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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Countdown to Opening Day: ESPN ranks five Indians among the 50 best young players

Posted By on Tue, Mar 25, 2008 at 3:16 PM

Jhonny%20Peralta.jpg
Jhonny Peralta at No. 21? With the kind of defense he plays?
Rob Neyer of ESPN.com put together a list of the top 50 players to watch for in the next five years. With self-imposed limits of no minor league prospects and a focus on players in their 20s who will be great for the next five years, it’s easy to miss some (Brandon Phillips, Joba Chamberlain, Cole Hamels, Fausto Carmona) and include others who are a little controversial (Prince Fielder, Dustin Pedroia). But there’s few opinions I trust more than Neyer. Good news for Tribe fans is that five Indians are included: No. 4: Grady Sizemore; No. 19: C.C. Sabathia; No. 21: Jhonny Peralta; No.27: Victor Martinez; and No. 50: Asdrubal Cabrera… While I think Peralta’s high placement is a bit of a stretch, given his sketchy defense and streaky offense, I agree with Neyer that Indians fans don’t give the pudgy shortstop enough credit, and his overall game is going to improve. The important thing is that the Tribe has all the guys locked up for some time, with the exception of CC. Victor is signed through 2010, Grady is signed through 2012, Jhonny is signed through 2011, and you can be sure that sometime after this year Asdrubal Cabrera is going to get a long term contract. Looking at the squad this year, they remain some of the only position players not to worry about – the other being Ryan Garkonoponopolous at first. Alas, there are huge questions everywhere else. How long will the JasonDavidMichaelsDelucci platoon last in left? Will Ben Francisco take over the position? How good can Franklin Gutierrez be in right field given a full season? Is Andy Marte finally going to show he can play third base everyday? The Indians are still one of the four favorites to represent the AL in the World Series. With every other position in place for the next four to five years, it’s amazing to think what this team could do if the youngsters pan out (F. Gut, Francisco, Trevor Crowe), or they dip into trades or free agency to solidify the corners (which they should have enough money to do if C.C. doesn’t stay). Either way, with Opening Day only six days away, it’s the best of both worlds. Win now and build for the future. – Vince the Polack
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