Cleveland Indians Should Shake Up Roster to End 2012 Season
The Cleveland Indians have went from great to good to unwatchable over the last few months. Recently, they punctuated this theory by getting swept by the then-last place Minnesota Twins and currently have dropped two of three to the lowly Kansas City Royals.
The wheels are falling off, and it is not pretty. Hitters can’t hit and pitchers can’t pitch. Add this to a lack of urgency from manager Manny Acta and GM Chris Antonetti, and we have the makings for a disastrous end of the 2012 season.
There is dead weight all over the roster. It is time to cut the ties with those players and let some of the youth currently in the minors get a chance.
I think we can all agree it can’t get much worse than what the current roster has given us.
Release Johnny Damon
Johnny Damon has been underwhelming—to put it nicely—for the Indians in left field so far this year. Looking back at his signing and thinking this was Antonetti’s move to help solidify left field is laughable. Damon has potentially the worst arm in all of baseball and has been hitting under .230 for most of the season, and currently sits at .222. When he comes to the plate I automatically count it as an out and hope for the opposite.
Thanks to Damon and the platoon with Shelly Duncan, left field has been by far one of the worst positions for this team. With Damon's age and inability to perform, it is time for him to go and allow someone with future promise to get some playing time.
Call Up Russ Canzler
The Indians have been anemic in left field so far this season. As stated previously, Johnny Damon has been horrendous—and as much as I love the Dunc Tank, Shelly Duncan should be nothing more than a power bat off the bench. I am not sure what the front office has been waiting for all season as far as production from that spot, but it is not fixing itself.
Third base has been another issue for the tribe, as the duo of Jack Hannahan and Jose Lopez has not been effective. Hannahan is a fantastic fielder and should be a defensive replacement late in games. I understand that Lonnie Chisenhall was expected to fill that position, but due to lack of production and ultimately a season-ending injury, Chisenhall's 2012 season was a flop.
Basically, this lineup needs a right-handed bat with some power, desperately bad. The good news for the Indians is they have someone in AAA who could potentially fix two out of three of these problems, depending on what position they choose to play him at.
Russ Canzler has been intriguing to me since being bought from the Rays back in February. After some struggles, it seems as though Canzler has put it together. His average is not eye popping at .268, but his 16 home runs so far this year have been pretty impressive.
Another of his stats that I like in particular is his .305 average with runners on base. This is an area in which the Indians have struggled dearly all season, and he could provide a spark in that department.
Canzler deserves major league time this season, and ironically this team needs everything he has to offer. The front office needs to make this move sooner rather than later.
Call Up Lars Anderson
Not long ago, Anderson was considered one of the Red Sox's top prospects, and was included in almost every big trade rumor the Sox were involved in. Well Anderson is no longer the hot commodity he was, and he was finally traded—for much less than what he could have been a few years ago. This could be a good thing for the Indians.
Lars is a player with a ton of potential who was buried in the Red Sox organization. Now, I can’t speak for everyone, but I know personally when the incentive to move up or be promoted is known to be non-existent, it takes away the incentive to play at a high level.
I feel like this is what happened to Anderson. He was constantly in trade rumors, and with Adrian Gonzalez manning first and Crawford being acquired for left, he knew he had no real chance to move up full time.
Anderson is 24 years old, soon to be 25, coming in at 6' 4" and 215lbs. He has the ability to play first base and left field. Now, with the Indians, he has the possibility of playing at a high level, at first base or left field.
Casey Kotchman currently mans first, but has been underwhelming offensively this season—and the Indians need a long term fixture at the position. I feel like once rosters expand, this guy should be called up and either be getting time in left field, first base or seeing a lot of at-bats via the DH spot.
The more big league pitches this guy can see this year, the better it is for next season. The Indians may have quietly made a great move here.
Moves That Have Already Been Made
Josh Tomlin has been awful this year. He has shown no signs of improvement and has finally been moved to the bullpen as a long inning/mop up arm. This move has been long overdue and will allow the Indians to check out some of the arms they have ready in the minors.
To take Tomlin’s spot in the rotation, the Indians have called up Corey Kluber, who will be making his first start tonight for the Tribe vs Kansas City. Kluber has put up outstanding numbers—pitching 125 innings, getting 128 strikeouts with a minimal 49 walks and posting an ERA of 3.59.
Also, his ability to average about six innings per start is something this team desperately needs. If he can go a strong six innings each start for us, it will allow the pen to have a lightened load down the stretch.
Derek Lowe has been DFA'd by the Indians after a very up and down 2012 campaign for the team. The Tribe acquired Lowe from the Braves and were only paying 5 million of the 15 million dollars left on his contract.
Lowe started out this season hot, but has fizzled out over the last few months and shown that he is approaching the final period of his great career. I would like to thank Derek for being a great person, and—from what I have heard—a great teammate this year in Cleveland.
As a side note, the Indians should strongly consider bringing up either David Huff or Jeanmar Gomez. Huff would give the Tribe a needed left-handed starter and Gomez has been pitching fantastically since being sent down to AAA earlier this season with an era of 3.54.
Where the Indians Will Sit at the End of This Season
The end of this season—if the infusion of youth takes place that should—will give fans, the front office, and the owners an idea of where this team is headed for next season. This is extremely important, because I feel the Indians have a one year window to capitalize before multiple bad things happen.
First, if they are unable to put anything together next year the already-unsettled fan base may very well be completely alienated from the team. With football season fast approaching, many fans have already jumped ship, and if this same thing happens next year it will be at an even greater level.
Second, I feel like the ownership is giving this current front office one more season before making a change. Antonetti and Shapiro have proved to be very stagnant management. This trade deadline being so quiet leads to beg the question, why trade for Ubaldo last year if you are just going to duct tape the rest of the problems with this team?
Only time will tell—and if Shaponetti like their positions, they better hope for a better year next season.
If the Indians' youth can step up and prove relevant, then I feel like this team is in much better shape for next season. However, if they don’t, then this could be a very tumultuous offseason; as there really aren’t a whole lot of free agents out there who we could add at the value that the ownership looks for.
What if this team had made a move to stay in the race? What if we had owners that were willing to spend money? What if every single season, Tribe fans didn’t have to keep thinking about the past glory instead of looking forward to the current team becoming contenders? What if every year we didn’t have to say “ There is always next year?”