I know, I know…it’s probably a little early to hit the panic button.  The Indians were obviously going to have a slump at some point, a period where nothing seemed to go right.  It’s not all bad; the bullpen has looked solid, even during some of the more disastrous games.  This past weekend, two surrendered home runs spelled doom for both Fausto Carmona and Mitch Talbot (outside of those home runs, Talbot pitched a great game against a tough lineup).  The offense has been dreadful, and the Tribe has looked sloppy in the field.

            When Drew Butera (and his .150 average) was safe on that bunt single in the top of the 5th, I almost threw something at the television.  I was screaming “Throw to first!  Throw to first!” but Matt LaPorta didn’t listen; he threw home.  Luke Hughes scored anyway, and they didn’t get a much needed out.  If LaPorta had taken the sure out at first, Alexi Casilla’s double play would’ve ended the inning, saving two runs.  LaPorta makes some nice plays at first, but he also makes a number of bone-headed ones (I’m still thinking about that time in Tampa Bay where he and Chris Perez stood dumbfounded at first as Rays rounded the bases).  Come to think of it, there have been a number of plays this season where I’ve screamed at the television or the players on the field (I know, they’ll never hear me), trying to will them to make the correct play.  It’s like watching a bunch of 5 and 6 year old stumble around the field during a T-ball game; none of them really know what they’re doing, and everyone just starts screaming “Throw to first!  No!  To first!” (Or something similar).  Even during the triple play against the White Sox early this season, you found yourself yelling “No!  Throw the ball…THROW THE BALL!” 

            So anyway, the point of this post was to talk about the need for drastic measures.  What are your thoughts on that?  If you were the general manager, would you make changes right now?  If so, what would you do?

            I think I would opt for dramatic changes, at least as far as the offense is concerned.  At the very minimum, I would start benching underperformers (I’m looking at you, Shin-Soo Choo, Grady Sizemore and Carlos Santana) and would rework the lineup.  Manny Acta has tried this though, and it didn’t seem to do much good.  My next move would be to start designating people for assignment, or sending players with options back to the minors.  Travis Buck has been respectable (except for that at-bat in the 9th inning on Saturday), but he has options left; I’d send him to Columbus.  These next moves I feel kind of bad about, but it’s not like they’re actually going to take place anyway.  I’d release Austin Kearns and Adam Everett; I like their veteran presence, but at this point I’m starting to feel like they’re wasting a roster spot since they’re not adding anything to the lineup.  The reason the Indians probably haven’t made moves like this (and why they probably won’t in the near future) is that there are issues with potential replacements.  For example, I’d really like to see Jason Donald get a shot; he was supposed to make the team out of Spring Training, but suffered a tough-luck injury prior to the season.  At the moment, Donald is on the 7-day DL in Columbus.  Obviously, I’d like to see Lonnie Chisenhall and Jason Kipnis in Cleveland at some point this season, but is it too soon?  If you bring both of them up to the majors and they struggle, then what?  Do you keep them in the lineup, even though they’re underperforming?  Do you send them back to Columbus? 

            There may not be an easy answer to solve this problem.  One thing is certain – the current roster needs to put together better at-bats, and try to find their rhythm.


  • Seattle Stu says:

    I dont think drastic measures are required….but i would lobby for –
    * benching santana or coaching him up….he’s taking a lot more pitches (good) but has really poor judgement when it comes to knowing what to swing at (bad)….last night he had closer on ropes at 2-0 with men on and he swung at ball 3 in the dirt….then got ball 3 (4) one pitch later.
    * move grady back to lead-off…he’s clearly not comfortable in middle of order…btw did u see how tentative he was on that fly ball that dropped in…clearly worried about his knees…which worries me.
    * ripping LaPorta a new one for his slide in defense recently, and more importantly (as you point out) his utter cluelessness in the heat of battle….the phrase deer in headlights was made for this guy…what was that garo yepremian double clutch ball into the dirt last night?
    * more broadly i’d like to see acta calling these guys out / holding them accountable for the base running blunders and defensive lapses….i dont see it publicly, maybe he’s handling in clubhouse
    * cut shelley duncan now….very poor selection at the plate…high K%….looks awful on some of these swings….the yankees got rid of him because he’s not a yankee hitter (selective) & he’s a liability on defense…..let’s move forward if we’re serious about contending….same for travis buck.
    * at some level we have to realize this is not a very powerful / productive lineup on paper, and they are reverting to the mean…look at lifetime BA’s of these guys.

  • Norm says:

    While most people feel that Chisenhall is the third baseman of the future, I would be more than willing to send him to Seattle if they are willing to deal Felix Hernandez. The one thing we are missing most is a top of the rotation starter and you don’t just stumble upon them every day.

