Grading Each Player on the Cleveland Indians' 25-Man Roster

Cody Norman@@Cody_GainesCorrespondent IApril 7, 2014

Grading Each Player on the Cleveland Indians' 25-Man Roster

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    Mark Duncan

    As the first week of the 2014 season comes to a close, the Indians have sputtered a bit as they begin their quest for a second consecutive playoff berth. The Tribe took two out of three against the Oakland Athletics before dropping a best-of-three series to the Minnesota Twins.

    Just as they did last season, Cleveland will need production from a number of hitters and pitchers on their 25-man roster. They will need significant contributions from hitters one through nine; they will need significant growth from the young arms in their rotation; and they will need their bullpen to play a vital role in easing the growing pains of a young team.

    In the following slides, each player on the Tribe’s 25-man roster is assigned a grade ranging from 1 to 5 stars. Grades are based on projected production in 2014, current value to the Indians’ organization and All-Star potential.

Cody Allen, RP

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    Tony Dejak

    Terry Francona loves to use his bullpen. More specifically, Francona loves to use Cody Allen out of his bullpen.

    When the Indians released former closer Chris Perez this offseason, Francona said the team had two internal candidates to replace him—Allen and Bryan Shaw. Francona went out to find a more seasoned closer, however, because he likes the versatility of both Allen and Shaw. Both proved last season they have the ability to pitch in any inning and in any situation.

    In 77 appearances for the Tribe in 2013, Allen was 6-1 with two saves and a 2.43 ERA. He was one of the most trusted arms in the Indians’ bullpen and will likely be the next to close if John Axford struggles at any point this season.

    If Allen continues to pitch as well as he did last season, the 25-year-old righty could be looking at his first All-Star appearance this season.

    Grade: 3.5 stars

Scott Atchison, RP

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    Paul Sancya

    Scott Atchison, RP

    Scott Atchison is the most senior pitcher in the Tribe’s bullpen.

    He has pitched in both the American League and the National League. He has closed games and he has started a game. He has played in Japan and he has played for Terry Francona.

    Atchison has seemingly done it all.

    The 38-year-old right-hander has 15 years of Major League Baseball experience. He has spent time with the Seattle Mariners, San Francisco Giants, Boston Red Sox and New York Mets. Atchison has thrown over 258 innings over his career and owns a career ERA of 3.59.

    He was not particularly effective with the Mets in 2013, allowing 22 earned runs over 45.1 innings pitched. With just 28 strikeouts, Atchison is not a power pitcher and makes his living with his control. While he is unlikely to make a significant impact on the field, Atchison will be an invaluable piece to the Tribe’s bullpen this season.

    Grade: 2.5 stars

John Axford, RP

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    John Axford, RP

    When the Indians released Chris Perez last season, it was not immediately clear they would sign a closer whose career has followed a similar path to Perez: nerve-racking and inconsistent.

    John Axford lost his job as the Milwaukee Brewers’ closer in April last season and was subsequently dealt to the St. Louis Cardinals. He made 75 appearances in a variety of roles split between Milwaukee and St. Louis where he made the appropriate adjustments and finished the season with a 4.02 ERA.

    He has significant closing experience and has saved 108 saves over five big league seasons. He will be the Tribe’s primary closer in 2014 and will likely have an extremely short leash with Cody Allen and Bryan Shaw waiting to step in.

    If Axford can return to his 2011 form where he rattled off 46 saves and posted a 1.95 ERA, this evaluation will need to be adjusted. For now, though, Axford is as reliable as Perez.

    Grade: 2.5 stars

Carlos Carrasco, SP

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    Carlos Carrasco, SP

    Carlos Carrasco made the Indians’ rotation largely because he is out of minor league options.

    The hot-headed righty finished the spring with an ERA north of 5.00 but seemed to have regained his control, walking just three in 15.2 innings pitched. He has the ability to miss bats with the best of them, but his mental makeup is far too fragile to be valuable as the team’s fifth starter.

    Carrasco made seven starts for the Tribe last season and was equally ineffective throughout. He was 1-4 on the season, while posting a 6.75 ERA. He is notorious for his unsteady mentality, as he has gone head-hunting on a number of occasions (above) after getting torched by the opposition.

    Unless the 27-year-old can somehow find it early this season, it probably will not be long before fans see Josh Tomlin on a more frequent basis. For now, Cleveland is stuck with a pitcher who has pitched far below his potential—and has shown no signs of recovering.

