Shapiro has often said that he was forced to rebuild the roster when he took over, and that the cupboard was bare. I think he came to a similar conclusion last year, and used the assets he had at the major league level to start the same process on an accelerated timetable. In this way, you could say that rather than having to go through the 2002 and 2003 seasons, the Indians get to skip from 2001 to 2004.
I want to examine the status of the roster today versus the roster at the most comparable period in the recent past (2004), so I will start with the pitching depth.
I have suspected for a while that the pitching depth the Indians currently have outpaces the pitching depth that was present in 2004 both in number and in quality. This is investigated below, with my conclusions. The lists ignore a couple guys projected to end up in the bullpen (Connor Graham, Bryan Price), although several listed could also end up there when its all said and done.
The Pitchers: 2004
Sabathia Age 23 Season in Cleveland
K/BB 2.14, WHIP 1.295, H/9 8.7, K/9 6.4
Lee Age 24 Season between Kinston/Akron/Buffalo
K/BB 2.05, WHIP 1.343, H/9 7.8, K/9 8.8
Westbrook Age 25 Season in Cleveland
K/BB 1.04, WHIP 1.489, H/9 9.6, K/9 3.9
Guthrie Age 24 Season between Kinston/Akron (2003)
K/BB 2.2, WHIP 1.362, 9.8 H/9, 5.5 K/9
Miller Age 19 Season between Low A/Kinston (2004)
K/BB 3.8, WHIP 1.102, H/9 7.2, K/9 10.2
Davis Age 22 Season at Kinston/Akron (2002):
K/BB 2.4, WHIP 1.368, H/9 9.6, K/9 6.4
Cruceta Age 21 Season at Akron
K/BB 2.03, WHIP 1.267, H/9 7.8, K/9 7.4
F. Cabrera Age 21 Season at Akron
K/BB 2.88, WHIP 1.248, H/9 7.9, K/9 9.5
Carmona Age 19 Season at Low A
K/BB 6.14, WHIP .90, H/9 7.3, K/9 5.0
I am sure that I missed a few guys. There is some hindsight bias built into this, obviously, because I tried to include guys that stood out in my memory. If I missed anyone, point it out so they can be included. I tried to use the most relevant numbers, though that is subject to interpretation.
Sowers was chosen in the 2004 draft, so he doesn't show up. Ricardo Rodriguez had just been traded.
We can see that Sabathia was holding his own as a 22 year old in the majors (low K numbers though), and that future success was by no means assured for Westbrook (although the chosen metrics ignore his groundball tendencies). Lee shows pretty well here, with the K numbers in particular being good. The big surprises are the "prospects" that were going to make up the future of the Indians pitching staff as of 2004. I actually had forgotten how dominant Adam Miller was (which we won't go into). The likes of Jason Davis and Jeremy Guthrie were well short of impressive, particularly given Guthrie's age. Most surprising to me was Cruceta's profile, which is quite similar to that of one Jeanmar Gomez (probably not good news for Gomez fans). Also, Fernando Cabrera put up pretty good numbers in Akron, though he only threw roughly half the season in the rotation.
Edited to add Carmona, who I can't believe I forgot.
The Pitchers 2010
Rondon Age 21 Season between Kinston/Akron
K/BB 4.72, WHIP 1.175, H/9 8.8, K/9 8.4
Hagadone Age 23 Season in High A (45 IP)
K/BB 2.46, WHIP 1.111, H/9 5.2, K/9 11.8
Knapp Age 18 Season Low A
K/BB 2.62, WHIP 1.237, H/9 6.8, K/9 11.4
Carrasco Age 22 Season at AAA
K/BB 3.29, WHP 1.236, H/9 8.5, K/9 8.5
A. Perez Age 19 Season between Low A and Kinston
K/BB 3.24, WHIP 1.172, H/9 8.0, K/9 8.4
House Age 19 Season at Low A
K/BB 2.22, WHIP 1.310, H/9 8.5, K/9 7.3
Gomez Age 20 Season between Kinston/Akron
K/BB 2.76, WHIP 1.215, H/9 8.2, K/9 7.6
Barnes Age 21 Season at A/AA
K/BB 2.82, WHIP 1.265, H/9 8.3, K/9 8.7
Masterson Age 24 Season in Cleveland (57 IP, some of which came out of bullpen)
K/BB 4.49, WHIP 1.587, H/9 8.8, K/9 8.2
Huff Age 24 Season in Cleveland
K/BB 1.59, WHIP 1.558, H/9 11.2, K/9 4.6
Laffey Age 24 Season in Cleveland
K/BB 1.04, WHIP 1.619, H/9 10.1, K/9 4.4
The quality at the major league level is nowhere near that of the 2004 team, based on Sabathia alone. One could compare Masterson and his bullpen history with a young Jake Westbrook, only with more K's. Huff just doesn't have the swings and misses in his minor league history to stack up with Lee. Laffey gets short-changed by using last years numbers, both because of his GB tendencies and because it is probably his worst year on record.
The real difference is in the prospects. Even allowing for the fact that I missed a few, the difference in both quality and depth is stark. Hagadone and Knapp are both legitimate high-upside pitching prospects. Guys like Rondon and Carrasco have done nothing but put up good numbers at young ages. Guys like A. Perez, Scott Barnes and T.J. House are interesting options at the lower levels of the minors. Not included are Alex White and Kelvin De La Cruz, who are both solid pitching prospects.