Tribe concentrating on business at hand
Rule 5 Draft, player due from Rays main concerns
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indians' suite at the Marriott hotel connected to the Indiana Convention Center has an impressive selection of laptop computers, boxes of crackers and bottles of water.
These have been the tools of the Tribe's front-office decision-makers over the last three days. And don't forget those regular runs downstairs for Starbucks coffee.While the Winter Meetings rumor mill hasn't exactly been lit up with Tribe-related rumblings, there is real work being conducted in these parts. And that work has largely pertained to poring over scouting reports in anticipation of the Rule 5 Draft and the upcoming deadline to select the player to be named from the Kelly Shoppach trade with the Rays. General manager Mark Shapiro reiterated Wednesday that the Tribe is considering adding a player in Thursday morning's Rule 5. The Indians have a roster spot available, and they have compiled a list, however short, of players they are willing to take a chance on. "We're going to actively consider taking advantage of the opportunity to acquire some more talent," Shapiro said. "Some of it will depend on what happens before us in the Draft, some of it will depend on whether we can deduct $50,000 from [assistant general manager Chris Antonetti's] salary." That last part was a joke, of course. In the baseball world, 50 grand is a pretty good price for a promising prospect. And if things don't work out, the Tribe would just offer the player back to the original club for half of that fee. The Indians pick fifth in the Draft. "Our guys are spending time to comprehensively review scouting reports for a lot of players and do additional analysis," Shapiro said. "I think we have an idea of what we'll do if the opportunity presents itself." The player to be named component of the Shoppach deal is another opportunity to add a prospect to an organization that -- through trades of the likes of Cliff Lee, Victor Martinez, Mark DeRosa and Rafael Betancourt, among others -- has already seen a major influx of talent in '09. All the Indians have revealed about the player to be named is that he will be selected from a list of two players the two sides agreed to at the time of the trade. The Indians have until Dec. 20 to make their pick. Though not confirmed, it's believed the two players on that list are both right-handed pitchers, Mitch Talbot and Joseph Cruz. Talbot, 26, made his big league debut with the Rays in 2008, making three appearances, including one start, and compiling an 11.17 ERA. He was limited to 15 total starts in the Minors this season, including 10 at Triple-A Durham, because of shoulder and elbow problems. He finished off the year by making six starts in the Arizona Fall League, where he was 3-0 with a 4.37 ERA. The reports on Talbot are that he has five pitches -- a fastball, cutter, curve, slider and changeup -- with the changeup being especially strong. Talbot was a second-round Draft pick by the Astros out of high school in 2002. He was acquired by the Rays, along with Ben Zobrist, in the '06 trade that sent Aubrey Huff to Houston. Cruz, 21, is lower in the Minor League ranks, having pitched at Class A Bowling Green this past season. He went 5-8 with a 4.04 ERA in 21 starts, striking out 99 and walking 26 in 98 innings of work. The Rays took the 6-foot-4 Cruz in the 30th round of the 2007 Draft out of East Los Angeles Junior College. It's expected that the Indians will take their time before selecting the player to be named. So keep the laptops powered and the crackers, water and Starbucks coming.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.