I was joking on Twitter the other night that I’m really tired of watching Aaron Cunningham hit. I said that I’d like to put him on an island somewhere, along with all of the other players that were annoying me. Ignore the fact that there may only be about 5 or 6 players left after everyone annoying is sent on an island adventure.
So the Indians have been whipping through players in left so far this season – Shelley Duncan, Aaron Cunningham, and now Johnny Damon all share time in the outfield for the Tribe. The options weren’t much better in spring training; Ryan Spilbourghs, Felix Pie and Fred Lewis all competed for a position, yet nobody was good enough to claim a roster spot. None of them are even with the organization anymore – Lewis and Pie were released, while Spilbourghs was sent to the Rangers minor league system for cash. Ezequiel Carrera and Trevor Crowe are both at Triple-A, but Crowe isn’t even on the 40-man roster anymore, plus he’s currently on the 7-day DL with an oblique strain.
So what to do about the lackluster outfield performance? Just keep platooning those three outfielders and hope that their performance improves? With Damon, there is a distinct possibility that he settles in and does better; Duncan seems to be a very streaky player and I’m afraid that Cunningham has probably already reached his peak.
My solution: just bring Kenny Lofton out of retirement to play left field.
I’m mostly joking about this…but at this point, why the heck not? Andy Pettitte came out of retirement to pitch for the Yankees this season when they really needed starters. So what if Lofton turns 45 at the end of the month? He’s probably in better shape than me and looks younger, despite the fact that I’m 10+ years his junior. In his final season (2007) split between the Indians and Texas he hit .296/.367/.414 with 7 home runs and 23 stolen bases. He was in camp as an instructor this spring with the Indians, so he knows the team and still gets out on the field from time to time.
To my knowledge, Lofton would be the first player inducted into the Indians Hall of Fame to come back as an active player. I still remember the day he was inducted in 2010 – after he pulled the cloth off his plaque, he entered through the outfield wall and walked slowly toward the infield. It was like he was walking in from center for one last time; it seriously brought tears to my eyes. So just imagine him running back out to left field on a regular basis; it would be a pretty awesome sight.
A moment to put everything in perspective – I’ve just proposed bringing a 45-year old outfielder that hasn’t played in five years out of retirement to play the outfield for the Indians. If nothing else, this should tell you what I think of the Tribe’s current outfield options.
If he doesn’t come back to play, I at least I propose a Kenny Lofton statue. They should put it in the outfield right up against the outfield wall…who cares if it creates an obstacle. If Houston can have a hill in the middle of the outfield at Minute Maid Park, the Indians can have a bronze Kenny Lofton glued to the center field wall!