May 3, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona (17) and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera (13) watches from the dugout against the Chicago White Sox at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Weekly Wroundtable- Roster Management

Welcome to the Weekly Wroundtable for the week of May 5th!  Joining us this week, we have our panel of bloggers from Wahoo’s on First, along with a pair of guests from Did the Tribe Win Last Night.

Here’s this week’s topic for discussion:

When a non-everyday player performs surprisingly well over a period of time, they often force an organization to change their plans.  Yan Gomes forced his way into the role of everyday catcher over incumbent Carlos Santana.  Lonnie Chisenhall seems to have earned at least a bit more playing time due to his torrid start to the 2014 season.  Trevor Bauer’s strong showing so far in 2014 between the majors and the minors seems to have magnified Carlos Carrasco’s struggles in the rotation.  Jose Ramirez has earned a big league call-up due to his strong performance at AAA and Jason Kipnis hitting the DL.  Let’s say that in a hypothetical world he performs remarkably well and provides undeniable value at the big league level in May, with numbers similar to Michael Brantley’s showing so far this season.  How do you adjust the roster for him, if at all?  To make it more difficult, keep in mind that you have to get a fifth starter by May 6th, so you have to pick who goes in that role as well.  You can option or designate any players as you see fit.  Tell us what moves you’d make throughout the month, ending with your final move to make room for Kipnis when he comes off the DL.

Evan Vogel (Wahoo’s on First)

While the promotion of Jose Ramirez, the supposed breakout of Lonnie Chisenhall, and the rotation woes which have led to the juggling of Carlos Carrasco, Josh Tomlin, and Trevor Bauer could continue to lead to questions for the Tribe, it really doesn’t seem like a large problem to someone thinking logically.

Chisenhall may deserve a few more at-bats due to his success, but only due to the utilization of Carlos Santana at catcher, first base, or DH – certainly not at the expense of the club’s new starting third base/super-utility star. Entering play Saturday, Chisenhall only had one at-bat against lefties and he was 1 for 1, but he has a career .200/.232/.392 line against LHP in his career.
Who cares if Jose Ramirez is hot in Triple-A at the age of 21? It isn’t like the Indians are going to cut, trade, or move Jason Kipnis once he is off of the DL due to a small sample breakout by another young second baseman. Would the Red Sox give up on Dustin Pedroia if he hit the DL and Mookie Betts came up from Double-A to rake? No. Ramirez will return to the minors where he will work on his craft, versatility, and receive playing time, which is a best-case scenario for him and the organization.
The solution seems pretty simple. Josh Tomlin has a roster spot right now, Carlos Carrasco has a spot right now, and Trevor Bauer does not. Tomlin has proven himself as a mediocre major league starter, a legitimate No.5 starter. Tomlin has a career 4.92 ERA and 1.23 WHIP over 343.2 innings. He’s also 29 years old. He hasn’t really proven anything. Josh Tomlin shouldn’t have been the option for Tuesday’s start and he isn’t a part of the future of this franchise as a legitimate starting pitcher. Trevor Bauer, who has a 1.03 ERA, a 1.11 WHIP, and a 22:7 K:BB over his last 26.2 innings, should have received the call, and THAT is the reason why all of this is easy.
I agree with a lot of what Evan said regarding roster moves and Jose Ramirez’s promotion. In the short term, I think on Tuesday Gomes will return from the Paternity List and Tomlin will be recalled to fit in the rotation. At that point, I would expect George Kottaras to be DFA’ed and Nick Hagadone to be optioned back to Triple-A. If Michael Bourn or Jason Giambi’s injuries force them to the disabled list, the Indians depth will be challenged.
In regards to Ramirez, I’ve seen him play for the last two seasons on a rather regular basis and I’ve always felt he’s a guy who is probably best used as a big league utility player. Chone Figgins is the player he most reminds me of. Ramirez can fill in for a player who is injured, or play numerous positions when needed, but you probably don’t want him in the lineup 140 times a year. If he had a good May, and Kipnis was ready to return, I think there would be a place for Ramirez on the roster. He essentially can do much of what Elliot Johnson was doing (just hopefully better).
Predicting all the roster moves to make it all work a month from now seems impossible with a roster that has been inconsistent and battling injuries, but if they had room for Johnson, they can find room for Ramirez if he warrants the roster spot come June 1.

