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.