Cleveland Indians: Nick Johnson Could Help the Tribe Stop Their June Swoon

Jim PiascikCorrespondent IOctober 16, 2016

NEW YORK - APRIL 13:  Nick Johnson #26 of the New York Yankees runs the bases on a solo home run in the bottom of the firts inning against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the Yankees home opener at Yankee Stadium on April 13, 2010 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

There's no doubt anymore that the Indians are suffering from a June swoon.

There's nothing like a 2-9 record to destroy the momentum and division lead the Tribe built up in the first two months of the season.

One thing is clear: The Indians need to make some changes in order to keep competing. 

I've already outlined 10 changes I think the Tribe should make and how acquiring Dan Haren would give the Tribe the ace they so desperately need.

Unfortunately, only one-half of my 10 suggestions has been adopted (promoting Cord Phelps) and I don't think the Tribe is going to make a real attempt at Haren.

Yet, the team's still losing, so I'll go ahead and give one more suggestion for the Tribe.

How about promoting Nick Johnson up to Cleveland?

Sure, the Indians are allowing six runs per game in June, but I've already offered solutions to that problem. Now, I'm trying to fix the fact that we're only scoring 3.1 runs a game and Nick Johnson could be a huge part of the solution.

The way the front office built this team was to be strong defensively. They figured that the offense would come later. Sheldon Ocker from the Akron Beacon Journal put it best when he wrote:

"Guys who made the team for their defense, players who were supposed to sit on the bench, have become semi-regulars (or regulars, in the case of Hannahan). Nobody can blame them for being the players everyone thought they were." (from

The problem for the Tribe now is those defensive studs just can't hit consistently for a full season. At the start of the year, players like Orlando Cabrera and Jack Hannahan were enjoying career renaissances at the plate.

This fed our fast start. Now that the long season is reclaiming them as the below-average hitters they are, the Indians are starting to fade. 

Since you only get 27 outs to play with, on-base percentage—or literally how effectively you used your outs—is a critical stat. The major league average is .320, with the Indians just slightly above it at .323.

This isn't bad, but if the Tribe started using their outs more effectively, maybe they could score more runs and stop this skid.

With Travis Hafner out, Travis Buck and Austin Kearns are currently the two best options to DH. With on-base percentages of .307 and .292, these two are far from ideal.

Both of them are wasting outs at a dangerous rate, aiding the Tribe's descent into mediocrity.

By simply calling up Nick Johnson and demoting Travis Buck, the Indians would be able to have a player with a .401 career on-base percentage in their DH spot until Travis Hafner is healthy again.

Forget what happens when Hafner gets back or when Nick Johnson will inevitably be hurt again; the Indians need to turn things around soon.

This June swoon is quickly threatening to wipe out all the good feelings of April and May. Cleveland needs a hitter in the lineup with these career stats and these stats while rehabbing in the minors this year:

Career: .270/.401/.443 slash line, .844 OPS (124 OPS+), 546 SO, 511 BB (1.068 SO:BB)

Minors: .267/.476/.267 slash line, .743 OPS, 4 SO, 4 BB (1.000 SO:BB)

Sure, the powers not there yet, but he's only had 21 minor league plate appearances. Truth is, barring a trade, Nick Johnson may be the best chance the Indians have at jump-starting their lineup.

Just calling up Cord Phelps isn't the answer. The Indians need Nick Johnson.