The Indians front office has made this a much livelier off-season than any in the past several years. The 40-man roster lists a number of new players, some acquired through free agency, some off waivers, some in trades, and some who spent last couple seasons in the Tribe’s minor league system. Some of these players may not be familiar to some fans. But all these changes can make a fan ask the same thing Butch Cassidy’s kept asking the Sundance Kid: Who are those guys? I’ve gone through the pitchers below and will go through the position players in an upcoming post.
Matt Albers: Albers came to us from the Diamondbacks through the big nine-player deal that sent Shin-Soo Choo to the Reds. He’s been around the majors for a while. He was drafted by the Astros in the 23rd round of the 2001 amateur draft and spent two seasons as an Astro, three as an Oriole, one and a half as a Red Sox, and became a Diamondback at the trade deadline last season. Albers has a career 4.68 ERA and 1.481 WHIP. He had a great September for Arizona,with a 1.80 ERA in his final 11 appearances (10 innings pitched). Albers is 29, so not old, but approaching baseball middle age.
Trevor Bauer: At this point, I would guess even the most casual Tribe fan knows who Trevor Bauer is: 2011 Golden Spikes Award winner, National Player of the Year, picked third overall by Arizona in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, Baseball America’s 9th overall minor league prospect going into 2012, crazy long-toss warm-up routine, big ego, etc. etc. What I can gather from his first Cleveland press conference is: he’s learning to play the media game well, he might have done some growing up since last season, and he likes burritos. I like him because he adds a little personality to what has been a team of pleasant but somewhat bland players.
Trey Haley: We picked up right-hander Haley in the 2nd round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft. He split 2012 between High Class A Carolina and AA Akron. In five minor league seasons, he’s compiled a 5.13 ERA. Although he came on like gangbusters as a top prospect, he had a nagging injury over his first few seasons that turned out to be a misdiagnosed hernia. In 2012, his ERA was 2.33, which makes it seem that the hernia surgery was successful in more ways than one. Here he is pitching in the 2012 Arizona Fall League.
T.J. House: House is a southpaw drafted by the Indians in the 16th round of 2008 June Amateur Draft from Picayune H.S. in Picayune, MS (yes, I do like the word “picayune”). He has a 3.93 ERA in the minors. He went from High Class A Carolina to the AA Akron in 2012 and did well there and in the Arizona Fall League (six starts, 3-1 record, and 3.00 ERA). He hasn’t yet played higher than AA ball, so his success in the more competitive AFL is a good sign. House is 23 and probably isn’t major league ready yet, but I like the homegrown talent.
Chen Lee: The 26-year-old Lee is a familiar face; he attended 2012 Spring Training and spent 2012 and part of 2011 at AAA Columbus. The Indians signed him in 2009 after he pitched for his native Taiwan in the 2008 Olympics. This could be the year he makes the move to the show.
Brett Myers: Myers has been in the majors for 10 years, including 8 with the Phillies and had 21 saves as their closer in 2007. Myers also finished 10th in the National League Cy Young Award voting in 2010 as a member of the Astros. Lifetime, he has a 4.20 ERA, 1.331 WHIP, and 14 WAR. He could be a solid middle-back of the rotation guy.
Danny Salazar: RHP Salazar is making his way up through the Indians system. He attended Spring Training last year to get a taste of the big leagues but was among those in the first cut. He hasn’t played higher than AA ball. He just turned 23 (like four days ago). He had Tommy John surgery in 2010 and reportedly gained about 5 mph on his fastball after surgery.
Bryan Shaw: RHP Shaw was drafted by Arizona in the 2nd round of the 2008 draft. He moved up through their ranks pretty quickly, making his major league debut on June 10, 2011. He spent most of the 2012 season in the Diamondbacks bullpen, but did spend two weeks at AAA Reno. Career, he has a 3.18 ERA and 1.392 WHIP. He’s only 25, and would be a young, perhaps reliable addition to the bullpen.
Blake Wood: The 27-year-old Wood was drafted by Kansas City in the 3rd round of the 2006 Amateur Draft. He spent the 2010 and 2011 seasons in the Royals bullpen. In May 2012, he had Tommy John surgery and the Indians picked him up off waivers in November and signed him to a one-year deal. Tommy John surgery is at least a one-year recovery, so Wood would likely come in as a mid-season bullpen replacement.