Ranking the final 2013 Cleveland Indians' roster: Part one
Despite some struggling players, 2013 a team-wide turn around
By Jim Piascik
October 6, 2013
Playoff baseball returned to Cleveland this year as Terry Francona and company surged to a 92-70 record and a berth in the wild card playoff game. That berth makes 2013 a success for Cleveland, even though the team lost in the one-game playoff. Given where this team was at the end of last year, the turnaround is just tremendous.
As I do at the end of every year, here is the ranking of all 49 players who logged time for the big league club in 2013. I previously ranked the roster before the season, at the 40-game mark, at the All-Star break, and before September callups, so click on those links if you want to check them out. If not, here are the current roster ranks.
Also note that each player's stats are now located here instead of under the players' capsule. It's just much, much easier to have it all in one place.
#49 Brett Myers, RHP (Previous Ranks: 18, 29, 40, 43)
In 21.1 innings Myers managed to allow an 8.02 ERA, 8.72 FIP, and 10 home runs. Unsurprisingly, it turned out that Myers was pitching hurt and the right-hander spent the rest of the season on the disabled list before Cleveland released him in August. The $7 million spent on Myers feels wasted now, though at the time, it made sense. No one could have seen the emergence of Ubaldo Jimenez, Scott Kazmir, Corey Kluber, and Danny Salazar in the rotation. Starting pitching was a massive weakness for Cleveland in the offseason, and while the Myers signing did not work out, it was a low-risk one-year deal that is off the books now.
#48 C.C. Lee, RHP (Previous Ranks: UR, UR, UR, 40)
Considering Lee underwent Tommy John surgery in June 2012, just seeing him make his major league debut this season is impressive. The results were not pretty in Lee's 4.1 innings, but what is more important is seeing the right-hander back on the mound and throwing well. After getting a taste of the major leagues in 2013 I would expect to see Lee start 2014 in the major league bullpen and slowly make his way into one of Francona's trusted late-inning options.
#47 Cord Phelps, INF (Previous Ranks: UR, 32, 39, 42)
Phelps only mustered nine major league plate appearances and saw his season end prematurely in July with a wrist injury. Even worse for Phelps, his bat -- one of his plus characteristics -- regressed at Triple-A (.267/.333/.443 line, 49:27 SO:BB). The switch-hitter's appeal was in his strong approach and hit tool as he posted a .294/.376/.492 line with a 89:51 SO:BB in Triple-A in 2011, though Phelps has gotten progressively worse ever since. Phelps will be 27 years old at the start of next year and, based on the recent results, might not be a factor going forward.
#46 John McDonald, INF (Previous Ranks: UR, UR, 34, 35)
McDonald did not spend much time in Cleveland, filling in when Cleveland was in need of depth midseason, and the utility infielder ended the year playing for four different teams (Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Philadelphia, and Boston). He finished with an ugly .116/.197/.174 line, but McDonald did what he gets paid to do: fill in off the bench and play multiple positions.
#45 Omir Santos, C (Previous Ranks: UR, 34, 36, 37)
One of the reasons Cleveland ran though 49 different players was having someone like Santos come up and receive one plate appearance. Depth is a very important aspect of a major league team and an organization, and while Santos is not someone likely to get a major league shot (he owned a .248/.385/.354 line in 61 Triple-A games), he did fill in during a critical moment early on in the season.
#44 Kelly Shoppach, C (Previous Ranks: UR, UR, UR, UR)
Like Santos, Shoppach was another depth option Cleveland picked up at catcher. Shoppach came to the organization for September -- only logging two plate appearances -- and will likely head on to a new team this offseason. With his .193/.288/.339 line in 36 games this year, Shoppach may only end up with minor league contract offers, but given his long track record, he will fit in perfectly on someone's Triple-A roster.
#43 Lou Marson, C (Previous Ranks: 20, 28, 33, 34)
Continuing on our run of catchers, Marson's injury-riddled season probably spells the end of his time in Cleveland. There is nothing wrong with having Marson as your team's second catcher -- he is an above-average defender for his career -- but his bat will likely always weigh his value down. The emergence of Yan Gomes as a potential full-time starter makes bringing Marson back difficult (Marson will be owed somewhere around $1 million for 2014 through arbitration), though he will stick somewhere. Marson is only 27 years old and proved he can play catcher at the major league level; that counts for something.
#42 Scott Barnes, LHP (Previous Ranks: UR, 31, 38, 41)
Coming into 2013, Barnes was IBI's #11 prospect and someone viewed as either a middle-of-the-rotation starter or a great reliever for his ability to get left-handed hitters out. Now, this season did not go well for Barnes (7.27 ERA, 6.97 FIP in 8.2 major league innings; 7.81 ERA, 4.82 FIP in 27.2 Triple-A innings), but no one should give up on him. The left-hander still knows how to strike batters out (11.16 SO/9 between the minors and the majors) and did see his season end in early July due to injury. Barnes was a highly-rated prospect coming into this year. While one bad year downgrades him, everyone should remember there is talent there as well.
