A rival scout sizes up the INDIANS
TERRY FRANCONA has a way of making his teams play hard. They could be a problem for the Tigers at the top of the division.... The key to the season could be CARLOS SANTANA's transition to third base to make room for YAN GOMES behind the plate. Santana played some third base in the minors before he was converted to catcher, and I wouldn't bet against him—he's willing to work and has the skill set to do it.... JASON KIPNIS is an elite player—a lefthanded hitting infielder who steals bases and hits home runs and plays as hard as he does. That's tough to find.... I would be really worried about MICHAEL BOURN. He has always swung and missed way too much for a guy without power, and as he gets older, the stolen bases aren't at the level they once were. Without the steals, what is he? ... JUSTIN MASTERSON has proved that he's a top of the line starting pitcher, and ZACH MCALLISTER is throwing great this spring. The rotation wild card is DANNY SALAZAR. How can you not like a guy who throws 100? Salazar could be a No. 1 for them—this year....TREVOR BAUER has simplified his motion. The only thing holding him back is his fastball, which he has always overthrown. Once he gets command of it, he'll be a No. 2. He's stubborn, set in his ways, and Cleveland lets him be what he wants to be. That's helped him.... The bullpen will be a question mark, but JOHN AXFORD has a chance to get to an All-Star level. He gets into trouble when he tries to throw strike three on the first pitch. Even if he's mediocre, he'll be better than Chris Perez.
2014 Projected Statistics and Run Totals by ROTOWIRE.COM
PROJECTED RUNS SCORED
AL AVERAGE 694
PROJECTED RUNS ALLOWED
AL AVERAGE 707
The big story this spring for the Tribe was the attempt to convert CATCHER CARLOS Santana into a third baseman, in the tradition of Joe Torre and Todd Zeile. The move was motivated by the emergence of the majors' first Brazilian, YAN GOMES, behind the plate, along with prospect Lonnie Chisenhall's inability to take hold of the hot-corner job. But rather than move Santana full-time, manager TERRY FRANCONA would be better off developing a rotation of the three players through catcher, third base, first base and DH. Santana is an acceptable defender who will keep much more of his value if he catches 50--60 times a season. Chisenhall has yet to hit (.244/.284/.411 in 682 plate appearances over three seasons), but he's still just 25, and he has raked (.305/.374/.506) at Triple A. Francona can maximize his day-to-day options while keeping all his assets valuable if he makes sure Santana gets plenty of time behind the plate and Chisenhall gets one last shot at third.
DAMIAN STROHMEYER FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (MASTERSON)
MARK DUNCAN/AP (KIPNIS)