Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Hot Topic Lazy Sunday at the Hot Corner

As the most wonderful time of the year (sports-wise) rolls on and the Madness threatens to envelop us all, you’ll excuse me if I’ve been preoccupied with two types of “Mad”-ness recently – the NCAA tournament and re-watching the last season of “Mad Men” in anticipation of Don Draper’s highly anticipated return tonight. Though my focus has wavered a bit, there are some things happening on The Reservation that need to be weighed in on, particularly with…wait for it…Opening Day only weeks away.

With that in mind, let’s get a couple things out of the way before letting loose on the Lazy One – as much attention figures to be paid to which pitchers will be on the Opening Day roster in the 5th starter’s spot and as the last two arms in the bullpen, I’m invoking the “Scott Lewis Clause” to point out that while Jeanmar Gomez is probably going to get 1st crack at the 5th starter spot and while Accardo and Herrmann look to be the leaders in the clubhouse for the Opening Day bullpen, we’re going to see Kevin Slowey at some point this year, just as Hagadone is going to see the inside of the bullpen at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario at some point, as will CC Lee and others that may not even be obvious right now. The insertion of the “Scott Lewis Clause” is not meant to minimize either of these “scrums” for roster spots in the final two weeks – it’s just meant to point out that pitchers are going to move up and down between Cleveland and Columbus all year long because…well, because that’s what pitchers do, because of attrition and injury, and the make-up of the Indians’ rotation on Day 1 or which bullpen arm is coming to mop up in an April blowout interests much less than other issues still facing this team.

Oh no, you say…not another LF screed, right?
No, I’ve had my say on that (a couple of times) and this hesitance to give Shelley Duncan the full-time LF job despite him excelling in Spring Training gives me hope that they realize who Shelley Duncan is (a terrific RH bat off the bench) and who he is not (a suitable everyday LF) and there is still this sneaking suspicion that they’re going to add another OF before Opening Day is hard to ignore. Given Brantley’s injury (which is, unfortunately, unsurprising given his recent injury history), it would seem that the Indians’ need in the OF may actually be more pressing than it was even a week ago.

In terms of possibly adding a OF, that doesn’t change the fact that it is still a little early for teams to be jettisoning players that they may deem to redundant or deal from a position of strength to fill a position of weakness (and…um, Chase Utley’s injury issues seem to be major with a chronic condition in both knees AND one-time-uber-prospect OF Domonic Brown has been sent to Minor-League camp, by the Phillies who are very aware of what Jason Donald could be for them), it still bears watching how (or if) the Indians add to that OF mix. Regardless, given what they’re saying and what they’re not saying, it’s not hard to envision the Tribe’s Opening Day LF not being on this roster right now.

But that’s a topic I’ve already hit on as the topic of the day relates to another everyday position, but one where the Opening Day player is already out in Goodyear. Of course, I’m speaking of this 3B “battle” between Hannahan and Chisenhall.
And with that, let’s get loose on a Hot (Corner) Lazy Sunday…

Since this generally relates with “all the news that’s fit to link”, let’s go back a week and get to the impetus for this piece, the opening to Terry Pluto’s “Notes” on the Tribe (which generally come straight from the Indians) as Pluto starts out with, “two weeks remain in spring training, but right now it appears Jack Hannahan will start at third base, with Lonnie Chisenhall headed to Class AAA. This may open the door for Jose Lopez to make the team as an extra infielder, along with Jason Donald.”

As someone who cares not at all about Jose Lopez or whether he’s on this team and think that Donald is more interesting as trade bait for an OF than he is moving around the diamond (even though I like Donald a lot as a player), I was more than a little surprised at reading this with two weeks remaining in Goodyear. What was even more shocking was most Indians’ fans blindly nodding at this arrangement because is “makes sense” because of Hannahan’s glove or Chisenhall’s struggles or whatever other over-rationalization was out there to attempt to explain why this is the “proper” way for the Indians to start the 2012 season – with Hannahan at 3B EVERYDAY and with Chisenhall in Columbus to “get ready” and “make adjustments” and bide his time before he was needed.

