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IPI Inbox: Should Santana be sent to Columbus?

June 2, 2011
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Carlos Santana (Photo: AP)
It is time for another IPI Inbox to talk about some of the questions from the minors to the big leagues that Indians fans have asked of late. These are all questions I have received of late via e-mail or on my Twitter page (@TonyIPI).

If you have a question on anything pertaining to the Cleveland Indians from the minors to the big leagues that you would like answered in a future inbox, feel free to contact me. I also pull from questions in the comments sections in articles, and also from Twitter, so you can post your question there as well.

To the IPI Inbox we go.....

Rick Thomas wrote: Why not send Carlos Santana back to the minors to get his swing and confidence back?  Am I the only one who thinks he is hurting the team right now?

Me: Good question Rick.  I think there is a difference between sending a guy back to the minors to work on his swing and sending a guy back to the minors because he has a poor approach.  The thing is, Santana's approach has really been very good this year.  He's been patient, working counts, and laying off a lot of bad pitches, which is obvious since even with a .224 average he is 19th in the AL in on-base percentage (.362) and is 1st in the AL in pitches seen per at bat (4.49).  I mean for as great as shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera has been this season, Santana has actually been on base MORE than him.  Obviously Cabrera has been more productive, but purely from putting up good at bats and getting on base arguably no one has been better except Travis Hafner.

Santana is seeing tons of pitches...the problem has been when he is getting a pitch to swing at he is overswinging and is getting under the ball.  He is missing some pretty hittable pitches by fouling them off when he should be hammering them, which is a sign he is late with his swing.  The Indians made a correction this week to eliminate the toe tap he used to do in order to try and cut down on so much of the movement he has at the plate with his swing.  Hopefully this will help him get the timing back.

As to whether you send Santana to the minors to work on this new change to correct his swing, I think this is something that can be ironed out at the big league level and the Indians are right for doing it.  Sending him down to Triple-A Columbus to try to become more consistent hitting Triple-A pitching will not help because once he gets back up who knows if the same issues will persist.  It is mostly about confidence, and that is why at least to me you first try to get the ship righted at the big league level so the confidence is already there and he can move past this.  Now if his very good approach ever goes by the wayside, then you seriously consider sending him to Columbus.

Thankfully Santana has maintained his approach even through all of the frustration he is going through as a hitter, which is a testament to how talented and mentally strong he is as a player.  Through it all, even with the poor hitting he amazingly has a .750 OPS which is 2nd in the AL for catchers and 6th in all of baseball for catchers.  Imagine when this guy starts hitting, which is what he is starting to do since he had a few

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