2012 Roster Projection: Cleveland Indians

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 23: Carlos Santana #41 of the Cleveland Indians hits a solo, walk-off home run to defeat the Minnesota Twins 6-5 at Progressive Field on September 23, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Indians defeated the Twins 6-5. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Ladies and gentlemen, the focus is now officially on 2012. For all of us, except for maybe Cardinals fans, it's time to move on from 2011. This year is so last year anyways. So here at MLBDD we're spending some time projecting each team's 25-man roster for Opening Day 2012. We're not projecting trades or free agent signings here, so this is purely focusing on the talent that each team already has in-house. The 2012 season may not start soon, but we can still think about what it might look like.

Starting Lineup (ages are based on April 4, 2012)

Catcher: Carlos Santana - Age 26 (as of 4/8/12)

First Base: Matt LaPorta - Age 27

Second Base: Jason Kipnis - Age 25

Third Base: Lonnie Chisenhall - Age 23

Shortstop: Asdrubal Cabrera - Age 26

Left Field: Ezequiel Carrera - Age 24

Center Field: Michael Brantley - Age 24

Right Field: Shin-Soo Choo - Age 29

Designated Hitter: Travis Hafner - Age 34

Full batting order, bench, starting rotation and bullpen projections, as well as some of my thoughts, are included below the fold.

Batting Order

1. CF Brantley 2. 2B Kipnis 3. SS Cabrera 4. C Santana 5. RF Choo 6. DH Hafner 7. 3B Chisenhall 8. 1B LaPorta 9. LF Carrera

Bench

C Lou Marson, 1B/OF Shelley Duncan, IF Jack Hannahan, UTIL Cord Phelps

Starting Rotation

1. RHP Ubaldo Jimenez - Age 28

2. RHP Justin Masterson - Age 27

3. RHP Fausto Carmona - Age 28

4. RHP Derek Lowe - Age 38

5. RHP Josh Tomlin - Age 27

Bullpen

Closer: RHP Chris Perez - Age 26

Others: RHP Vinnie Pestano, RHP Joe Smith, LHP Tony Sipp, LHP Nick Hagadone, RHP Frank Herrmann, LHP Rafael Perez

Some Quick Thoughts

  • You could probably slide Santana over to first base and put Marson at catcher, but realistically I think that the Indians want to keep Santana behind the plate for as long as possible. Expect something similar to this year, where he's primarily a catcher but sees significant time at first base.
  • They may not necessarily open with Chisenhall at third base, although he's surely going to be there at the end of the season. He's definitely get a shot for Opening Day, but the team may prefer Hannahan and his elite glove given how groundball-heavy its starting rotation is.
  • Cleveland's closing in on a deal for outfielder Grady Sizemore, which would presumably bump Carrera into a fourth outfielder role. That would likely bump either Duncan or Phelps off the roster, although the team could potentially use Santana at first and start Marson at catcher to make room. As I said before, I doubt that they want to use Santana at first that much, though.
  • The rotation is essentially set, and should be a worm-burning bunch. Among pitchers qualified for the ERA title in 2011, Lowe was No. 2 in groundball rate, while Masterson was No. 7, Carmona was No. 8 and Jimenez came in at an above-average No. 34. Infield defense should be a major priority for this team.
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