Spring Training is fast approaching; it will be here before you know it. The Indians have spent much of their off-season signing players to minor league contracts with Spring Training invites in the hopes that they could strike gold on the cheap. Carlos Pena is returning to Tampa Bay, so he won’t be an offensive option. (As a side note – $7.25 million on a one-year deal seems reasonable for Pena. It’s kind of disappointing the Indians didn’t jump at that. It sounds as if an offer was never even made to him.)
I’m still holding off on doing a 2012 preview, because I just feel like they’re bound to actually acquire a decent offensive piece. (My overwhelming optimism is starting to make me a bit nauseous at this point). I want to put together a list of new acquisitions to this point though, since it seems like the number of Spring Training invites grows daily. There are actually so many of these players, I’ve decided to break it into several smaller posts. I’ll start today with the pitchers.
Jeremy Accardo – RHP – Career numbers: 10-20, 4.22 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 38 saves. 2011 numbers: 3-3, 5.73 ERA, 1.61 WHIP with Baltimore. Accardo had some good years with Toronto, particularly the 2007 season when he went 4-4 with a 2.14 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 30 saves. He battled injuries in 2008, and had some good games with Toronto in 2009, but spent much of the season at Triple-A Las Vegas. He could provide some bullpen depth in the case of injury.
Willy Lebron – RHP – The 32-year-old Lebron is a career minor leaguer, and spent the 2011 season in the Kansas City Royals farm system where he went 0-1 with a 0.55 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 1 save at the Triple-A level and 3-1 with a 3.83 ERA, 1.39 WHIP and 1 save at Double-A. He spent more time at Double-A in 2011, and those numbers are closer to his career average of 4.03 ERA and 1.46 WHIP.
Chris Ray – RHP – Ray had some of his best seasons with the Baltimore Orioles in 2005 and 2006; he saved 30 games for the Orioles in ’06. Last year with Seattle he was 3-2 with a 4.68 ERA and 1.37 WHIP, slightly above his career averages of 4.10 ERA and 1.35 WHIP. Unlike Accardo, he really only had one truly awful season – 2009 with Baltimore. For the most part, he’s hovered around his career figures.
Chris Seddon – LHP – Seddon hasn’t pitched in the Majors since 2010, when he went 1-0 with a 5.64 ERA, 1.38 WHIP with the Seattle Mariners. In fact, he only has one other season at the Major League level – 2007 with the Florida Marlins. He spent 2011 with Seattle’s Triple-A club, where he went 9-7 with a 6.27 ERA, 1.66 WHIP.
Robinson Tejeda – RHP – Spent the last four seasons with the Kansas City Royals, but struggled in 2011 before he was designated for assignment and spent the rest of the season with their Triple-A club. Even though he had a 6.14 ERA and 2.04 WHIP with the Royals in limited appearances, he had done well for much of his tenure with the team. He’s been recovering from an injury, so he has a chance to bounce back to form in 2011.
My overall thoughts on the pitching invites: I’d mark Tejeda and Ray as two to watch. They have past success at the Major League level and even though they’ve struggled recently, have a chance to return to form in 2012. It seems as if Accardo’s best days may be behind him, and Lebron and Seddon are not really proven Major Leaguers. With Lebron’s strong finish at Triple-A last season, he may have a shot; although I see him as one of those players that have some early success, and end up DFAed before the end of May. These players are all bullpen types, but even a strong bullpen needs a lot of depth to get through a season.