    Grade: 1.5 stars

Corey Kluber, SP

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    Mark Duncan

    Corey Kluber did not make the Opening Day roster in 2013.

    In 26 appearances for the Tribe last season, the 27-year-old righty was 11-5 with a 3.85 ERA. Much like Cliff Lee in the late-2000s, Kluber is extremely efficient with his pitches. He is not a power pitcher and makes his living forcing hitters to put the ball in play.

    He got stronger as the season progressed last season and, after posting a 7-5 record before the All-Star break, Kluber was 4-0 with a 3.78 ERA in the second half of the season.

    Kluber is entering just his second full season in the majors. As the No. 2 starter in the current rotation, Kluber has to continue his progression and win double-digit games for the Tribe again in 2014. He certainly has the potential to do it.

    Grade: 3 stars

Justin Masterson, SP

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    Ben Margot

    General manager Chris Antonetti spent much of the spring working with Justin Masterson’s camp to complete long-term deal, but the two sides could not come to an agreement. As such, this may very well be the 29-year-old’s last season with Terry Francona and the Indians.

    After a terrible 2012 season, Masterson solidified himself as the staff ace with an impressive performance last season.

    The 6’6” right-hander started 29 games for the Tribe, finishing with a 14-10 record and a 3.45 ERA. He threw three complete game shutouts and worked three times out of the bullpen after returning from an oblique injury late in September.

    Masterson is absolutely crucial to the Indians’ success in 2014, as Cleveland will need him to anchor a rotation full of young and inexperienced arms. Luckily, Masterson is pitching for a contract and has shown no signs of regressing after a stellar performance last season.

    Grade: 3.5 stars

Zach McAllister, SP

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    Tony Dejak

    McAllister was impressive throughout much of last season.

    His 9-9 record was not indicative of his performance, as the 6’6” righty posted a 3.75 ERA with 101 strikeouts to just 49 walks. At just 25 years old, McAllister made 24 starts for the Tribe and pitched 134.1 innings while becoming increasingly reliable as the season progressed.

    He is another pitcher who, like Corey Kluber, is not a power pitcher and gets a majority of his outs by forcing opposing hitters to put the ball in play.

    McAllister may be another question mark in the Tribe’s youthful rotation, but he has earned the trust of manager Terry Francona. McAllister opened the season as the team’s No. 3 starter and Cleveland will rely on the third-year hurler to take the next step in his development and earn double-digit victories for the Indians this season.

    Grade: 2.5 stars

Josh Outman, RP

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    Mark Duncan

    The Indians acquired left-handed reliever Josh Outman (great name for a pitcher) in a trade with the Colorado Rockies for outfielder Drew Stubbs.

    Last year was Outman’s first as a full-time reliever. In the four years before that, he split time between the ‘pen and the rotation with the Oakland Athletics and Rockies. He will almost certainly be limited to the bullpen for the Tribe, but it is too early to tell in what capacity.

    Whatever Outman’s role, though, it is sure to involve pitching to left-handed hitters.

    Lefties hit just .198 (22-for-111) against Outman in 2013. and they have posted a modest .189 average (59-for-312) against him over his career. He has good velocity on his fastball, averaging better than 92 miles per hour, and mixes in his off-speed stuff well to keep hitters off balance.

    In comparison, right-handed batters hit .347 (34-for-99) off the 6’1” southpaw and have fared well (193-for-637) against Outman throughout his career.

    Outman will pair with veteran Marc Rzepczynski as the team’s left-handed specialists in 2014, and in that limited role, Outman is almost certain to excel.

    Grade: 2.5 stars

Vinnie Pestano, RP

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    Mark Duncan

    Vinnie Pestano is attempting to place a nightmarish 2013 season in the rearview mirror.

    While an arm injury, a demotion and concerns about dwindling velocity stifled his progression as the team’s set-up man last year, Pestano entered the season with the hope of returning to his old form.

    Pestano was one of the best set-up men in the big leagues from 2011 to 2012, giving the Tribe 130.2 innings out of the pen during that span and compiling a 2.45 ERA.

    In 2013, however, the wheels came off and the 29-year-old righty was torched in 35.1 innings of relief work. He posted a 4.08 ERA while allowing 21 walks to just 37 strikeouts. In comparison, Pestano recorded just 24 walks in 70 innings of relief work in 2012.

    Pestano’s time in Cleveland may be coming to an uneventful end soon, as the team is not likely to keep an eight-man bullpen for the entire season. Unless Pestano does something to impress over the next few weeks, he could be packing his bags for Triple-A Columbus for a second consecutive season.

