Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What if Travis Hafner never returns?

Time to face some facts. The Indians designated hitter is past 30, and has always had injury problems. Even in his career year of 2006, when he hit .318 and had 42 homers, he only played 129 games.

The next season was a big, big disappointment. Hafner apologists will tell you he drove in 100 runs. But he was surrounded in the lineup by overachievers. He underachieved, only hitting 24 homers.

Then last season. If 2007 was a decline, 2008 was a Magnum 200-like drop. Hafner clearly wasn't the same player, probably due to injuries.

Or maybe not. After all, the Indians kept playing him for 57 games while he hit five homers, drove in 24 runs and batted .197.

What if Hafner regains his 2007 form? Most would probably take it. But not only is he on the hook for a huge salary, but he's just a DH. That means the Indians really can't deal him many places, because few teams need a DH, even fewer need one making well above $10 million a season.

For me, the most logical thing if Hafner can't return at all is to put Victor Martinez at DH, catch Kelly Shoppach and play Ryan Garko at first.

Somehow I imagine Eric Wedge's plan involves David Dellucci.



At 5:44 AM , Anonymous Jeff G said...

Okay, he denies it. Of course he would. No player would admit to steroid usage when confronted by the media.

But isn't the circumstantial evidence awfully incriminating?

Came up with the Rangers.
Power numbers decrease at same time as testing starts.
Dude is huge.
Injury issues.

Do you want to check for back-acne or should I?

I just hope that Shapiwedge doesn't wait too long for Hafner to find his swing, dealing with a DH hitting .214 with one 2b and seven RBI through May.

Maybe they should rename Pronkville as "K-Ville" for a while.

At 8:00 AM , Anonymous Erik said...

Maybe he roided. Maybe he didn't. Personally, I think shoulder and elbow problems in his lead swing arm caused the precipitous drop in production from Pronk.

The bad news is, those problems are chronic. If he's roiding and goes off the roids, his body should recover and his overall mass would decrease, like what happened with Pudge Rodriguez.

But the fact that the injuries are localized in his arm, his body mass is fairly steady and he hasn't recovered since (some assume) he stopped doping, it leads me to believe that his drop in production isn't related to roids or going off roids. His upper body just couldn't take the repetitive stress of hacking at a baseball dozens of times a day for eight months a year.

Again, maybe he did dope. But his loss of swing speed is likely more related to chronic problems with his right arm. The two aren't necessarily linked. Plenty of guys have roided without physically breaking down, and plenty of non-dopers have develop joint problems. Sometimes it's the body you're born with, too.


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