Weekend Update: Nov 15th
Time for another Saturday rundown to recap all the happenings in the system from this past week. It was a quiet week, so here is the short update:
- It was a privilege and honor to post Chuck Lofgren's story this week. There had been a lot of speculation the past few months on what the personal issue happened to be that Lofgren really was struggling with on and off the field the entire season, so I am sure Lofgren feels like he just breathed a 200-pound exhale. I have known about his mother's cancer situation since June, and in talking with Lofgren it was wonderful news to hear that the cancer was going away and that she is on the road to recovery.
This was certainly the hardest story I have ever had to write given the sensitive nature of the topic. Chuck really opened up though, and while I often leave out my opinion in such player writeups and stories such as this, I have to say Chuck is an amazing young man. I knew very little about him as a person and lots about him as a player before talking to him about this for the past month or so, and now I really feel I know just as much about him as the man as well as the scouting report of him as a baseball player. He is a hardworker, driven, and his biggest critic (maybe to a fault), so I expect him to make a strong case for comeback player of the year in the Indians system if in fact all of minor league baseball.
One caveat to all this is if Lofgren is not rostered by the Indians this week - which it seems likely he won't be - then he has a good chance of being taken in the Rule 5 Draft. There are lots of teams I have spoken to over the course of the last six months, and all had him highly rated even after his struggles. And don't forget Neil Huntington in Pittsburgh and John Farrell in Boston know a lot about him and worked with him extensively, so they could push for their organizations to take a shot on him. As Lofgren pointed out, the issues are mechanical, which is what other teams believe as well and they think they are correctable.
Hopefully, though, Lofgren is not selected Rule 5 so he can make those corrections as an Indian next year. Short-term it would be great for him to get selected and have the chance to make a major league team next year, but long-term I think it could be the worst thing to happen to him if he is selected in the draft. Chuck really just needs to come to spring training next year focused on getting his game back, ironing out his mechanics, and then open in Akron or Columbus and start performing again and see what happens from there. To me, the pressure of a potential major league gig could get in the way of that focus. In any case, whether Lofgren is rostered by the Indians or ends up a Rule 5 pick, much luck to him this offseason.
By the way, he'll be on Smoke Signals this week on Thursday November 20th at 9:30 pm EST. We'll talk about all the current news with him, and since he will be coming on the show on the actual November 20th roster deadline date we will either be congratulating him on his roster selection or wishing him well on the Rule 5 draft.
- Speaking of Smoke Signals, another edition aired this past week and for the first time in like forever the show came and went without any tech issues for once. Paul and I talked about Cliff Lee's Cy Young win, made our case to sign Trevor Hoffman, and talked about the makeup of the bullpen before interviewing right-handed relief pitching prospect Neil Wagner for the last half hour. Wagner is extremely bright, and was another great interview and provided some insight into what he is doing this offseason in the AFL, his college days, and what 2009 has in store for him. Click on the media player to the top right of the page to hear the show, or download the podcast.
- For those wondering, Anthony Castrovince at Indians.com provided an update on left-hander Juan Lara. In case you missed it, here is an excerpt from his mailbag piece this past Monday:
According to Soloff, Lara is back in the Dominican Republic, where he is rehabilitating. He is scheduled to have a follow-up CT scan on his cervical spine in December to ensure that he is healing properly. If he is, he will be cleared to engage in higher level cardiovascular and weight training.
- Got a tip from someone that first baseman Jordan Brown will be rostered by the Indians. Note, this should be considered a rumor until it is official, but it seems pretty legit (and probably obvious). We'll see if this holds true. By the way, Brown's trip to the Dominican Republic was cut short due to a freak foot injury he suffered the day before going there. The foot had some minor bruising and Dominican Republic and Indians officials felt it best if he returned to the states and rested it to get ready for the 2009 season.
- In case you missed it, I was finally able to clarify some of the Rule 5 Draft rules earlier this week. After some confusion based on some conflicting information I was being given the past week, I was able to verify the eligibility of International and draft signees who are signed to future contracts. As a reminder, the Indians 2008 Rule 5 eligibles list is housed in the panel to the right of the page in the resource section. There is also a detailed Rule 5 FAQ I put together that answers everything and anything pertaining to the draft, and will always be shown there as well.
- With the start of free agency, some of the Indians minor league free agents will start to move on to other teams. This past week the Indians resigned free agent catcher Armando Camacaro and also signed 33 year-old left-handed pitcher Jose Rodriguez who was not with a team in 2008. The only players of value the Indians risk losing are first baseman Matt Whitney, right-hander J.D. Martin, and utility man Niuman Romero. The players likely will not sign until after the December 11th Rule 5 Draft, as being signed before then would expose them to the draft.
- Just another reminder, Baseball America's Indians Top 10 Prospect list is scheduled to be released this Wednesday November 19th.