Spring Game #4: Fear the Eventual Cactus League Champs!

What is going to prevent me from joking about the fact that this team is headed for Cactus League glory?

I mean shoot, 4-0, not even Mike Rouse, Ed Mujica, and Jason Davis could prevent this team from winning!

I don't know what I'm saying. But this team has won all four spring games to this point. It isn't a big deal, but it is fun to have fun about.

Before we get to the game yesterday, the big story is about Kerry Wood.

With the first two big injuries of the spring claiming relievers, Wood's name has surfaced in trade discussions. I don't think Mark Shapiro and company would be bashful about wanting to trade Kerry Wood, but understand that this is probably not the time or circumstance for a deal to come to fruition.

Minnesota could very well lose Joe Nathan for the entire season after it was discovered he has a torn UCL or something like that. Chicago has come up as well due to the injury to primary setup man Angel Guzman, who will also likely be out for the season.

Obviously if the Cubs were to get Wood, he'd probably be their setup guy, but at this point, speculating about that is silly. Let me list these three reasons for you as to why a deal involving Wood is unlikely at this point.

1.) Wood is owed too much money and the Indians would probably have to take some of it on to receive anything of value. The Twins payroll is already higher than usual. The Cubs probably wouldn't care, but 10 million for a setup man? No.
2.) Based on the fact that if they do have to take on money in trading Wood, I think the Indians would much rather pay the full price and get something out of him. That means entering the year with a closer who will stabilize the chain of command. You trade your closer now and who knows what kind of damage that will do to the bullpen. It isn't about winning now, but it is about trying to establish some continuity.
3.) Let's just assume Minnesota is the only one that wants Wood right now. Why not wait till midsummer, when you know if you are in or out and there are more teams than just Minnesota looking for relief help.

Oh and that vesting option may turn people off at this point. It can only hurt the Indians that the slight possibility of that thing being there. Why would Minnesota want Wood for another year? What if he does finish 55 games? Yeah so, right now... No... And Kerry is handling it well.
"I've never dealt with [trade speculation] before, and I don't want that to change," Wood said. "I don't want to deal with it. I'll go out and get ready to go every day. And every time I get a chance to save a game, I'll go out and do my job."
So let's move forward. Kerry Wood is our closer. It's like Andy Reid with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Donovan McNabb is my Quarterback...Donovan McNabb is my Quarterback...Donovan McNabb is my Quarterback...

Write that 100 times on the chalkboard after class.

I don't think Reid did that.. Did he? Some coach did. I remember.. He just kept repeating it. Maybe it was Reid. Next Question Drew Rosenhaus.

Yesterday was a success for Cleveland Indians past and present. Facing Seattle is going to be like facing Cleveland West. I find it strange and weird that they've now got two of my top five favorite players in the entire game.

I know, some of you are probably like, yeah we know your man-crush on Franklin Gutierrez is sickening. But I didn't think Cliff Lee was in your top five.

WRONG! It's Ryan Garko!

And now you are probably like, wow Ryan Garko sucks.

Wrong! Ryan Garko is still the man!

All that aside, Ryan Garko and Cliff Lee both joined up with Franklin this offseason. Seattle also added Ex-Indian Milton Bradley, who I personally don't consider when thinking about Cleveland West.

Garko is trying to win first base time for the Mariners and he talked about just a short time ago.
"It was only [three years ago] that all those guys were there [in Cleveland]," said Garko, who was dealt to the Giants last July and signed with the Mariners over the winter. "We thought we would be together a long time. We were all young, and the team controlled all of us for at least a couple more years." 
You know a guy like Ryan Garko would probably still be here if his numbers were up to snuff, because the club still did control him. A guy like Kelly Shoppach would be too. But when you are coming up to arbitration and the numbers aren't there... Yeah... And if you don't know by now, I lay a lot of Garko's struggles at the feet of Eric Wedge. Now Gark is responsible for his play, but the guy did put up good credible stats when he did play. Wedge just mistreated his playing time in my opinion.

The Razorback also spoke and I'm none-to-pleased with what came out of his mouth.
"It's hard to continue to win when you trade back-to-back Cy Young winners," Lee said with a shrug. 
This isn't the first time I've perceived Cliff to have hard feelings towards his old club. I think there were some other quotes either last year or in the offseason as well. I'd have to dig those up. Cliff is right, but who's fault is that? I think Kelly Shoppach said it best a few weeks ago when he said it was on us (the players). For what it is worth though.. I think Cliff also has sour grapes towards Philadelphia for dealing him too.

Whatever, we won't get into it now. Cliff can feel how he wants. Everyone is on a new path now.

