A spot on the 25 man roster is at stake; can Zach Walters earn his way there by doing a little bit of everything?
I always enjoyed Swiss Army knives growing up. A pocket knife that has a screwdriver, corkscrew, plus a toothpick? Sign me up. Sure it wasn’t the best knife, and what was I needing a corkscrew for at that age? Thinking about the versatility of the Swiss Army knife though reminds me of one of the newer Indians’ players in Zach Walters.
Walters came over in the Asdrubal Cabrera trade last year and immediately displayed his power, hitting seven home runs in just 30 games for Cleveland. Sure, he hit for a .170 average and a .223 OBP with a strikeout to walk ratio of over six to 1 but seven home runs! And he’s a switch hitter, meaning he can hit right-handed for all of those still thirsty for a Right Handed Power Bat™!
In all seriousness, Walters can be a weapon if used correctly. He has played all over the diamond, coming over as a shortstop from Washington, but has played second and at both corner outfield spots for Cleveland last year, as well as some third base this spring. He has been preparing for a “super duper utility” role with the team, h/t to Jordan Bastian
"Walters joked that he’s preparing to be a “super duper utility player.” He has 8 gloves (7 of his own and borrowing Chisenhall’s 1B glove)."
"— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) March 4, 2015"
Terry Francona has long loved flexibility in his lineup, mostly due to the fact that he loves having a full bullpen. The fewer bats he can carry the better, which is why players like Mike Aviles (shortstop, second base, third base, and all three outfield spots) and Ryan Raburn (second base, the corner outfield and once in a desperation move, relief pitcher) have long been favorites and roster mainstays.
Walters faces an uphill battle against those two for roster spots out of Spring Training, and the fact that they carry larger payroll numbers is something that can’t be overlooked. However, both Aviles and Raburn have missed time in the past due to injury and Raburn has been in the middle of trade rumors for most of the winter–thanks in part to the newly acquired Brandon Moss and incumbent David Murphy also slated for playing time there.
Could the Human Swiss Army Knife known as Zach Walters secure a spot on the 25 man roster coming out of Spring Training or is he more likely targeted for Triple A Columbus? It all depends on what he is able to put together in these next couple of weeks.
If he can provide serviceable defensive play on the left side of the infield and continue to show his prodigious power when called upon, he should have a spot on this team. Why have a specialized skill when you can just do all of it, right?