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Corner of Carnegie and Ontario: It was the best of times...

Corner of Carnegie and Ontario: It was the best of times...
September 26, 2012
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It was the best of times…it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom…it was the age of foolishness…

The Indians have clearly mastered the latter half of each line, finding the worst of times and the age of foolishness here in 2012. As I sit here at the Corner of Carnegie and Ontario, I find it hard to look back on a year that has seen the Indians drop into such a sieve, when they were sitting in first place in late June. Yet, here we are, staring at 2013, without much hope of anything good happening. There are so many question marks that need to be answered heading into the last seven baseball games heading into 2013…

Taking a look at that crystal ball…here’s a brief look at the a black-and-white version of what could be in 2013.

Catcher:

It was the best of times…

Carlos Santana turns into the offensive beast that many thought he would be when the Indians robbed the Dodgers in the Casey Blake deal. He catches 100+ games, and tends first base on occasion. He hits 30+ homers and drives in 100+ RBI. His OPS is .850 or higher, and he continues to gun down runners with his howitzer. Lou Marson continues his Jason Kendall imitation, and hits .330 in relief of Santana. He becomes a hot commodity, and the Indians deal him to Boston for prospect Drake Britton. They then bring up Roberto Perez.

It was the worst of times…

Santana starts to break down behind the plate, and struggles again for long stretches of time. Slappy hitter Lou Marson steps in to start, hits .120, and is traded to the Australian Summer League Aborigines for some Gator-Skinned boots.

First Base:

It was the best of times…

The Indians pull of a deal to the Cincinnati Reds in which they send Shin Soo Choo and get Neftali Soto in return. Soto platoons at first for the Tribe with Lars Anderson, and both quickly begin to showcase their talents as former top ranked first base prospects, and anchor the offense when they begin playing full-time, with Soto at DH.

It was the worst of times…

The Indians do nothing, and start Lars Anderson at first base, and quickly find out that he’s really Matt LaPorta in disguise. They then decide to call up LaPorta and give him the job full time. He has a break-out season, hitting .250 with 12 homers and 14 RBI.

Second Base:

It was the best of times…

Jason Kipnis plays within himself, and has the type of season that he’s capable of. He hits .305 on the season, with 15 homers, 92 RBI, 33 doubles, 7 triples and 14 stolen bases. He’s named to the All-Star team, and is the clear heart of the team. The Indians sign him to a six-year deal after the season, that will keep him with the Indians until the 2020 season.

It was the worst of times…

The Indians do nothing in the offseason, and Kipnis enters the season with the weight of the world on his back once again. He has an incredible April, hitting .300, with six homers and 15 RBI batting second and third, but begins to taper off in May. He gets injured in early June, but comes back to early…hits .230 for the rest of year…and begins to drift in obscurity. The Indians begin grooming Tony Wolters and Ronny Rodriguez to take over second base.

Third Base:

It was the best of times…

Lonnie Chisenhall is the prospect that everyone thinks that he will be. He hits .280 on the season, with 24 homers and 90 RBI. With Jason Kipnis, he becomes an anchor of the team, and solidifies the future of the team. The Indians sign him to a long-term deal, which will keep him with the Indians through 2020.

It was the worst of times…

Chisenhall spends the season on and off the dl, and is labeled as an health-risk. At the all-star break, with the Indians 20 games out of first, they throw him in a trade, as the rebuild begins in earnest. He ends the season in another uniform, and breaks out, with 14 homers to close out the season.

Shortstop:

It was the best of times…

Asdrubal Cabrera works his butt off over the offseason, and comes into the season in the best shape of his career. With the added boost of a hot Kipnis, a full season off Lonnie Chisenhall, and some added power in Soto and Anderson, Cabrera is able to play to his game. He ends the season hitting .297, with 11 homers and 80 RBI. He steals 15 bases, and is the quiet leader of the team. While Kipnis is the vocal leader, Cabrera is the veteran leader of the team.

It was the worst of times…

Cabrera comes into spring training out of shape again, and the Indians quickly try to work a deal. With nothing imminent, Cabrera starts the year with the Indians, and really struggles out of the gate. The Indians ultimately do work out a deal with Arizona, but fail to bring in a true major league ready arm. They do get Charles Brewer in the deal, but he’s not the arm they wanted from the DBacks.

