(This is a guest post by the estimable and hilarious Steve Buffum, who can be found during the season over at The Cleveland Fan. He's a must-read, and I'm lucky to have him contributing here as well.)
I don't really have the hang of this "blogging thing." I started writing a post, and it bled and wandered and bled and by the time I decided not to submit it after all, Vince had already posted three more entries. I'm largely incapable of saying anything in fewer than 1000 words.
Anyway, when you look at a baseball team, its ability to be in the discussion of contenders comes from its top ten guys, and its ability to stay in the discussion depends on the next ten guys, so I'll talk about the Indians' Last Five Guys this week instead.
Guy 25: Zach Jackson
This was the last "official" roster decision, and it came down to Jackson and Vinnie Chulk, a sort of supra-journeyman reliever who had some nice seasons in Toronto before sandwiching a good season between two poor ones in San Francisco. To my untrained eye, Chulk has had the better spring, getting guys out and approaching a whiff-per-inning ratio you like in a reliever.
Of course, he's also purely a short guy: Jackson started last season, so the roster spot was more defined by role than by talent. Chulk went three innings his last spring game, and that's very nice, but he's not really that kind of pitcher. This is the Jason Davis Commemorative Role that Davis couldn't really grasp: sit for a while, then pick up a lame-assed start in the second and go four or five, then sit some more, then maybe match up against a tough hitter in the 4th or 5th with a couple guys on, then sit some more.
Jackson didn't get this gig because he's left-handed, but because he can go multiple innings, and because you're not feeling like your wasting a Real Asset if he sits for four games in a row. You probably WOULD be wasting Chulk in that role: getting him regular work in Columbus makes him
a more-viable replacement for No Masa Kobayashi or in case of injury to a Real Reliever (Smiff, Betancourt, Jen Lewis).
Anyway, in April, I can't really argue with this decision, but it won't take many three-run outings by either Jackson or Kobayashi to make me sharpen the argumentative knives.
Note that a discussion of Zach Jackson's Actual Quality has not taken place here. This is because, like Jackson itself, it is almost totally devoid of relevance.
(Image courtesy of Dan Mendlik and the Cleveland Indians.)