I've sponsored my first baseball-reference page. And the winner is........Jhonny Peralta. He's a guy I've liked since 2002, when he broke out in AA with 15 homers at the age of 20. Now, at 23, he's probably going to be the Indians' starting shortstop. He's replacing a local icon, but I think he'll be fine. I considered sponsoring Kyle "These Boots Were Made for Walking" Denney or Fernando Cabrera as well, but alas, my budget can stretch only so far. Oh yeah, I'll certainly take suggestions on the Peralta page's caption, as the best I could come up with was a lame comment on the spelling of his name.
If you haven't checked out 'Till You're Blue in the Face, I urge you to do so. It's more a prospect blog than a Royals blog; he ranks a prospect a day, giving each prospect a 1-5 star rating and an ETA. For those of you with fantasy keeper leagues, or if you're just interested in prospects, it's a great read. Here's some of his Indians reports:
Spring Training Talk
Looking over the list of NRIs, there's a couple of guys I'm going to keep my eye on, beyond Juan Gonzalez and Paul Shuey. The first guy is Steve Watkins, a pitcher from the Padre organization. He posted pretty good peripherals between Mobile and Portland last year, and he could be called upon for a bullpen job sometime this year. The other one is John Rodriguez, from the Yankee organization. He had a career year for the Clippers in 2004, slugging .542 for Columbus. He's a center fielder by trade, so he might be a short-term fix if needed. Obviously there's also "internal" NRIs like Ryan Garko, Jake Robbins, and Billy Traber (although technically he was a minor-league signing) as well. Unfortunately for this year's class, there aren't that many opportunities to make the club; Ryan Ludwick is out of options, so he's the fourth outfielder if healthy, and both backup infield spots are spoken with Jose Hernandez and Alex Cora signed to major-league deals. The best opportunity for an NRI to make the club is Juan Gonzalez, but after that I don't think there's an opening.
Matt Miller, Rafael Betancourt, and Jason Davis are probably the front-runners for the two open bullpen slots. If you assume Davis is going to be the "6th starter", then it's really Miller vs. Betancourt, with Paul Shuey on the periphery. One of Betancourt or Miller might be dealt before the rosters are finalized, which is amazing considering that those two were probably the team's best relievers last year.
Oh yeah, here's the annual Jason Bere comeback article.