Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Indians have only one batter in their regular starting lineup batting better than .300 (Victor Martinez).

They have two batting less than .200 (Casey Blake, Asdrubal Cabrera), and three batting less than .230 (Travis Hafner, Jhonny Peralta, Franklin Gutierrez).

Fans have seen this type of thing ever since the team rebuilt in 2002. For some reason, no matter how potent the lineup appears at times, there will be a few periods during the season when the Indians go into a collective slump.

This is not 1995 anymore; the Indians can no longer afford an all-star at every position. I get that. But figuring out how the Indians have constantly managed to go hot and cold together for five years can be maddening.

Let's look at the five players in the lineup who are under-producing.

1. Blake- Everyone knows my feelings here. He's hot for a few weeks, gets on base, goes cold, gets warm, stays cold. For the first 19 games, the fifth-highest paid player on the Indians roster has been disappointing. But I'm confident he'll warm up to an acceptable level. The Indians know what they have in this guy; they paid him $6.1 million, but just for one year. I really believe Indians general manager Mark Shapiro will look for another option after this season, but until then, Blake is great, horrid, and lukewarm. Depends on the week.

2. Cabrera- Assuming Eric Wedge's fascination with Jamey Carroll wears off, Cabrera will get time to improve on his cold start. Josh Barfield is just waiting by the phone at this point, but I don't see the Indians demoting Cabrera unless he stays around .200 into mid-May.

3. Hafner- Are the days of his ridiculous production behind him? It's still April, but Hafner has not exactly inspired fear so far this year. He has one big hit (the homer in Anaheim) and a few good games, but the consistency which alluded him last year has followed him. The Hafner of 2006 was an MVP candidate. The Hafner since has been an overpaid pro wrestling fan.

4. Jhonny Peralta- You just never know. A few years ago I thought he may win a batting title. Now I am content if he can keep his average above .260. People scoff when I tell them the Indians should trade this guy. It's true Jhonny may realize the superstar potential in him somewhere else. But I'm beginning to doubt he'll ever find it here.

5. Gutierrez- He looks less and less like an everyday player every time I see him. He's out of options, so he's here for good unless the Indians deal him. A tremendous defender, to be sure, but is like so many others on this team -- he gets hot, then goes frigid and makes you wonder why he's out there.

Note: I leave Jason Michaels off because I think he's a lost cause. He will likely up the average, but he has failed every time the Indians have given him steady playing time. He's a National League bench player. That's it.



At 7:39 AM , Anonymous Erik said...

Gutierrez, for all of his struggling, did put together a nice at-bat in the ninth inning Sunday. He worked the count from 0-2 to 3-2 and nearly ripped a double down the line. Of course, the result of the at-bat was a soft liner to short, so no dice. But out of Gutz and A-Cab, what I'm looking for is solid at-bats. If they can not look lost at the plate, the hits will come.

Other than that, Hafner's lost his hitting eye (maybe he needs Lasik), former Lasik patient Peralta is a hacker, and will always be a hacker, Blake is a grinder who goes out and gives it 800 percent every time he takes the field, which precludes him from scrutiny of any type, and I agree that Michaels belongs in the NL, coming off the bench for double switches.


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