Mark Shapiro Explains It All
TribeScribe was able to get an inordinate number of questions answered in a recent online chat with Mark Shapiro at Indians.com. Here is a transcript (non-Tribescribe questions deleted):
TribeScribe: Dave Littlefield described the Matt Lawton deal as a trade of relative strengths. As the roster stands right now, do you consider OF to be a position of strength in 2005?
Shapiro: Outfield is a position of depth for us. Especially once we get Gerut back. Because of youth of Sizemore and Crisp, I would not yet consider it a position of strength — rather depth.
TribeScribe: In what role will Jason Davis ultimately provide the most value to the Indians – starter or closer?
Shapiro: That is a good question. One in which we have some internal difference of opinion. I think more people feel his greatest feeling is in the bullpen. Time will tell.
TribeScribe: With the signing of Jose Hernandez, Brandon Phillips seems slated once again for Buffalo. What improvements did he make last year and what will he have to show in spring training and during the season to make the majors for good?
Shapiro: This is not preordained that Brandon will go to Buffalo. Johnny Peralta will get the first shot at spring training. But Brandon will battle him. Brandon needs to have consistent, disciplined at-bats. Once he does that we feel his potential in the middle infield is very high.
TribeScribe: Ryan Garko posted nice numbers in Arizona this fall. Do you see him as an eventual major-league regular or more of a 1b/dh/c guy like Matt LeCroy?
Shapiro: Matt LeCroy is a guy that we have compared Ryan to. With the effort he is giving on his defensive side of the game he can make himself into an everyday catcher or first baseman.
TribeScribe: After a fast professional start, Jeremy Guthrie’s development seems to have hit a wall. What are the biggest challenges he faces in trying to win a big-league bullpen job this spring?
Shapiro: Jeremy actually finished strong last year. We felt good about the progress he made. He needs to maintain a consistent delivery. That will allow his above average stuff to translate consistently.
TribeScribe: What will Aaron Boone bring to the third base position that Casey Blake did not?
Shapiro: It is not about what Aaron will bring that Casey did not. It is about making us a better team. We are a better team with both Casey and Aaron playing. Aaron Boone will bring experience, leadership, well above average defense, and good offense. We are excited about his addition.
TribeScribe: Excellent pick up for Johnny Mac – how does Tom Mastny project as a potential major-league arm?
Shapiro: We love his feel to pitch and his command. He also has prototypical pitcher size and thus has great [sic] Having completed only one A ball season, it is still too early to determine his role or ceiling. But we are excited to have him.
TribeScribe: Grady Sizemore struggled against lefties last summer. What adjustments does he need to make to earn PT in more than a platoon role?
Shapiro: Grady has always hit lefties well in the minor leagues. i think it is more of a matter of settling in to the major leagues. His talent and track record will ultimately make him much more than a platoon player.
TribeScribe: How has Franklin Gutierrez looked in winter ball?
Shapiro: Our reports have been very good. it is difficult to gauge his accomplishments down there due to inconsistent level of competition. it is great to see franklin playing every day and putting up some good numbers. we are excited to have him playing every day next year in our system.
TribeScribe: If Wickman’s elbow blows, who is next in line to close? Howry?
Shapiro: He is a guy that has both closing experience and at times last year was dominant and appeared ready to resume that role. while we have other guys that could contribute as a closer he is the most likely alternative to Wicky.