A team that has offensive questions up and down the lineup – from whether players can replicate career years (Asdrubal, Kotchman), recover from “lost” seasons (Choo and even Brantley), or can carry over momentum from successful starts to their careers (Santana, Kipnis) – is ready to go with the offensively-challenged Jack Hannahan at 3B, despite a young hitter in Lonnie Chisenhall already having logged some 200+ PA in MLB, with no incentive (service-time wise) to keep him in AAA for the year?

Really, the Indians are really considering going with Hannahan as the starting 3B for this team over the “3B of the Future” that we’ve been waiting for since he’s been drafted and carefully tutored by Travis Fryman and everyone seems OK with this?

Truthfully, I’m tired of poking holes in these ideas that certain players on this team are “breaking out” now that they’ve been given a chance, but since this acceptance that Jack Hannahan is the best option to start the 2012 season, let me remind you of a few things…

In his career up to the point of joining the Indians, among 355 players that compiled 950 PA or more from 2006 to 2010, Hannahan’s 78 OPS+ put him 34th…from the bottom of the list, just besting Josh Barfield’s mark of 77 OPS+ over that timeframe and because of that offensive body of work, prior to the 2011 season, Hannahan was an NRI who only became the starting 3B for the 2011 team when Jason Donald was injured in Spring Training…

But…but, he proved in 2011 that he COULD hit given the opportunity - that’s the counter-argument that I can hear from here…
Trust me, I can…

Again, I hate to be the wet blanket here, but Hannahan was the 3B for the better part of the 1st half of 2011 and on June 29th of last year (right after Lonnie Chisenhall was called up), he had a .215 BA / .306 OBP / .336 SLG / .642 OPS batting line in 245 PA in 2011 which – when added to his career totals to that point – means that he had compiled a career batting line up to June 29th of last year that looked like this:
.222 BA / .310 OBP / .290 SLG / .600 OPS in 1,226 MLB PA

Looks pretty similar to what he did in the 1st half of last year, right?
After Chisenhall arrived, Hannahan’s performance at the plate improved to the point that he did this over the 2nd half of the season:
.321 BA / .383 OBP / .491 SLG / .874 OPS in 121 MLB PA

Again, this is becoming tiresome to even have to point out, but it’s necessary to swim against the crushing momentum of the “let’s start Shelley Duncan in LF and Hannahan at 3B” movement that seemingly cannot be stopped, but which Jack Hannahan do you expect at the plate in 2012, given the amount of PA involved in those two batting lines?

Exactly…and with that in mind, let’s go to a piece by Rob Neyer this week, where Neyer voices his skepticism over Hannahan’s 2nd half performance (which, in the linked piece, is attributed to Hannahan using a heavier bat) and puts this comparison into some very clear terms:
Before the second half of last season, Hannahan had never really hit much. Not in the majors, at all. And his only real good minor-league season came in 2007 with the Tigers’ triple-A team in Toledo. It’s possible that he did finally figure something out last summer, after all those years. It’s somewhat more possible that he hit over his head in those 121 plate appearances, and will significantly regress if given another few hundred plate appearances this year.

Hannahan’s competition at third base is 23-year-old Lonnie Chisenhall, who essentially is the Bizarro Hannahan;
* Hannahan is (relatively) old; Chisenhall is young.
* Hannahan can really field but not really hit; Chisenhall can really hit, but is just adequate in the field.
* Hannahan’s been cast off by various organizations; Chisenhall was taken by the Indians in the first round of the 2008 draft, has never known another organization, and a year ago was considered the club’s No. 1 prospect.

Neither player has done much this spring, but the job would seem to be Chisenhall’s to lose. Until and unless, at some point, Hannahan proves that switching bats in your early 30s really can turn around a career.

The skepticism is dripping off of that and the money quote there is that “it’s somewhat more possible that he hit over his head in those 121 plate appearances, and will significantly regress if given another few hundred plate appearances this year” because to really get an idea of “those 121 plate appearance”, you have to put that performance in the proper context.

