Not a great year to be an Indians fan. Carlos Santana emerged as a cornerstone but didn't last very long before having his knee ravaged before our very eyes. I suppose it's a positive that Fausto Carmona and Justin Masterson have put up relatively solid seasons. But hey, the farm system looks pretty good, at least.
Not much else to say here, although I think we can all say that a healthy return for Grady Sizemore would be a pleasant development. Here are some quick explanations of the arbitration system, non-tenders, service time, and "Super Twos" for those who aren't totally familiar, courtesy of MLBTR.
And as always, we're doing these in order of each player's respective 2010 salary like I did in the previous posts, and any references to a raise are based on those salaries as well.
LHP Rafael Perez - 2nd season of arbitration - Non-tender
Perez has had a bounceback season... kind of. I mean, yeah, he's 5-1 with a 3.43 ERA. But there are enough red flags here that I wouldn't give another raise to the lefty. Basically, it all boils down to his ability to miss bats, which hasn't really been too strong since the 2008 season. The velocity is still there, but he's seeing easily the worst contact and whiff rates in his career. I just don't want to bet on a guy who's seen this kind of progress in his whiff rate over the past five seasons: 16.1%, 14.0%, 13.4%, 11.0% and 8.9%.
RF Shin-Soo Choo - 1st season of arbitration - Tender, raise from $0.461M
Another obvious one. He's a plus defensive right fielder with above-average power, very strong on-base skills, and the ability to steal 20 bases with good efficiency. Basically, he's a right fielder that's really good at everything but not particularly great at anything. Put that all together though, and you're looking at a guy that's capable of putting up 5-6 WAR year-in, year-out. As long as he's healthy and doesn't have to go back to South Korea to do military service, Choo should be one of the team's best players.
SS Asdrubal Cabrera - 1st season of arbitration - Tender, $0.445M
I'm certainly not ready to bail on Cabrera yet. It's certainly been a disappointing year for the 24-year-old, who missed significant time early in the season and has struggled with his performance when he's gotten on the field. But his primary replacement, Jason Donald, has been arguably as bad as Cabrera's been, and the former Mariner can at least point to 2009 as hope that he'll bounce back next year. His contact skills are still quite strong, but declining walk and power numbers have made it difficult for him to remain effective offensively as his BABIP has regressed. He's cheap enough and young enough that he's worth bringing back, but now you have to at least wonder if he's not a long-term solution for the team.
RHP Joe Smith - 1st season of arbitration - Non-tender
He's missing less bats as he throws more fastballs, and his already shaky command has taken a step back this season as well. The ability to keep the ball on the ground is obviously appealing, but a career K/BB of 1.74 isn't good for a reliever, and his 1.17 mark in 2010 is pretty much unacceptable. He's not done as an MLB reliever, but I wouldn't give him a raise through arbitration.
RHP Anthony Reyes - 1st season of arbitration - Non-tender
He's injury-prone, and he's been awful when he's managed to get onto the field. He made three starts in Double-A this season, and gave up 16 earned runs in 5.2 innings. They'll probably bring him back on a minor-league deal, but this is a star that's been dimming for years.
RHP Chris Perez - 1st season of arbitration (Super Two) - Tender, raise from $0.423M
According to this MLBTR post, Perez will qualify for Super Two status this offseason, making him arbitration-eligible for the first time. The closer is an obvious tender given his sub-2 ERA and solid 21-for-25 performance in save opportunities, not to mention some relatively solid peripherals. Since the beginning of June he's got a 1.06 ERA and a 42/17 K/BB in 42 innings, making him one of the better relievers in the game over that time period. The 3.59 FIP and 4.30 xFIP don't back up his ERA, but they indicate that he's a solid reliever, and he certainly looks like a closer with his mid-90's fastball. It's looking like a pretty solid return for a half-year of Mark DeRosa.
RHP Jensen Lewis - 1st season of arbitration - Non-tender
He's a fly ball pitcher that gives up a lot of homers, and he just hasn't put up the strikeout or walk numbers to make up for that. His ability to miss bats has been sub-par this year, and he hasn't made up for it with an improved groundball rate. I know he's only 26, but eventually you have to perform at the MLB level and that really hasn't happened for him since 2007. I see a guy who's gotten worse, not better, over the past three years, and Cleveland should have better options for their bullpen.
LHP Aaron Laffey - 1st season of arbitration - Non-tender
Speaking of not missing enough bats, that's exactly what's been plaguing Mr. Laffey. A 3.9% whiff rate is absolutely awful, and it's not like his command is good either- he's walked the same number of batters that he's struck out, 28 in 52 innings. It's not easy to be a good reliever with a fastball that averages a shade under 87 MPH and slider-change combination that doesn't really miss bats. I suppose he might be able to make it as a LOOGY-type for someone, as he's much better against left-handers than right-handers.
3B Andy Marte - 1st season of arbitration - Non-tender
It appears that his nice performance in Triple-A last year wasn't a positive omen, as the once-elite prospect has continued to struggle at the major league level. He's now been given the chance to play in the majors in each of the past six seasons, only to put up these WAR marks: -1.0, 0.6, -0.3, -0.2, -0.6, and -0.3. Low line drive rates and a tendency to pop the ball up have made Marte a very low-BABIP hitter, and he just doesn't walk or hit for enough power to make up for that. It's weird to think that he's only 26 given how long he's been around, but at this point it doesn't really look like Marte has a future in the majors.