Shin-Soo Choo's injury puts the Indians in a tight spot.
While there has been no official word from the team, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports that Shin-Soo Choo broke his thumb in the fourth inning of last night's Indians-Giants game. While no timetable has been released, this isn't the sort of injury Choo will be able to shake off in a few games.
With the Tribe already reeling on offense, the hope that Shin-Soo Choo would regain his elite 2008-2010 form was one of the few things keeping Indians fans off the ledge.
Without him for a significant stretch of time, who could fill in the hole in right field? They'll not only need to replace his offense, but his elite defense as well.
It's unlikely the Indians will make a trade to fill this hole, so let's take a look at the five replacements who could play in right field while Shin-Soo Choo is injured.
While Manny Acta may replace Shin-Soo Choo with Austin Kearns, it wouldn't be a good move.
Austin Kearns is the one player who could fill the hole Choo leaves on defense, but his offense has been atrocious this year. A .198/.284/.275 slash line, .559 OPS (60 OPS+) and zero home runs and stolen bases?
I'm not even convinced Kearns deserves a roster spot anymore. If the Indians start him in Shin-Soo Choo's place, we might as well just give up on the 2011 season.
Travis Buck also wouldn't make a great replacement for Shin-Soo Choo.
Travis Buck was just demoted to AAA Columbus, but could be recalled immediately to replace Shin-Soo Choo on the roster because he was injured. I'm not sure I like this option, either.
Buck has been better than Kearns this year, but his OPS is still .624 (77 OPS+), his OBP is actually lower than Austin Kearns' (.278), and his defense isn't up to Kearns' level.
Travis Buck's WAR on the year is 0.0, meaning he's nothing more than a replacement level player. I'd rather see the Tribe give someone else a chance; Travis Buck isn't truly anything special.
Shelley Duncan's best as a pinch hitter, not an everyday right fielder.
Shelley Duncan was just recalled to Cleveland and is a clubhouse favorite. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean he should play right field everyday in Choo's absence.
His 17 RBI in limited time are nice, but the 22:3 SO:BB, .222/.256/.370 slash line and .626 OPS (76 OPS+) say that he wouldn't be worth it.
Duncan's a great pinch hitter, but by no means should he be playing right field every day.
Chad Huffman is a minor league option to fill in for Shin-Soo Choo.
Chad Huffman may not be a household name, but he's been producing in AAA Columbus in 2011. He has 10 HR, 38 RBI, a .261/.358/.454 slash line and .812 OPS.
He's shown great power and wouldn't be a bad replacement for Shin-Soo Choo at all. His 57:36 SO:BB ratio isn't bad, but it could be a little better.
Fortunately for the Tribe, we have two viable replacement options. In addition to Huffman, we have my No. 1 option to fill-in for Shin-Soo Choo...
Ezequiel Carrera should replace Shin-Soo Choo in right field.
Remember the dramatic drag bunt that announced Ezequiel Carrera's arrival to Cleveland way back on May 20? How would you like some more of that?
He only had eight plate appearances in his brief tenure in Cleveland, but his Columbus stats are impressive. He has 2 HR, 23 RBI and, most importantly, 27 stolen bases. His 46:33 SO:BB ratio is very good, as is his .300/.383/.377 slash line.
Another point in Carrera's favor is that he is naturally a center fielder. The best chance the Indians have at covering Choo's defensive prowess as well as his offensive contribution comes from Ezequiel Carrera.
Too bad Manny Acta will probably just start Austin Kearns and Travis Buck instead.