Leo: Rodriguez staying in the Steel City (for now)
The Pittsburgh Pirates have announced that shortstop Josh Rodriguez will make the Bucs Opening Day roster. There was discussion that Rodriguez, a Rule 5 draft selection in December, would be offered back to the Indians. Cleveland would jump at the chance to re-acquire J-Rod because there is very little depth at shortstop in the upper levels of the system.
Rodriguez hit .293 in 86 games last year, helping the Clippers to a Governors’ Cup and Triple-A National Championship.
So, for now, the Clippers will be without J-Rod. Which begs the question, who will be the Clippers shortstop?
It looks to be either Luis Valbuena or Adam Everett. Valbuena, Everett, and Jayson Nix are the last three remaining in the hunt for the Indians utility infielder spot. Nix is out of options and Everett would need to be added to the 40-man roster.
What are the remaining spots to be filled for Cleveland?
Other than the utility infielder position I just mentioned, there are three bullpen jobs and the backup catcher spot.
Justin Germano, Jess Todd, Frank Herrmann, and Vinnie Pestano are the candidates for three relief roles. Germano is not on the 40-man roster. The Clippers will probably get the pitcher that isn’t chosen from this group.
Lou Marson, Paul Phillips, and Luke Carlin are fighting for one spot. The other two will go to Columbus.
Cleveland is expected to finalize the roster today.
What does the Clippers rotation look like?
New Clippers pitching coach Ruben Niebla confirmed yesterday that Alex White, the organizations top pitching prospect will start the season in Triple-A. He’ll pitch behind David Huff and Jeanmar Gomez. The other two spots seem to belong to Zach McAllister and Joe Martinez. Martinez will need to be stretched out over a few starts, but he should be ready for five innings in his first regular season outing.
Will the Clippers infield be young?
Yes, there is no question about that. If Jordan Brown sees significant time at first base and Adam Everett lands as the shortstop, they’ll be the elder statesmen of the infield. Jason Kipnis, Lonnie Chisenhall, and Cord Phelps will get most of the ink.
Last year’s Clippers second baseman, Cord Phelps, has been through an interesting few months. He won a championship with Columbus, moved over to third base in the winter, and now continues to bounce around looking for a place to play. Jason Kipnis will see most of the time at second and Lonnie Chisenhall has third base locked down, but I’m told “don’t be surprised if he’s at short or in the outfield”. It makes you wonder if Phelps’ future will be as a super-utility player. As long as he keeps hitting, there will be a spot for him.
Jared Goedert still hopes to break camp with the Clippers, but hasn’t seen game action since he strained an oblique muscle a couple of weeks back.
Wes Hodges is battling for another opportunity in Columbus. He has seen plenty of playing time in the Triple-A spring games and would play first base and DH with the Clippers.
Matt McBride is also competing for a spot. McBride could play first, outfield, or even catch on occasion. McBride was a catcher in the past and he’s spent some time wearing the tools of ignorance this spring, especially in drills. A media member told me “McBride’s arm is back” and he could see some time behind the dish. This scenario reminds me of former Clipper/Indian Chris Gimenez, who became a third catcher/backup corner infielder/backup corner outfielder during the Eric Wedge era in Cleveland.
Will the Clippers have lots of outfield speed?
It doesn’t look that way at the moment. Ezequiel Carrera will back leadoff and roam in center field. Indians GM Chris Antonetti mentioned yesterday that Carrera put together a good spring training and caught some attention from the big league brass. He’ll be counted on greatly in Columbus. A high on-base percentage, some stolen bases, and quick feet in the outfield will be needed for the Clippers to win on a regular basis.
Chad Huffman battled until the end for a spot on Cleveland’s roster, but he came up short. He’ll be in the heart of the Clippers order. He’s batted .333 with 3 HRs and 12 RBIs in 20 Cactus League games. Huffman was acquired from the Yankees last September.
Jerad Head is hoping to join the mix as well. The 2010 Triple-A Championship MVP has been re-proving himself in hopes of avoiding another April in Akron.
Jordan Brown and Matt McBride will be the others in the outfield platoon. Jason Kipnis, Cord Phelps, Luis Valbuena, and even Jared Goedert could be playing the outfield if called upon.
That’s all for now, but they’ll be plenty more later…. there always is.