If the quote “misery loves company” is true, then the Indians are in love in the American League Central. Much has been made of the Indians lack of offense in recent weeks, in their last seven games they are averaging 2.8 runs. That isn’t going to cut it, and nothing is worse than having a young pitcher like Aaron Laffey walk away with a loss after a brilliant pitching performance. The question is, who’s to blame? As of right now, Eric Wedge’s only answer has been to move Hafner down in the order and bring up Ben Francisco. That isn’t going to get it done. Wedge has to be more bold, and he would benefit from taking a page out of the Jim Leyland playbook.
It was a bold move that the Tigers made today, but that is just what the situation has called for. The Tigers and Indians are essentially in the same bind: a potent offensive lineup that isn’t swinging, hence putting an inordinate amount of pressure on the pitching staff. Do I think the Indians should cut a disappointing player like Detroit cut Jacque Jones? No, but if the Indians were to do that, there would be plenty of candidates. I am, though, recommending a dramatic lineup change.
Take a look:
1. Jamey Carroll- 2B (The Indians can no longer afford to squander Grady’s 9 XBH at the top of the order. The leadoff hitter’s main objective is to get on base. Carroll’s OBP is .396. You do the math.)
2. David Dellucci- LF (Third highest OBP among every day players. That’s why he’s here.)
3. Ryan Garko- 1B (The definition of a number 3 hitter right now. Currently, Garko is the only Indian whose strikeouts do not outnumber his walks. He is turning into the hitter that the Indians thought he could be, and with Victor behind him, he will see a lot more pitches he can hit.)
4. Victor Martinez- DH (The only player not going through a dramatic lineup change. Move him to DH, and let our only reliable hitter focus solely on that)
5. Grady Sizemore- CF (The most dramatic of all swaps. If Victor keeps swinging the way he is, Grady serves as the second leadoff hitter. If Victor doesn’t keep hitting, then Grady is the next guy who is capable of bringing in those runs.)
6. Casey Blake- 3B (Struggling with a .202 average, but OBP is 84 points higher than his average, which tells me he is finding a way to get on base. If he keeps his OBP 84 points above his average all year, I’ll be impressed)
7. Jhonny Peralta- SS (Has the third most at bats of anyone on the team, yet only ranks 6th in hits, 10th in doubles, t-6th in RBIs, and, of the every day players, is dead last in on base percentage. Having the most home runs in the lineup shouldn’t mean he automatically goes after Victor)
8. Ben Francisco- RF (brought him up, lets give him a shot)
9. Kelly Shoppach- C (Essentially taking Hafner out of the order. Has 11 hits in 36 ABs, as opposed to Hafner’s 23 hits in 100 ABs)
Obviously this is dramatic and probably will not happen, but these Indians can no longer afford to sit back and watch the same thing over and over again. The move of Hafner to sixth was obviously done to send him a message. But, when Lou Collins wasn’t hitting for the Minnesota Twins, Billy Heywood took him out of the lineup completely. That sent Lou a message, one that almost won the Twins a playoff berth. Sure, Billy might have been mad that Collins was banging his mom, but it still worked didn’t it? All joking aside, something needs to wake this lineup out of it’s slumber.
This team is too good to continue playing the way it is. Whatever happens, it has to be dramatic. There isn’t one or two moves that can pull an entire lineup out of a hole. I just hope that Mr. Wedge and company realize this before it’s too late.