The Indians' offense seems to have turned a slight corner and isn’t the problem any more. The Indians tried to plug another hole in the offense, while sacrificing the second coming of Omar Vizquel.
The Indians optioned down Asdrubal Cabrera, who was hitting well below .200, and recalled Josh Barfield, who was with the Indians last season before hitting poorly and being benched for the 20-year old Cabrera who sparked the Indians at the season's end.
Cabrera has had a huge problem this season with hitting the ball, but he was not alone. The Indians need to find a consistent offensive threat, or at least people to get on base.
That is what makes bringing up Barfield an odd move. It was Barfield's low on-base percentage last season that led to his benching, and he hasn’t been much better in AAA Buffalo. In fact, his average this season in Buffalo is below .260 (he was a career .300 hitter in the minors before this season), so it wasn’t like Barfield was tearing up AAA pitching.
The Indians first said that if they are to fix their offensive issues, it has to come from within. That started by trading away Jason Michaels for basically a bag of baseballs. Michaels, by the way is hitting .300 with four extra-base hits as of last week since arriving with the Pirates.
It was said on Baseball Tonight a few weeks ago that the hitting coach in Pittsburgh adjusted his stance to be shorter and it worked. (A thing hitting coaches should to, their jobs: cough *Derek Shelton* cough.)
Move number two was Ben Francisco, or rather the corresponding move to moving Michaels. Francisco is hitting .342, but with no one else getting on base, it doesn’t help much. Shin-Soo Choo was brought up and is hitting .300 thus far, but he doesn’t provide a lot of pop.
With Westbrook being out and the Carmona not back yet, the Indians' offense needs to pick up the slack for them, as the pitching did all season so far, as best they could.
The Barfield move is questionable. His defense is good, but not like Cabrera. The Indians' internal stats for defense said that Cabrera saved more runs from scoring than he drove in, which kept him in the lineup as long as he stayed. But with the offensive woes, something had to be done, and he was overmatched at the plate every time. He needs to learn to re-adjust to the pitchers adjusting to him.
Barfield isn’t any better offensively, which is just strange to replace one poor a player for another. The Indians want to turn this around, and they refuse to give up at this point.
The Indians' bullpen, well, that’s another can of worms. Coming to the park everyday, Wedge doesn’t know what he will get from any of them. The Indians can’t count on Joe Borowski night in and night out, and that hurts the rest of them, as the Indians found out in 2006 when the closer's role didn’t set in and nobody knew their role. It throws everything out of whack.
The Indians seemed to have found some offense, without more ‘internal moves’, but the bullpen is like having a new window put in when you have a leaky roof. Yeah, bad metaphor, but the Indians' bullpen is that bad right now, nearly as bad as the offense was before the Texas series.