I really like this Drew Stubbs guy.
I know, I know, he strikes out a lot (615 times in 510 career games, including a career-high 205 in 2011), and yes, it’s true he doesn’t hit for very much of an average or get on base particularly well (Stubbs is a career .241/.312/.385 hitter). I admit that he can be frustrating to watch at the plate, as he has a tendency to strike out or pop up when he should be trying to advance the runner. I do not challenge any of these glaring negatives about Drew Stubbs’ game, and yet, I find myself really rooting for the scrawny speedster.
Let me tell you why.
In baseball, we refer to a talented player as a multi-tool threat, someone who can do multiple things well, be it hitting for average, hitting for power, fielding, running, or throwing. Most of the time, players who possess multiple elite skills on the diamond project as above-average hitters, but Drew Stubbs is the exception to this rule. Outside of his hitting, he has elite speed and plays an above-average center field (or right field, when Michael Bourn comes back). He also has the ability to hit for power every once in a while and should be good for 15-20 home runs over the course of a season.
The player that I like to compare Stubbs to in order to illustrate his value is Jack Hannahan. Jack is a career journeyman who flashed some impressive leather during his time in Cleveland and put together two respectable seasons as our full time 3B, but like Stubbs he was a very unreliable hitter. Sure, Hannahan made more contact than Stubbs, but his primary value was in his glove. Both players are plus-fielders, but Stubbs possesses more power and oodles more speed. The upgrade to the 9th slot in the Indians batting order is enormous.
Instead of focusing on what Drew Stubbs does well, accept his limitations as a hitter and know that the rest of this lineup (especially when healthy) can carry the slack. If appropriate expectations are placed on Stubbs (hoping for a batting average at or above .250 might be a little ambitious, but the power should be there) then he becomes less frustrating to watch, and you can really gain an appreciation for the positive skills that he brings to this ballclub.
Of course, it’s really easy to look past the blemishes in Stubbs’ game when he has the kind of game that he had tonight. Stubbs had 4 hits, and drove in the game-winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning on his third double of the night. Stubbs also flashed his speed and good base running ability on Jason Kipnis’ triple in the bottom of the 3rd inning. Stubbs won’t often be the offensive centerpiece that propels the Indians forward to victory, but tonight the team needed every last hit from the skinny center fielder. It was the Indians 5th win in a row, though the team remained 3 games back of division-leading Detroit, who came back against Houston Astros closer Jose Veras to steal a win on the road.
Bullpen Confusion… Do we have a controversy brewing?
I’ll admit: I have no idea what Terry Francona was doing in the top of the 7th inning.
With Justin Masterson struggling with his command all night, Francona gave his ace the hook with 2 outs in the 7th, a runner on first and a one-run lead. Joe Smith time, right? WRONG. Francona went with RHP Cody Allen (who has been dominant lately) instead of Joe Smith to face the left-handed hitting Chris Parmelee, who promptly took a hanging curveball into the seats in right to give Minnesota the lead.
I guess I could understand bringing in a left-hander like Rich Hill to face Parmelee, but the decision to go with Allen was simply mystifying. For the past two seasons Joe Smith has carved out the role of 7th-inning set up man, so it was jarring not to see him out there with the game on the line. Normally I would advocate against second-guessing based on results, but this was a move that didn’t make sense from the minute it was made. Even if Parmelee struck out on three pitches, I would be sitting here writing about how big of a mistake it was. Joe Smith has been excellent in his clearly-defined role in the 7th inning and to take that job away from him and give it to Cody Allen doesn’t make sense on any level.
Unless, of course, Smith is nursing some sort of injury. This looks doubtful as of this moment as Smith was seen loosening in the pen during the 9th inning after the Indians tied up the score the previous inning. (UPDATE: Francona reportedly went with Allen because he was afraid of facing Willingham. I don’t quite understand this logic, as I’d still rather have Smith face Willingham in a RH/RH matchup than Allen facing the lefty in Parmelee.) I hope this isn’t something that engenders bad vibes among members of the bullpen mafia, as this team definitely needs its relievers to be on their game if they are going to contend.
We will have to see how this all plays out over the next couple games. Hopefully it was a one-time thing, and Francona and Smith will talk it out if there are any lingering bad feelings from the snub.
In any case, the Indians pulled out the win to get back to .500 (13-13) in front of 20,000 fans on another beautiful night in Northeast Ohio. Get out and see this team, folks, it’s starting to get fun.
Minnesota Twins (12-13) at Cleveland Indians (13-13)
First Pitch: 1:05 p.m. (Day Game Alert!)
RHP Kevin Correia (3-1, 2.23) vs. LHP Scott Kazmir (0-1, 8.64)
Tomorrow is also May 4th, so expect a plethora of Star Wars references throughout the day.
Until then, #RollTribe
Follow Adam on Twitter (@palagoon) for updates and semi-hilarious snarky comments during most Indians games!