Slowly, but surely, Mark Shapiro will be casting off bodies from his boat.
Some may be dead-weight; while others might be a few good men he's willing to risk. Either way, they are all caught up in the middle of the great 40-man roster purge of 2008.
In the first of what will be many outlooks on the Cleveland Indians and their oh-so-important 2008-2009 off-season, I think it would be a great idea to take a look at who might not be on the roster at this time next week.
You'll probably want to see who is on the, what is now the 38-man roster. You can view that, with complete salary information, here.
It also is worth mentioning that the Rule V draft has a big impact on what will be happening here with the roster shake up. If you want to see who will be eligible for this year's Rule V draft, sneak a peak at a previous article.
The first name that needs to be added is Carlos Santana, acquired in the Casey Blake trade. He is almost a given to take one of the openings along with Trevor Crowe.
So, you've seen who needs added, and take in mind there could be additions, scratch that, there will be additions. Which means more spots need to open up.
Where will they come from?
Two have already dropped out of the race, as Brad Snyder, a former number one draft pick just five years ago, was claimed off waivers by the Chicago Cubs and Reid Santos was claimed by the Toronto Blue Jays.
Santos simply ran out of time being a 26-year-old in Double-A. There are too many players ahead of him in progression at the same age.
Snyder, on the other hand, was a prospect that just hit a wall. A local product that was selected by his hometown Indians in the first round of the 2003 draft got off to a great start.
He's spent the last few years as a non-factor in the Double-A and Triple-A levels. To put it bluntly, he was a bust.
Two down, how many more to go?
One candidate that will most likely to get handled the way Santos did is Brian Slocum. He is 27 years old and hasn't proved much at the big league level so far. He is also now slated to have off-season surgery. Slocum is out of options, so not only does the 40-man roster light shine down on him, he has to make the active roster.
Is that likely?
In my opinion, no, which makes him an obvious candidate to just be outright let go from the 40-man roster all together.
That puts our roster count at 37, but you better make it 36, because Bryan Bullington isn't surviving the cuts.
Bullington is yet another former first round pick, by the Pirates however, that just hasn't shown he can do it at the next level.
Bullington made a spot start for the Tribe this year and it was not pretty. I'd expect him to be let go after the year ends.
This now leaves us with mostly free agents, trade candidates, and what I like to call "decision players."
These decision players can be described as players who are basically out of time. For the Tribe, that includes Edward Mujica, Michael Aubrey, and the previously mentioned Brian Slocum.
Both Aubrey and Mujica have received extended looks from the Tribe this month. Mujica has been with the team for a few months now and he's been sub-par at best.
Aubrey's time is running out by virtue of depth behind him. He hasn't been the most durable player which has hurt his stock with the club and players like Jordan Brown are now on equal footing with him, with the advantage of age.
I'd expect Mujica to stick around and compete for a job in the bullpen next year. Aubrey, on the other hand, will probably be dealt to a team looking for a diamond in the rough.
That leaves us with 35 spots locked up, with some room to wiggle for Mark Shapiro and company.
The interesting part is the very few free agents that the Indians have. Jamey Carroll has an option, while Sal Fasano, Brendan Donnelly, and Juan Rincon will all need new deals if they are to return.
Carroll's option will surely be picked up given his versatility and leadership in the clubhouse.
The pickle comes in with Sal Fasano, the burly Italian with a mustache to envy. The team first has to figure out what to do with Kelly Shoppach and Victor Martinez before they answer the question of what to do with Sal Fasano.
Fasano could very well retire and take a low managerial job somewhere, perhaps in Cleveland's system, or he could opt to play yet again in the minor leagues until someone calls upon his services.
Either way, as much as I want to see Fasano on the roster next year, I'm not sure there is room or need for his position. His veteran leadership is very much in need, but this team has two catchers.
Juan Rincon and Brendan Donnelly are in the same boat as far as their future goes. They've both expressed gratitude to the Indians for taking chances on them to get their careers back on track. They've both said they'd consider the Indians this off-season heavily.
Given their performance, it'd be nice to bring them into Spring Training to fight for jobs in the bullpen. However, I feel that there is only room for one of them on this team next year in the spring.
The count is now at 33 if my sub-par math skills are correct.
You are now looking at the final category of players, which are classified as trade or cut candidates.
This pool includes players like Tom Mastny, David Dellucci, Andy Marte, and to a further extent, Ben Francisco, Franklin Gutierrez, and Ryan Garko.
Let's set aside Francisco, Gutierrez, and Garko and assume that those three will be on the team next year.
More likely to not be on the team are Dellucci, Marte, and Mastny.
Mastny is in the same boat as Rich Rundles. Mastny is at that point as far as age goes that you have to wonder if he's hit his peak. While Rundles has room to show his stuff, Mastny has had extended shots with the big league club.
He will probably be with the team in Spring Training, and he does have two options left, but if another team calls Mark Shapiro with some interest, I wouldn't be surprised to see him get shipped out.
Marte is more than likely to be a player that is traded for a sack of potatoes before next year's regular season. Although that sack of potatoes might be a prime one, he is wearing out his welcome in Cleveland.
He will stick, unless a team really wants him, but he will have to fight tooth and nail to make the roster. The Indians could bring in a few "low end options" at third and hope he wins the job outright, but all indications are they will make a splash to get someone concrete.
David Dellucci is just a wonder to everyone who has a brain.
No one would dare trade for Dellucci, but Shapiro dares not cut him out of fear that Dellucci will hit 20 home runs fo...
Dellucci is still on the team and it is a bit of a mystery as to why.
He could be gone, then again he could be back to haunt you in your dreams. The sensible thing to do is trade him to a team that will pay a penny of his salary and actually have a fourth outfielder that can actually be of some use.
The question is though, do the Indians deal one of Francisco or Gutierrez. It remains a possibility, which makes the need for Dellucci, sort of...needed.
To my count, the Indians will have about eight spots to add players who need 40 man roster protection and acquisitions.
I'd add the following based on need:
Randy Newsome, Jeff Stevens, Trevor Crowe, Carlos Santana, Jordan Brown, Chuck Lofgren.
This leaves about two spots to add another bullpen arm, a starter or an infielder. Perfect if you ask me.
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