Found May 01, 2012 on Waiting For Next Year:
Mlb_may_19_563d

Matt LaPorta clubs one of his two home runs on Monday

He’s doing it again, folks. And so many of you are falling for it.

Good old Matt LaPorta. The one-time top 10 MLB prospect who was the crown jewel of the CC Sabathia trade back in 2008 is dominating AAA pitching once again and trying to make his way back to the big leagues. He’s on his last legs in the organization that wanted him badly four years ago and he’s doing his best to make the most of it.

Don’t get too excited.

LaPorta is an enigma. The 27-year-old has been given every chance to be the starting first baseman and the middle of the order, right-handed power bat that the club still doesn’t have. They don’t have that bat because LaPorta never developed at the Major League level. Yet for the fourth different time, he is killing it AAA.

After last night’s two-home run performance, the current International League’s player of the week has stats that are eye-popping. In 21 games, Matty is hitting .380/.451/1.210 with eight home runs, 17 RBIs, and 11 walks. If we hadn’t seen this before, we would be all screaming for LaPorta to be called up to help this struggling offense. But this is why he his Mike MaTola, AAA All-Star.

In 2010 over his first 18 games in Columbus, he hit .362 with an OPS of 1.094, five home runs, and 16 RBI and received a call up. It never translated in Cleveland. Not in 2009 when he first came up, not in 2010, and certainly not in 2011 when he was handed the first base job.

So please, don’t fall into this trap and be fooled. AAA pitching is essentially chalk fringe 4A and retreads. LaPorta has seen this level now for parts of four seasons. The breaking pitches he can’t lay off of in the Majors he just doesn’t see as a member of the Columbus Clippers.

Imagine how different this team would be had MaTola become what he was supposed to; a guy who would hit .265-.270 with 30 homer, 100 RBI power.

He could be hitting somewhere in between Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Santana, and Travis Hafner, changing the entire dynamic of the Iineup. It would be so left-handed dominant. The offseason would have been completely different. There would be Casey Kotchman. GM Chris Antonetti would have concentrated on adding a legitimate left fielder instead of that rag tag bunch of veterans that was a dumpster fire in spring training. Shelley Duncan would concentrate on what he does best, being a right-handed stick off the bench who gets starts against lefties. And most importantly, they wouldn’t have a black hole in terms of organizational depth in terms of the first base position.

Ugh. MaTola.

Seeing him own AAA pitching is more aggravating to me than anything. The what could have been with LaPorta haunts me and the Indians organization. We all had such high hopes for the guy when we the Tribe made him the centerpiece in the first of three big trades that were supposed to shape the organizations future.

By all accounts, Matt is a great guy who hasn’t whined and complained. He just continues to work every day to get better. Maybe It is finally clicking for him. Or maybe this is Andy Marte version 2012. The latter is the more likely scenario. But LaPorta isn’t done just yet. The longer Kotchman looks more like the .210 hitter of 2010 rather than the .300 hitter of 2011, the better it is for LaPorta.

Will we see Matty again in Cleveland? Only time will tell.

Photo: Joe Santry

THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Damon to report to Indians on Tuesday; will wear 33

It is official. Johnny Damon will join the big league club on Tuesday- “The Indians will have some help blowing into the Windy City this week. Veteran outfielder Johnny Damon will join the club for its upcoming road series against the White Sox. Damon has spent the bulk of the past two weeks training at the Tribe’s complex in Goodyear, Ariz., but he will have a locker awaiting...

Travis Hafner moves up Cleveland’s all-time home run list

With his two run shot in the ninth inning, Travis Hafner passed Rocky Colavito for ninth place on the Indians’ all-time home run list. Hafner now has 191 career homers for the Indians. (He hit one as a member of the Rangers.) Hafner now has three home runs on the season. He hit 13 in each of the last two seasons. He has 12 RBI on the year and an OPS of .860. The updated list- 1...

