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Call up everyone!

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This week in transactions: The important of depth.

Cleveland Indians v Chicago White Sox Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Latest 40-man Roster

Sept 8 2017

Apparently when the Indians were discussing who to call up in September, someone in the room said “all of them!” and there were knowing nods all around the table. Neither Akron nor Columbus made the playoffs, so that wasn’t an issue. The other reason why clubs don’t call up everyone on their 40-man roster is that you can’t play everyone, especially on a team that is in playoff contention. But over the last week, Terry Francona has, with only a few exceptions given everyone on the roster important playing time. Greg Allen has started several games for the Indians, and has played a key role in several that he didn’t start. Francisco Mejia started a game as the DH. Even Tyler Naquin, who was brought up mainly as a reward after his untimely demotion after the All-Star Break, got a start in this past series.

It has certainly helped that the Indians have a large lead in the division, but I think it goes beyond just the lower risk. The organization has placed an emphasis on preparing players to contribute right away once they get to the big leagues, even if that contribution is in a very narrow role. And because the coaching staff has confidence that those players will help out, they’ll use them. This may seem like stating the obvious, but in my lifetime I’ve seen several different coaching staff/front offices have a much different philosophy when it came to using their depth. In some cases it was that the depth just wasn’t very good, but in others the manager relied solely on proven commodities, even if that meant those front-line players wore down over the long season.

This organizational philosophy is important for the short-term and long-term health of the club. In the short-term it helps to patch holes in the major-league club (as we witnessed in August), and in the long-term it could mitigate some of the free agent losses from core players. The Indians have been more active in free agency in the past 4-5 years than at any time this century, but that can’t be their primary method of improving the roster. There is also going to come a time when the Indians will have to replace a core player with a prospect, and that could be as soon as this winter. The more replacements that can develop within your system, the fewer free agent dollars you need spend or fewer prospects that you need to trade to keep in contention. The 2005-2007 Indians had a group of core players in place, but didn’t have that next (trigger warning) “wave of arms” ready to supplement that group. Scouting and player development has improved dramatically in the 10 years since, and the major-league club is reading the rewards.

Santander Watch

Anthony Santander appeared in 3 games this week, in each case getting batting one time. We’ll get a chance to see him this weekend...maybe. The last time he started a game was on August 19.

Injury Update

Andrew Miller is the closest of the three players left on the 10-day Disabled List to returning to the club. He’s scheduled to throw off the mound today, and if everything goes well should return soon after.

We’re going to get an update on Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley before tonight’s game. We are running out of regular season at-bats for them to get back into hitting shape, so the sooner they can return to action the better they’ll be prepared for the playoffs.

Jay Bruce, who hasn’t played in a week with a sore neck, might be back in the lineup tonight.

Jose Ramirez has a sore wrist, and might sit one more game before returning.

Yandy Diaz who left last night’s game after being hit by a pitch on his left elbow. The injury doesn’t appear serious, based on Francona’s comments after the game.

Transactions

September 4

Optioned RHP Adam Plutko to Lynchburg (A+)

Lynchburg is the highest-level team in the system to make the playoffs, and so Plutko, who was #7 on the depth chart (#8 if you count Danny Salazar), went down to get some work in. He made an appearance last night, and it didn’t go very well, allowing the tying and winning runs to score in the ninth inning. He’ll return to the big league club once Lynchburg’s season is over.

September 5

Activated RHP Danny Salazar from the 10-day Disabled List

Having determined that there was nothing structurally wrong with Salazar’s elbow, the main issue now is getting him ramped back up by the end of the regular season. After Tuesday’s poor start, he’s going to be available out of the bullpen starting on Sunday, and if the right opportunity presents itself, he’ll pitch 2-3 innings in relief.

Recalled RHP Shawn Armstrong and OF Tyler Naquin from Columbus (AAA)

Armstrong was able to return before his 10 days were up because Columbus’ season ended on September 4.

Naquin was recalled as well, though his playing time is going to be limited. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Indians try to trade him after the season; there are much better defensive center fielders on the roster, and he so far hasn’t shown that he’ll hit enough to play on a corner.