Left Field:

It was the best of times…

The Indians go out and take a flier on Melky Cabrera, who they take a chance on, and sign to a two-year deal, with a club option for a third season. He was damaged goods after the positive test for PED’s, but rebounds with the Indians giving him a chance. He hits .300, with 15 homers and 70 RBI for the Tribe. A risk finally pays off.

It was the worst of times…

The Indians give the job to Russ Canzler for the season. They realize early on that it’s not going to work out, which begins the parade of left fielders that nobody wanted to see. At the end of the season, the starting left fielder is the same as it is today…nobody.

Center Field:

It was the best of times…

Michael Brantley continues to improve upon his numbers, hits .295, with eight homers and 68 RBI. He steals 30 bases, and really takes over center field with his defense. Gone is the talk that he’s not really a centerfielder, and he becomes an all-star caliber player.

It was the worst of times…

Brantley has nagging injuries all season long, and takes a major step backwards. He hits .260 on the season, with five homers and 50 RBI. He steals 10 bases, but is caught 10 times. He can never find himself, and the Indians start to question whether or not Brantley is a long-term answer in both center, and the Tribe’s outfield in the future.

Right Field:

It was the best of times…

The Indians choose to keep Choo through the beginning of the season, and it pays off. Choo launches off the beginning of his contract year, and plays his best baseball in three years. He becomes a hot commodity as the all-star break approaches, and the Indians deal him to the Cincinnati Reds for Tony Cingrani at the break.

It was the worst of times…

The Indians can’t do anything with Choo, and they hold onto him. He struggles through June, and the Indians go ahead and deal him to the Pirates. Instead of a top prospect, the Indians get a couple of lower level prospects in Zack Von Rosenberg and Zach Dodson. Not a bad haul, but nothing special.

The Starting Rotation:

It was the best of times…

The Indians pick up the options of both Ubaldo Jimenez and Roberto Hernandez. Ubaldo finds it again, and sees a velocity uptick. In his final year with the Indians, he wins 15 games, and has an ERA below 4.00. Justin Masterson returns to form, and wins 18 games. Hernandez is good, but not great. He loses more than he wins, but does win 10. Zach McAllister pitches the entire season with the Indians, and also wins 10 games. He has good months, and so-so months, but becomes a solid #5 starter. Carlos Carrasco is back pitching full-time with the team by June, and is dominant. He goes 12-4, and looks like an ace for years to come.

It was the worst of times…

The Indians take a flier on Jimenez, and let Hernandez go. Jimenez implodes, and gets hurt on a cold afternoon game in Cleveland in April. He doesn’t pitch for the Indians again. Masterson continues his back-and-forth routine, and while he wins 12 games, he loses 15, and is inconsistent. Carlos Carrasco has a set-back, and doesn’t make it up to the team until August, then tweaks a hammy, and misses 2013. McAllister can’t sustain much of anything, and begins a parade of pitchers through the big league team, that include Tomlin, Kluber and every other name you can find in Columbus.

The Bullpen:

It was the best of times…

The Indians deal Chris Perez, and Vinnie Pestano not only takes the closer role, but saves 35 games. Cody Allen is even more sensational, rolling out a sub-2.00 ERA. Nick Hagadone returns and reaches his potential, and the rest of the pen falls in line as the talented group that they are.

It was the worst of times…

The Indians deal Chris Perez, and Vinnie Pestano can’t hold down the closer role. They give the job to Allen, but he folds under the pressure as a rookie as a closer. Esmil Rogers gets lit up, as he has in every year he’s played. Tony Sipp disappears, and Joe Smith gets figured out. The Pen struggles, and so do the Indians.

Jim is currently the senior editor and Columnist, as well as  the host of IBI's weekly online radio shows, Smoke Signals and Cleveland Sports Insiders. You can follow Jim on Twitter @Jim_IBI, or contact him via e-mail at jpete@indiansprospectinsider.com.

User Comments

Discollama
September 27, 2012 - 12:54 PM EDT
Norm:

advanced metrics tend to agree with you, but the guy has barely played 1,000 innings on defense (for reference, Kipnis has played over 1,200 this season alone), so the sample size is really too small to gauge how he'll perform over a full season, let alone going forward.

