Sheldon Ocker of the Akron Beacon Journal does some speculating on the Indians' third base, left field, and closer situations.
- Casey Blake's contract expires at the end of the season, and at age 35, Ocker doesn't believe that Indians' GM Mark Shapiro will re-up for him. Ocker points to two reasons why Andy Marte probably won't work out as the in-house solution to Blake's potential absence: he could be lost on waivers if he doesn't make the team as a utility man coming out of Spring Training, and he shows no sign of figuring things out and becoming an impact player. Check out his Dominican Winter League performance if you need further proof that the 24 year-old Marte is regressing: .198/.213/.260 with seven errors. Small sample size? Yes, but wowza!
- Who from the available 2009 free agent list could be had to man third base? Could Asdrubal Cabrera be shifted to shortstop, and Jhonny Peralta moved to third? If so, who could move in to play second in place of Cabrera?
- Ocker also speculates that Shapiro will allow Jason Michaels of the Michaels/David Dellucci platoon walk unless their productivity rises substantially. Michaels is slated to make $2.15MM this season, and the club has an option for $2.6MM in 2009. What about Ben Francisco? Could he be an option to take over for Michaels in the platoon?
- This could also be Joe Borowski's last year as closer in Cleveland, Ocker says. Borowski will be 37 in 2009, and it has long been speculated that Borowski is on the cusp of losing his job. Ocker points out that it is always tough to find a closer on the free agent market, but remarks that it's "questionable" that the role could be filled in-house. I still don't understand the reluctance to place Rafael Betancourt in the role. Anyone?
- Finally, Ocker wonders how Cliff Lee would handle losing the number five slot in the rotation to Aaron Laffey or Jeremy Sowers. Relying on Lee's response to last year's demotion -- which was one of surprise at a player with a multi-year contract being sent to the minors ($3.75MM this year) -- Ocker says that Lee has a sense of entitlement regarding the number five slot. Ocker says that is "fine as long as he holds up his end of the bargain."
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