Well the roster is set. Year after year I'd sit around in February and early March and try and figure out who exactly was going to make it through the spring, how the roster would eventually shake out.
As you already know, I didn't do that this year. It didn't stop me from sitting back and thinking about it though. As I look at how the roster actually shook out though, it is quite obvious that the common themes with how this team operates continued to develop.
Its actually pretty scientific if you ask me. This team (and I don't know how other teams operate, I don't follow them closely, so others might do the same sort of thing or follow the same protocol) tends to follow the same lines. There's a few common rules.
In the bullpen, there always seems to be a preference for having some sort of veteran make the team from the outset. I've preached this before. The use and abuse arm.
If there's a competition between players and one is out of options, if it is remotely close, the player who is out of options will usually get the nod and first opportunity.
This team loves their minor league free agent veterans in the bench role.
Position battles always seem to be obvious based off how the spring plays out.
There is always one rotation spot that is always unsettled, and there's always a veteran in the mix, but it generally goes to an in-house youngster.
The Indians like to give young corner-position guys with some pop a chance, but they never really give it serious consideration and will often opt for a veteran option.
Guys who the Indians, "need to prove themselves" usually have more of a leash to hang themselves.
And those are the general principles that I can think of that apply to this team. I can go down the list and pretty much tick each check box off for the most part this year.
That being said, I can't be damned to pick the roster and of course when injuries creep their way in, it always presents some intrigue to how the roster shapes up.
The roster is shaped though now and I think my commentary can be better utilized in discussing how it came to be. So, allow me to go down the list of all 25 (27) men on the active roster and give you a brief (and this will be hard) synopsis of their presence. I'll do it in one sentence, or less. What's less than one sentence? A fragment? Sure, let's go with that. Sentence or fragment.
Justin Masterson - The Indians opening day starter spent most of the spring in extension talks that broke off, but he'll be ready to go after a solid spring performance wise.
|Photo - AP Marc Duncan via Chron.com|
Corey Kluber - Kluber got roughed up, but the good news is he looked normal with his walk-strikeout ratio.
Zach McAllister - Similar to Kluber, Z-Mac ran into some issue but had a bit of a walking problem that will hopefully figure itself out as the season starts.
Carlos Carrasco - No options was enough of a reason for the Indians to choose the head-case with high-potential over cowboy Josh Tomlin and his impressive spring.
Danny Salazar - Danny Flash started the last game at Progressive Field in 2013 and will start the first one of 2014 as the starter for the Home Opener coming off a limited spring.
Cody Allen - The Indians signed a closer so Allen wouldn't have to and he seems firmly entrenched as a 7th/8th inning option for Tito.
Scott Atchison - Remember the veteran arm the Indians like to use and abuse?
John Axford - A solid spring should have the Indians feeling good about their new closer coming into the American League in 2014.
Josh Outman - Are you ready to see number 88 trot out there, because I sure am.
Vinnie Pestano - Vinnie is back and it is easy to see how some will lack confidence in him, but the important thing is that he has confidence in himself.
Marc Rzepczyski - Outman and Letters should open up a law-firm called Lefty and Leftier.
Bryan Shaw - I'm most excited to see Shaw stabilized in a role from the very get-go as it should do him well.
Blake Wood - You're looking at this bullpen's wild card this season after a huge 11 strikeout in 9+ inning performance this spring.
Yan Gomes - GOMES!
Carlos Santana - It was clear the Indians wanted to make Santana their third baseman as long as he was willing to oblige.
Mike Aviles - I think the Indians feel Aviles' value is at its highest when he's a bench player, which is why the Indians did this...
Asdrubal Cabrera - Good Spring, Good 2014?
Lonnie Chisenhall - Santana still has to backup catch and it makes more sense to carry Chisenhall than a third catcher, the question now centers around how much playing time Chiz will see.
Jason Giambi - Big G will start the year on the Disabled List, but it isn't any different than how last year started out.
Elliot Johnson - He's just one of those guys that you see someone like Tito wanting to have around, but it may be only until Giambi is ready to go unless Chisenhall is able to scorch fire.
Jason Kipnis - A solid spring has to have the Indians thinking another All-Star season (and perhaps a more complete one) in 2014.
Nick Swisher - Swisher had a big spring, but an even better viral video.
Michael Bourn - Injured and missing some time at the outset, but like Giambi, not much different to the scenario from last year other than not starting on the Opening Day Roster.
Michael Brantley - Fresh new contract, same smooth moves, and getting hits at a coin-flip rate.
Nyjer Morgan - If not for Michael Bourn's injury, Nyjer Morgan would have been on equal footing with Tony Plush, not on the Indians roster, but it's a good story nonetheless.
David Murphy - Murphy had a rough spring swinging the bat, hopefully it doesn't play into the year.
Ryan Raburn - He's rakin', rakin on a Sunday Mooooorning.
The Indians made a move for Justin Sellers and while he definitely had a good effort, he just didn't do enough for Elliot Johnson. Back to the market for him.
Color me impressed with the small sample size from Bryan LaHair who didn't get much time thanks to injuries, but he should be a great stock option in Columbus if the Indians can get him there.
Hopefully Luke Carlin stays, so he can continue being awesome over on the right side of the site, looking all, mean-like.
I'm glad I didn't have to Harang anyone around a tree for suggesting Aaron Harang, despite his good spring. This team needs to contend and they stand a better chance letting Carrasco flourish or trusting Tomlin than worrying about a guy who is on the backside of his career and put together a few good innings in spring competition.
Marathon, not a sprint, so if Atchinson or Wood don't work out, the Indians have plenty of options to turn to. CC Lee put up a nice spring, Scott Barnes seems like he's reestablishing himself as an option, and so has Nick Hagadone. Lots of options, lots of depth, this team will find a good combo.
By far, the biggest heart-breaker is that Josh Tomlin will have to wait for his opportunity to return to the major league mound in the regular season as a starter. He showed a great look this spring and really out-pitched Carrasco, but let's be honest, the option-factor won out. He'll get his opportunity, it's just a matter of when, not if.