  • ben says:

    I like the idea of bringing up some position players, but I would honestly start thinking about how to upgrade the mound. I know White is coming back, and some of the other rotation players have taken it on the chin just recently, but I really get the feeling like starting pitching will take its toll over the next month or two. Aside from spending some dough, I really don’t know how to get that improved quickly…

  • Ed C says:

    @ Norm: I’d be more than willing to send the Chiz to Seattle for King Felix as well (and I’m fairly certain anyone associated with the Indians would make that deal in a heartbeat). However, that’s simply not going to happen; you said so yourself: you don’t just stumble upon them every day, and there’s no way in hell the Mariners would ever trade Hernandez straight up for Lonnie. (BTW, the Indians kinda HAVE stumbled upon a top-of-the-rotation starter… he wears #63)

    As for this actual post, if the Indians are serious about contending THIS year, then yes, it’s time to hit the panic button and drastic measures need to be taken.

    Regardless of what the Indians decide to do about this year, Orlando Cabrera needs to be removed from the starting lineup, and placed in the utility infielder’s spot. Time to call up Cord Phelps of Jason Kipinis. That was the plan all along, and it shouldn’t change just because the team is in first place. I know, I know, the OC is a great veteran presence, has experience, yada yada yada. I don’t care. He’s killing this team, and the idea that this team can contend with him hitting second is pathetic.

    The Indians are in an unusual position if they decided to trade for a player, as they are a small-market team that is extremely young, and either has guys they believe in and are young (as in, guys they think can be impact major leaguers, such as a Matt LaPorta or a Michael Brantley), guys who can produce, if healthy, and are probably overpaid (Travis Hafner and Grady Sizemore are slumping in their chairs somewhere…) or stop gap players keeping the seat warm for big time prospects (Jack Hannahan and Orlando Cabrera, for Lonnie Chisenhall and Jason Kipinis/Cord Phelps, respectively), that player has to be a) cheap, and under team control for a few years or b) really good, and a total rental, as to not block the prospects. It makes no sense to abort the rebuilding process and go for it all because of two good months. Realistically, if the Tribe decides to be buyers at the deadline, their best bet is just to acquire pitching (especially starting pitching, as we’re seeing lately).


    There is one position that is now a huge question mark. Once the Indians’ best player, he’s in a horrific slump, has probably plateaued in terms of production, and is due for a a raise no matter how he performs.

    The Indians should seriously consider trading Shin-Soo Choo this trade season, if they want a shot to make the playoffs. It’s not really “selling low” anyways, his trade value is probably greater than before due to his military service requirement being lifted. But he’s probably not going to get much better than he was last year, he’s gonna get REALLY expensive, and he, packaged with a spare prospect or two (Maybe someone like a Jared Goedert, or Zach McAllister, or whoever loses the 2B battle between Phelps and Kipinis), could bring in a pretty sweet haul, especially to a desperate team.

    And can anyone tell me why Austin Kearns still has a job??? I could have a .292 OBP, and you wouldn’t have to hear country music when I came to the plate either…

  • Stephanie Liscio says:

    @Seattle Stu…I agree about moving Sizemore back to leadoff…he does look tentative out there. I especially thought so on Demon Young’s double tonight. Shelley Duncan is also a good point – unfortunately I think he’s the prototypical AAAA player. They probably have been over performing…hopefully they can find a mix that works better than the past few games.

    @Norm, I’d agree, but I think that Ed C is right – there’s no way they’d go for Chisenhall straight up. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could find a way to hypnotize Jack Zduriencik and convince him that Shelley Duncan, Adam Everett and Austin Kearns for Felix Hernandez would be an awesome deal? (I can dream, I guess!)

    @ben, you’re right – they could really use a solid veteran starter. Maybe something will present itself in the next month or so? Not even someone necessarily spectacular, just a solid innings eater would be nice. Jeanmar Gomez has looked sharp at Columbus since he went down, but I’m not sure he’s the answer

    @Ed C – Orlando Cabrera would be good as a utility infielder at this point. What I like the most about him is his personality and veteran presence – he can do that from the bench. It probably is good to go for starting pitching though, and just hope Hafner comes back and performs well. I need to check the exact figures, but I saw that the Indians really seem to struggle without Hafner in the lineup this year. Your proposal with Choo may not be a bad idea. Anyone that thinks he’ll stay in Cleveland after his contract is up, with Scott Boras as his agent, is way more positive/optimistic than I am. As far as I’m concerned, he’s good as gone at that point anyway.

    And I completely agree about Austin Kearns. He seems like a lovely person, but at this point he’s a waste of a roster spot. (And I would also enjoy not hearing the country music!)

  • ecp says:

    C’mon, really? Chisenhall for King Felix? I’m sure the Mariners would fall all over themselves to jump on that, because Chisenhall is, after all, an excellent proven major leaguer…oh wait…

    The Mariners have an above-.500 record and are in second place in the AL West, which is an awful divison. They are not trading Felix. Let’s be smart, OK?