    Grade: 1.5 stars

Marc Rzepczynski, RP

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    Rob Tringali/Getty Images

    When it comes to left-handed specialists, Marc Rzepcyzynski has been Mr. Reliable since joining the Tribe last July.

    Rzepcyzynski appeared in 27 games for Cleveland, throwing 20.1 innings and surrendering just two earned runs. After posting a 7.84 ERA in 10 games with the St. Louis Cardinals, Rzepcyzynski recorded a miniscule 0.89 ERA with 20 strikeouts in a spectacular finish to 2013. Against left-handed batters last season, Rzepcyzynski surrendered just 10 hits in 56 at-bats for a .179 average.

    The 28-year-old lefty has already been called on three times this season, holding opponents scoreless in three innings of work.

    Just as he was during parts of three seasons with St. Louis, Rzepcyzynski has the ability to perform as one of the best left-handed specialists in the game. Combine that potential with the idea that Terry Francona is frequently heralded for his handling of bullpen arms, and Rzepcyzynski will certainly be a difference-maker in the Tribe’s quest for their second consecutive playoff berth.

    Grade: 3.5 stars

Danny Salazar, SP

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    Lenny Ignelzi

    Danny Salazar is still probably one year away from morphing himself into the Tribe’s ace in 2015.

    The 24-year-old righty made 10 starts for the Tribe in 2013, finishing the season with a 2-3 record. His record was not indicative of his performance, however, as Salazar posted an admirable 3.12 ERA with a 1.13 WHIP. His control—and velocity—were on point, as he fanned 65 hitters while walking just 15.

    Salazar throws absolute gas and regularly hits triple-digits on the radar gun, and he gained valuable postseason experience with his start against the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL Wild Card matchup in October. While he is young and unproven, the young Dominican has star potential for the Tribe in 2014 and beyond.

    If Salazar can stay healthy throughout the season, the Indians have a much higher probability of playing games in October. While the Indians may or may not have a team capable of making another playoff run this season, Salazar will have made a significant impact if the Tribe earns its second straight playoff berth.

    Grade: 3 stars

Bryan Shaw, RP

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    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    Nobody saw more work out of the ‘pen than Bryan Shaw did late last season.

    The 26-year-old right-hander improved upon a productive 2012, where he logged 59.1 innings for the Arizona Diamondbacks, and was extremely effective for the Tribe in 2013.

    Shaw pitched 75 innings for the Indians, posting a 3.24 ERA while recording seven wins and 12 holds. Prior to the Indians’ agreement with John Axford, Shaw and Cody Allen were rumored to be the favorites for the Tribe’s full-time closer role.

    Thus far, Shaw has made three appearances for Terry Francona in 2014. He has seemingly picked up right where he left off, pitching 2.1 innings without surrendering an earned run.

    As the season unfolds, the Indians will likely mix in Shaw with Allen as the team’s primary set-up men. If Shaw continues his progression in 2014, he will be one of the most used—and most reliable—late-inning relief pitchers in the game.

    Grade: 3.5 stars

Blake Wood, RP

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    Jason Miller/Getty Images

    Terry Francona made headlines a week ago when he went out to the mound in a Spring Training matchup to tell reliever Blake Wood he made the team.

    Just how long he will be on the team remains to be seen.

    Wood has proven his worth as a member of the Kansas City Royals where he logged 50-plus appearances in 2010 and 2011. In 2011, the then-26-year-old right-hander threw 69.2 innings and recorded a 3.75 ERA. He displayed great control, striking out 62 batters and walking just 32.

    Wood has been hard at work with pitching coach Mickey Callaway to refine his motion and speed-up his delivery to home plate. His slow delivery makes him a major liability in late-inning situations because, as the Minnesota Twins demonstrated on Sunday, his delivery is still a work in progress.

    If Wood does not fall casualty to imminent roster moves coming when Jason Giambi and Michael Bourn are activated, he has the potential to be a significant contributor out of the ‘pen in mid-inning situations.

    Grade: 2.5 stars

Yan Gomes, C

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    After a breakout season in 2013, Yan Gomes earned himself an everyday spot in the Indians’ starting lineup and six-year contract extension.

    Gomes, who came to Cleveland as a throw-in in the Mike Aviles deal, made the most of limited opportunities last season. He owned an impressive .294/.345/.481 slash line with 11 home runs and 38 RBI. The 26-year-old native of Brazil flashed 20-home run potential last season, and while it is likely he may regress slightly this year, he provides the Tribe with much-needed pop and run-producing ability at the bottom of the order.