I feel that Mike’s comparison of Jose Ramirez to Chone Figgins is really an interesting one, but I also think that it may be a best-case scenario for the young player.  What really intrigued me were Evan’s thoughts on the Trevor Bauer/Josh Tomlin battle and how it has played out.

Like Evan, I cannot believe that the Indians chose Tomlin.

Yes, Tomlin had a good month down in Columbus (2-1, 2.06), but Tomlin will not provide the kind of punch that the Indians need at what may be a crutial point in their season.  With Jason Kipnis going down for a while and possibly Michael Bourn too, the Indians need a spark on their roster that they are just not going to get from a guy like Tomlin.  Like Evan said, Tomlin is a mediocre Major League pitcher at best and will likely be mediocre when he gets his chance.

Bauer, on the other hand, has a chance to be a very special player in this game and could have been a difference maker immediately.  Without even considering his strong start against San Diego earlier in April, Bauer is on fire for the Clippers (3-0, 1.10) and has all of the confidence in the world right now.  Why the Indians did not jump on the opportunity to bring up their best pitching prospect when his mindset is better than ever simply baffles me.  After all, hasn’t Bauer’s head been his biggest problem for him in the past?

Jeremy Klein (Wahoo’s on First)

Let’s say Jose Ramirez comes up, plays second base every day for the next month, and tears the cover off the ball. Let’s also say Asdrubal Cabrera continues to struggle like he has over the past season and a half, while keeping in mind that he isn’t exactly Omar Vizquel out there at short. If that were to happen, would the Indians, or perhaps, should the Indians consider benching Cabrera in favor of Ramirez? Or maybe the more pertinent question is how much longer should the Indians wait on Asdrubal Cabrera? If Ramirez outperforms Cabrera at the plate over the next four weeks, shouldn’t the team at least consider a change?

It’s obviously a little more complicated than that. A month is not much of a sample to determine that Ramirez would be the better option going forward. From a clubhouse perspective, the team probably can’t just bench a veteran like Cabrera; they would either need to trade him for peanuts or outright release him, and thus eat the rest of Cabrera’s contract (This shouldn’t matter, since it’s a sunk cost either way, but it probably does factor into the decision). And ultimately, if the team does go in a different direction at shortstop, the job ultimately belongs to Francisco Lindor.

Second base belongs to Jason Kipnis, and the shortstop will either be Cabrera or Lindor. Perhaps the Indians tire of Yan Gomes’ horrible defense this season, reinstall Carlos Santana as the everyday catcher, and go with a combination of Cabrera-Ramirez-Chisenhall at shortstop and third base. But that’s about as likely as me picking up a couple starts behind the plate. So even if he does something completely outside his prospect pedigree, it’s really difficult to see Ramirez earning a full-time job in the next month. The more interesting question is who is the starting shortstop on June 1?​

Steve Kinsella (Wahoo’s on First)

If Jose Ramirez plays well, he finds his way into the lineup and the DH spot becomes even more of a rotation. Over the course of 162 game season having a solid rotation all over the diamond and picking spots to give guys back to back days off (one game prior to off day for example) makes the team much stronger in August and September. Building vertical depth on the 25-man and below is key to making that final push.

Brian Heise (Wahoo’s on First)

The way I see it, Jose Ramirez’s recent call up in Jason Kipnis’ absence is nothing more than a fill-in. Regardless of how well he plays, he’s not going to force his way onto the big league roster. Meanwhile, I’d roll the dice with Tomlin over Bauer. I feel like Tomlin has earned the right to get the first chance in the rotation. He’s the more experienced player and has gone through a lot to get back to where he is. And he’s pitching great right now. It feels like the type of move Francona would make too. Bauer is definitely the future and showed what he was capable of a few weeks ago, but I don’t think we’re quite there yet.

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