Monday, March 8, 2010

Brantley Brilliant for Tribe

The buzz over the internet over the past several weeks has all but sent Michael Brantley to Columbus. It all makes perfect sense when you think about it. Of course, there's one fly in the ointment. What happens if Brantley lights up spring training?

Today, Brantley did just that. He went 3-for-4, with a triple, double, an RBI and run scored. Brantley led the game off with the triple, and immediately scored when Brian Buscher grounded out to first base. There's nothing like lighting up major league pitching, and from the lead-off slot to top it all off. What's particularly impressive is that Rodrigo Lopez, the starter for the D-Backs, didn't give up another hit, while striking out two in his two innings.

Brantley likely would have to hit about .700 through spring to have any chance to make this club right out of spring training. It's a different era in baseball, one in which major league clocks and arbitration and free agency are all just as big part of the equation with regards to small market teams like the Tribe as playing your way onto the team. Still, it's good to see Brantley making the decision that much more difficult for Tribe brass.

The Indians continue their undefeated streak. Acta made a point in stating that winning in the spring training absolutely translated to winning in the regular season. He has the right line of thinking. Winning breeds winning. A veteran club like the Yankees or Red Sox may not need the psychogical edge of winning what amounts to pre-season games, but the Indians, who's 40-man roster is the youngest in baseball at slightly over 26, needs all the help it can get. So the Indians are 3-0, tops in the Cactus League. Spring training or not, let's enjoy it while whe have it.

Jake Westbrook struggled mightily today, but it's all relative. Consider the fact that Westbrook hasn't pitched in the majors since May of 2008. For those counting at home, that's nearly two years, so only going an inning and two-thirds, while giving up a run, a hit, hitting a batter and walking three doesn't seem so bad. The key is that Westbrook felt strong. As long as he's healthy, look for Westbrook to start for the Tribe on opening day in Chicago against the White Sox.

The Tribe goes up against Seattle tomorrow, with the rumored spring training debut for both Russell Branyan and Matt LaPorta to follow on Wednesday. Should be a fun week.

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