Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The New Poll: What is the biggest question for the Indians heading into Spring Training?

Boy, do the Cleveland Indians have questions heading into Spring Training. I couldn't possibly mention them all here, or this would be the longest article in the history of baseball. Instead, I've posted the latest poll which addresses several of the issues that the Indians will need to address during spring training.

Where will Russell Branyan play? With the pending deal all but signed, sealed and delivered, the simple questions remains, where will Branyan play? Will it be first base, third base, left field or right? Will he DH, and if he does, where will the other guy play? You have to love questions on a team that likely won't contend for anything much.

Where will Matt LaPorta play? Well, everyone is saying that Russell Branyan is playing first, so, what exactly does that mean for Matt LaPorta? At 25, he's not getting any younger. Is he ready for the bigs, or do the Indians plan on using him in left field. If they do, what about Michael Brantley? Oh boy, I can hear the Sizemore trade rumors already.

Will Jake Westbrook return to form? The Cleveland Indians pitching staff has a chance to be very, very bad. With Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia long gone, the remnants of the staff all hinge on whether or not Jake Westbrook can not only come back, but return to form. If he can't, or worse-case scenario, gets hurt and can't play at all, I'm not sure the staff would have even fifty wins in it.

Will Fausto Carmona locate the strike zone? This question may be even more important than Jake Westbrook's status. Westbrook will never be confused with a #1 starter, while Carmona does have the stuff. He's struggled finding the strike zone since his immaculate 2007 season. He seemed to regain some of his stuff during his winter ball stint. If he can find his way back to that 2007 form, Westbrook has an easier path, as do the three through five starters, whoever they may be.

Can Manny Acta manage? Manny Acta can certainly talk, and can certainly interview. After his rather unsuccessful stint with the Nationals, there tend to be two lines of thought. Many say he can't manage, and that the Nationals job showcased that. Even more seem to think that Acta is an up-and-comer, and if given the chance with a good club, could really explode. He knows the game, that's for sure. The only question is, when he interviews and talks to the press, is it real, or is it memorex?

Will Michael Brantley make the team as the starting left fielder? The Indians and the fans, mostly the fans, see Brantley as the next Kenny Lofton. He can steal bases, has a good eye at the plate, and can defend. So, why then does he seem more and more like the odd man out as a starter for the Indians? Is he ready to get the nod, or did the signing of Russell Branyan ensure he starts the season in Columbus. Of course, he's only 22-years old, and could possibly use another half-year or so of seasoning.

Will Grady Sizemore return to form? You get the impression that Grady Sizemore is at a crossroads during his career. Is he ready to resume the upward trajectory that seemed to be taking him to the top of his profession, or is his rugged style of play lead to more injuries. Many point to Sizemore's injury-issues last year as the sole reason for the Tribe collapse. We all know it was more than that, but it certainly was a major reason.

Certainly, these aren't all the questions that need answered, but it's certainly a start. Aren't you glad you aren't Manny Acta?

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