We could use a DH, and as far as I can tell, there aren't a lot of really good all around 1B available (I don't even know if any of the guys that I listed might be available), so we might just have to put up with poor defense from our 1B in order to get an extra quality bat in the lineup.
Norm
September 27, 2012 - 4:10 AM EDT
Carp might be interesting, perhaps as a LH platoon but I do not think he defends that well at any position. Maybe a DH/1B/LF with Canzler. Canzler looks like a DH against LHP and bat off the bench. Zeke looks like the only other September addition that might cut it as a 4th OF. I just think they will have to bite the bullet and pay for a proven OF and 1B. Neither Canzler or Carrera is much of a contact hitter.
Discollama
September 26, 2012 - 3:31 PM EDT
Carp has actually spent more time at 1B than the OF, is only 26, and has been playing in the baseball equivalent to the grand canyon. We're talking about a guy who in 2011 hit a combined 33 HR (29 in 2010) between AAA and MLB. He's suffered injuries and inconsistent playing time this year which can account for his poor numbers, but if the price was low enough I'd take him for a spin.

I agree that the low risk/high reward tendencies haven't worked out, but I'd like to see what Carp could do over the likes of LaPorta or Kotchman. This is a guy that can post big numbers, and has posted some good ones in one of the worst hitting environments in the game. Nothing wrong with buying low on a guy like that to see what he can do for you. Worst case scenario is you get him and he tanks and 1B remains the pit it's been for the Indians over the last few years.

Some other, possibly cheap alternatives can be used as an insurance policy, like I said before, Duda could be a trade target, David Cooper of the Blue Jays could be interesting. It's possible that Chris Davis may become available, or Mitch Moreland, maybe Chris Carter.

The Indians have nothing to lose by acquiring Carp, but a lot to gain. If they can acquire a decent bat capable of playing 1B as well, then they should. But Carp should be on the radar.
shy
September 26, 2012 - 2:55 PM EDT
Mike Carp? Is he related to Mike Trout? No dude, another left handed hitting outfielder who can't run and strikes out too much, that's way too Antonetti for me. If you're stuck on baccalau, maybe we could talk Tim Salmon out of retirement. I think Cord Phelps should get a shot next year in the OF or first base. Kipnis obviously has second locked up, but like Kipnis Phelps is athletic, a quick learner, and has been able to improve and succeed at every level he's played so far. And of course, he's a switch hitter. Good size, good hands, good range. I say give him a first-baseman's glove and send him to winter ball. The HR he just hit right-handed was a bit of an eye-opener. Speaking of fish, I can see Manny Acta taking over for Ozzie Guillen and managing the Marlins. Tell me Manny and his agent wouldn't be all over Luria for that job if they can Ozzie, and it looks like they're going to. That could leave John Farrell and Terry Francona working the Indians. I know Tony and others here have said Farrell hates Cleveland, but doesn't he still make home his there?
Discollama
September 26, 2012 - 1:20 PM EDT
Another interesting thought would be to acquire Mike Carp from the Mariners. He's been awful, but that park has been a nightmare for hitters, so he might be worth taking a flier on him, just to see what he can do outside of SafeCo
shy
September 26, 2012 - 12:04 PM EDT
Entertaining you guys. A little imagination can go a long way in baseball and in life.
discollama
September 26, 2012 - 11:26 AM EDT
Here's my take on the OF issues:

LF/CF
Best of times:
Indians reallocate the money that they would have spent on Hafner and actually sign a decent free agent: B.J. Upton. Upton turns in a middling Sizemore type year, striking out too much and not walking enough, but his defense and power/speed combo give the Indians stability in CF for years. Brantley is moved over to LF and takes a step forward by hitting .290/.350/.420 with 10 HR 50 doubles, 5 triples while stealing 15 and getting caught only 5 times.

RF:
Indians pick up Melky on a flier, turns out he's a little better off the juice than he was for most of his career, but he fails to recapture the magic. His defense is solid but his bat is a little weak for a corner OF position. He puts up a .280/.320/.420 line with 10 HR and scattering line drives all over the place.

The bullpen:
Indians trade closer Chris Perez along with Ronny Rodriguez and Jesus Aguilar to the New York Mets and receive Lucas Duda and Jenry Mejia, Duda splits time between 1B and DH, manages to cut down his K rate and puts up a decent .260/.350/.490 triple slash, hitting 25 HR and driving in 100.

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