GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- What I like, and dislike, about the Indians:
• Outfield defense. Cleveland goes into the season with serious rotation questions, but a wobbly rotation has a chance to be steadied by a track-meet-ready outfield including Michael Brantley in left, Michael Bourn in center and Drew Stubbs in right. This is where fly balls should go to die in Cleveland this summer. As long as the pitchers keep the ball in the park, Brantley, Bourn and Stubbs will have a chance to catch it.
• Terry Francona and his coaching staff. There is a new energy and a noticeable sense of both direction and purpose in camp this spring. That the staff includes longtime Indians player and coach Sandy Alomar Jr. is a bonus. He was viewed as the leading candidate to replace fired Manny Acta in October before a deal closed quickly between the club and Francona. Instead of leaving the organization in a fit of anger or hurt, Alomar remains as bench coach. "We got both of our candidates, our top two picks," closer Chris Perez said. "It doesn't always work out that way." It is to Cleveland's benefit that it did here.
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• There is potential for some pretty good depth here. Veteran infielder Mike Aviles, acquired from Toronto last November, can spot shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, second baseman Jason Kipnis and maybe even third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall. Francona managed Aviles in Boston and notes the importance not only of depth, but of smart and versatile players who keep themselves ready and willing. "You win with players like Aviles," Francona said. Plus, if Jason Giambi shows this spring that he can still swing it, that will be a big bonus, too. Mark Reynolds is in line to get most of the DH at-bats, but Giambi's bat and clubhouse presence can be a boon.
• Darkhorse rotation candidate Scott Kazmir and reliever Matt Capps. After falling off of the map in his latter years in Tampa Bay and in Anaheim, Kazmir reported to camp in excellent shape and is throwing the ball well enough early to allow the Indians to dream. And Capps, 29, has 138 career saves yet signed a minor-league deal with Cleveland on Feb. 1 after shoulder inflammation limited him to just four innings in Minnesota last season after mid-June. Francona is raving about the way Capps is commanding the ball, especially down and away. "He can do down and away about as good as anybody in baseball," Francona said. If Capps is healthy, the Indians will look like they stole a guy. "That would be the hope," Francona said. "When Chris [Antonetti, GM] signed him, I was like, 'Great.'"
• There isn't much to like about this rotation, not unless Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez come roaring back. But what the Indians do have -- and more than last year at this time -- is depth. The hope here in camp is that there is enough of it to protect themselves if Jimenez can't get his act together again. Veteran Brett Myers is moving back into the rotation after spending the past couple of seasons as closer. Trevor Bauer, acquired from the Diamondbacks over the winter, is a very interesting possibility. The third-overall pick of the 2011 draft, Bauer, 22, landed in the majors last summer but was a disappointing 1-2 with a 6.06 ERA in just four starts. Could be a classic case of Arizona not showing enough patience. Carlos Carrasco, Corey Kluber, David Huff, Scott Kazmir, even Daisuke Matsuzaka is here. Stay tuned.
• Daisuke Matsuzaka. Maybe he will recapture his old magic from Boston. Perhaps he's more healthy than he's been in awhile following Tommy John ligament transfer surgery. But it always has been painful watching Matsuzaka nibble around the edges. He works so slowly, and nibbles so much, three hours in you look up and you're in the sixth inning. Fielders don't particularly enjoy playing behind him for that reason. But hey, Dice-K and Francona were pretty successful in '07, and if the Japanese right-hander can produce a few wins. ...
• There are a lot of strikeouts in this lineup. A LOT of them. Four players will be in the lineup who whiffed 140 or more times last season: Drew Stubbs (166), Mark Reynolds (159), Michael Bourn (155) and Nick Swisher (141). "We're going to strike out a lot," Francona said flatly. "There will be periods when the team is in a funk, and you're going to see a lot of strikeouts. The good side of that is we really can run, which will give us a chance to manufacture runs." Speed never slumps, and these Indians might put that one to the ultimate test in '13.