When the Indians take the field tonight against the Chicago White Sox, they’ll have a new face in uniform – highly touted second base prospect Jason Kipnis. Despite the fact that the Indians are a little desperate when it comes to outfielders, I still think it could be a huge boost to the offense if Kipnis is able to make the smooth transition from Columbus, where he boasted a .279 average, a .361 on-base percentage and a .481 slugging percentage. Kipnis leads the International League in triples (9), was second in runs scored (64) and was hitting .316 with runners in scoring position for the Clippers. (If he maintains that mark in Cleveland, that alone may help the RISP-impaired Indians). Michael Brantley and Travis Buck aren’t on the disabled list, so it’s possible they could be ready to play this evening as well. Luis Valbuena was sent back to Columbus in place of Kipnis.
Trade rumors have been flying all over the place with the Indians, one of which is a potential trade with the New York Mets for outfielder Carlos Beltran. MLB Trade Rumors reported today that the Indians’ interest in Beltran is cooling; this could be because the Mets are making some rather large demands in regards to prospects for Beltran. The Indians have also been connected to Oakland’s Coco Crisp (also a former Indian); it’s tough to determine what the Athletics may be asking for in return. Crisp’s numbers are down a bit from his career averages, but he still is hitting .265 with .315 on-base percentage and a .385 slugging mark; he’s also 4th in the American League in steals with 27. While it’s not exactly Beltran (.290 average, .387 OBP and .524 slugging) Crisp would likely come at a much cheaper cost. He also represents an improvement over Austin Kearns (.219 average, .320 OBP, and .320 slugging) and Travis Buck (.243 average, .282 OBP, and .364 slugging).
Another outfielder the Indians have supposedly expressed interest in is the Chicago Cubs’ Kosuke Fukudome. One scout supposedly spoke highly of Fukudome’s play this season; he’s hitting .270 with a .371 OBP and .358 slugging. The 34-year-old outfielder is making $14,500,000 this year, so you have to imagine that the Indians would ask for salary assistance. Supposedly, the Cubs are willing to eat a large portion of Alfonso Soriano’s remaining contract so it’s possible they’d consider doing the same for Fukudome.
And speaking of outfielders, there were some recent stories about Grady Sizemore and Shin-Soo Choo, but neither were exactly positive. Grady Sizemore had surgery for a hernia and will be out for 4-6 weeks. This caught me by surprise, as it has nothing to do with his knee (which was, you know, the reason he supposedly went on the DL). I’m a little afraid to see him come back this season; he could reach for a fly ball and his arm might come off. Seriously though, is there more to Sizemore’s injuries than we realize? Are they more severe, are there more things bothering him than just his knees, etc.? It’s kind of a mystery, but it’s sad to see all of these ailments racking up. There was news in regards to Choo, but had nothing to do with baseball; he pled guilty to his DUI from May 2 in Sheffield Lake. He was fined $755, had his license suspended for 180 days, and attended a 3-day driver’s intervention class; there will be no jail time. It still could be several weeks before Choo is healthy enough to return to the team.
So what are your thoughts on potential outfielders? Stay put with what you have or make a trade? If it’s trade, who would you like to see the Indians nab, and what prospects would you be willing to surrender?