    If Gomes disappoints with the bat this season, his defensive presence will keep him anchored firmly behind the dish. He does an excellent job calling games—which will be crucial with such a young pitching staff—and posted a caught-stealing mark of 41 percent.

    Grade: 3 stars

Carlos Santana, C

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    There may not be a more versatile player in the entire league than Carlos Santana.

    After Yan Gomes worked his way into a full-time role behind the dish, Santana spent the offseason working hard to become the team’s primary third baseman, and he will likely see time at first base, third base, catcher and designated hitter this season.

    In his first four big league seasons, Santana has posted a .254 career average with season averages of 14.2 home runs, 50.4 RBI and 23.2 doubles per year. In what was his best season as a pro, Santana posted a line of .268/.377/.455 with 20 home runs and 74 RBI in 2013.

    With Santana no longer forced to take a beating as the full-time catcher, the Indians hope Santana will be even more productive out of the clean-up spot this season.

    Grade: 3.5 stars

Mike Aviles, UTIL

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    David Maxwell/Getty Images

    Terry Francona may utilize his bench better and more often than any manager in the majors.

    Mike Aviles is good enough to start on a handful of teams across the league. He was good enough to start at shortstop for the Boston Red Sox in 2012, and he was good enough to step in and start 19 consecutive games at shortstop when Asdrubal Cabrera went down in 2013.

    As the founder of the Goon Squad, Aviles banded together with bench players Jason Giambi, Ryan Raburn and Yan Gomes to form a formidable unit in 2013 that helped the Indians win a lot of games.

    Aviles played in 124 games last season and hit .252 in 361 plate appearances. He is a fiery competitor with above-average pop for a utility man. The 33-year-old veteran hit nine home runs with 46 RBI and 15 doubles.

    He is the perfect fit for Francona and the Tribe and he is certainly an above-average option off the bench.

    Grade: 3 stars

Asdrubal Cabrera, SS

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    Rob Tringali/Getty Images

    Asdrubal Cabrera started each of the past three openers batting second, but he began 2014 hitting No. 7 in Terry Francona’s lineup.

    That is just one sign indicating how far Cabrera has fallen since a relatively productive 2012 season.

    The 28-year-old shortstop endured his worst campaign as a professional last season, posting a career-low .242 batting average with just 14 home runs and 64 RBI. He was particularly productive at the tail end of the season, hitting .242 with five home runs and 17 RBI during the month of September.

    Despite all of that—and the looming debut of prospect Francisco Lindor—Cabrera returns for what is likely to be his last season in Cleveland.

    Until Cabrera proves last season’s campaign was an anomaly and not a sign of things to come, he is just slightly above average option at shortstop this season.

    Grade: 2.5 stars

Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B

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    Jason Miller/Getty Images

    Things were looking down for Lonnie Chisenhall heading into the 2014 campaign.

    He hit just .225 in 94 games for the Tribe and was largely disappointing last season. Chisenhall lost his starting third base jobto Carlos Santana to open the season and is in real danger of having to find a new team if he does not improve significantly this season.

    Francona and the Tribe are still holding on hope that Chisenhall might realize the potential he flashed as a minor leaguer, giving the Indians a solid middle-of-the-order hitter at a premium position.

    That hope, however, is fading fast.

    Thus far, the 25-year-old third baseman has played exceptionally well for Cleveland. He was 4-for-8 in three games played heading into Sunday’s series finale with the Minnesota Twins and had already posted two doubles in the early going.

    If Chisenhall continues his current production, it likely will not be long before Francona turns to the young lefty as his everyday option at the hot corner, shifting Santana to the team’s primary designated hitter.

    Until Chisenhall proves he can handle the workload, however, he is nothing more than a below-average option to start or come off the bench and contribute for the Indians.

    Grade: 1.5 stars

Elliot Johnson, UTIL

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    Mark Duncan

    Elliot Johnson has not hit enough at the big league level to establish himself as an everyday player.

    He owns a career slash-line of .216/.271/.317 and is not likely to make any significant impact with his bat off the Tribe’s bench. Much like Aviles, though, Johnson can play seemingly every position. He will likely be used as a late-game defensive replacement or pinch runner for Carlos Santana or Yan Gomes.

    Johnson stole 22 bases and was caught stealing just twice between the Kansas City Royals and Atlanta Braves in 2013.

