It's September and there are two good reasons for the month change.
The first is obvious, August has treated the Cleveland Indians like a rented mule, making no apologies for beating the 25-man group of players down and into a confounded state. Maybe the psychological reasoning in August being over will change the Tribe's fortunes.
Or perhaps because it is September, the Indians get to call up some new players and those guys may infuse some sort of energy into the club. Today on Saturday the Indians will recall several players from their minor league organization. This is expected to be the first wave of players, with more slated to join the fun after the minor league season is over, specifically for the Columbus Clippers on Monday.
From the Clippers, the Indians will return a familiar face in Scott Barnes, the left-handed reliever who's had several stints with the Indians this year. He has a 8.10 ERA, so he'll definitely look to deflate that in the final month and he'll likely get the chances with Rafael Perez still sidelined.
The other is Matt LaPorta's battering-mate in Russ Canzler. The Indians acquired Canzler from the Tampa Bay Rays in the offseason, picking up someone who could potentially fit into the first base competition and when Grady Sizemore went down, the left field race. Canzler though was very much the same player position-wise as LaPorta and Shelley Duncan, so it worked against him that he had options.
It will be interesting to see how Canzler responds and comes up at the opportunity. Canzler led the team in both home runs (22) and RBI (79), both numbers slightly higher than LaPorta, but with a handful of more games played. The similarity in numbers ends with the amount of walks, as Canzler only had two more, but in more than 100 at-bats. Perhaps a reason the Indians haven't given Canzler an opportunity until now is the same reason they haven't given LaPorta one all year, they very well may be the same player.
Canzler doesn't come in with the expectations though and he comes in with no real opportunity to show he can do that in the big leagues. Everyone knows LaPorta can do it at the Triple-A level, but not the Major Leagues. It'll be up to Canzler to show he can do it at both stages.
The other name getting added to the September call-ups is one that is perhaps the most deserving out of anyone. He doesn't have a 40-man roster spot and he is the definition of a "reward call-up" in which someone has completely, 100-percent earned what is coming to them. Thomas Neal, currently of the Western Division Champion Akron Aeros, will finally get the call to the Major Leagues today.
A year ago he was on the Columbus Clippers roster, the 40-man for the Indians, he was on the right track when he came over from the San Francisco Giants organization through the Orlando Cabrera deal. Then he got caught up in the shuffle of the outfielders and based off just 10 games with the Clippers and some injuries, Neal was designated for assignment so the Indians could use his roster spot. Thankfully he cleared waivers, but unfortunately for him, the outfield jam sent him to Akron.
Instead of pouting though, Neal went to work, became an Eastern League All-Star, hit .314 for the playoff-bound Aeros, and knocked in 51 runs while scoring 77. He had an OBP of .400 to end his Aeros season and generated 11 steals. Now he's getting his rightful opportunity to get up to the big leagues and considering he's getting a 40-man spot, he's back in the good graces of the Indians organization. They wouldn't have rostered him had they not felt good about what he's bringing to the table, so for him, this is a great thing.
Who else could we see in the next few days as the Clippers season comes to a close?
David Huff: If the Indians call up another starter, Huff is the only logical choice that is on the 40-man roster spot. He's not pitched well in Columbus this year and if the Indians were to go to this 'six-man rotation' then it would be Jeanmar Gomez, who's slated to start Saturday in place of Roberto Hernandez.
Frank Herrmann: You could see Herrmann return for more bullpen depth. No, in fact, you will probably see Frank Herrmann return for more bullpen depth.
Scott Maine: The Indians could get a look at the newly acquired Soctt Maine and add yet another left-hander to their bullpen mix.
Lars Anderson: It would be tough to get any sort of playing time if LaPorta, Canzler, Casey Kotchman AND Anderson were all around, especially with Neal also in the outfield mix, but I guess the Indians could call up their trade deadline acquisition.
Cord Phelps: I'd expect the Indians to bring up Cord Phelps from the minor leagues considering he had a good year and he's on the roster. Not to mention the number of positions he can play in a pinch.
Vinny Rottino: Oh yeah, he's still on the roster. The Indians could call up Rottino but it would be yet again another guy who plays DH, 1B, and corner outfield spots. They should combine them together for one super first baseman/corner outfield type that might be able to be a viable option.
Tim Fedroff: They'd have to clear a 40-man roster spot for Tim Fedroff, but he deserves it. Whether they do it or not is the big question and I think it's unlikely. If they wanted to give him a shot, they would have done it by now with Columbus not playing for anything. If you don't have to add him to the roster right now, then, why should you? They may take it easy on Fedroff, but I could see him being in the hunt next year.
Other guys that would need a spot include: Aaron Cunningham (not sure why, but they could) and Jared Goedet (who's been there in that position before). Don't forget that both Travis Hafner and Lonnie Chisenhall are expected to return to get some at-bats and Rafael Perez could re-join the team at some point too.
Nino has a blog! Give it a visit at The Tribe Daily, because his caught stealing percentage is higher than 12 percent. He also didn't notice that the word visit was typo-ed for quite some time.