Opening Day is 10 days away, and the Indians still have 46 guys in camp. As an exercise in prognostication (or an attempt to read Manny Acta’s mind), I’ve devised my own 25-man roster for Opening Day. (Note: This roster assumes that Chris Perez and Rafael Perez will heal on schedule and be ready to play on April 5 and that Grady Sizemore will not.)

There aren’t a lot of surprises here, except that I cut Frank Herrmann. That’s right, I cut the Hahvad guy. Not because he went to Harvard, but because in 40 games in 2011, he had an ERA of 5.11, a WHIP of 1.544, and WAR of  -.3, and his spring numbers haven’t been much better. There are certain pitchers whom you just trust. Herrmann isn’t one of them. Accardo has the best numbers of anybody this spring. Over the past several seasons, his numbers aren’t great, but they’re better than Herrmann’s. (Yes, I will admit to an irrational dislike of Frank Herrmann. It started last year and I can’t explain it. Even more than Chad Durbin, I always felt that they sent Herrmann in when they felt like giving away a game.)

I debated between Nick Hagadone and Henricus VandenHurk, and went with VandenHurk for Opening Day only because we can always bring Hagadone back up if VandenHurk doesn’t work out. When the Indians picked VandenHurk off waivers, it kind of felt like a “What the hell–he might turn out okay” kind of move. The best year he’s had in the majors, numbers wise, was 2009, when his ERA was 4.30 and his WHIP was 1.33. While those aren’t exactly sterling numbers, he has a few seasons experience at the major league level but is still comparatively young at 26. He’s a big guy up on the mound; he’s worth a shot.

For the bench players, Lou Marson is there because we need a back-up catcher and he’s one of the best defensive catchers in the league (he’s also apparently learned to hit this spring). Jose Lopez has consistently outplayed the competition. It would be a crime if he doesn’t make the team. Jason Donald is a known entity, and he’s had a better spring than Aaron Cunningham or Ryan Spilborghs. I’m sure Russ Canzler has his faults, but thus far, he’s done well in the minors, had a few major league at-bats for Tampa Bay and held his own, and has great Spring Training numbers.

I realize the above is a brief justification for my picks. Putting together any sort of team is part science, part art, part guesswork–who will work best together? Whose strengths will balance another’s weakness? (It’s the same question of why the Beatles were good with Pete Best but great with Ringo Starr.) This is the combination this fan thinks would make a good mix; your mileage may vary. (We have a comments section–share your roster. We need something to keep us occupied until Opening Day.)

Position Players: Starting
C Carlos Santana
1B Casey Kotchman
2B Jason Kipnis
3B Jack Hannahan
SS Asdrubal Cabrera
LF Shelley Duncan
CF Michael Brantley
RF Shin-Soo Choo
DH Travis Hafner

Jose Lopez
Jason Donald
Lou Marson
Russ Canzler

Justin Masterson
Ubaldo Jimenez
Derek Lowe
Josh Tomlin
Jeanmar Gomez
Vinnie Pestano
Chris Perez
Rafael Perez
Joe Smith
Tony Sipp
Jeremy Accardo
Henricus VandenHurk


  • Kelly Shedlock says:

    I agree with your bench picks – I am a huge Lou Marson fan! He is the BEST defensive catcher. If he keeps hitting like he has in spring trianing – they are gonna have to play him a lot more. A much better defensive catcher than Santana. Jason Donald give 110% when he play – I’m glad I don’t have to clean his uniform. I was impressed with Lopez and his hitting when I visited spring training earlier this month . Canzler still has a bit more to prove to me, but I’d go with him over Cunningham and Spilborghs. Those two have not impressed me. I think it is gonna be a FUN summer – the boys will be back in town in 10 days!

  • Susan Petrone says:

    Thanks for your comment, Kelly. I really love Marson behind the plate–he just gives me a feeling that all is well. If he can keep hitting the way he’s been in Spring Training, he’ll be the whole package. I agree this has the makings of a fun summer.

  • Steve says:

    Agree all around. I think Canzler is a very low risk high reward type of guy, and Lopez has some right handed pop and simply must be there. Can’t wait!

  • Steve says:

    If Kotchman struggles or gets hurt I pray we see more LouMar behind the plate and Santana at first!

  • Dan Madden says:

    Who is Chad Lowe? lol

  • peeta says:

    I love your analysis but this lineup is lacking a solid defensive outfielder who can backup Brantley in center field and replace Duncan when the Tribe has the leading heading into the late innings. I wish I was wrong but Lopez, Donald, or Canzler would have to go, probably Canzler. I also think Hagadone will win one of the last two spots in the bullpen.

  • Kelly Shedlock says:

    I think the pitchers seem to respond to Marson better behind the plate. I saw an interview with Marson and he said Jimenez needs to stick to using 3 of his 5 pitches and that his 4 seam fast ball is his knock out pitch. He seems to really work with the pitchers when they get into a jam.
    I am a little concerned that we really don’t have a real backup to Brantley in CF. I hope Brantley will be ready for opening day and can stay healthy.

  • Susan Petrone says:

    Dan, did you know that serious brain farts can lead to amusing typos? My apologies.