    He is a good player for what he is, but what he is just isn’t particularly useful for the Indians with Aviles on the bench.

    Grade: 1 star

Jason Kipnis, 2B

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    Paul Sancya

    Jason Kipnis is far and away the Indians' most prolific offensive player and, luckily for the Tribe, general manager Chris Antonetti was able to sign the talented second baseman to a long-term deal on Friday.

    Kipnis brings one of the best combinations of average, power and speed to the middle of the order. He is a career .270 hitter who has posted double-digit home runs and over 30 stolen bases per year since he became the Tribe’s full-time second baseman in 2012.

    At 27 , Kipnis is just entering the prime of his career and is an undeniable favorite to make his second consecutive All-Star appearance this season. If he continues to progress in 2014, Kipnis is a legitimate candidate to produce over 100 RBI, 20+ home runs and 30+ stolen bases out of the No. 3 spot in the Tribe’s lineup.

    If that is not worth four stars, what is?

    Grade: 4 stars

Nick Swisher, 1B

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    While Kipnis and Michael Brantley are undoubtedly the team’s most valuable offensive players, Nick Swisher (and Jason Giambi) claim the title of Most Valuable Teammate.

    Cleveland fans fell in love with the 33-year-old former Buckeye—and his huge personality—almost immediately after he signed with the Tribe in 2013. He brought with him a genuine love for northeast Ohio that Indians’ fans have not seen for some time and has seemingly breathed life back into a diminishing fan base (see: Governor of Brohio).

    On the field, Swisher is exceptional at getting one base. With a .358 career on-base percentage, Swisher is the perfect No. 2 hitter for the Tribe. He is not particularly productive with runners on base, however, and owns a productive-out percentage of just 27 percent compared to a league average of 32 percent since 2004.

    Even so, Swisher is a highly productive player. He owns a career slash line of .254/.358/.461 and averages 21 home runs and 67 RBI per season. His ability to get on base makes him an incredible asset, especially with Kipnis, Carlos Santana and Brantley working behind him in the lineup.

    Off the field, Swisher’s impact would likely earn him an A; on the field, however, his production is just above average and earns the O-H-I-O native three stars.

    Grade: 3 stars

Michael Brantley, LF

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    Sarah Glenn/Getty Images

    Commonly known as Dr. Smooth, Michael Brantley’s nickname says everything you need to know about the 26-year-old outfielder.

    Brantley is not the Tribe’s best source of any particular output. He likely will not lead the team in batting average; he is not the best source of power; and he probably will not drive in the most runs.

    But he is one of the most productive, and the Tribe were lucky enough to ink him to a long-term deal this offseason.

    Brantley is a career .277 hitter since joining the Indians as the “player to be named later” in the deal that landed Cleveland Matt LaPorta in exchange for C.C. Sabathia. In 556 at-bats last season, Brantley put together the most productive campaign of his young career and boasted a .284 average with 10 home runs and 73 RBI. Most notably, Brantley pounded the opposition with runners in scoring position last season, hitting .375 overall and .364 in two-out situations, and picked up right where he left off, driving in the winning run in Wednesday night’s victory over the Oakland Athletics.

    He is extremely versatile and produces for Terry Francona no matter where he hits in the lineup. Brantley was consistent in his approach throughout the season, all while appearing in at least one game at all nine spots in the batting order.

    His versatility and reliability—both offensively and defensively—make him irreplaceable in the Tribe’s lineup. Because his game lacks a legitimate wow-factor to casual fans, Brantley is unlikely to ever make an All-Star team.

    But make no mistake about it, Brantley has definitely earned himself four stars with his stellar play over the last two seasons.

    Grade: 4 stars

Nyjer Morgan, CF

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    Mark Duncan

    Nyjer Morgan—and Tony Plush—may not be in Cleveland for much longer.

    After signing a Minor League contract with the Tribe in January, Morgan entered camp as a non-roster invitee. An injury to starting center fielder Michael Bourn, who is on the 15-day disabled list, allowed Morgan an opportunity to make the team and leadoff for the Tribe on Opening Day.

    Morgan spent last season with Yokohama in Japan, where he posted a .294 average in 108 games. In his big league career, Morgan has posted a slash-line of .281/.342/364 and owns season averages of 16.7 stolen bases and 77.1 hits per year. He is an intriguing option as an extra outfielder and a late-game pinch runner, but there may not be room for him on the active roster.