By that I mean that Neyer points out earlier in the piece when he says that Hannahan “held the every-day (3B) job until the end of June, by which point he’d posted a .215/.306/.336 line”, or a hitting line that is pretty much consistent with what Hannahan had done to that point in his career. As Neyer notes, “Hannahan would start only 27 games the rest of the season. He did hit, though: .321/.383/.491 in 121 plate appearances,” meaning that Hannahan started to thrive at the plate essentially about the time he became a part-time player.

Before pointing out that Hannahan had a better OPS than Orlando Cabrera by all of .005 points on June 29th (Hannahan - .642 OPS, The OC - .637 OPS), let me lay these “two seasons” for Hannahan out for you a little differently, using the “end of June” that Neyer references because the day that Chisenhall arrived (June 27th) could certainly be used as the break-point:
First 79 games of 2011 season (Opening Day to June 29th)
Jack Hannahan – 64 starts, 65 games played

.215 BA / .306 OBP / .336 SLG / .642 OPS with 11 2B and 5 HR in 245 PA

Last 83 games of 2011 season (July 1st to Final Game)
Jack Hannahan – 27 starts, 45 games played

.321 BA / .383 OBP / .491 SLG / .874 OPS with 5 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR in 121 PA
Look at the number of games in those two “seasons”, where Hannahan played nearly all of the games in the first “half” and played in about ½ of the games, and started less than 1/3 of them in the second “half”.

So Hannahan was most successful last year while he was starting less than 1/3 of the games played by the Indians and, it should be noted, that 2 of those 27 starts came as a 1B as the Indians effectively utilized Hannahan in a part-time role that maximized his defensive prowess and his versatility. Given ½ of a season of everyday plate appearances, Hannahan hit like he always had and, being used as a part-time player/defensive specialist in the 2nd half of the season, he thrived and, in doing so, generated an inexplicable amount of goodwill among the Tribe fanbase, now ready to accept him as the everyday 3B in 2012, despite the presence of (in Neyer’s words) a former 1st round pick and perennial top prospect, who has thrived at every level (that he’s been young in) and who “can really hit” and is “adequate in the field”.

Look…I get the defensive part of the equation and enjoy watching Hannahan ply his trade at 3B more than most and the groundballing staff factor is not lost on me. Heck, I was the one last year that said that because the Indians lacked a more compelling option, that they should go with the best defensive 3B out of Goodyear to start 2011. They did and, for the 1st half, Hannahan did what Hannahan has done – sparkle with the glove and struggle with the bat. Now, given that “compelling option” at 3B that we’ve been waiting quite some time for, someone explain to me again why Hannahan should be handed the 3B job from Opening Day on in 2012 when he was given that opportunity last year and couldn’t hit and didn’t hit his stride until he was used as a part-time player, PARTICULARLY when Lonnie Chisenhall has already started adjusting to MLB?

Though I’m not sure why I seem to be the dissenting voice on this idea that Jack Hannahan or Shelley Duncan…or even Casey Kotchman should be acceptable options for the Indians on Opening Day as EVERYDAY players given that Kotchman is the youngest of the trio at the age of 29 (which he just turned in February) and that, at this time last year, each of those three were NRI’s in Cleveland and Tampa. Now, after a career year for Kotchman (which may or may not have been tied to being “lucky”) and strong finishes to the season for Hannahan and Duncan, now each is being considered as possible everyday starters for 1/3 of the lineup. Again, I understand the role of defense for Kotchman and Hannahan and the fact that no better option is obvious for 1B or LF (at the moment) plays a role, but I fear that this acceptance of that trio on “acceptable” offensive numbers that they MIGHT put forth, largely based upon 2011 stats that may represent unsustainable paths for all three.

Maybe Kotchman’s vision thing is legit and maybe Hannahan’s bigger bat turned him (quite suddenly) into an acceptable everyday 3B option, but I’m skeptical that either should be give everyday AB on this team when – at 3B in particular – more compelling options exist. Please don’t take this to mean that Kotchman and Hannahan aren’t valuable as I certainly see their value, but it is more about maximizing that value instead of going into the season relying on players in their late-20’s/early 30’s with spotty offensive numbers to this point in their career.

