Hey fellas long time reader, first time poster. This has been a fun season, but at 6.5 games back is likely over. I have not given up all hope yet but I am looking more forward to the upcoming 2012-2013 window we have to win a championship. Masterson + Asdrubal have really stepped up this year with All-Star caliber seasons and cemented themselves as core players. I would also add Santana, Kipnis, Choo, Ubaldo and Fausto into that group as well. Those are seven solid all-star caliber players to build this club around. My question is what do you think of the other guys? None core players? Who will have a big role on the next Cleveland Indians team to make the playoffs?
- Marson - I like him as a backup catcher. Great arm and pitchers have a 3.46 ERA while he is catching. On this current 2011 Tribe I think Acta puts the best team on the field with Marson at C and Santana at 1B.
- Pronk - I love the guy...have a huge soft spot for him. The problem is as everyone knows, he can't stay on the damn field. If I was an opposing pitcher he would still scare the living daylights out of me and I hope he can stay healthy enough to hit in the middle of the order for the majority of the next two seasons.
- Brantley - If I was writing this a few months ago I probably would have pegged him as a core player. But now I am seeing a left fielder hitting .266/.318/.384. Not terrible by any stretch of the imagination but I'm not sure he will be more than just a league average outfielder with a 4th OF tag even a better possibility. I don't love the .318 OBP out of the leadoff spot either.
- Chiz - He has been ok thus far although he hasn't set the world on fire. I don't think I was ever as high on him as most were, I never had him ranked #1 in any of my prospect list, his minor league numbers never screamed superstar in the making to me, but at a time when 3B is suddenly a shallow position I think Chiz will at least be league average with thethe talent to be even better. I like his glove + arm from what I have seen as well.
- Donald/Phelps - I have to believe one of them will be a useful MIF for the next several seasons. I don't care which one as long as one of them steps up to the plate.
- Hannahan - Simply put I like the guy. I don't care if he is only hitting .240, he is one of the best defensive 3B (and could probably be at 1B) in the game and I like his approach to the plate. I don't feel totally helpless when Hannahan is up to the plate like I do when LaPorta is, or when O-Cab or Kearns were earlier this season, or when Duncan is against a RHP. I say keep Hannahan around as a backup CI for '12.
- Josh Tomlin - I love the kid as a #4 starter. Gonna give you 5+ solid innings every start and keep the base runners to a minimum. The ERA at 4.25 isn't exactly sexy but 1.08 WHIP is top 10 in the AL.
- Carlos Carrasco - Like Carmona at times he lookes like a front of the rotation starter, at times he looks like he should be in A ball. He hasn't showed me the success for an extended time peroid at this level that Carmona has though so I am not ready to call him a core player just yet. I think his upside could be huge. He needs to keep his head on straight and stay off the DL.
- Pure Rage - It is hard for me to keep him off the list of core players. At times I think he is one of the top 5-10 closers in the league. At times he gives me that Joe Borowski feeling in my stomach. He might start to get expensive and/or overpriced and we have a lot of good young arms in the organization, so as nice as it is to have a good closer maybe shopping him for a 1B/OF in the future might not be the worst decision ever.
- "Bullpen Mafia" Joe Smith, Rafael Perez, Tony Sipp & Vinny Pestano - All four of these guys have been legit all year long. Smith and Sipp I feel very comfortable with as late inning specialist. Sometimes I think Perez may not be quite as good as his numbers suggest but worst case scenario he could take Durbins role next season and give plenty of valuable innings. Pestano has great stuff and I think could be a closer one day. Mafia's ERA's range from 1.54 to 2.56 and WHIP's from 0.99 to 1.16. Talk about an impressive pen!
- "Future Bullpen Mafia" Josh Judy, Zach Putnam, Rob Bryson, Nick Hagadone, Chen Lee - All having very good MiLB seasons...gotta believe at least a couple of them make an impact in Cleveland.
- Scott Barnes - If he comes back healthy next year I think he is SP6 on our depth chart.
- Ezequiel Carrera - I think he might be a useful 4th OF but not completely sold on him. I like his speed as a pinch runner and besides a goof up or two he has been solid in the outfield.
- Grady - God I would love for him to return to the 30/30 Grady of old but I just don't think it is ever going to happen. If he had any name other than Grady Sizemore his 2012 option wouldn't be picked up. I am keeping my fingers crossed on Sizemore being one of the better CF in baseball like we enjoyed from '05-'08 but I am worried he will be able to stay on the diamond much more be a core player for the Tribe in the future.
- Buck - When I saw him play in Oakland I thought I was watching a future star. His 150 AB in Cleveland...not so much. Still don't want to completely write him off though.
- David Huff - I want to put him on the "No Thanks" list but despite the hiccup in Detroit he still has an ERA of 2.70. I know - SSS - but if anything he might be decent depth as a 6th/7th starter.
- Nick Weglarz, Beau Mills, Chun Chen, Adam Miller - They all have ugly MiLB numbers this season (esp Wegz) but they are all too talented to completely write off.
- LaPorta -I don't want to give up on him but at the same time...not sure how many more opportunities we can afford to give him while trying to compete for a championship. Starting to think the Indians should look elsewhere for a long term answer to 1B. If they can find an upgrade for 2012 I am all for LaPorta being a backup 1B/OF/DH.
- Shelly Duncan - I don't dislike him but I don't think at his age he is going to get any better and I don't see him as a big part of a championship caliber team. He should be used strictly against southpaws and with his lack of defense I don't know that warrants a roster spot.
- Frank Herrmann, Jeanmar Gomez, Zach McAllister - Small sample sizes but not impressed with any of them and don't see a role for them in this organization other than MiLB depth.
- Luis Valbuena, Chad Durbin, Mitch Talbot - Hell no.
Next Cleveland Indians Championship Team:
First base is going to have to be the biggest issue addressed. Cuddyer, Berkman and Carlos Pena are out their as free agents, or maybe you see if you can package Pure Rage with LaPorta and see if you can pry away a blocked Yonder Alonso from Cinci or a Pablo Sandoval from SF? Or am I having one of my ambien dreams? And as for OF, maybe we bring back Fukudome on a one year deal for depth or if B.J. Upton is non-tendered like rumors have it gotta pounce on that right? And if worst comes to worst we could sign a cheap FA "closer" if we do indeed trade Rage. A Nathan/Lidge/Fransisco/Qualls/Capps/Farnsworth type guy for a few mil.
C - Santana, Marson
1B - Cuddyer/Pena/Berkman/Alonso/Panda
2B - Kipnis, Phelps/Donald
3B - Chiz, Hannahan
SS - Droobs
OF - Brantley, Grady, Choo, Fukudome/Upton/Carrera
DH - Pronk
SP - Masterson, Ubaldo, Fausto, Tomlin, Carrasco
RP - Smith, Perez, Sipp, Pestano, Rage or FA CL, 2 of Judy/Putnam/Hagadone/Bryson,/Lee/Barnes.
Thank you for letting me share with you guys and would love to hear your thoughts on this!!