MLB: Cleveland Indians Players Who May Have an Increased Role in 2013
While Jeff Loria and the Miami Marlins have shed incredible amounts of payroll with a firesale that makes your local merchandise liquidation retailer look like a Nordstrom, other teams around the majors seem to be taking the offseason slowly to this point.
After finishing 68-94 in 2012 and doing nothing at the deadline to establish themselves as buyers or sellers, it is anyone's guess as to what the Cleveland Indians will be doing with the current roster. While there have been rumors related to Asdrubal Cabrera or Shin-Soo Choo being traded, it is quite possible that the Tribe does nothing and focuses on trying to compete with the roster that they currently have.
While the pitching staff struggled in 2012, the Indians will still be led by Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez and Zach McAllister, if the club stands pat, fans will see some interesting names toeing the rubber at Progressive Field in 2013.
With Travis Hafner finally reaching free agency, the Indians will officially move away from anyone associated with the last generation of Indians' success. Cabrera, Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley, Choo and Carlos Santana provide a little bit of hope, albeit with a lot of question marks around the rest of the field.
So, who will the Indians count on in 2013 if they don't start making any moves? Surprisingly, there is a little bit of hope in the existing names. What can you expect from the players who fill up the remaining 25-man roster?
The Venezuelan right-hander will turn 26 years old in March of 2013, and he is coming back from September 2011 Tommy John surgery. One of the lone pieces remaining who hasn't totally bombed from the Cliff Lee to Philadelphia trade, the Indians need Carrasco to step up in the No. 4 starter role to solidify the rotation.
Carrasco was put on the 15-day disabled list from April 24 through May 11 in 2011. Upon his return, he went 7-3 with a 2.91 ERA over ten starts and 65 innings through the month of June. Then...Carrasco flopped, and so did his ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, as he went 0-5 with a 7.92 ERA over 30.2 innings and six starts before being shut down and having surgery.
While Carrasco posted a 4.03 ERA in the minors over 892.2 innings, he was still rated within the top 60 prospects in baseball by Baseball America from 2007 through 2009. He is still young enough to overcome the injury and develop into a solid, innings eating, middle-of-the-rotation starter.
Look for Carrasco to earn the No. 4 starter position in spring training. Look for him to win at least 10-games in 2013, while potentially tossing 170 innings before being shutdown due to his elbow surgery. He could be a sleeper in the world of fantasy sports, while being a potential saving grace to the nightmarish trade return for Cliff Lee in Cleveland.
Who? The soon-to-be 23-year-old Dominican right-hander could become a candidate for the rotation or an impact bullpen arm at some point in the 2013 season.
Salazar missed most of the 2010 season, making just seven starts and tossing 32.1 innings, due to Tommy John surgery. He has managed to go 5-4 in 30 starts, tossing 102.1 innings and posting a 94:31 K:BB and a 2.46 ERA
While his innings have been limited since his return, you can't argue with the results. Salazar made 16 starts in High-A and six starts in Double-A in 2012, so he could use a little more seasoning; however, with the Indians' lack of upper-level minor league talent, especially pitching, he could very well become an asset very quickly for the major league club.
When you post a 53:9 K:BB and 1.87 ERA over just 31 games and 43.1 innings, you'll move quickly through an organization. Cody Allen did just that in 2012, pitching at three levels in the minors before arriving in Cleveland and making 27 appearances for the Indians.
Allen is 8-3 with a 1.74 ERA over 98 innings, posting a 102:23 K:BB in the minors. He will be a member of the bullpen, possibly taking on the role that was left with the trade of Esmil Rogers to Toronto.
Allen has the stuff to become a closer down the road, but he will need to improve the 3.72 ERA that he compiled over his 27 appearances and 29 innings pitched in 2012 to solidify those expectation.
Turning 24 in November, Allen is a valuable piece to the future of the Indian bullpen, and he will make his impact as a member of the Opening Day roster.
Chris Seddon was new to the Indians organization in 2012, but he wasn't new to baseball, working for his fourth organization in 12 professional seasons. The 11 wins that Seddon posted in Columbus were the most since he won 14 in the Tampa Bay system in 2004, but how can Seddon be useful going forward?
Seddon started two games for the Tribe in 2012, and he was 0-1 with a 5.23 ERA over 10.1 innings.
Out of the bullpen, Seddon was 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA over 15 appearances and 24 innings.
Since the Indians only had Tony Sipp as a reliable lefty out of the pen in 2012, Seddon could really become an asset.
Not only can he eat innings as a long reliever, having tossed over 1,500 innings as a starter in the minors, but Seddon held left-handed batters to a .229 average and .512 OPS.
Seddon could be a solid addition to the bullpen in a variety of roles. While he is already 29, Seddon is very affordable, still considered a pre-arbitration player, allowing the Indians to pay him at the league minimum for two more seasons.
