Rule 5 Relief

Rule 5 (AAA): The Milwaukee Brewers selected RHP Landon Stockman (Cleveland)
Rule 5 (AAA): The Toronto Blue Jays selected RHP Lee Gronkiewicz (Cleveland)
Rule 5 (AAA): The Colorado Rockies selected LHP Keith Ramsey (Cleveland)
Rule 5 (AAA): The Houston Astros selected LHP Blake Allen (Cleveland)
Rule 5 (AAA): The Minnesota Twins selected RHP Armando Gabino (Cleveland)
Rule 5 (AAA): The Tampa Bay Devil Rays selected RHP Richard De los Santos (Cleveland)

Rule 5 (AAA): The Cleveland Indians selected RHP Neomar Flores (Toronto)

What you don’t see here is any Rule 5 draftees in the major-league portion; that’s certainly a relief. Jason Cooper, Pat Osborn, JD Martin, and others will stay in the organization. The 6 you see that were drafted are mainly minor-league filler, other than Ramsey and Gronkiewicz, who are mildy interesting prospects. Gronkiewicz has a chance of making the majors as a reliever; he has excellent strikeout ratios. But time is not on his side; he’ll be 27 next season, and will see AAA for the first time. Ramsey is another older pitching prospect; he pitched a perfect game for high-A Kinston, but his age (25 next May) and his perpipherals (9.1 H/9IP and 6.2 K/9IP) doesn’t really excite you that much. If he makes the majors, it will probably be in the bullpen.

The others are mainly filler. Blake Allen repeated Lake County this season as a 23-year-old, Stockman came to the Indians via the Independent Leagues, and the other two haven’t seen a full-season league yet.

Neomar Flores seems to have stalled in high-A, and looked worse this season. He doesn’t look too exciting.

More on Hernandez

According to his agent, Scott Boras, Jose Hernandez has in fact signed a one-year contract with the Indians worth $1.8M. That’s quite a chunk of change for a utility player, but he was one of the best in the business for the Dodgers in 2004. Hernandez, as recently as 2002, was a slugging shortstop for several teams, most notably the Milwaukee Brewers. He’s most famous for a record he almost broke; in 2002, he was closing in on Bobby Bonds’ all-time strikeout record for a season, when his manager sat him the last couple games so he didn’t break it. Nevermind that Hernandez was one of the better shortstops in the National League that season; only Edgar Renteria had a higher VORP. Nevermind that he hit .288/.356/.478 for the Brewers that season. Since then Adam Dunn broke Bonds’ record of strikeouts, and somehow managed to hit 46 home runs in the process. In my opinion strikeouts are just another out, the same as a harmless grounder to shortstop. And as long as Hernandez can hit for power and average off the bench, spelling Broussard against left-handers and filling in at various other positions, I really don’t care how much he strikes out. Production is all that matters.

The signing does call into question Belliard’s future, but unless the Indians somehow sign Clement, he’s probably coming back. I guess we’ll find out in about a week or so, when clubs must tender arbitration-eligible players contract. If both Belliard and Hernandez are on the team next season, that relegates Brandon Phillips to Bufalo unless a couple other roster moves are made. Right now, here’s how the offensive side of the roster looks:

Catchers (2): Martinez, Bard
Infielders (6): Boone, Peralta, Belliard, Broussard, Hernandez, Phelps
Outfielders (4): Crisp, Sizemore, Blake, Ludwick
DH (1): Hafner

But the offseason is still young, and if the Indians don’t sign a pitcher, they may go after another bat, further complicating things.

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