EDIT: The Indians announced that Dan Wheeler and Jason Donald have made the Opening Day roster. So I called it – Dan Wheeler is this year’s Chad Durbin. Also – Gregorio Petit and Felix Pie were told they would not make the 25-man.
The Indians made some more dramatic roster cuts this morning – up until this point most of the moves they made weren’t that surprising. For the most part, players that were expected to start the season in the minors were reassigned to minor league camp. The Jack Hannahan-Lonnie Chisenhall battle seemed to fizzle after Chisenhall had a weak spring, so even his reassignment wasn’t that shocking.
The moves made this morning were a bit more dramatic. In fact, we’re even starting to see the roster take shape, minus any last minute trades or signings. (Although the deal for Bobby Abreu appears to be dead). Russ Canzler and Nick Hagadone were sent to Triple-A Columbus, while catcher Luke Carlin, infielder Andy LaRoche, and pitchers Chris Ray, Chris Seddon and Robinson Tejeda were assigned to minor league camp. This leaves 34 players in camp with less than a week to go until Opening Day.
Even though LaRoche had a good spring (.385/.484/.462) there really was no spot for him on the team without an injury to several key players. Robinson Tejeda was hampered by an injury that caused him to miss the first half of spring training (5.79 ERA and 1.71 WHIP in 4.2 IP), while Chris Ray (11.70 ERA and 2.00 WHIP in 10 IP) and Chris Seddon (6.48 ERA and 2.16 WHIP in 8.1 IP) were not very good at all. With Carlos Santana and Lou Marson at catcher, Luke Carlin wasn’t really expected to have a shot of making the roster.
I can’t say I’m that pleased about the fact that Russ Canzler and Nick Hagadone did not make the Opening Day roster, even if I’m not that surprised they were sent to Triple-A. The left-handed Hagadone had a good spring (2.53 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in 10.2 IP), but is young and has options remaining. He struggled a bit at the major league level last spring, so perhaps the Indians figured it was best to have him start the year at Columbus. Not only from a developmental standpoint, but also because it gives a spot to a reliever without options, and it stalls Hagadone’s service clock. While I understand the decision, I was hoping that Hagadone would make the team.
Canzler is another player that has options remaining. His average hovered around .400 for much of the spring, but he’s come back to earth a bit in the last week or two (.268/.333/.293). Even though I’m not necessarily wild about several of the Tribe’s options for a backup outfielder, I certainly preferred Canzler to a Felix Pie, an Aaron Cunningham or a Ryan Spilborghs. While he didn’t display much power this spring, Canzler at least could provide a right-handed bat in the Indians left-hand heavy lineup. I mentioned a few days ago to my father that I couldn’t see Canzler making the team since he had options remaining, regardless of his spring performance. Since half of my prediction came true this morning, now I wait to see if the second half comes true – Aaron Cunningham makes the team as the backup outfielder. I’ve been completely unimpressed with his performance this spring, but he’s out of options and the Indians gave up a solid minor league reliever (Cory Burns) and lost another reliever (Josh Judy) in order to make room for Cunningham on the 40-man. I just don’t see them designating him for assignment after all of that, but perhaps I’m wrong (I hope that I am).
So here are the competitions that remain: the Indians outfielder and bench fielders will come from a group that includes Shelley Duncan, Jason Donald, Jose Lopez, Ryan Spilborghs, Aaron Cunningham, Felix Pie and Gregorio Petit. While I’d like to see Duncan, Donald and Lopez end up on the roster, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by Gregorio Petit. He played in a lot of innings while I was in Arizona and put together a number of good at-bats (even though they were towards the end of games while facing minor league pitching).
The last two bullpen spots are down to Jeremy Accardo, Dan Wheeler, Frank Herrmann, and the newly acquired Jairo Asencio. Every year, there has to be that one pitcher that you just dread seeing warm up in the bullpen. For example, I got a chill down my spine last year each time I saw Chad Durbin enter a game. You pretty much knew how things were going from that point forward. This year, Dan Wheeler (8.00 ERA and 1.89 WHIP in 9 IP) really has that vibe for me, so I’m going to go ahead and predict that he gets one of the spots. I have no other reason to think this, other than pure instinct. Out of those four, I’m half tempted to say “E, none of the above,” but Accardo has had a good spring (1.00 ERA and 1.33 WHIP in 9 IP) and probably deserves a spot. I’ve never had a ton of faith in Herrmann, and I’m still not sure what to make of Asencio.
The last big decision is the final spot in the starting rotation. If you missed the news, both Derek Lowe and David Huff left their starts with injuries yesterday. Lowe’s back spasms are only supposed to cause him to miss his final spring start, while Huff’s hamstring may land him on the DL. It pretty much comes down to Kevin Slowey and Jeanmar Gomez for the final starting spot, even though I think that’s been the case for a few weeks now. Gomez has had a terrific spring (1-1, 1.69 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in 16 IP), while Slowey has been much worse (0-3, 6.75 ERA and 1.92 WHIP in 12 IP). I’m really hoping that Gomez gets the spot, even though I have this nagging worry that somehow it’s still going to go to Slowey and Gomez will start at Triple-A. Even though there were reports that Slowey is out of options, he does have one remaining and could start the season in Columbus without being designated for assignment.
So as the roster slowly starts to take shape, I still have to think “meh” with many of these positions. Even though I’m probably being a bit pessimistic, and am missing a chance to use a legit A-Team quote, unfortunately I don’t really love it when a plan comes together.