    The 33-year-old veteran is likely to split time between Cleveland and Triple-A Columbus. For now, he is playing exceptionally well while Bourn recovers from a lingering hamstring injury.

    Grade: 1.5 stars

David Murphy, RF

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    Mark Duncan

    David Murphy is certainly an upgrade from Drew Stubbs in right field, but he is unlikely to impress throughout the season.

    After signing a two-year, $12 million deal with Cleveland this offseason, Murphy is a platoon candidate with Ryan Raburn in right field. Over eight big league seasons, Murphy owns a slash-line of .275/.337/.441 and posts season averages of 9.6 home runs and 40.6 RBI per year.

    Before joining the Indians, Murphy endured the worst season of his professional career with the Rangers in 2013. In 142 games, Murphy posted career lows in batting average (.220), on-base percentage (.282), slugging percentage (.250), hits (96), RBI (45) and stolen bases (1).

    Until Murphy proves last season was a bump in the road and not a sign of things to come, he cannot be counted on to produce better than a slightly below average outfielder offensively.

    Grade: 2 stars

Ryan Raburn, UTIL

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    As one of the biggest surprises of 2013 for Cleveland, Ryan Raburn played an integral role in the Tribe’s playoff run.

    Raburn was let go by the Tigers after a dismal 2012 season that saw him post a .171 batting average with just one home run in 205 at-bats, but Terry Francona and Chris Antonetti believed his ability to play multiple positions and provide right-handed power would be a great fit for the Tribe’s bench. Cleveland signed Raburn to a Minor League contract before the 2013 season that included an invitation to Spring Training, giving Raburn an opportunity to fight for a job.

    Raburn made the opening roster and was a vital piece to Cleveland’s success. He hit .320 in April and .321 in July before the Tribe approached him with a contract extension just before the All-Star break.

    Following the extension, Raburn finished last season with a slash-line of .272/.357/.543 and added 16 home runs and 55 RBI in just 87 games of action. His versatility off the bench and reliability as an offensive threat against left-handed pitching make him an excellent candidate to platoon with Murphy in right field.

    As a part-time player, Raburn is slightly above average and has the ability to make a significant impact despite limited at-bats.

    Grade: 2.5 stars

Michael Bourn, CF (DL)

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    Rob Tringali/Getty Images

    When healthy, Michael Bourn offers an effective combination of speed and on-base percentage. He has a knack for setting the tone from the leadoff spot and makes a significant impact with his legs, which is why Cleveland signed him to a four-year, $48 million deal.

    Over the course of eight-year career, Bourn boasts a .271 average with season averages of 119.8 hits and 37.4 stolen bases per season. In his first year with the Tribe in 2013, Bourn largely underperformed, hitting .263 as a lingering hamstring injury held him to just 23 stolen bases.

    Cleveland needs Bourn to serve as an effective table-setter for the rest of the lineup—much like Kenny Lofton did for the Tribe in the late-90s—and improve upon last year. Unfortunately, the injury bug has already kept Bourn out of the first four games of the season, but the 31-year-old center fielder is likely to make his return from the disabled list soon.

    If he is healthy, Bourn is an above-average leadoff man with excellent speed and defensive ability—in which case, his current grade may need to be reassessed. At the moment, however, Bourn is just an above-average defender who lacks the step to make a significant impact.

    Grade: 3 stars

Jason Giambi, DH (DL)

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    Full Disclosure: Jason Giambi is graded on a curve because of the undeniable impact he has on a young Indians roster.

    Nobody is more beloved by the Cleveland Indians’ organization than Jason Giambi.

    Big G, as he is commonly known, put together a handful of memorable moments for the Tribe in 2013. Nothing was more memorable than Giambi’s walk-off blast against the Chicago White Sox on September 24th (above).

    In 186 plate appearances for the Tribe last season, Giambi owned a modest slash line of .183/.282/.371 and posted nine home runs and 31 RBI. He hit .214 as a pinch hitter, hitting 3-for-14 with three home runs and four RBI. Most importantly, Giambi was incredibly clutch for the Indians in 2013. The 42-year-old slugger hit .271 with runners in scoring position and .261 with two outs and runners in scoring position.

    Giambi is set to make his 2014 debut for Tribe soon, but he will likely play in a few minor league games to rehab his fractured ribs before returning from the disabled list.  

    When he returns to the Goon Squad, Giambi will bring a much-needed bat to the Tribe bench. If history repeats itself, Giambi is sure to play a vital role for Cleveland—especially in late-game situations.

    Grade: 3 stars