Before we begin, as promised, here’s the Belliard mullet. Note the little thing coming out of the back of his helmet. It's a little puff of hair, that looks like...well... a poodle’s tail.
Mark Shapiro sat in the broadcast booth during Sunday’s game against the Braves. Some highlights:
- Shapiro is pleased about the progression of this Spring Training compared to years’ past. In the past few camps, there have been undecided positions (namely SS and OF last year); whereas the only real positional “battles” are for a backup C, a utility IF, and one spot in the bullpen. This is the next step to having an established roster, allowing Spring Training to become a place for the regulars to work into playing shape, for the youngsters to mix with the veterans, for a veteran to attempt a comeback to make the team (Graves, Karsay, Diaz), and to allow the young players an opportunity to make an impression in front of the decision-makers of the organization.
- He endorsed the WBC as “good for the game” (though he did so without a lot of enthusiasm) and said that the biggest impact it will have in camp is the opportunities that it will give to players who wouldn’t normally get a lot of AB’s or IP’s in camp. It, namely, allows Kelly Shoppach and Einar Diaz more of an opportunity to make the team while Victor plays for Venezuela; or gives Ramon Vazquez and Brandon Phillips extended playing time in Ronnie Belliard’s absence.
- While Shapiro was in the booth, Steve Karsay gave up a 3-run HR, eliciting an “Oh, my” from the GM. He later joked that if the game had been for real, the “Oh, my” would have likely been an “Oh, bleep”. Nice to hear that he has the same reaction that we do.
- When asked about Andy Marte, Shapiro gushed about his ability, but said he still needs a little bit more time at AAA. He called Marte one of those players that “forces the organization to make a decision” by virtue of their talent. Interestingly, later he was asked about Aaron Boone’s health, as he is now a full year removed from surgery. Shapiro said that Boone should be at 100% from the start, but then showed his hand a little bit. He said that Boone is one of those players who embodies everything that you want in a ballplayer that you find yourself rooting for him; someone that you develop a relationship with, which sometimes allow personal feelings to get in the way of a baseball decision. So, does Marte “need more time in AAA” or is the Tribe organization rooting for Boone, when Marte may be the better option right now?
- On the topic of his OF prospects, Franklin Gutierrez and Brad Snyder, Shapiro said that both still needed to show quite a bit to prove that they’re ready for the big leagues. It represented quite a different answer from the one given about Marte.
- In the game, Jason Dubois continued to tear the cover off of the ball. Dubois, unfortunately, doesn’t seem to be too much in the mix for the 4th outfielder spot and may be relegated to AAA unless something drastic happens.
- The story of the game, again, though was Andrew Brown. He came on and completely blew away hitters with a 96 MPH fastball (this early in the Spring) and a wicked 78 MPH slider. He struck out 2, giving him 5 K’s in 2 IP. The story with him seems to be that he’s a big flame-thrower, who tends to tire after pitching more than a couple of innings. The comparison (which has been made before) to Eric Plunk was elaborated on. However, if (as the broadcasters pointed out) he makes this team out of camp, the Tribe has some real hard throwing RH (Mota, Cabrera, Betancourt, Brown) in the pen to blow through the 6th, 7th, and 8th innings to set up Wickman.
As much as I like walking around the house with a radio (being semi-productive), wouldn’t it be great if Sunday’s game were on TV to make these judgments for myself, instead of relying on somebody else’s eyes and judgments? Wink, wink, nudge, nudge - STO.
Gotta go, have to watch the Tribe-Mets game that was on at 1:05 on ESPN that I recorded. Can’t wait to see Tony Sipp and Edward Mujica myself.
Wouldn’t it be great if I could do that all the time? All right, you get it, I’m done.
By the way, to keep track of the different players, here’s the link to Indians’ Spring Training stats.