Monday, January 05, 2009

The Indians grinder system
When the Indians allowed Casey Blake to sign with Los Angeles last month, it appeared they were heading in a different direction.

With Blake out, it seemed the Indians had finally decided to move the human statue, Jhonny Peralta, to third base, and allow Asdrubal Cabrera to play his natural position of shortstop.

Maybe the Indians would hand Josh Barfield a glove and say, "You're our second baseman, play like it."

I'm not saying this would work, but it would it would improve the defense and allow the Indians some wiggle-room should they be contending in July.

Then, just before the new year, the Indians went back to the Grinder plan.

They traded three minor leaguers to the Cubs for Mark DeRosa, a decent player who is coming off a career year.

The deal makes DeRosa the team's regular third baseman, despite the fact he played only 10 games there last year.

It also means Peralta will continue to turn routine plays into better than good ones, better than good ones into errors, and errors into base hits at short.

DeRosa is very much like Blake. He can play anywhere, hits for a decent average and has some power. But he's also 34 next month and coming off a year that was stronger than every other one in his career.

DeRosa hit 21 homers and drove in 87 runs for the Cubs last season. Before that, he had never hit more than 13 homers in a year, never driven in more than 74 runs. Before 2006, DeRosa was barely more than a bench player.

And, this is the last year of his contract.

As an Indians fan, I'm willing to say I have seen enough of Peralta at short. If the Indians want to use DeRosa in the outfield or somewhere other than third, fine.

But Peralta has been the shortstop since 2005, and has played it below average.

It's time for a new plan. Everyone the Indians come up with seems to involve a "grinder" in his mid-30s.



At 2:01 PM , Anonymous Erik said...

I like DeRosa as a one-year rental at 2B. As a 3B, not so much.

My feeling is that Peralta will ultimately end up at 3B and Cabrera will ultimately go to short. But in true Wedgiro fashion, it will be a long, drawn-out process in which all other avenues are proven to be dead ends.

Instead of making a nice, clean transition in spring training, my guess is that the Peralta/Cabrera shift will occur in July or August, probably as the result of injuries or DeRosa hitting .225.

Peralta will bear the brunt of the sloppy transition as he commits error after error at 3B, struggles at the plate as a consequence, and gets shredded by the fans and media.


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