Rosterbating the Cleveland Indians Opening Day Roster involves looking at the 40-man roster. The last bullpen spot, the backup catcher, utility infielder, and the 5th outfielder spots remain up for grabs. The Indians will have to make some roster moves to possibly add Travis Buck, Jack Hannahan, Adam Everett, or Paul Phillips. Keep in mind while figuring the opening day roster out that another move will be have to be made when Grady Sizemore returns, possibly as early as the first west coast trip in April.
At least one roster move will have to be made to accommodate Travis Buck and a second roster move may be made based on the injury status of Jason Donald. If Donald is unable to go on opening day, the added player may be Jack Hannahan or Adam Everett. If Donald is able to go on opening day the roster move may be adding Paul Phillips to the roster and sending Lou Marson to Columbus or keeping Marson on the roster and adding Adam Everett as the utility infielder. Or the Indians could still add Adam Everett and Paul Phillips and send Luis Valbuena and Lou Marson to Columbus.
The players on the 40-man who seem to be the most likely to be affected by the roster battles this spring are Jayson Nix, Trevor Crowe, Jared Goedert, and Jensen Lewis. The Indians most likely roster moves will be to release Jayson Nix or try and trade him to another team, place OF Trevor Crowe on the 60-day Disabled List which is a likely scenario if he requires shoulder surgery, expose Jared Goeder and/or Jensen Lewis to waivers and hope neither gets claimed. Jensen Lewis' spot may be saved because if the $650K owed him by the club. Fans may suggest putting Hector Rondon on the 60-day DL but this would all be counted as major league service time so the Indians will spend the 2011 season operating on a 39-man roster.
The starting staff: Fausto Carmona, Justin Masterson, Carlos Carrasco, Mitch Talbot, and Josh Tomlin
The competition for the fifth starter seems to have been won by Josh Tomlin who has had an impressive spring training and did a nice job after his call up in 2010. Additionally, David Huff and Jenmar Gomez have been very ineffective and taken themselves out of the running.
Chris Perez, Joe Smith, Rafael Perez, Tony Sipp, Chad Durbin, Jensen Lewis, and Vinnie Pestano
The last bullpen spot will be decided between Frank Herrmann, Josh Judy, and Vinnie Pestano. I give the nod to Pestano right now based on his attack style and his ability to work deeper in games. The reliever with the shortest leash in 2011 will be Jensen Lewis, but I believe he will make the opening day roster. Having Vinnie Pestano available to work the 7th/8th inning along with Joe Smith would allow Manny Acta to utilize Jensen Lewis along with Chad Durbin in the lower leverage situations. If Lewis is let go, then Frank Herrmann can come up and take his place in the low leverage role. As noted above, the Indians could accommodate another position player on the 40-man by exposing Jensen Lewis and replacing his spot with Frank Herrmann.
Carlos Santana, Matt LaPorta, Orlando Cabrera, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jason Donald, Lou Marson, and Luis Valbuena.
The competition for utility infielder is down to Jack Hannahan, Luis Valbuena, Adam Everett, and Jayson Nix. The competition for backup catcher is still centered around Lou Marson, Paul Phillips, and Luke Carlin.
The utility infielder mix is a little more complex as a lot of the decision will come down to the health of Jason Donald. Jason Donald's health may also affect the backup catching battle. If Jason Donald is healthy, I give the edge to Luis Valbuena for his ability to be a left handed batter off the bench, make the occasional start at 2b/3b, and it gives Orlando Cabrera the ability to spell Asdrubal Cabrera when needed. If Jason Donald is unable to open the year at 3b, that position may go to Jack Hannahan to open the year.
- Luis Valbuena and Jayson Nix are currently on the 40 man roster.
- Hannahan and Everett would have to be added to the 40-man.
- Hannahan may have a shot at making the team if Jason Donald is unable to start the season.
- Jayson Nix has been primarily playing 2b and seems to be the odd man out.
- Luis Valbuena, if Jason Donald is healthy, could be the left-handed 2b and backup 3b, which would allow Orlando Cabrera to slide over to SS to give Asdrubal a day off.
- Adam Everett would be the traditional utility infielder, although he doesn't add depth at 3b.
The backup catcher battle comes down to Lou Marson, Paul Phillips, and Luke Carlin. Lou Marson is already on the 40 man roster. So, if Jason Donald is unable to start the season, the Indians may not be able to make the corresponding roster move to add a catcher and send Marson down. As of now, I believe the roster moves will be made to satisfy the needs of the utility infielder and fifth outfielder and Marson will be with the team come opening day.
Austin Kearns, Micheal Brantley, Shin-Soo Choo, Shelly Duncan, and Travis Buck
With Grady Sizemore unable to open the season with the Indians and Trevor Crowe unable to pick up a bat or throw this spring, it appears as if Travis Buck will make the team. Buck provides the team with additional outfield depth as he is able to play all three outfield positions. I also believe Shelly Ducan, because of his ability to be a right handed pinch hitter, play first base, and provide power from the right side will make the team as the 4th/5th outfielder.
THE DESIGNATED HITTER