#41 Preston Guilmet, RHP (Previous Ranks: UR, UR, 35, 36)
The big issue with Guilmet's major league prospects is whether his lack of stuff will prevent him from sticking in a big league bullpen. Guilmet's straight-over-the-top throwing motion adds deception to his delivery, though major league hitters tend to figure such things out. While Guilmet has only thrown 5.1 innings in the majors, his 1:3 SO:BB is exactly what the right-hander cannot afford. In order to find success, Guilmet needs to find a way to throw more strikes, limit walks, and allow fewer runs. But then again, what pitcher doesn't?
#40 Jason Kubel, OF (Previous Ranks: UR, UR, UR, UR)
While Kubel was never intended to be a long-term solution when he was acquired for the final month of the season, it definitely would have been nice to see a little more out of the outfielder. Kubel managed a decent on-base percentage due to a few intentional walks, but his overall line suffered from an inability to make solid contact (.167/.348/.222 line in 23 plate appearances). Since he cannot really play the field and has seen his bat regress significantly, I would not bring Kubel back in 2014, especially for the $7.5 million his team option would cost.
#39 David Huff, LHP (Previous Ranks: UR, 30, 37, 39)
After Huff moved on to the Yankees, the left-hander appeared in 11 games (two starts), posting solid but unimpressive stats (4.67 ERA, 4.95 FIP, 3.86 xFIP). It is possible that Huff can fashion a career out of pitching as a left-handed swingman out of the bullpen. Huff only had three appearances in relief before this season, but while he pitched well-enough for the Yankees down the stretch, he is not likely to be someone Cleveland regrets letting go. Through parts of five major league seasons Huff owns a 5.32 ERA and 4.88 FIP; that is just what Huff brings to the table.
#38 Blake Wood, RHP (Previous Ranks: UR, UR, UR, UR)
Like Lee, it was just good to see Wood back out on the mound in the major leagues following Tommy John surgery. He pitched 1.1 unremarkable innings in the majors, but more importantly, Wood threw 26.1 innings with a 2.39 ERA during his four-city rehab tour through the minor leagues. Wood's control is still a work in progress (6.2 BB/9 in the minors), though he still has his power stuff (10.9 SO/9). Now that he is healthy, Wood is someone who could figure into the major league bullpen in 2014.
#37 Clay Rapada, LHP (Previous Ranks: UR, UR, UR, UR)
Four appearances, two innings, no strikeouts, two walks, and being designated for assignment right before the Wild Card round. Prior to the Marc Rzepczynski trade, Cleveland was in dire straits regarding left-handed relief pitching and grasping at straws. Rapada was one of those numerous straws that did not work out. Given that Cleveland managed to win 92 games despite the left-handed relief issues, this just underscores that teams can build bullpens on the cheap. It took a while to find a strong southpaw reliever, but bringing in a bunch of pitchers like Rapada can work out in the end.
#36 Josh Tomlin, RHP (Previous Ranks: UR, UR, UR, UR)
Tomlin spent most of 2013 working his way back from Tommy John surgery, ultimately being rewarded with a September callup and two innings. The right-hander is nothing more than a back-of-the-rotation starter, though those have plenty of value to a team. Assuming Justin Masterson, Salazar, Kluber, and Zach McAllister are in the rotation next year, Tomlin could slide in a the fifth starter. There are other options, but in the end, Tomlin's hat will be in the ring.
#35 Matt Langwell, RHP (Previous Ranks: UR, UR, 28, 30)
Langwell's career outlook is similar to Guilmet's in that the right-handers are both lacking elite stuff despite what their pristine minor league stats show. While Langwell would have been an interesting reliever in the mix next year, Cleveland is probably not missing out on too much after sending the right-hander to Arizona in return for Jason Kubel. Relief depth is critical, but considering how much right-handed relief depth Cleveland has complied, cashing in one piece for a bench option during a playoff race is fine by me.
#34 Ezequiel Carrera, OF (Previous Ranks: UR, 33, 32, 33)
Carrera is very good at what he does: steal bases. In 105 Triple-A games Carrera stole 43 bases, though, unfortunately for him, he did not manage much else. In a way, Carrera stealing 43 bases with only a .312 on-base percentage is impressive. In the bigger picture, however, Carrera's inability to reach base consistently and lack of callup points to his value to the team. He only got five plate appearances after being claimed from the Phillies midseason and is still not on the 40-man roster. Carrera is strong Triple-A filler right now but does not seem to fit into the organization's long-term plans.
#33 Joe Martinez, RHP (Previous Ranks: UR, UR, 31, 32)
Time for some fun with small samples! In five major league innings Martinez posted a 1.80 ERA, 1.85 FIP, and did not walk a batter. In 130.0 minor league innings, Martinez posted a 5.26 ERA, 4.43 FIP, and allowed 163 hits and 19 home runs. Baseball is a weird sport. Martinez established pretty clearly in Triple-A that he did not have major league stuff, yet, when called upon for a few random innings, delivered. Baseball is weird, but baseball is also fun!
