’t seem to help him much, though, as he always seemed to be pitching from behind and gave up a number of base hits. Even the outs were balls that were hit solidly. I would still say that he's the front-runner for that final bullpen spot, but Andrew Brown is closing quickly.
- Kaz Tadano came on and didn’t fare much better than Davis to help his case for that final bullpen spot. He, too, always seemed to be working from behind in the count and was unable to work himself out of a jam. Not a real impressive outing for Tadano.
- Tony Sipp, the minor league lefty, did impress with his aggressiveness and mound presence. Where Davis and Tadano seemed to be nibbling, Sipp was throwing strikes. He wasn’t nearly as effective against RH hitters as he was against LH hitters, when his stuff was just nasty. He could climb the ladder of the organization pretty quickly this year as a matchup lefty or LOOGY (Lefty One Out GuY), perhaps even seeing action at the Jake if another southpaw is needed.
- Edward Mujica, who dominated at Akron last year, is a big Venezuelan with a nice easy motion who only pitched one quick inning. Being only 21, he could follow the path of Fernando Cabrera to the major league pen by next year.
It was awfully nice to see some baseball being played by the Indians, even if it’s via TiVo on a Monday and Tuesday night.
Incidentally, on the official site’s depth chart, there are 2 names missing from the C position and 2B/SS position that are “fighting” for a roster spot. Can you tell who’s missing, and what does it tell you about their chances?