After being rated as the 17th best prospect in baseball prior to the 2009 season by Baseball America, Anderson's stock has fallen quicker than a prom dress. Anderson has hit just .259/.355/.416 over 1,296 at-bats at Triple-A, covering parts of three seasons.
While his power and hitting skills seem to have deteriorated, Anderson can still get on base and he is just 25 years old, exactly the type of talent that the Indians need to give extended looks to if they aren't going to add clear upgrades via free agency.
Anderson was acquired from the Red Sox for Steven Wright, a knuckle-baller who was already a few years older than Anderson. While some wondered why the Indians traded Wright, who was 9-6 with a 2.49 ERA in 20 starts for Double-A Akron, it was probably because he is not R.A. Dickey and the Indians weren't going to wait 10 years for him to have a good year when he was 38 years old.
Regardless, Anderson is a 6'4", 215 pound, left-handed hitter. He has the frame and past success to possibly become a useful major league player for the Indians. The club has not re-signed Casey Kotchman, so they could look to give the youngster a long look this spring.
While the Indians were giving away at-bats to Shelley Duncan, Johnny Damon and Aaron Cunningham for most of the season, they let the 26-year-old, 2011 International League MVP rot away in Columbus until September, even after being purchased from the Tampa Bay Rays prior to the 2012 season.
Suddenly, someone who was worth a cash investment and seemingly someone that the organization wanted as a part of their future, really wasn't considered an option. How does that make sense?
While Canzler hit .265/.328/.487 with 36 doubles and 22 home runs in Triple-A, he didn't seem to be an option.
Canzler has hit .289/.365/.508 with 76 doubles and 40 home runs in 961 at-bats over two years in Triple-A. He has played first base, third base, left field and right field, so Canzler would, at least, be capable of being a platoon partner at several positions in 2013, particularly for Shin-Soo Choo in right or Lonnie Chisenhall at third...if he isn't the starting left fielder.
Gomes was acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays, along with infielder Mike Aviles, for Esmil Rogers. After ripping 48 doubles, 26 home runs and driving in 111 runs in his last 595 at-bats, Gomes became the first Brazilian major leaguer when the Jays gave him 98 at-bats in Toronto.
While some wonder if he can catch, the fact that he has thrown out 28 percent of would-be base stealers the last two minor league seasons makes him about as viable behind the dish as Lou Marson and Carlos Santana. Could Gomes presence and ability to catch, play first, third and left make Marson expendable or minor league fodder? Could Gomes potential ability to catch allow the club to move Santana to first base full-time, allowing him to focus on blossoming offensively while playing daily?
While many focused on the acquisition of Mike Aviles and how it could allow the Indians to trade Asdrubal Cabrera for prospects to build with, Gomes could be the more valuable of the two players if the Indians and Terry Francona keep his powerful bat in the lineup in 2013.
Chen Lee made all of five appearances in Triple-A in 2012 before needing to be shutdown for Tommy John surgery, which he had in June. For whatever reason, Lee waited an extra month for the surgery, which may prohibit his ability to make a large impact in 2013; however, Lee had the stuff to become a huge asset for the Indians' bullpen.
Lee is 17-11 with a 3.00 ERA over 138 games and 234.1 innings, posting a 286:74 K:BB in his minor league career.
While Tommy John surgery typically has a 12 to 18 month recovery time, if Chen is able to come back with his fastball and location, he could continue to progress towards the majors. Already 26, the 5'11" right-hander is still a major part of the Indians future plans, especially having impressed management in his long look last spring.
Juan Diaz will turn 24 in December and the 6'4", 200 pound shortstop had an intriguing season in 2012, hitting 29 doubles and 13 home runs in the minors before getting 15 at-bats with the Indians in September.
Diaz had never hit more than nine home runs in a season before finally breaking double-digits in 2012, so as he continues to mature, is it possible that he uses his giant frame to become a power hitter, or, at least, an above-average offensive shortstop?
With Ronny Rodriguez, Tony Wolters, Francisco Lindor and Dorssys Paulino in the organization, Diaz would need to increase his contact rate and continue to develop his power to allow a potential move to third or the outfield; however, he could also become trade bait if he goes to Columbus, a hitter's environment, and posts outrageous numbers.
He is still young enough to become a useful talent. If nothing else, he could have some position flexibility and allow the Indians to move away from the Jason Donald and Cord Phelps middle infield depth.
The Indians need to make several moves to contend, but the likelihood of that happening is about as likely as the Miami Marlins winning the title in 2013 after giving away their team.
The Cleveland Indians have one of the worst farm systems in baseball and most of their appreciated, league renowned talent is in the lower levels of the minors. What that means is that the club will have to have someone who isn't sporting a jersey with Choo, Cabrera, Kipnis or Santana on the back become a useful, above-average talent.
While most of the players you've read about aren't All-Stars, they can be valuable pieces to a team searching for depth. You may be shocked to see any of them on the roster still in September, possibly even after the team breaks camp after spring training, but they are all players who could take advantage of an opportunity if they are given one.