If you are a Cleveland Indians fan, you are probably asking yourself, especially after a sweep to the awful Seattle Mariners, why you should pay attention to September baseball.
I know, it's tough for even me, especially with college football in full-force. It's like that new car you want right now, rather than later, because you are driving the old beat-up Chevy, and you are getting sick of the stench coming from the passenger seat.
Well, I'm here to spray that seat with some Febreze and give that old Chevy a little bit of a tune-up, just enough for you to get that car to the end of September.
Alright, I highly doubt that you are going to watch Cleveland Indians baseball just to catch a glimpse of Jeff Stevens pitch in a meaningless game in the middle of September, but stick with me for a moment here.
I'm not promising you Matt LaPorta or Adam Miller, it just doesn't look likely. However, there are plenty of players that need a September call-up that are interesting players to keep an eye on.
One of the first aspects of September call-ups and the 40-man roster is the Rule-Five draft that occurs during the Winter Meetings in the offseason.
Here are the main players that have some sort of tie to the Rule-Five draft this year.
They are listed by draft year and some international, non-drafted signings are excluded because they are either too young for another team to take a chance, or not worth it. Kelvin De La Cruz is one omission, but he is way too young and way too far away for anyone to make that move in November.
- # - On 40 Man Roster
- ^ - Rule 5 Eligible This Year
- @ - Rule 5 Eligible Next Year
- * - Eligible Last Year but was not picked
- ~ - Picked but returned last year
- & - Not Eligible
2001: TJ Burton*
2002: (AA) Matt Whitney~, (AA) Reid Santos#, (AA) Nate Panther*
2003: (AS) Juan Valdes*, (AA) Scott Roehl*, (AA) Brandon Pinckney*, (AA) Ryan Goleski*, (A+) Jared Goedert*
2004: (AA) Chuck Lofgren^, (AA) Scott Lewis#, (A+) Jason Denham^, (AAA) Chris Gimenez *, (A+) Carlton Smith^, (AA) Wyatt Toregas#, (AA) Tony Sipp^
2005: (AAA) Trevor Crowe^, (AA) Stephen Head^, (AAA) Jordan Brown^, (AA) Kevin Dixon^, (AA) Ryan Edell^, (A+) Mike Finocchi^, (AA) Neil Wagner^
Players Eligible Last Year: Bubbie Buzachero*, Armando Camacaro*, Jose Costanza*, Jason Cooper*, Cirilo Cumberbatch*, Randy Newsome*, Shawn Nottingham*, Niuman Romero*, Rich Rundles*
With that, let's also run down the list of players headed off to the Arizona Fall League.
AFL: Wes Hodges&, Chuck Lofgren^, Beau Mills%, Josh Rodriguez&, Tony Sipp&, Erik Stiller&, Neil Wagner^
Now that you have that information, let's take a look at who is getting called up and who is not.
Buffalo Call-Ups: Position Players
Expect all the following to be called up at some point in September: Michael Aubrey, Jordan Brown, Trevor Crowe, and Brad Snyder. Aubrey and Snyder are both out of options after this year, while Brown and Crowe need 40-man roster protection.
Brad Snyder's stock has continued to drop as he continues to disappoint. Michael Aubrey's stock is on the rise after he put together a productive 2008 and managed to stay healthy most of the time. He even got a call-up and hit two home runs earlier in the year. Both need call-ups to either prove their worth or showcase their talents.
Jordan Brown and Trevor Crowe will need 40-man roster additions, and while Crowe isn't in a pressing need to get up here, his speed is valuable. Brown is more of a dire need because of Beau Mills and Matt LaPorta behind him. He could be called up to be in that group with Aubrey and Snyder.
Not getting called up is Chris Gimenez, who needs 40-man roster protection, but would serve little purpose up in Cleveland as a catcher. He could get a call-up if they find room on the roster for him.
Buffalo Call-Ups: Pitchers
Expect all the following to be called up at some point in September: Rich Rundles, Jeff Stevens, Aaron Laffey, Tom Mastny, and Jon Meloan. Aaron Laffey and Tom Mastny are both on the 40-man roster and are no-brainers.
Depending on how many innings he's thrown this year, Jon Meloan could be an addition too, and it wouldn't require a move to get him on the 40-man roster.
The Indians would have to add Rundles to the 40-man roster, but his season is enough to merit a call-up.
The ones who won’t be getting call-ups are David Huff and Bubbie Buzachero. The other two candidates are Brian Slocum and Bryan Bullington. Both are on the 40-man roster but both are pretty much wasted players.
They could either be called-up or released to get guys like Crowe and Brown on the roster. Indications are that Brian Slocum will be getting one more shot though. Buzachero is simply a fringe minor-league player
David Huff has simply reached his innings limit and will not need any further work this year. He does not need protection on the roster, either.
Akron has a playoff series that starts on Wednesday, so it all depends on how long that lasts for the Aeros.
Not getting called up are the following: Matt LaPorta, Wes Hodges, Josh Rodriguez, Wyatt Toregas, and Matt Whitney.
Matt LaPorta is going to be shut down due to all he's been through since the trade. They want him to unwind and relax instead of throwing yet another thing on his shoulders. Matt Whitney needs protection out of that group, but given the fact he hasn't left the AA level, I cannot see team taking another chance on him.
Wyatt Toregas is in the same boat as Chris Gimenez, but he'd be a lot easier to add because he is already on the roster. Wes Hodges and Josh Rodriguez will be playing in the Arizona Fall League.
The two guys that could get call-ups come September are Randy Newsome and Scott Lewis. Scott Lewis is on the 40-man roster and was called up to Buffalo before he came back down to pitch in the playoffs. He missed some time with an injury earlier in the year and might need some more innings. He could realistically be called up to reach his limit.
Randy Newsome is an interesting case, but one that deserves a look. Randy Newsome survived the draft last year, but this year, with him reaching as high as Buffalo, he might not make it through.
He could need protection and he did very well at Buffalo this year, and he could realistically be an option at the big-league level this year.
Summing It Up
To conclude, these are all guys I’d take a look at if I were in charge. Early indications are, for now, that only seven will get an immediate call-up, six if you don’t include Josh Barfield. They are Rich Rundles, Aaron Laffey, Brian Slocum, Tom Mastny, Michael Aubrey, and Jon Meloan.
I’d give shots to Stevens and Brown and probably give up on Brian Slocum and Bryan Bullington. Once Akron concludes, I’d bring up Randy Newsome for a shot and get Scott Lewis some extra work in.
Trevor Crowe is the one guy I could go either way on. I wouldn’t disagree with his addition, but I’m not exactly pushing him to get up there.