Including Franklin Gutierrez, who continues to shine in center for the Mariners. He had two hits yesterday for Seattle against his old club, including a triple, and he knocked in half of the runs with two RBI.

Flip the script though and look at one of the pieces the Indians received when they dealt Gutierrez and the guy who came directly from the Seattle organization, Luis Valbuena.

Baby Val went 3-3 with a pair of runs scored, a double, and a RBI against his old club. He must have heard Mark Grudzielanek was gunning for the job that is "his to lose" so he turned up the fire.

The man who provided most of the firepower though was Wes Hodges, who also must have heard the rumblings that he is no longer the Indians future third baseman. He probably isn't, as he started at first base yesterday, but he did show early reports of his demise with the stick are in fact bogus.

Hodges went 2-3 with a pair of doubles that racked up four RBI for the club. Acta spoke on Hodges.
"A lot of people said he could swing the bat and he's shown that to me," said new manager Manny Acta. "He's got a good swing. He's able to use the whole field. Twice today he had a man on second base and took the right approach. We're going to take an extended look at him."
Wes just needs to stay healthy and hit at the Triple-A level this year. Jhonny Peralta could very well get dealt at some point and that would open up a nice half-year audition at the major league level for him. His future on this club may be cloudy with Chisenhall on fire and LaPorta presumably the guy at first base for awhile. But he can still maximize his value for the Indians benefit and his own. Acta did seem to indicated something we all pretty much knew though... He's gonna have to play more first base.

Aaron Laffey got a leg up on David Huff and Mitch Talbot with two more scoreless innings of work. Laffey says he is concentrating on producing results this time around, rather than working on his pitches. Last season he did that and ended up losing out to Scott Lewis. This year, it looks like Laffey is all business and he'll save the development time to when he throws on the side. Laffey says he's changing the grip on his 2-seamer.

He is tuning that 2-seamer up in bullpen sessions but also in 20 extra pitches that he threw yesterday after his day was over.
"I was able to get six outs and that's the most important thing," said Laffey. "I went down to the bullpen and threw about 20 more pitches with a batter standing there to get more work in."
Acta did say results were important, but they weren't the only thing. They want to see execution and Laffey clearly understands that.
"These guys are still competing," he said, "but we're looking at execution and [these guys] trying to do what we've been preaching. They have to throw first-pitch strikes, work ahead and get their defense involved."
Tim Belcher has obviously established the idea of pounding the strikezone, but also throwing first pitch strikes. When I say establish the idea, I mean, this is what he wants the pitchers to do. That is his philosophy and I think how these players follow that philosophy will play a huge role in determining who wins the spots.

Other pitchers going yesterday.. Justin Masterson and Hector Ambriz struggled. Ambriz obviously didn't follow the Belcher philosophy as he walked the bases loaded. He somehow managed to get out without giving up a run though. Masterson got himself into a jam that Jess Todd was able to save. He came in and got a double play ball to end the inning.

After a scoreless inning from Tony Sipp, he came out for the eighth inning and got himself into trouble. Jensen Lewis came in and managed to only let one run cross the plate. That's some serious damage control. Lewis picked up the save after pitching the ninth inning, but he too gave up an earned run.

The win went to Rafael Perez, who pitched a scoreless frame. Good to see Raffy doing well early.

Chris Perez and  David Huff salary details have been announced. All pre-arbitration players have been signed to their 2010 contracts according to Paul Hoynes.

Today... The Indians are back in Goodyear to play San Diego. The game will be on STO at 3:00 PM.

Matt LaPorta will make his spring debut. Russell Branyan is not in the lineup, but LaPorta is. Branyan and LaPorta were scheduled to make their debuts today. LaPorta tweeted his excitement about the event and also did the normal thing and talked to the media.
"I was so excited about playing today that I couldn't sleep last night," said LaPorta, this morning. "I felt like a kid waiting to play a Little League game."

Today's lineup will look like this... SS Cabrera, CF Sizemore, RF Choo, DH Hafner, 3B Perlata, 1B LaPorta, 2B Grudzielanek, C R Redmond, LF Crowe Vs LHP Wade LeBlanc.

David Huff looks to battle back at Aaron Laffey with the start. Potential followers to Huff include... Kerry Wood, Josh Judy, Zach Putnam, Mike Gosling, Saul Rivera, Frank Herrmann, Jeanmar Gomez.

Jeremy Sowers will throw on the side to hitters for the first time this spring. No timetable for him still and who knows why Russell Branyan is not in the lineup today. Perhaps he'll make the next start. I don't know if Hafner playing just made them decide to push Branyan back another game or what.

Finally, Jordan Brown underwent surgery on his knee and he will be out four-to-eight weeks. It is official, get well soon Jordan!


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