Player Reviews – The Renewables, Part 5

This will finish up my reviews of the players who were on the 40-man roster to end the season.

RHP Kyle Denney – Age 27
2004 Salary: ~$300,000
2004 VORP: -5.9
Contract Status: Renewable (AE in 2007)

Sometimes, guys like Denney will make a major-league career for themselves. Denney has never been graced with prospect accolades, or even a mere mention in the litanies of prospects. But Denney has quietly made his way through the minors, stepping over high-ceiling arms, can’t-miss prospects, and pitchers with better stuff. And, if he sticks on the roster, he’ll go to Spring Training with a chance to win a major-league job. Why? Because he can pitch. ‘Stuff’ is something we all like to fixate on with a pitcher; does he have a 95 mph fastball, does he have a sick slider, or a 12-6 curve? But the unmentioned question remains, can he pitch? Because unless you know what you’re doing on the mound, your stuff doesn’t matter; ask Jason Davis. Denney started the year strong with Bisons (2.41 ERA as of June 26), and never really recovered after suffering a knee injury while pitching in Columbus. I think if the Indians give him another chance next season, be it as the longman or as an emergency starter, they won’t be sorry.

OF Grady Sizemore – Age 22
2004 Salary: ~$300,000
2004 EQA: .258
Contract Status: Renewable (AE in 2006 or 2007)

Ready or not, Sizemore has arrived. The departure of Matt Lawton pretty much assures Sizemore will be playing everyday, be it in center or left field. Like most young players, Grady’s going to have a learning curve, but he’s as good a position prospect as the Indians have, and should be a fixture in the outfield for years to come. The biggest question regarding Sizemore is whether he’s more of a leadoff, base-stealing threat or a run producer. That question should answer itself over the next couple years, but for now Sizemore should gain his sea-legs at the bottom of the Indian order.

3B/OF Corey Smith – Age 22
2004 Salary: ~$300,000
Contract Status: Renewable (AE in 2007)

And then we have Corey Smith. Unlike Sizemore, Smith hasn’t shown one iota of promise in the five seasons since the Indians drafted him in the first round. Now, after the Indians showed him more patience than he really deserved, Smith is going to the outfield in order to save some semblance of his career. He still has the tools he had in 2000, so there’s a chance he’ll have that breakout season. But I would have to think if it doesn’t happen in 2005, he’s gone.

LHP Jason Stanford – Age 27
2004 Salary: ~$300,000
Contract Status: Renewable (AE in 2006 or 2007)

Before there was Denney, there was Jason Stanford, an undrafted free agent who made it to the majors by being able to pitch. Stanford is currently on the shelf with an elbow injury, and it’s doubtful that Jason will even pitch before the All-Star Break, and that’s being generous.

RHP Kazuhito Tadano – Age 24
2004 Salary: ~$300,000
2004 VORP: 5.0
Contract Status: Renewable (AE in 2006 or 2007)

Although he started some games in 2004, the prevailing wisdom among the Indians coaching staff seems to be that Tadano may be better out of the bullpen. With that in mind, he’ll compete for the longman role in the spring, along with guys like Kyle Denney, Jeremy Guthrie, and others.

LHP Brian Tallet – Age 27
2004 Salary: ~$300,000
Contract Status: Renewable (AE in 2007)

With the additions of Arthur Rhodes, Scott Sauerbeck, and even Cliff Bartosh, Tallet may have a tough time making the Indians. He’ll be about 15 months removed from Tommy John surgery in April, so we should see him at almost full strength. I believe he has an option left, so worst case he’ll be pitching with Buffalo to begin the season.

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