Cleveland Indians: 10 Players That Won't Help The Indians Win The World Series
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As sportswriter Bill Simmons would put it, the Indians are in life or death territory, as in whenever an Indians fan dies, you count back to see if they got to be alive during the last World Series win. Since that last win came in 1948, there are far too many Indians fans dying before they get a chance to see their team on top.
With that in mind, the Cleveland Indians need to be doing everything possible to win the World Series. Rebuilding is a necessary part of this, but the current Indians roster is littered with players that aren't going to help the Indians get back on top.
Only Chicago Cubs fans have suffered longer than Indians fans. To prevent this suffering from going on any longer, the Indians need to go into this rebuilding process 100 percent, make some bold moves and get the fans what they want, a World Series.
Note: Projections for players came from Baseball-Reference.com's similarity scores. Similarity scores compare a player's statistics to all other MLB players from all time, allowing us to see what they will likely become. This is not an exact science, but it is a projection. Just because a player is not projected to do well does not mean they can't defy the projection, though it is unlikely. This list is based off of these assumptions, which could be wrong, but likely are right.
even healthy, it is unlikely that Grady Sizemore will help the Indians win a World Series
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Grady Sizemore is only 28, but after the last two years, he seems much older. The injuries he has battled in these past two years have cost him over a season's worth of games and threaten to derail his career.
Sizemore should be back healthy for 2011, but that only helps the Indians so much. The Indians are aiming to be competing by 2012 or 2013, and it is unlikely that Sizemore fits into those plans very well.
The Grady Sizemore situation has become a catch-22 for the Tribe. If he does not bounce back well from the microfracture surgery he had on his knee, then the Indians are on the hook for $16 million between 2011 and 2012, far above what a rebuilding team would like to pay.
If Sizemore is back to his All-Star form from 2008, it could make sense for the Indians to trade Sizemore and keep gaining prospects. Sizemore will be a free agent after the 2012 season, probably a season before the Indians are ready to compete again. Either way, healthy or not, Grady Sizemore will not help the Indians win the World Series.
Even though he is still productive, Travis Hafner will not help the Indians win the World Series
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Contrary to public opinion, Travis Hafner is still a productive player. Though he is not playing as well as he did from 2004-2006, in 2009, Hafner achieved an OPS+ of 120 and an on-base percentage of .355. In 2010, Hafner improved again, boasting an OPS+ of 131 and an on-base percentage of .374.
While Hafner is still productive, he's suffering from a power outage. In 2006, he led the league with a .659 slugging percentage. Since then, Hafner only has only slugged .438, making him far from worth $39 million over the next three years (2013 is a team option with a $2.75 million buyout).
As with Sizemore, Hafner is making far too much money for far too little production for the rebuilding Indians. Plus, Hafner will turn 34 in June, making him a horrible fit in the Indians' youth movement. Another team could find him useful though. Since his on-base percentage remains high, he can still help a competing, high payroll team as a part-time DH and pinch hitter.
While a trade of Hafner would serve mostly as a salary dump, the Indians would be able to accomplish two things. First, they would be able to save some money in the present to spend on a contender down the road. Second, they would surely get at least one prospect back in a trade, helping the Tribe out in the future.
While it would be nice to think that Travis Hafner can regain the elite form he showed from 2004-2006, that is probably a pipe dream. A much more certain thought is that Travis Hafner will not help the Indians win the World Series.
Despite his stellar 2007 season, Fausto Carmona will not help the Indians win the World Series
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In 2007, Fausto Carmona finished fourth in the Cy Young Award voting and seemed primed to lead the Indians for years to come. Sadly, Carmona has struggled with consistency since. Fans and management have been holding out hope that Carmona will regain the ace form he had in 2007, but it is time to move on from that thought.
Carmona's first five seasons project him more in the vein of Jason Schmidt and Gavin Floyd, not CC Sabathia or Cliff Lee. Odds are that Carmona will top out as a number two or three starter. For those still holding on to 2007 and the thought that Carmona can become an ace, it is time to move on.
Despite his early struggles, CC Sabathia's ERA+ never dropped below 100, the league average. Fausto Carmona's on the other hand, has three out of his first five seasons. Starting pitching is always in demand, so the Indians should sell Carmona high coming off of an All-Star season to a pitching desperate team. A desperate team should give the Tribe at least two decent prospects in return for Carmona.
With a contract calling for $6.1 million in 2011, $7 million in 2012, $9 million in 2013 and $12 million in 2014, Fausto Carmona will soon be paid like an ace. Since he probably won't become one, the Indians need to get that salary off of their books. If he were an ace, Fausto Carmona could help the Indians win their first World Series since 1948. Since he's not, he won't.
Jayson Nix is not the sort of player that will lead the Indians to the World Series
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Jayson Nix made a huge impression with the Indians after he was acquired from the Chicago White Sox. Unfortunately, this "breakout" was more than likely just a flash in the pan.
Nix is being considered for the third base job because the Indians like his bat. Nix is far from an adequate defensive third baseman, so his bat needs to more than make up for his bad defense. With this, what the Indians are thinking is anyone's guess.
The ability to control the strike zone is the biggest indicator of success. The ability to control the strike zone is measured by strikeout-to-walk ratio and on-base percentage. Nix fails miserably in both categories.
Last year, during his "breakout" with the Tribe, Jayson Nix struck out 75 times and had only 13 walks. In addition to that, Nix's on-base percentage was only .283. While his slugging percentage gave him an adequate OPS, the low ability to control the strike zone predicts a major crash this year.