Perhaps you’re thinking that they’re sitting at the bottom of the lineup and their defense makes it acceptable, but what that does is put increased pressure on the rest of the lineup and (just to bring this back to the 3B “debate”) given the legitimate concern over Kotchman as an everyday player and the fact that Hafner shouldn’t face a LHP all year, I’m still not sure why this has to be a “this” or “that” equation here at 3B.

That idea is something I alluded to a few weeks ago (and I’ll get to that), but it’s also something that Jonah Keri focused on in a recent interview at Grantland with Tribe GM Chris Antonetti:
Jonah Keri: Do you bench a young, up-and-coming hitter like Chisenhall in favor of Jack Hannahan, one of the best defensive players in the game at any position?
Chris Antonetti: [Hannahan] is great, and we like what Casey Kotchman brings to his position, not only on ground balls, but on balls in the dirt, he’s got tremendous hands. As well as his feeds to other bases. On 3-6-3 double plays, he’s as good as anyone in baseball. So we are very mindful of our infield defense, it’s very important to our team’s success.

JK: Would Hannahan move around, maybe play some second base?
CA: He could. He’s played some multiple positions. First base, second, even a little short. We have to determine what’s best for the team, whether that’s Lonnie as our regular third baseman or Jack as our regular third baseman.
JK: Could that be a consideration with Hannahan, play him for the first six innings, then bring in Chisenhall for the rest of the game?
CA: [Indians manager] Manny [Acta] is very creative. We’ve looked at all the players on our roster a lot to try and figure out how we can put the best team on the field. Not only based on the opponent’s pitcher, but also based on the attributes of our own pitchers. For instance, when Josh Tomlin pitches, our outfield defense is probably more important than our infield defense. But when Derek Lowe pitches or Carmona pitches … or Hernandez pitches, those are times where our infield defense is at a premium. And you can find those opportunities, where, OK, even if we think Lonnie is a better offensive player than Jack, you know what, Jack will start the game as long as that starting pitcher is in there. And then if a meaningful spot comes up offensively, and Manny wants to try to leverage that at-bat, he can do that, and finish the game another way.

The whole thing is worth a read, but I love the fact that Keri kept harping on this point with Antonetti, peppering him with relevant questions, perhaps trying to figure out why it would even be a question why Hannahan or Chisenhall would be in competition and why some happy medium would seem to be a better alternative. To that end, does anyone else find it interesting that guys like Neyer and Keri (smart baseball guys not in Cleveland, who are taking an overview of the situation) are asking whether Hannahan will ever hit or how Hannahan could be utilized as a defensive specialist while most seem fine to send Chisenhall to AAA to accommodate Jack Hannahan, starting 3B for YOUR 2012 Cleveland Indians?

Both seem to approach it that the Indians need to slot Hannahan around a (to use Keri’s words) “young, up-and-coming hitter like Chisenhall” and Neyer says that the job is Chisenhall’s to use, yet the accepted narrative on the North Coast is that Hannahan will be the starting 3B.

This cannot be stated enough, but Hannahan’s defense at 3B is great and there are some groundballers on the staff – though Tomlin and Slowey (if he’s the 5th starter) – are extreme FLYBALL pitchers, with Antonetti even acknowledging that “when Josh Tomlin pitches, our OF defense is probably more important than our infield defense” and it would certainly beehove the Indians to maximize defensive efficiency (again, as Antonetti says) “when Derek Lowe pitches or Carmona/Hernandez pitches” (and I’m assuming he just forgot about Masterson?) to put the best infield defense behind them, but this idea that Hannahan should be used as a complementary piece holds more water for me, particularly considering that he thrived when he filled that role down the stretch last year.

Yet somehow, everyone else seems to accept this idea that the best arrangement is with Hannahan being the everyday 3B in Cleveland and with The Chiz heading down I-71. Maybe that’s why I feel like I’m on an island here on this 3B “debate” in that all of it centers around a “Black and White” decision (Hannahan OR Chiz as the EVERYDAY 3B) when there are shades of gray that are actually much more appealing. Allow me to re-introduce those “appealing” shades of gray in something that was laid out at the end of February in this space in pretty specific detail.

