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Indians even more left-handed in wake of Kotchman addition

Feb 2, 2012, 6:00 PM EDT

Travis Hafner, Carlos Santana, Shin-Soo Choo AP

With Casey Kotchman penciled in over Matt LaPorta at first base, the Indians are now looking at the following lineup against right-handed pitching:

CF Grady Sizemore – L
SS Asdrubal Cabrera – S
RF Shin-Soo Choo – L
C Carlos Santana – S
DH Travis Hafner – L
2B Jason Kipnis – L
1B Casey Kotchman – L
3B Lonnie Chisenhall – L
LF Michael Brantley – L

That’s going to look pretty good 70 percent of the time. What about the other 30?

If the Indians opt to carry Chisenhall out of spring training, then they’ll probably have a bench of backup catcher Lou Marson, infielder Jack Hannahan (another left-handed hitter), first baseman-outfielder Shelley Duncan and outfielder Aaron Cunningham. Unfortunately, none of those guys figure to be all that productive against lefties. Lefty-killing is Duncan’s sole reason for being, but he actually had a .679 OPS in 102 at-bats against lefties last year, compared to .918 in 121 at-bats against righties. In his career, he has a .769 OPS against lefties and a .743 mark versus righties.

I think the Kotchman signing makes it a bit more likely that Chisenhall will get some extra Triple-A seasoning. Sending down Chisenhall would allow the Indians to go with a Hannahan/Jason Donald platoon at third base, giving them a little more pop against lefties. They’ll also badly need Cunningham to contribute against left-handers. He has a .741 OPS in 129 at-bats against them lifetime. A lot of those were at Petco, so maybe he’ll be better for the Indians.

  1. tashkalucy - Feb 2, 2012 at 7:26 PM

    Shapiro and Antonetti strike again.

    They remain darlings of the saber, yuppie-based media as they drop buzzwords and sound so authoritative. Long as no lone looks at their record and the absurd things they do year after year. How can any MLB front office put together a team like this? By last August teams were bringing up left handed pitchers from Triple-A before they played the Indians in a series. They’d start a righty, and around the 6th-7th inning would start bringing in lefties from the pen. The Indians were dead meat. Expect it will happen again this year.

    And another Shapiro-Antonetti boner as they continue to look into their computers to make decisions rather then employ quality scouts and listen to them – the big guy is the CC Sabathia trade to Milwaukee was Matt PaPorta. He was going to be the big right handed bat that would balance out the batting order. One minor problem…..throughout his career, LaPorta hit righties better then lefties. Guess the computer didn’t warn them about that. And don’t worry about help from the farm – word is that the Indians don’t have one bona fide prospect in Double-A or Triple-A. They do have a few pitchers that look like they can be the last 2 guys in the bullpen if needed. Swell. And this is after the Indians did their latest rebuild which started when CC was traded in mid-2008.

    Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer has it figured. There are no players under contract to the Indians beyond 2013. Add in the rumors that the Dolan family has their cable TV network – STO – on the market, and it sure looks like the Dolan’s are setting up the Indians to be sold. One minor problem for people in NE Ohio – there doesn’t seem to be a potential buyer with the money in the area. Unless Dan Gilbert and/or Randy Lerner want to get into Mlb, the Indians could well be sold – with the Dolan’s getting top dollar – if the franchise can be moved. Lots of buyers would jump in if they could move the team to, say, New Jersey. So the future may well be that the Indians and Pirates merge, playing half their home games in each city. It’s what other businesses would do in a situation like this.

    • dwrek5 - Feb 2, 2012 at 9:10 PM

      The Blog post was 248 words. Your response is 386. Now thats igniting a repsonse!

      • tashkalucy - Feb 3, 2012 at 3:53 AM

        The truth hurts.

    • Mike Cook - Feb 4, 2012 at 12:57 AM

      Wow, now this idea’s a winner: “So the future may well be that the Indians and Pirates merge, playing half their home games in each city.” Harkens back to 1943 and the NFL’s Pittsburgh-Philadelphia “Steagles.” Now there’s a history lesson for those computer-totin’ saber yuppies.

  2. blantoncollier - Feb 2, 2012 at 10:02 PM

    The respose might be long–but its on the money. The Tribe does less with less than any team in baseball. Please Larry–SELL THE TEAM!

  3. holleywood9 - Feb 3, 2012 at 12:31 AM

    Way to take the time dwrek. I like the gamble. They just need 3-4 righties who hit lefties to move in the lineup when needed.

    • jmgatskiejr - Feb 3, 2012 at 12:02 PM

      I think the Kotchman signing is a lousy, self serving attempt by Antonetti to save face by bringing in a “name”. We needed another left handed contact hitter like Willie Nelson needs a medicinal weed script. I really thought the addition of Canzler made sense by giving LaPorta a much needed competitive kick in the ass while still allowing Santana time out from under the crouch and further developing a fine defensive catcher in Marson. Now DAntana will play a more grueling season physically, Marson gets buried and Canzler takes that short, right handed stroke to AAA. Too many moves can be just as detrimental as too few.

  4. ptho16 - Feb 3, 2012 at 9:32 AM

    I don’t see this as a big issue, yes it makes them a lot easier to matchup in the bullpen, but how many teams have more than one quality left handed reliever that can go multiple innings? Not many.

  5. Mike Cook - Feb 4, 2012 at 1:00 AM

    An interesting aside: I analyzed one of Justin Verlander’s starts against Cleveland from 2011 (the game Bill James named the most dominant start of 2011). He faced an Indians lineup of seven lefties and switch-hitters and two righties. He was dominant period, but to my surprise his numbers were slightly more impressive against the lefties, mostly due to his change-up. Here’s the article if you’re interested:

    http://cooksportsresearch.wordpress.com/2011/11/28/missing-bats-verlander/

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