Moving into the last two weeks of Spring Training (3/14-3/21), things are sorting themselves out. B games have started, allowing more players to play more innings and starting pitchers are pitching through the fifth inning. The World Baseball Classic is over (congratulations to the Dominican Republic) and massive cuts have occurred, making the actual lineups of Spring Training games resemble those of the upcoming regular season more accurately.
The biggest cuts this week were two pitchers who were expected to compete for a job on the 25 man roster. Daisuke Matsuzaka and Matt Capps were deemed unready for the regular season, but have been given invitations to play for the Columbus Clippers until they are ready. Matsuzaka has already accepted and fully expects to join the Indians starting rotation at some point in time during the year. With the moves there are only about five roster spots to be decided.
Along with the cuts, many more minor league players have been playing in Spring Training games to take up the extra at bats. The most impressive single at bat coming from Delvi Cid who hit a game-winning, walk-off triple against the Giants on a Saturday night that featured the greatest single crowd in the history of Goodyear Ballpark. That was Cid's only at bat of the Spring after spending all of 2012 in Advanced A. Tyler Holt, Carlos Moncrief and Francisco Lindor have all played a little as well and have played admirably.
In addition to the youngsters, the regulars have also been playing well, with a few stand-outs. Lonnie Chisenhall has been a leading producer of the offense this Spring, going into the last week with 4 home runs, 12 RBI and a .786 SLG. Newcomer Nick Swisher has also shown some power with a .675 slugging percent of his own.
There are a few competitions still left in camp, but clear favorites are emerging. Yan Gomes is destroying Lou Marson for the back-up catcher role with a 1.141 OPS compared to Marson's .745. To compare to a player mentioned earlier, Chisenhall has a slugging percent higher than Marson's on base plus slugging.
On the other side of the ball, three pitchers deserve special recognition for being perfect to this point. Nick Hagadone, Rich Hill and Scott Kazmir (all competing for the left-handed reliever specialist role) have yet to give up a run in at least six innings each. Justin Masterson has been on the other end of the spectrum posing some cause for worry with an ERA above 6.00 in more than 10 innings. Kazmir will pitch tonight against the Diamondbacks and if he pitches well, it is likely he will be named the fifth starter as soon as tomorrow. Carlos Carrasco has simply not put up the type of quality innings that Terry Francona would like to see and may begin the season in AAA with Trevor Bauer and Daisuke Matsuzaka.
Some of the other players struggling to make the team have been among those with the most at bats. Cord Phelps has been impressive, but looks to be on the outside looking in. Ryan Rayburn and Chris McGuiness are on complete opposite ends of the spectrum. Rayburn has had a great Spring with a team leading four home runs and 11 RBI, but is infamous for being terrible during the regular season and is likely well past his peak. McGuiness has had an awful Spring, but as a rule 5 pick, needs to be returned to his former club if he is not on the 25 man roster. At this point (.244 OBP in 37 at bats) it looks like McGuiness, who has never played above AA, is simply not ready and will not make it through the entire season with the Tribe. They would probably be better served just to let him go now and not waste the roster spot. It is possible they let Mike McDade go too early as he remains among the leaders in batting average (.400) and RBI (10), despite being cut a week ago. If McGuiness is released at some point, expect the Indians to forgo the corner infield reserve player and carry an extra pitcher.
McGuiness has a Major League glove with a Minor League bat.