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Five prospects with the most to prove this year- “Unfortunately for Phelps and Tribe fans, his brief, 35 game major league stint was a disaster. Phelps had terrible offensive stats (.155/.241/.254 slash line, .494 OPS (39 OPS+), .231 wOBA (39 wRC+), -0.9 fWAR in 80 PA) and struggled defensively (five errors in only 75 chances). Phelps ended up back in AAA while Kipnis solidified his hold on the second base job later in the season.
While Phelps won’t be able to prove himself at the major league level this year, he will need to impress as the everyday second baseman in Columbus in order to rebuild his stock. If he keeps producing at a high level in AAA, he’ll get another shot in the majors. With the lack of middle-infield talent the Indians have in the higher levels of the minors, one injury will give Phelps his chance to prove himself again. He’ll need to work hard this year to be prepared for that moment, whenever it comes.” [Paiscik/Indians Prospect Insider]
More praise for Kyrie- “What makes the beginning of this Kyrie era so exciting, at least to me, is the fact that this kid knows he’s loved, and wants to deliver on that investment. Plainly, he wants the ball. Always. As a fan, this can sometimes be worrisome. I mean, we had the best player on the planet, and I never felt 100% comfortable with Lebron controlling the rock and the game on the line. But with Kyrie, it feels different. I get the feeling he cares a little more, and that he has the confidence and the where with all to make this work.
Early in the season, with the Cavs facing the very good Indiana Pacers, Kyrie drove to the rim as time expired to win it for the Cavs. It didn’t go in, and the Cavs went on to lose. But, with that loss came a shining positive – our guy lived for the big moment. Fast forward a month and a half, and we’ve seen Kyrie make that game winning drive to the hoop, and in even more spectacular fashion than we could’ve initially imagined. Yes, I know, it’s early – his career is young – but I refuse to believe that all of his late-game heroics and last second winning isn’t meaningful. It just doesn’t seem possible that, after this many games played, we’re witnessing an anomaly.” [Factor/Cavs the Blog]
“For all of Tressel’s triumphs, his largest failure – outside of his aversion to acquiesce with petty yet devastating compliance issues – was keeping the company of his cronies. Bollman did everything but steal from Ohio State, commanding the team’s biggest liability throughout the decade without the risk of termination. He had no pressure to perform, and that entitlement was passed down to the sprinkling of linemen he brought in. There is a reason the Buckeyes had so many three and four-year starters during his tenure: Necessity. Lack of competition and depth have a negative impact on options.
Contrast Tressel’s cronyism with Meyer’s edict to his coaches that they would have no value to Ohio State unless they could recruit and you have a terrifying new reality for the Big Ten that is much bigger than Dodson ever will be: The Buckeyes were a colossal pain in the ass over the past decade, at partial strength. That was good enough to win the conference, which is no longer the trophy for Meyer’s Buckeyes.” [Ramzy/Eleven Warriors]
But those bats aren’t that good against LHP- “What I didn’t delve into was what the Indians’ lineup might look like against left-handed pitching. The way I see it, Cleveland could go with 5L/4R, 4L/4R or even 3L/6R depending on manager Manny Acta’s mood.
Santana and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera will hit right-handed against lefties, so there are two. Right-handed-hitting Lou Marson would start behind the plate on days Santana is at first base, so there’s another.
Then, Acta could spell an outfielder (Brantley or Sizemore) with a righty like Shelley Duncan, Aaron Cunningham, Russ Canzler or even Jason Donald, depending on who makes the team off the bench. Acta could also spell Hafner similarly at DH, or give a day off here and there to Kipnis at second base, or Chisenhall/Jack Hannahan at third base). [Bastian/MLB.com]
Finally, a nice graphic on the Indians’ window to win. [Beyond the Box Score]
Double bonus non-sports related link: Chris Jones of Esquire on the Zanesville animal escape. Warning- this is long, and detailed and VERY well written.