Indians make roster move: drop Jose Lopez

In order to add OF Johnny Damon to the roster, the Indians had to make a subsequent move. According to Paul Hoynes, infielder Jose Lopez is the odd man out. Lopez was hitting .190 with one home run and three RBI in five games and 21 at-bats with the Indians. Jimenez starts for the Indians, against left-hander Chris Sale of the White Sox. Lopez was part of Manny Acta’s right-handed...

Video: Indians Fall Victim to Chicago Home Run Smoke

We discussed it here, but in the event you missed it live, MLB.com allows fans to see the miscue for themselves. Notice the completely different, and expected, reactions from the two broadcasting crews. [Related: Matt LaPorta: We Won’t Get Fooled Again…Will We?]

The Johnny Damon Upgrade

Save Us Obi-John Kenobi. You're Our Only Hope! So now it’s official: Johnny Damon will be joining the Indians in Chicago today.  He’ll wear No. 33.  He might wear a beard.  He’ll almost certainly play a good deal of left field. I’m not here to beat up the Indians for entering the season with such a crummy corps of corner outfield options.   But I’m going to anyway...

Johnny Damon set to join Indians

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Outfielder Johnny Damon will join the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday for their three-game series in Chicago. The Indians signed Damon to a minor league deal on April 17 and it will become a one-year, 1.25 million major league contract when he's added to the 40-man roster. The 38-year-old has spent the past two weeks at Cleveland's training facility in Goodyear...

Cleveland going with extra outfielder

Prior to their 7-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox Tuesday, the Indians officially added outfielder Johnny Damon to their roster. To make room on the roster for Damon, the Indians designated infielder Jose Lopez for assignment. The corresponding roster move to the addition of Damon, removing an infielder, was somewhat of a surprise. It was believed that outfielder Aaron Cunningham...

Tribe Weekend Wrapup: Progressive Field Magic, Starting Pitching, and The Sun

It was another odd weekend of baseball down at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario. In case you hadn’t heard (and judging by the attendance, you haven’t – ha ha) the Indians offense has just a tad bit of trouble scoring these days. This weekend was no exception. It certainly didn’t help matters when the Los Angeles Angels sent Jeff Weaver, Dan Haren, and Ervin Santana out...

Santana, Hafner homer as Tribe top ChiSox

CHICAGO (AP) -- Carlos Santana and Travis Hafner homered to lead the Cleveland Indians to a 6-3 win over the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday night. Santana hit his fourth homer of the season, a three-run shot in the fifth inning that landed well behind the Indians' bullpen in right field. Hafner added a two-run shot in the ninth. Jack Hannahan doubled home Michael Brantley with...

Damon to join Indians in Chicago

The Cleveland Indians announced on Monday that outfielder Johnny Damon will join the team in Chicago on Tuesday, when the Indians arrive to begin a three-game series with the White Sox. Damon, 38, has been in extended spring training at the team's complex in Arizona since signing a minor-league contract on April 17. Cleveland will need to make a corresponding move to clear...

White Sox 7, Indians 2: Tribe Drops the Ball in Chicago

The early-April Chicago rain gave way to fireworks, smoke and free passes from the Indians’ stirrup-wearing starter. After an hour delay, the White Sox played host to the Cleveland Indians who would go on to play one of their fundamentally worst games of the still-young 2012 season. Errant pitches, botched grounders, dropped pop-ups and miscommunication on stolen base attempts...

Watching Ubaldo is Fun!

This is getting downright disgraceful. After his last start, I proclaimed to be officially off “the Ubaldo Jimenez will turn it around” bandwagon. Many of you told me that I was hasty and needed to give him more time to find himself. Was last night’s horrific performance where he lasted just four and two-thirds innings while walking six Chicago White Sox, enough for you to...

5/1 Game Recap: Indians 2 - White Sox 7

Player of the Game In what could be his last game as a starter, Shelley Duncan went 2-3 with a double, home run and walk to win tonight's Player of the Game. He earned a total score of 4.68, aided by his two runs scored and the RBI from the home run. It was his highest score since April 15th and the first Indians home run in over a week. With a -4.45, Asdrubal Cabrera had...
MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.