One interesting rumor in the past day or so is that the Indians may be close to signing Jose Hernandez to a contract. Hernandez is a pretty useful player; at this stage in his career, he’s become a super-sub. He can (and has) played every position in the infield besides catcher, and all three outfield positions. He’s a lefty-masher as well: last season he posted an OPS of 1.010 against left-handed pitching.
Hernandez also seems to be a sort of Rorshrach Test for baseball analysts. Some immediately point to his strikeout totals and dismiss him as a free-swinger. Others point to his power numbers and like his bat off the bench. I see him as an upgrade over Lou Merloni; he’s a better defender than Lou, especially at shortstop, he has more power, and he’s a guy you can bring off the bench late in a game against a tough left-hander. I think he’d be a fine pickup.
Matt Clement is probably out of play for the Indians; the Angels have probably offered $8-9M a year, and the Yankees seem to have entered into the picture. That doesn’t bode well.
Just by perusing the several Rule 5 previews, I get the impression that the Indians won’t lose as many players as they have in the past couple years. Jason Cooper is probably going to get picked, but after him I couldn’t say that anyone else is a lock to get selected. Maybe one of Martin and Denham, and probably one of Torres and Inglett. If I had to guess the number they’ll lose, I’d say three. Again, I still wonder why Corey Smith was protected over Cooper, who at least has had success in the minors.