#32 Jose Ramirez, INF (Previous Ranks: UR, UR, UR, UR)
After skipping High-A and playing in Double-A as a 20-year-old, Ramirez found himself as a member of the major league club for the playoff run. Ramirez was not called upon to hit very much -- though he did post a .333/.429/.500 line in 14 plate appearances -- but instead showed off his baserunning prowess and some of his defensive chops. His ultimate role may be a utility infielder and he could start in Triple-A next year, but overall, there is nothing wrong with seeing someone as young as Ramirez come up to the majors for the first time. Ramirez really is something special and fun to watch.
#31 Matt Carson, OF (Previous Ranks: UR, UR, UR, 38)
Carson played the hero a few times and swung a red-hot bat in his 13 plate appearances, only posting a .636/.692/.909 line. Just like Martinez earlier, Carson's Triple-A stats were not overwhelming (.252/.322/.394 line in 121 games), yet Carson came up big when Cleveland needed him to. It is not something that is sustainable and Carson easily could not be in the organization next year. Most importantly for the 32-year-old, he had a huge moment in a playoff race; that is a cool moment to have.
#30 Trevor Bauer, RHP (Previous Ranks: UR, 25, 29, 31)
Bauer was not good when he was in the majors. He was not good when he was in the minors. Overall, 2013 will go down as a lost year for Bauer. What is most important is what Bauer does in the offseason and in 2014. Bauer only turns 23 years old in January; that's only a few months older than Tyler Naquin, who just debuted briefly in Double-A. It is important to remember that Bauer is still really young. While he has adjustments to make, all top prospects need to learn how to struggle. While not a pretty sight, the 2013 season just might be what Bauer needs to show him how to become an effective major league pitcher.
#29 Vinnie Pestano, RHP (Previous Ranks: 7, 18, 25, 26)
Not that we should need any more stories on the subject, but Pestano's rapid demise is yet another reminded that relief pitchers are wildly unpredictable and should never be trusted. I ranked him seventh before the season. Seventh! By the season's end Pestano was not one of the 11 pitchers taken onto the Wild Card roster. There is a chance Pestano can put it all back together over the offseason, but I would not bet on it. Sometimes relievers just lose it, and right now, Pestano's lost it.
#28 Nick Hagadone, LHP (Previous Ranks: 19, 24, 24, 25)
There are not many people left on the Hagadone bandwagon, but at least he still has one person on it. The way I see it, Hagadone is still someone who has the raw stuff to factor into a major league bullpen and should get a real shot heading into 2014. Yes I know he walks too many batters, but if Hagadone can approach the stats he posted in Triple-A this year (2.51 ERA, 12.8 SO/9, 4.7 BB/9 in 32.1 innings), he will have value in the majors. Hagadone's raw stuff is good enough that I would give him another chance to make the team in spring training.
#27 Rich Hill, LHP (Previous Ranks: 25, 23, 26, 28)
Hill, on the other hand, should be allowed to move on in 2014. The left-hander's peripherals are actually surprisingly decent (3.82 FIP, 4.12 xFIP in 38.2 innings), but Hill's 6.28 ERA and high walk rate (6.75 BB/9) undercut that value. Even if Hill rebounds like his peripherals suggest he will still be a replacement-level reliever. Given that, I would rather see someone internal like Hagadone, Barnes, or Giovanni Soto (who will hopefully be back healthy next year) given a chance to fill the role of left-handed reliever than Hill.
#26 Mark Reynolds, DH/1B/3B (Previous Ranks: 12, 5, 21, 29)
Before finally jettisoning him, Cleveland gave Reynolds 384 plate appearances, over half of a full season's worth. In that time, he posted a .215/.307/.373 line, a -0.3 fWAR, and a -1.1 rWAR. No matter how you break it down, Reynolds simply fell apart. His defense (as always) significantly reduced his value and the power -- Reynolds' only true calling card -- disappeared (.231 career ISO, .158 ISO with Cleveland). Like the Myers signing, bringing Reynolds in on a one-year deal was a decent gamble based on the lack of bats in the system at the beginning of the offseason. It ultimately did not work out, but in the end, Reynolds carried the team early despite the drop-off. Things could have turned out much worse.
#25 Chris Perez, RHP (Previous Ranks: 9, 14, 23, 21)
After posting a 4.33 ERA, 5.08 FIP, and a -0.9 fWAR in 54.0 innings it looks like Perez might have run out of ways to make himself effective. I looked at the changes Perez has made over the years back in August and hypothesized that the right-hander was running out of changes to make. Based on how the season ended, I would say that Perez might have finally hit the wall. There is no way that Cleveland brings him back for around $9 million next year, and really, I am not sure I would bring him back in general. It is important to know when to move on and, despite Perez's overall strong pitching in previous years, Cleveland will be best served letting Perez go this offseason.
Up next: Part two, in which I rank #24 through #1.
If you want to follow Jim on Twitter, he’s @JimPiascik. If you want to e-mail him, you can do so at email@example.com