Manny Acta is doing his best Matt Foley trying to motivate the Indians in Goodyear Arizona.
The three big lies being fed to the media early in Spring Training 2011 are as follows:
1. Orlando Cabrera is the starting second baseman. If Orlando Cabrera is the opening day second baseman then several players had very disappointing springs. The point of this lie is to light a fire under Luis Valbuena, Jayson Nix, Jason Donald, and Cord Phelps. Manny Acta wants one of these guys to win the job. I would buy in to this lie a little more if in fact Orlando Cabrera's contract did have incentive language in it based on starts or innings played etc., but it does not (at least according to Cot's).
[sidebar] I belive the Indians would like to see Cord Phelps get at bats against the best pitchers in AAA rather than the diluted staffs he saw after his promotion in 2010 (same goes for Kipnis).
2. Aaron Laffey is competing for the 5th starter. Laffey being the 5th starter would be a big shock to me. Aaron Laffey has been unable to stay healthy for the last few seasons. He should to be a long reliever or low leverage reliever as I believe this could be a perfect role for him. The purpose of this lie is to light a fire under David Huff. Manny Acta doesn't want an all right handed rotation but it is the opinion of this writer that he'd rather have that then a rotation with Aaron Laffey in it.
3. Paul Phillips or Luke Carlin will start the year as the backup catcher. This is a way of telling Lou Marson to stay sharp and work hard. He isn't guaranteed a spot on the final roster. There really is no logic behind making a 40-man roster move to give Marson AAA at-bats. Marson does a good job at controlling the running game, hits lefties well, has decent speed for a catcher, and Carlos Santana has a long swing from the right side.
It will be interesting to track these developments through the Cactus League season and see if the tune changes.