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Quick Thoughts on 40-man Decisions

Quick Thoughts on 40-man Decisions
November 20, 2010
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Goedert's power from the right side got
him rostered. (Tony Lastoria)
The Indians finalized their 40-man roster yesterday afternoon with the addition of right-handed pitchers Josh Judy, Corey Kluber and Zach McAllister, left-handed pitcher Nick Hagadone, and infielder Jared Goedert.  Here are some quick thoughts on the roster decisions:

- Hagadone, Kluber and Judy were all no-brainers, while McAllister and Goedert were mild surprises. When all was said and done, there were really no surprises with who was rostered and who was left off save for the non-rostering of Adam Miller (more on that in a minute). The Indians were not in a roster crunch this year as their eligibles list was smaller than usual and lacked much star power as far as prospects go.  A lot of this had to do with the team already rostering a half a dozen or so players over the course of the 2010 season who would have been up for roster protection this offseason.

- It is my understanding that Goedert was a pretty solid addition and that he was part of the four players the club planned to protect all along. They were certainly going to roster four players, they just were not sure if they were going to roster a fifth player (McAllister). Once they decided on Goedert, it basically gave no chance for infielders Josh Rodriguez or Matt McBride to be rostered since both would have been redundant.

- When I made my predictions last week I felt the Indians would roster Rodriguez mostly because they had just lost Carlos Rivero on waivers and had a middle infield need. Obviously, that prediction turned out wrong, and looking back on it the mistake I made was having them roster based on need versus talent. Rodriguez may get some consideration in Rule 5, but looking at it further Goedert may have been more likely to be taken because of his versatility to play third base, first base, second base and left field. With the Indians in need of a power bat from the right side, Goedert provides value to the team next year potentially as a corner utility player, and I think he has a great shot to make the team in that role straight out of spring training.

- The only debatable decision the organization made was probably their choice to roster McAllister and not Adam Miller.  While the Indians did consider rostering Miller, apparently he never really was in the mix as the final decision came down to whether they roster a fifth player (McAllister) or just roster four players and leave McAllister unrostered. They expect to make an offseason acquisition or two, so will need roster space on the 40-man to add such a player, so it would have made sense to leave the roster at 39 players. Now that the roster is full, when (if) they sign or acquire such a player they will simply just designate right-handed pitcher Justin Germano or outfielder Shelley Duncan for assignment. Both of them have value as major league depth, but they also have value where if a roster spot is needed they can be removed without the fear of losing anyone of value on waivers.

- The decision to roster McAllister is an interesting one as he projects as a back of the rotation starter, and typically those kind of players are not selected in the Rule 5 Draft. He is coming off a poor season in Triple-A where in 27 starts he went 9-12 with a 5.29 ERA (149.2 IP, 185 H, 21 HR, 45 BB, 99 K). Clearly what helped him is he is still 22 years old and he has prospect pedigree.  Last year in Double-A in 25 starts he went 14-9 with a 2.09 ERA (151.0 IP, 133 H, 9 HR, 21 BB, 115 K), and if he were coming off such a season at Double-A Akron this past season he would have been a no-brainer roster selection. Plus, the Indians picked him up in a trade with the Yankees this past August for Austin Kearns, so they probably wanted to protect that investment.

- As for Miller, he immediately becomes one of the biggest wildcards of the Rule 5 Draft. The week of the draft I will be breaking down the Indians' Rule 5 eligibles and who has the best chance to be selected.  Miller will very likely be at the top of that list (a very short list). He is by no means a sure thing to get selected as he has not pitched the past two seasons and has only thrown 94 total innings the last four years, but he has a very recognizable name.  Because of this, when the other 29 teams in the league see him on the Rule 5 eligibles list, you can bet they'll do some research on him.

- Since the Indians made their roster decisions known yesterday I have already been contacted by two scouts that I know from two different organizations inquiring about him. The information in the scouting world is very limited on him considering he has not pitched in front of scouts in a true game setting since the end of May in 2008. There are no updated reports other than what some scouts may have seen from him in Instructional League earlier this fall, but even that was very limited.  The Indians may be banking on the fact there is such little information out there on him that he will end up not getting picked in the Rule 5 Draft.

- Also, it may in some ways show their lack of faith in Miller's health. If he were truly healthy and expected to be a legit option next season, there is no doubt he would get protected.  Yet, even with how far he has come and them considering him in the mix, it seems like they are not positive he will pitch in the bigs anytime soon. So they appear to be taking a small gamble on the fact that his medical history may scare teams away after they get a chance to view it (clubs have to make available medical information on Rule 5 eligible players).

- The other thing to consider is that even if a team is willing to spend the $50K to get a look at him this spring, the Indians may feel that he will be returned because he is not ready to pitch or that a team does not want to carry him on their Major League disabled list all year.  If this happened he would accrue service time and a team is then on the hook for $400K (major league minimum), which now makes that investment $450K instead of $50K.  It's only an additional $400K, but for a lot of teams $400K is a lot and is something they may not be as inclined to gamble on.

In the end, the Indians made sound decisions in regard to the 40-man additions. In less than three weeks (Thursday December 9th) we will find out if their decisions cost them anyone of value being lost in the Rule 5 Draft.  Stay tuned.

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