Forgive me for the massive cut-and-paste, but it’s an idea that would be fleshed out like this, largely based on the idea that Kotchman and Hafner shouldn’t really face LHP, that is spelled out in greater detail in the piece, which goes on to suggest an alignment that plays up the strengths of the players on hand:
Perhaps the alignment should be Chisenhall playing in the majority of the games at 3B with Hannahan bouncing back and forth between 3B and 1B, based on the pitcher (he’d play 3rd when Masterson or Lowe pitched) and the opposing pitcher (he’d play 1B when Kotchman needed a rest against LHP) with Chisenhall perhaps slotting into some plate appearances at DH, as the Indians attempt to keep Hafner as healthy and fresh as possible throughout the season.
While the argument may be that using Chisenhall in any kind of “platoon” situation doesn’t do his development any great favors, perhaps everyday AB would be there for him, particularly in the light that the Indians are going to want to keep Hafner as rested as possible in the interest of maximizing his usefulness. And that’s really what this all boils down to – maximizing the talents of an imperfect group of players to put them in the best positions possible to succeed. These numbers are overly simplistic, but why couldn’t the Indians figure out usage patterns that looked like this:
Santana – 120 (vs. RHP)
Marson – 40 (vs. LHP)

Kotchman – 120 (vs. RHP)
Hannahan – 40 (vs. LHP)

Chisenhall – 120 (based on CLE pitcher)
Hannahan – 40 (based on CLE pitcher, when not at 1B)

Hafner – 100 (against RHP only, with other days off)
Santana – 30 (filling in around that)
Chisenhall – 30 (filling in around that)

Santana – 150
Chisenhall – 150
Kotchman – 120
Hafner – 100
Hannahan – 80
Marson – 40

Yes…the numbers wouldn’t be that “clean” on any given position (particularly DH), but you get the main idea here, which is to maximize the effectiveness of these players – keep Hafner healthy and as effective as he can be, allow Santana and Chisenhall to remain in the lineup as much as possible to continue their development while allowing their defensive-oriented back-ups to shine when asked to, prevent Kotchman and Hafner from playing against LHP, prevent Marson from playing against RHP, put the best defensive IF in there when the GB pitchers are going, etc.

Despite the fact that it would seem that there would be a feasible “solution” that would give Chisenhall everyday PA in MLB and would maximize Hannahan’s defensive wizardry, the prevailing thought of the day remains to send Lonnie to Columbus to start the season to “work on things” and to allow Hannahan to begin 2012 as the unquestioned everyday 3B. To that, I would point out what was written in this space last week, how Chisenhall – despite his struggles at the plate last year – needs to be making the adjustments that will allow him to thrive in the Big Leagues in Cleveland and not in Columbus.

Is it possible that Lonnie struggles in the early going in MLB, to the point that the Indians would be looking to send him down to Columbus around Memorial Day if the issues that plagued him last year (and seem to be persisting in Spring Training) aren’t overcome?

Of course, but the alternative is what Hannahan is likely to contribute at the plate (last Memorial Day he had a .229 BA / .310 OBP / .353 SLG / .663 OPS with 11 XBH in 173 PA) and the upside for what Chisenhall could be and the level of improvement that he can attain simply doesn’t exist for Hannahan. Among the crowd that screams that the beginning of the 2012 season represents the beginning of this 2-year window, I can’t see how the idea of an improving and compelling long-term solution like Chisenhall (or even the idea of “an improving and compelling long-term solution) doesn’t make sense, even if you just give Chisenhall a month or two to make the adjustments that he’s going to have to…at the MLB level. As a rival scout was recently quoted in the SI MLB Preview issue, “It’s not like Lonnie Chisenhall is George Brett, but a lefthanded-hitting third baseman is really a valuable commodity. He uses the whole field, and he’s got some pop. Hitting .280 or .300 and playing third—that’s a nice package.”

