Friday, March 21, 2008

Ben Francisco - a treat that will have to wait

The Tribe breaks camp in six days and plays it's season and home opener in 10 days.

As you can see in this photo from the Plain Dealer's Chuck Crow, Jacobs, uh, Progressive Field is every bit is ready as it was last year at this time.

I don't really want to talk in this piece about the wisdom of Cleveland hosting a game on March 31, but didn't we learn any lessons last year?

Eric Wedge says he plans to have his 25-man roster chosen by next Thursday, when the Tribe leaves Winter Haven forever.

My question is whether Ben Francisco will be heading out of Florida with the big club.

I would say the answer is going to be no.

Francisco is hitting .357 this spring, can move on the basepaths and has shown himself to be able to play good defense at at all three outfield positions. He's proven himself at AAA, had a decent debut in the majors last year and appears ready to go.

But there are a couple of things in his way - David Delucci and Jason Michaels.

Michaels is having a solid spring, hitting at just about .300 with an uncharacteristic three homers and a slugging percentage in the mid-700s.

Delucci is having an awful camp, which follows an injury-decimated season last year. But he still has two years on his contract, for a total of $8 million. And the Tribe has never really gotten the chance to see the guy they gave a three-year pact to last winter.

For Francisco to make the team, either Delucci or Michaels would have to go.

Delucci, who's hitting in the 100s this spring, was injured most of last year and has been complaining of a sore forearm, is as marketable right now as a seven-year-old minivan.

Michaels might be a bit more tempting for a team in need of an outfielder. But he's probably not at the top of anyone's wish list.

Francisco and Michaels both hit from the right side, so Francisco would be an obvious fit in the left field platoon plan if Michaels were to disappear.

But would the Tribe want Francisco, who would be likely to see only a couple of starts a week as the righty in a platoon situation, to ride so much time on the bench?

If the Tribe were to find a taker for one of its veteran outfielders, would they consider Francisco as a full-time left fielder? That would be risky because it would mean the Indians would have youngsters at both corner outfield spots.

There's no doubt Francisco deserves a spot on the club, but with Delucci and Michaels unlikely to be going elsewhere I just don't think it can happen.

At least not until the platoon in left proves to be inadequate.


Steve J. Rogers said...

Goodbye Winter Haven, Hello Arizona.


Anonymous said...

moose said

Icant wait for arizona - plannig my 2010 vacation now

as far as francisco- heres hoping indians put him on the DL and ship micheals in a trade since has some trade value - but they wont start the season with basically 2 rookie OF - but I look for 20 /20 from Gutierrez as a full time OF -

but francisco will be back in buffalo cause he has options - play ball !!!!