So Far, So Good
Ricky Gutierrez and Matt Lawton, the poster boys of the ill-conceived 2001-2002 offseason spend-fest, came into camp vastly improved.
Gutierrez told The Morning Journal that he’s almost completely recovered from spinal surgery in 2002. I’m definitely not sold yet on Ricky’s comeback (and neither is Eric Wedge, judging by his comments in the article), although a healthy Gutierrez would be nice on the bench. I’ll hold off on any further speculation until Ricky can show he can play the field effectively; last year he his range was essentially the length of his body.
Matt Lawton came into camp in great shape. Manager Eric Wedge told Paul Hoynes of the PD that “‘Matt looks great. The best shape I’ve ever seen him in.” Injuries have played a big part in Lawton’s two bad years in Cleveland, so hopefully an in-shape and healthy Lawton can help improve the Indians’ offense, which scored only 699 runs last season. Even though he’s definitely overpaid, Lawton can still be an effective offensive weapon. His main calling card has always been his batting eye; he posted OBPs of .342 and .343 in 2001 and 2002, which are very impressive considering he posted batting averages of .236 and .249 in those two seasons. He’s the front-runner for the leadoff spot, in my mind.