While nobody is looking for The Chiz to be “George Brett” in 2012, all he really needs to be is more appealing than Jack Hannahan on an everyday basis right now. Given that Hannahan’s success in 2011 at the plate did not start until he became a part-time player in the 2nd “half” of his season, it would seem that there is room for each player on the 2012 Opening Day roster.

As I prepare myself to re-watch the last episode of the last episode of the last season of “Mad Men”, entitled “Tomorrowland”, in anticipation of tonight’s season premiere, it’s impossible not to think that “tomorrow” should begin “now” for the Cleveland Indians at the hot corner and that the title of “3B” is the one that should be permanently handed to Chisenhall, starting now…


Grigor said...

This seems to be addressed in the recent interview on LGT here:

with the relevant line:

APV: Given that, would you rather see him start the season in Cleveland or Columbus?

KG: Columbus. Get him comfortable, get him some success, then bring him back to Cleveland.

Paul Cousineau said...

Goldstein's answer that is the lead-up to that "relevant line" is more me, at least. He said that "Chisenhall was completely exploited by the scouting reports out on him when he arrived in Cleveland. The toughest thing for any young player getting to the big leagues is not the adjustments you make, it is adjusting to the adjustments made against you. That's where Chisenhall is right now."

This led Adam to ask Goldstein whether he thought Chiz should start the season in MLB or AAA with KG's opinion (which I think very highly of) being that Chisenhall should start in AAA.

I go in the other direction if "that's where Chisenhall is at right now" because I'd like to see him make those adjustments in Cleveland and don't see Hannahan as the acceptable place-holder that most others do.

Adam said...

Paul's response is why I asked the follow-up question about Chisenhall. If his problem is big league scouting reports on him, seems to me the place he needs to address that is Cleveland. But KG's response was the opposite, as he without hesitation said he would start Chisenhall in Columbus. His response, to me, suggests a confidence factor at play, that Chisenhall's ability to respond to the efforts against him are in part a product of his belief he can do so.

This didn't make the interview transcript, but as an aside, KG referenced Jason Kipnis as a young guy who seems to already have made the adjustments that Chisenhall needs.

Paul Cousineau said...

That's terrific insight Adam (and I've loved the KG interview) as it really boils down to what adjustments need to be made and who they need to be made by. The comment that he was "exploited by scouting reports on him" seem to suggest that the onus is on him (or is it the Indians' scouts/coaches) to make the proper adjustments.

Chiz's comments to Laurila in the off-season were telling to me in terms of that he knows that he needs to adjust to MLB pitching and whether he believes that he can may be just as relevant as whether he can.

That said, the only way for him to get that confidence in MLB and it needs to happen sometime for him to thrive at 3B in CLE. I'd like that "sometime" to be sooner rather than later.

Al Ciammaichella said...

I'll never understand how the same fan base that consistently crucified Casey Blake is this in love with Jack Hannahan. The guy is what he is; a great defender who can't hit. The only way that Chiz is going to learn to hit major league pitching is going to be by trying to hit major league pitching.

Adam said...

In retrospect, I should have pressed KG more on the Chisenhall question and gotten a more specific response as to why he thinks he should start in Columbus. I'm new to this sort of thing. Presumably, if Chisenhall goes to Columbus, it will be with some specific instructions on what he needs to work on from the Cleveland coaching staff. I think the larger point, though, is that Chisenhall is still a guy in development much more than Kipnis. Kipnis, who may or may not meet significant struggles, is here to stay. For Chisenhall, this is a year that is still a developmental one. As such, I'm not opposed to him splitting the year between Columbus and Cleveland.

smaynor said...

I have to think that age is a big separator btween Kipnis and Chisenhall. Lonnie will be 23 all season and Kipnis turns 25 on April 3rd. Those two years can be huge in baseball development.

MTF said...

Paul, your article raises a point beyond Chiz that needs to be emphasized, specifically on pitching and Slowey/Huff. Neither of these guys have had good spring outings and, while spring numbers don't matter for established players, these outings are very concerning. The Indians probably cant count on Hernandez pitching for them, and we need better 6 and 7 options. With legitimate worries about Tomlin cropping up every year and rotation injury concerns, I wish they were in the running for Oswalt (never, I know) or some similar guy.

