As David Dellucci pulled up lame with a “hamstring strain” on Tuesday night (moments after I posted that we should stay the course with Dellichaels in LF), the problem of keeping Jason Stanford on the 25-man roster looked to be solved.
It laid out quite nicely:
Dellucci goes on the 15-Day DL.
A reliever is called up to take his place until Westbrook’s start on Sunday.
Go with a 13-man pitching staff until it is determined that Jake was healthy.
Nixon takes Dellucci’s spot in the LF platoon, Gutierrez plays RF full-time.
In the scenario, the Indians retain their 4 OF (with Michaels and Gutierrez having the flexibility of moving them around if needed) and keep Stanford on the roster in case Westbrook comes back and realizes that he’s still injured.
Well…the Indians had more moves than just this solution in mind. And the cause of the moves was the continued ineffectiveness of Roberto Hernandez. Hernandez, he of the 6.23 ERA, the 1.88 WHIP, and the one who has allowed nearly 1/3 of his inherited runners to score, was handed a ticket out of Cleveland – to go along with a nice, fat $3.5M parting gift.
In Tuesday’s loss, Hernandez was brought on in the 9th to keep it close in a 1-run game and pitched…well, like he has all year. He struggled from the start and removed any chance that the Indians had to win the ballgame, as Wedge watched from the dugout with an look of “get yourself out of this one” on his face. After Hernandez finally recorded the 3rd out, the damage was done and a 4-run lead had been re-established. The Indians went on to score another run in the 9th (which would have tied it), making Hernandez’s performance all the more frustrating.
Apparently, the frustration existed in the Tribe offices as well; as he was DFA’d the next day to make space for Edward Mujica from Buffalo. No problem at all with this move as Hernandez was never effective for the Indians and often downright maddening.
But wait, this creates 2 roster spots because of Dellucci going on the DL – so was it really necessary to do now? Couldn’t the Indians follow the scenario above, call up Mujica to take Dellucci’s spot and DFA Hernandez before Westbrook’s start on Sunday? That would keep Mujica and Stanford in the bullpen and still have a roster spot open for Westbrook.
But the Indians took the next step in recalling Ben Francisco from Buffalo to become their 5th OF. Now, generally, when a team carries 5 OF, it means that they’re running some sort of platoon system at 2 of the OF positions (as the Indians were doing to start the season).
So why call up Francisco at all? While he certainly merited a call-up with his International League leading batting average and solid overall numbers in Buffalo, when is he going to play? He’s RH, like Michaels and Gutierrez, and doesn’t seem to be more than a 5th OF. How is this going to help his maturation and development, sitting on the bench in Cleveland? He’s already been on MLB roster once without an AB, is that the plan again?
I’m aware that Francisco has hit RH pitchers (.984 OPS) better than LH pitchers (.644 OPS) in Buffalo this year, so some are saying that he will be a platoon in LF with Michaels; but, does anyone believe that Wedge will have a platoon consisting of 2 RH hitters? And the unbalanced success against RHP in Buffalo is not consistent with his history in previous years, so it is likely just an aberration appearing over 61 games in Buffalo.
Unless the Indians are using Gutierrez or Francisco to showcase them for a possible trade for bullpen help, the second move doesn’t hold water for me as it makes the OF too RH heavy with too many similar players. Finding AB’s for all 3 of them in 2 positions (with Nixon still in the mix) is something I’ll believe when I see.
For now, everyone who bought their Hernandez jerseys at the beginning of the season (all 4 of you), it’s time to break out the duct tape over the name as Browns’ fans have done for so many years.
After an off day today, the Indians head to the nation’s capital to try to get fat on the Nationals like the Tigers just did.