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40-man Thoughts: The Day After

November 21, 2008
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After a wild and hectic day yesterday with the 40-man roster, here are some quick thoughts on it and the selections the Indians made:

  • Players were informed around 6pm EST (about 4 hours before the press release) they were being rostered. I know some people were wondering when they find out, so there you go. They are pretty much strung along just like everyone else and don't have an idea what is going on. I talked to five of the players last night who were either rostered or just missed and the common theme was that it was an extremely stressful day waiting impatiently "to get that phone call".

  • I have no doubt that the Indians were talking deal late into the night be it either for one of their Rule 5 eligibles or for a player on their 40-man they wanted to remove in order to have a sixth spot so they could add all six of the players they really wanted to add.

  • Another thing in play is the Indians may in fact have been waiting until the last possible minute to see what other teams were doing with their 40-man rosters. By tracking the additions of players to the 40-man for other teams, the Indians could maybe get a better idea of who they run less risk of exposing between a Jordan Brown, Chris Gimenez, Chuck Lofgren and Stephen Head.

  • Trevor Crowe, Hector Rondon, Carlos Santana, and Jeff Stevens were locks the whole time. The only question was who would be the fifth guy between a list of verify good players and important prospects such as Gimenez, Brown, Head and Lofgren. Also, if they would put the roster at a full 40 by rostering six players.

  • In the end, the Indians made the decision to roster Gimenez and leave a spot open on the 40-man roster since they plan to fill it before the Rule 5 Draft on December 11th. It looks like they may have something near finalized with a player to do this, as last year they left the 40-man at 39 players on deadline day and then the next day signed Masa Kobayashi. So, maybe the Indians will announce a free agent signing very soon.

  • The fact the Indians rostered both Gimenez and Santana to me SCREAMS that Kelly Shoppach is going to be dealt this offseason, or in a more minor move that Wyatt Toregas (or Gimenez) is traded. There is no way they open the season with five catchers on the 40-man roster. Someone is going, and I hope it is Shoppach to fill a need at third base, starter, or at the backend of the bullpen. It would make for a nice camp battle this spring between Toregas and Gimenez for the backup catching job in Cleveland.

  • Jordan Brown was the odd man out, which was very unfortunate. While he was surprised and confused with the way things went down yesterday, and even in a state of shock to a degree, this may actually work more to his benefit as he now immediately becomes one of the top Rule 5 eligible players in the draft. If he were to be selected and can show enough with his new team to stick, he could be realizing his dream to be in the big leagues by April this year on Opening Day. Something he really has no chance of doing if he was rostered by the Indians. It is a longshot, but he may get that chance.

  • So why wasn't Brown rostered? It is possible the Indians may feel that with his recent injuries that teams will shy away from him. Brown has had a lingering knee issue that he has pretty much battled through the past two seasons. On top of that, he hurt his foot just before going to the Dominican Republic about six weeks ago. Early reports are that it is not serious, but the Indians and Dominican Republic officials thought it serious enough to shut him down and send him home. This could possibly work to the Indians advantage (and Jordan's disadvantage).

  • I got a tip over a week ago that Brown was set to be on the 40-man, but as I posted early yesterday was informed that was no longer the case. I think the foot injury above may have played into that.

  • Ultimately, the fact that Michael Aubrey is set to get a special fourth option year (medical reasons) was the killer for Brown. It is hard to keep two like players in Brown and Aubrey on the 40-man who play the same position of first base.

  • That said, it is inexcusable to expose Brown when you still have Andy Marte on the 40-man roster. They should have let that ship sail with Marte months ago, and now may lose Brown or Head because of it.

  • By the way, what incredible timing this all is for our radio show Smoke Signals. Brown will be on our show next week to address all this stuff and more! With Thanksgiving on Thursday, Paul and I will be airing the show at a special time 8:00-9:00pm on Tuesday the 25th.

  • Another player exposed who immediately has some value to other teams is left-hander Chuck Lofgren. I think it is 50/50 that Lofgren gets selected. He is a former top prospect, left-handed, throws in the low 90s, and has what scouts have told me as "correctable flaws" in his mechanics that could get him back on track.

  • Personally, I think Lofgren is better off if he is not selected as he just needs a normal offseason and spring training whereas a Rule 5 selection and all the pressure he will add to himself trying to make a big league roster could be devastating to him during a very important and fragile spring training that looms for him. But either way, I wish him much luck no matter what happens.

  • By the way, we had Lofgren on Smoke Signals last night, and the show can be listened to or downloaded here.

  • In an upcoming Rule 5 Draft preview I will do, infielder/outfielder Stephen Head will certainly be one of the top five guys I think has a chance of being selected. He may in fact have the best chance because of his versatility to play both first base and the outfield exceptionally well. He is more athletic, healthy, has more pop, is more versatile, and plays better defense than Brown, which may make him a more attractive Rule 5 choice for teams. While Brown has a year of Triple-A under his belt and is a superior contact hitter, he doesn't offer the defense or versatility that teams like in a Rule 5 pick since the player will mostly be a bench player.

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