February 26, 2004

Shapiro On "Winning Course"

Peter Gammons has been a fan of Indians GM Mark Shapiro for a while now, but this article reinforces that opinion. Gammons won't go out on any limbs here with a prediction on the Indians' ability to compete for the Division title:

Are they likely to contend in the American League Central this year? Maybe, maybe not. C.C. Sabathia, Clifford Lee and Jason Davis could give them a solid front of their rotation. With Bob Wickman back at the end, along with David Riske, Jose Jimenez, Scott Stewart and Rafael Betancourt, the bullpen is deep. Milton Bradley, when healthy, is a premier player. How close to .500 they go will depend on how many of their talented young players make the major leagues and begin to produce, from catcher Victor Martinez to prize outfielder Grady Sizemore to pitcher Jeremy Guthrie. Through trades -- especially getting Sizemore, Lee and Brandon Phillips for Colon -- and the draft, the farm system is considered one of the deepest in talent in either league.

I don't think we'll see too much of Sizemore this season, at least not until September call ups. There are just too many outfielders competing for time on the roster for Sizemore to play, and even though he's our prize prospect, we still need to find out if some of last year's prospects are going to make it as contributing regulars. I speak of Coco Crisp, Alex Escobar, and Ryan Ludwick mostly, and that outfield is pretty crowded already, with Milton Bradley, Jody Gerut and Matt Lawton out there as the presumed starters.

Guthrie had a rough time at AAA when he got promoted last summer, but the team has so much invested in him, and so little talent occupying their 5th starter slot, that we may see him sooner than many think. He'll be 25 in April, which makes him older than our No. 1 and No. 2 starters. They may ultimately decide to let him take his major league lumps sooner instead of later. I'd vote for that. I'm anxious to see him pitch.

Check out the whole Gammons piece. It includes an impressive mini-essay from Jody Gerut on the risks of a "sophomore slump". I daresay not too many major league ballplayers talk like that. A Stanford man, to be sure.

Incidentally, I discovered a new (to me) site for Cleveland sports articles that I have added to the "Sports Stuff" list at right. It's called ClevelandScores.com , and it's worth a look. It's a compilation of articles from the local area papers and the national sports sites, along with links to other Cleveland sports web resources.

Posted by dan at February 26, 2004 10:48 PM