Jayson Nix will not help the Indians win any games in 2010, let alone down the road when they are ready to compete again. The Indians are fooling themselves if they think he will help them win the World Series and might as well see if someone else can help them as opposed to wasting more time with Jayson Nix.
Like Jayson Nix, Luis Valbuena will not lead the Indians to the World Series
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Like Jayson Nix, Luis Valbuena is not the answer at third base. After his first three major league seasons, Valbuena only has an OPS+ of 74 and an on-base percentage of .289. These stats do not project well for a major league career.
The biggest nail in the coffin for Valbuena's big league credentials was his 2009 campaign. In this season, Valbuena boasted an OPS+ of 90, slightly below average, and had a WAR (wins above replacement) of 1.2 on offense. His defense, however, cost the Indians 1.2 WAR, leaving Valbuena's total WAR at zero.
Since in his best season, Valbuena literally was not worth any more wins than an average replacement, it can be said that he IS the average replacement. Seeing as average players are a dime a dozen, there is no reason to believe that Luis Valbuena will help the Indians win a World Series.
Despite the Indians bringing him back for 2011, Austin Kearns will not help the Indians win the World Series
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After trading Austin Kearns to the Yankees at the trading deadline for the fifth best prospect in the Yankees farm system Zach McAllister, the Indians brought Kearns back for 2011. No matter how cool gaining a good prospect for only losing two months of Austin Kearns is, Kearns is another player that won't help the Indians win the World Series.
Though Austin Kearns is a decent player, he is not what the Indians need at this point in time. For his nine year career, Kearns has an OPS+ of 104, just over league average. Kearns also has 15.6 WAR (wins above replacement), a good number, but again, not great.
Since he will be 31 in May, Kearns is not the sort of player that will help the Indians compete down the road. The Indians would be better served seeing what Michael Brantley and AAA outfielders Nick Weglarz, Ezequiel Carrera, Jerad Head and Matt McBride can offer. These players could be around for the Indians winning the World Series, but Austin Kearns will not.
Shelley Duncan, like Austin Kearns, is not the future of the Indians
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Shelley Duncan is in the same boat as Austin Kearns in terms of age. Duncan will be 31 on Opening Day and really does not fit into the Indians youth movement. While Duncan is mildly productive, he is not going to help the Indians get to the promise land.
While Duncan is 31, he only has 422 plate appearances at the major league level. In those plate appearances, Duncan has only registered an OPS+ of 96 and a .306 on-base percentage. Duncan has decent pop in his bat, but with a low on-base percentage, he is unlikely to be useful as he ages.
Shelley Duncan obviously does not fit into the Indians in the long-term. With this, it makes no sense to give him at bats in 2011. The Tribe needs to find out what their outfield prospects can handle, because they are the future. Shelley Duncan is not the future and won't help the Indians win the World Series.
Trevor Crowe may not be old, but he won't win the Indians the World Series
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Another outfielder like Grady Sizemore, Austin Kearns and Shelley Duncan, Trevor Crowe won't help the Indians win the World Series. Crowe is only 27, but he seems to have already reached his highest point.
Offensively, Crowe has been nothing special in his first two major league seasons. With a .295 on-base percentage, a 74 OPS+, and 112 strikeouts to only 40 walks, Crowe has not shown the ability to control the strike zone at the major league level. He may be an effective defensive outfielder, but he is far from being a starter.
Trevor Crowe is the consummate fourth outfielder, great defense with no offense, which makes him useless long-term to the Indians. As they proved with the Austin Kearns and Shelley Duncan signings, fourth outfielders are easy to find cheap. The Indians would be better off not wasting any more time with Crowe and moving on to players who might actually win them a World Series.
Despite early promise, David Huff won't help the Indians win the World Series
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After he led the Indians with 11 wins in 2009, the next logical step for David Huff seemed to be establishing himself as a mainstay in the big league rotation. Instead, Huff went 2-11 in 2010 and was banished back to AAA.
Looking closer, Huff never had a chance to succeed. With only 1.36 strikeouts per walk, an ERA+ of just 70, and a shockingly high 1.611 WHIP, the 11 wins in 2009 were more luck than skill.
In addition to those poor stats, Huff's WAR in his 2009 "breakout" season was -0.6. After 2010, Huff literally has cost the Indians 2.2 wins above a replacement level player in his brief career.
While there will be rotation spots up for grabs in the spring, the Indians will be much better off not giving one of them to David Huff. He is not one of the pitchers that will lead the Indians to a World Series.
While it is early, things do not look great for Matt LaPorta's career
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Putting Matt LaPorta on this list may seem like a stretch, but there are serious concerns about LaPorta's long-term viability for the Tribe. He may only be 25, but his first 162 games with the Indians have been far from impressive.
LaPorta at this point in his career only has an OPS+ of 91, an on-base percentage of .307 and a WAR of 0.4. His OPS+ and on-base percentage point to a player overwhelmed at the major league level, and the WAR is indicative of a reserve level player.
Since he was the key prospect in the CC Sabathia trade, much is expected out of Matt LaPorta. At this point, he is not projected to do very well, and thus not help the Indians win the World Series. He could be a late bloomer, but players typically are what they are by this level. The Indians obviously hope differently, but it is likely that Matt LaPorta won't help them win the World Series.