Restoring the rosters: No. 13 – Cleveland

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This is part of a series of articles examining what every team’s roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed. I’m compiling the rosters, ranking them and presenting them in a countdown from Nos. 30 to 1.
No. 30 – Cincinnati
No. 29 – Kansas City
No. 28 – San Diego
No. 27 – Milwaukee
No. 26 – Baltimore
No. 25 – Chicago (AL)
No. 24 – Chicago (NL)
No. 23 – Pittsburgh
No. 22 – Detroit
No. 21 – Tampa Bay
No. 20 – New York (NL)
No. 19 – Houston
No. 18 – Oakland
No. 17 – St. Louis
No. 16 – Florida
No. 15 – San Francisco
No. 14 – Texas
The Indians had a history of producing stars as frequently as any team during the 90s and the early part of this decade. The problem is that a few of those guys were actually ex-Expos and some of the rest are starting to get old now. As a result, the Tribe doesn’t rate as highly as one might think.
CC Sabathia
Fausto Carmona
Jeremy Guthrie
Aaron Laffey
Bartolo Colon
Rafael Perez
Brian Tallet
Danys Baez
Edward Mujica
Jensen Lewis
David Riske
David Huff
The rotation would have looked a whole lot better two years ago, with Carmona and Guthrie emerging as quality young starters and a solid Paul Byrd replacing Laffey. Byrd was still considered for the last spot over Colon, as were Tallet, Huff, Scott Lewis and Jeremy Sowers. As is, it’s CC and a bunch of guys who haven’t contributed this year. Tallet has pitched better than most of them, but I still think he’d be more valuable in the pen.
SS Marco Scutaro
1B Russell Branyan
C Victor Martinez
LF Manny Ramirez
DH Jim Thome
3B Jhonny Peralta
RF Luke Scott
CF Ben Francisco
2B Maicer Izturis
OF Ryan Church
INF Kevin Kouzmanoff
INF John McDonald
C Wyatt Toregas
While the pitching staff is a mess, the lineup remains awfully nice. Brian Giles is out, but there were still more legitimate alternatives for the team in Willy Taveras and Ryan Garko. Center field is the weakest position, and Church might deserve a chance to start over Francisco against right-handers. He lacks range in center, but Francisco isn’t exactly a Gold Glove contender either. Against lefties, Francisco should hit second, with Branyan exiting the lineup in favor of Kouzmanoff.
Of course, Victor, Manny, Thome is one of the best 3-4-5 combinations in the game. It’s the middle infielders enjoying career seasons that really boosts Cleveland’s lineup, though. Scutaro’s defense allows Peralta to be played at third, where he’s likely a more valuable player. Izturis has always been pretty solid, but he’s topped his career OPS by 70 points this season.
Indians prospects have been relative disappointments lately, as should be evident from the team above. The only players on the roster to come along these last couple of seasons are fringe guys. The system has plenty of talent now, but much of that is a result of deals that cost the team Sabathia, Martinez, Cliff Lee, Casey Blake and Mark DeRosa. The Indians are a mid-market club these days, so it’s imperative that they start having better drafts. As is, they haven’t hit big with first-round pick since Sabathia in 1998.

NL Wild Card Game: Cubs vs. Pirates lineups

Jake Arrieta

Here are the Cubs and Pirates lineups for tonight’s Wild Card game in Pittsburgh:

CF Dexter Fowler
RF Kyle Schwarber
LF Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
3B Tommy La Stella
2B Starlin Castro
C Miguel Montero
SS Addison Russell
SP Jake Arrieta

Cubs manager Joe Maddon wanted Tommy La Stella in the lineup over Jorge Soler or Chris Coghlan, so he starts at third base and Kris Bryant shifts to left field. Bryant started just four games in left field all season, compared to 136 starts at third base. Also of note: After batting Addison Russell ninth–behind the pitcher–116 times this season Maddon has him in the more traditional eighth spot tonight.

RF Gregory Polanco
3B Josh Harrison
CF Andrew McCutchen
LF Starling Marte
C Francisco Cervelli
2B Neil Walker
SS Jordy Mercer
1B Sean Rodriguez
SP Gerrit Cole

Pedro Alvarez started 119 games at first base for the Pirates and with right-hander Jake Arrieta on the mound he was the presumed starter tonight, but instead manager Clint Hurdle has benched the 27-homer slugger in favor of utility man Sean Rodriguez. Alvarez is vastly superior to Rodriguez offensively, especially versus a righty, but he’s also very shaky defensively. During the regular season Rodriguez started a grand total of one game at first base against a right-hander, so this qualifies as a hunch by Hurdle.

The Cardinals are optimistic about Yadier Molina’s status

St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina celebrates as he arrives home after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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Jenifer Langosch of reports that Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina‘s bum thumb responded well after participating in baseball activities Tuesday, including catching, hitting, blocking balls and the like.

This morning Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said that he’s now even more optimistic that Molina will be on the NLDS roster. The Cards’ first game will be Friday against the winner of tonight’s Cubs-Pirates tilt.

Having Molina would obviously be a boon for the Cardinals on the field. For a look at what Molina means to the Cardinals off the field, however, take some time to go read Derrick Goold’s excellent story about what Molina’s teammates think of him. Short version: the world. It’s worth your time, even if you’re not a citizen of Cardinals Nation.