The Indians removed three players from their 40-man roster late Saturday night, as they non-tendered right-handed pitchers Anthony Reyes and Jose Veras and also removed right-handed pitcher Adam Miller from the 40-man roster.
In less than 24 hours, Reyes and Miller were back in the organization as they were resigned to minor league deals on Sunday. Veras is still a free agent to sign with any team and at this time is not expected to be back with the Indians.
The removal of all three players should not come as a shock. All three were considered as the most likely roster casualties sometime this offseason when predicting who the Indians may remove to create roster space for either Rule 5 eligible players to be protected or to add an offseason acquisition via free agency or trade.
But while the moves themselves don't come as a shock, the timing of them is certainly interesting. The moves have been unsettling for some fans as they try to understand the timing of the moves and who they decided to keep rostered and not roster. It doesn't help when the three removals from the 40-man roster come on the heels of the Indians losing left-hander Chuck Lofgren in the Rule 5 Draft just two days earlier. As a result, the natural reaction is to question why the Indians would wait to remove these players from the roster now and instead not just remove them a month ago when they could have protected an asset like Lofgren and not expose him to the Rule 5 Draft.
However, had the Indians even removed the three players back before the November 20th roster deadline they likely would not have rostered any additional players. When reached for comment on Friday after losing Lofgren in the Rule 5 Draft (before the three players were removed), Indians Director of Player Development Ross Atkins said they were sad to lose him though made it clear the decision to not roster him was simply because they decided to go with other options instead.
"Obviously we would love to still have him here in the minor leagues for us," said Atkins on Friday about Lofgren. "We just felt like we had better options to help our major league team this year and moving forward. But we think a lot of Chuck Lofgren and certainly want the best for him and will be pulling for him as an individual."
With all the minor league depth and talent the Indians have had in their farm system the past half decade, they have done a pretty good job of identifying who to protect and who not to protect in preparation for the Rule 5 Draft. Their farm system has consistently been ranked in the upper third of all of baseball during Mark Shapiro's tenure as General Manager which began in 2002, but with all that talent they have only lost a handful of players in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft since 2002 (most of these players were returned): Lofgren (2009), Matt Whitney (2007), Brian Barton (2007), Ryan Goleski (2006), Jim Ed Warden (2006), Matt White (2003), Hector Luna (2003), Willy Taveras (2003), Luis Gonzalez (2003), Lino Urdaneta (2003), Hector Luna (2002), Derek Thompson (2002), Marshall McDougall (2002), and Matt White (2002).
Preparation on who to protect and who not to protect from the Rule 5 Draft typically starts with casual conversation about Rule 5 eligibles over the course of the season between scouts and executives of teams to gauge interest. Obviously, you can't protect everyone and the Indians have certainly made a few mistakes along the way. In the end it is not always about protecting every possible Rule 5 eligible minor league player on the 40-man roster, but putting together the best 40-man roster that helps for the upcoming season and future seasons. Yes, every player is an asset, but sometimes you have to pick the best five to six assets out of a group of eight to ten players and roll the dice the other players are not picked.
The Indians only lost one player in this year's Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft. While Lofgren was lost, their decision to not roster the likes of Steven Wright, Matt McBride, Yohan Pino, Josh Tomlin, Neil Wagner, Josh Rodriguez, Frank Herrmann, and others proved to be the correct one. Besides, while Lofgren was lost, he more than likely will be returned unless a trade is worked out (this may happen). That's not a knock on Lofgren as he has the ability and mindset to accomplish anything, but this is based purely on the odds of the situation with regard to Rule 5 selections.
Bottom line, whether or not the Indians removed Veras and Reyes back in November or now, it would not have made much difference on who was or was not rostered. It is hard to believe the Indians decided at the last minute to non-tender Veras and Reyes, as non-tendering them was likely in the plans as far back as November 20th when their 40-man roster was set. They were probably viewed more as roster placeholders to remove when/if they needed a roster spot for an acquisition via free agency or trade.
Had they removed all three players a few weeks back on November 20th and added three prospects like Lofgren, Wright, and McBride, they would have had very little wiggle room with the 40-man roster the rest of the offseason. If you are going to have a full 40-man roster you need a little fat that can easily be trimmed when you need to create space for an acquisition. Removing Miller, Reyes and Veras and then filling their roster spots with three additional prospects on top of the five they were already adding as well as the half dozen or so they added during the season would mean they would have to remove someone they would not want to remove when they need to add a player they pick up in a trade or free agency this offseason.
Miller's situation looks like something that did in fact change at the last minute. With the announcement this past week of his recent setback in his rehab from finger surgery, it looks like the plans were set in motion recently to remove him from the roster. Had he been on schedule and not experienced any setbacks he probably would have remained on the 40-man roster.
Another thing to note is while Miller may never pitch again, had they released him from the roster and resigned him he would have been Rule 5 eligible and could have been taken by another team and stashed on their 60-day disabled list all season. He would still have to be active on a big league roster at some point, but that is something a team would deal with when the time came as with his talent and ability, even as damaged goods someone may have taken a shot and selected him. By removing him from the roster after the Rule 5 Draft it ensured that he would remain their property, and with how quickly he re-signed it looks like this was something planned for awhile and they had already talked to him about.