As far as left field/center field options go, I've never been the believer you are in Brantleys offense- I'd rather see him at 9 than 1 in the order, and he is starting the year with a hamstring issue (does any injury eventually turn chronic more frequently than hamstrings?), so I think our problem is bigger than the mediocre offense we are getting from so many of the disappointing contenders this spring. We are almost at the desperation point in our need to find a better option for the outfield than we have or might find by dangling Jason Donald (and Domonic Brown looks like Alex Escobar v.2 to me).

Mark said...

Speaking of infielders, what's up with the near radio silence on Cord Phelps this spring? I realize he's well behind Kipnis, Jason Donald, and even vets like Jose Lopez/Christian Guzman/Andy LaRoche on the depth chart and that he flopped in his big league tryout last season. But he was a high draft pick (3rd round?) not too long ago. And he's done nothing but hit at each level of the minor leagues.

Unknown said...

If they really believe that this is a 2 year window thing and all reasonable projection systems have Chisenhall out OPS-ing Hannahan by what 20 or 30 pts with inferior defense. Should we go for broke and dangle Chiz for a better LF upgrade than Dominic Brown?

Paul Cousineau said...

The only thing that prevents me from getting behind the 1/2 Columbus-1/2 Cleveland thing is this "window", in terms of wanting Chisenhall's development to move along as quickly as possible and sending him to Columbus for 1/2 the season doesn't do much to allow him to make adjustments.

Ultimately, Chiz's offensive upside outweighs Hannahan's defensive stability, particularly in light of the offensive concerns elsewhere in the lineup.

Not sure who you're confusing me with MTF, but I've been skeptical of Brantley since about the middle of last year and the fact that CBS' Danny Knobler is putting out word that the Indians are out looking for an outfielder AND pitching depth speaks to your valid point.

Maybe they look to move Chiz for a more permanent solution in the OF, but this glut of non-1B infielders who all look to be "about" MLB-ready (Kipnis, Chiz, Donald, Phelps) on top of Asdrubal and all of the NRI depth they built up leads me to believe that they'll be dealing from that "strength" to shore up the weakness in the OF, and perhaps in the rotation.

Bob said...

Of the Duncan / Hannahan / Kotchman triumvirate, my biggest objection would be Casey at the Bat.

Hannahan is mejor league, Chiz isn't quite a finished product, so I see little harm in letting him play in Columbus. He'll be there if needed.

When Shelley comes up to bat, it's a good idea to pay attention, as he does not get cheated with that swing of his. He's as strong as Big Blue, and I think he could blow up this year.

Kotchman, well, the Indians need more than 48 RBI out of the 1B hole. That's not going to get it done.

Spills said...

Not sure if the attention to the article is due to the topic, or the fact that we're less than 2 weeks out, but...

I have to agree with the camp that has The Chiz heading to AAA to start out the season. Something I tend to forget when I get into these conversations is that Acta/PoloMafia are not only managing projections and stats, but also people. Judging by The Chiz's production, and the quotes coming out of spring training, something isn't quite right.

If the kid can go down, mash on some AAA pitching, come back up after everyone has been shown that Supermanahan's second half was a fluke, and save the season...

I'll take that over forcing a kid to work out his problems against MLB pitching in what needs to be a contending season. I think I'm ok with giving Hanahan some rope to prove us wrong, and that his "heavier bat" really was the key to making him a major league hitter.

For this season to work out, we're going to need some things that don't make any sense to occur. On paper, we are not one of the top 5 teams in the AL.

MTF said...

Once again, it might make sense to talk to the Athletics about Coco Crisp. He could be a fit, both at the top of the order and in center field. He's not too expensive ($6 million this year, $7 next plus a $1 million 2014 buyout). I know his name gets tossed around a lot, but it never hurts to ask. As far as pitching goes, the Yankees are trying to unload Freddy Garcia ($4 million). We probably can't hope for somebody as good as Lannan.