Cleveland Indians: Orlando Cabrera Shouldn't Be a Roadblock for Jason Kipnis

Jim Piascik@@JimPiascikCorrespondent IMay 9, 2011

Orlando Cabrera has been a great influence, but his skills are regressing.
Orlando Cabrera has been a great influence, but his skills are regressing.Jeff Gross/Getty Images

If you haven’t seen the movie Juno or just want to miss my awesome metaphor, feel free to skip the next four paragraphs.

If you have, then let’s go for a ride.

In the movie, Jason Bateman plays Mark, the husband of Vanessa (Jennifer Garner). These two are adopting Juno’s (Ellen Page) baby and seem like the perfect couple. Throughout the movie, I thought that Mark was so cool. He’s into some really cool music, toured with his band and owns an awesome guitar. Juno is just as taken with him as I was the first couple of times I watched the movie.

As the movie progresses, Mark becomes disenchanted with the idea of being a father and leaves Vanessa. At first, I didn’t really blame Mark. He wanted to chase his dreams and it seemed that Vanessa was forcing her dreams upon him.

The next few times watching the movie, though, I realized how ridiculous Mark was being.

Sure, Mark had all the intangibles, but deep down, he was just a bad person. Something there just wasn’t right and all the chic attributes in the world weren’t going to fix things.

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I feel the same way about Orlando Cabrera.

I was against the Indians signing Cabrera when I thought we didn’t have a real chance at competing this year. Luckily for us Tribe fans, we’re in first place and making some real noise and Orlando Cabrera has been a large part of it.

The biggest thing that Cabrera has brought to the Tribe this year is his winning attitude. His presence in the clubhouse has gotten the Indians believing in themselves and always thinking they can come from behind and win it.

That said, the Indians need to not fall in love with Orlando Cabrera. Like Jason Bateman in Juno, he’s got all the intangibles in the world, but he’s also a 36-year-old middle infielder starting to see his skills fade.

For all of his clutch hits this year, Cabrera’s overall offensive stats are worrying. He’s got a .276 batting average but only a .300 on-base percentage. He only has four walks to 17 strikeouts and a very low .650 OPS. He never been an elite offensive player, and he’s starting to regress even more.

In addition to his regressing offense, Cabrera’s defense is continuing to be below average. The last time he had a positive dWAR was 2005, and even the move to second base hasn’t made him average.

The Indians would not be where they are today without Orlando Cabrera, but that doesn’t mean that they should blindly leave him the starting second baseman for the rest of the season.

His clubhouse presence is irreplaceable, but his actual play is not—especially when the Indians have Jason Kipnis ready at AAA.

My love affair with Kipnis should be evident by this point, seeing as I’ve written many times how I want the Tribe to call him up. The stats back me up, though: Through 27 games, Kipnis holds a .283/.390/.465 line with two homers, 18 RBI and five stolen bases. He’s improved his pitch selection this year, seeing as he has 24 strikeouts to 17 walks.

People make a big deal about his defense, but it’s not bad. I saw his play extensively last year and can say that he’s not a bad defensive second baseman at all.

I would love for the Indians to call Kipnis up right now, but that’s not realistic; the Indians will never do it. They are hypersensitive to players achieving “Super-2” status and only call up potential stars (like Carlos Santana last year) after June 1.

When June rolls around, though, the Indians shouldn’t hesitate to get Kipnis up to Cleveland.

The impact that Orlando Cabrera has on the Indians should be just the same if he’s the utility infielder. I think that a championship team could easily have him playing every once in a while, but not as an everyday second baseman.

Jason Kipnis has proved he’s ready for the big leagues, and the Indians shouldn’t allow Cabrera to be a roadblock to his progression.