In the end, by keeping all three players on the 40-man roster right up until the non-tender deadline it kept these players from being exposed to the Rule 5 Draft to protect players who in hindsight we now know did not need to be protected. It is a decision that I may not have been on board with if you told me a few weeks ago about it, but it is hard to argue with the results.
2010 Player Development Staff Announced
On Friday the Indians announced the remaining staff assignments for the 2010 Player Development System. Aaron Holbert has been appointed as the manager at Class-A Kinston, Ted Kubiak manager at Class-A Lake County, Travis Fryman returns as manage short-season Class-A Mahoning Valley and Chris Tremie will manage the rookie Arizona League Indians.
The Indians also announced the field staff assignments for the 2010 season as Dave Hudgen (Field Coordinator), Johnny Goryl (Advisor, Player Development), Dave Miller (Pitching Coordinator), Bruce Fields (Hitting Coordinator), Gary Thurman (Outfield/Baserunning Coordinator), Minnie Mendoza (Latin America Field Coordinator), Jake Beiting (Strength & Conditioning Coordinator), James Quinlan (Rehabilitation Coordinator), Charlie Maher (Sports Psychologist) and Julio Rangel (Mental Skills Coordinator) will all return to the same positions they held during the 2009 season. In addition to managing the Arizona League team, Chris Tremie will also serve as the Catching Coordinator.
Joel Skinner was recently named the manager of the Akron Aeros. Greg Hibbard, who has spent the previous two seasons as the Pitching Coach at Kinston, will serve as Skinner's pitching coach with the Aeros. Jim Rickon will serve as the hitting coach of the Aeros after spending each of the last three seasons at Lake County. Chad Wolfe will be the teams athletic trainer earning a promotion from Kinston.
Holbert has been promoted to Kinston after managing the Lake County Captains each of the past two seasons. Tony Arnold, who served as Holbert's Pitching Coach last year, will again be part of Holbert's staff in 2010. Rouglas Odor will return as hitting coach at Kinston, while Jeremy Heller will be the club's athletic trainer after being promoted from Lake County.
Kubiak will be the manager at Lake County after serving as the manager of the Arizona League Indians last year. Mickey Callaway joins the Indians organization and will be Kubiak's pitching coach. This marks Callaway's debut as a coach after retiring from baseball last year. Callaway, 34, comes to Lake County after spending the last five seasons pitching in Korea and Taiwan. Originally a seventh round selection by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the 1996 June Draft, he made his Major League debut in 1999 and spent parts of five seasons in the majors with the Devil Rays, Texas Rangers and Anaheim Angels compiling a 4-11 record with a 6.27 ERA in 40 games (20 starts) at the major league level. He was named the Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2001 for Tampa Bay and in 2002 for Anaheim. Phil Clark will serve as hitting coach on Kubiak's staff after serving as a coach at Mahoning Valley last year. Issei Kamada will be the Captains athletic trainer after holding the same position at Mahoning Valley in 2009.
Fryman will return to Mahoning Valley for the third consecutive season. Last year under Fryman, the Scrappers captured the Pinckney Division title before losing to Staten Island in the New York-Penn League Championship. Ken Rowe also returns as the club's pitching coach. Joining Fryman's staff this year as a coach will be Dennis Malave, who spent the 2009 season with the rookie Arizona League Indians.
Tremie will manage the Arizona League Indians in addition to assuming the role of Catching Coordinator. Tremie joins the AZL Indians after spending the last two seasons as the manager at Kinston. Jeff Harris will again serve as the club's pitching coach while Anthony Medrano will return as a coach for the second straight year. Teddy Blackwell also returns as the team's athletic trainer.
2010 Depth Chart
Here is the first edition of the 2010 Depth Chart, though this listing will surely change some throughout the rest of the offseason. In the coming days I will be updating the removal of left-handers Chuck Lofgren, Anillins Martinez, and Matt Meyer and adding right-hander Hector Ambriz and outfielder Brian Horwitz, all players we lost and added in the Rule 5 Draft last week. I will also be making some changes to some of the affiliate assignments, namely Nick Hagadone who I will be reinserting into the Kinston rotation.
As always, figuring out the rosters at the big league, Triple-A and Double-A level are not too difficult. That said, the most difficult task is figuring out the rosters for the two Single-A affiliates, especially the makeup of the bullpens and benches at both those levels. As you can see with the listing of non-rostered players under each system it really gets hard to figure out who the final 6-7 guys on the Kinston and Lake County roster will be when spring training breaks.
Winter League Update
The winter leagues are starting to wind down, and here are the updated stats for the players in the Indians organization participating in fall and winter ball. All stats are through games played on Friday December 11th.
Of note, Indians right-hander Fausto Carmona had a very encouraging outing on Friday night going 5.0 innings and allowing just 2 hits, 1 run, 0 walks, and 0 strikeouts in an outing loaded with groundballs. In two outings covering 8.1 innings Carmona has not surrendered a walk.