Originally written on Waiting For Next Year  |  Last updated 5/16/14
These observations may be unsolicited, but it probably doesn’t take much to get an opinion from Tribe fans on the play of Carlos Santana. The Indians’ unexpected third baseman managed to get his OPS back over .600. In the stat world, we call that trending upward! One can hope, anyway. Watching Santana at the plate has been frustrating on all fronts. That’s why it was refreshing to see him unleash a two-run homer against Toronto Wednesday night. Santana has now collected five hits in his last four games, enough to bring his average to .154 with five homers and 13 RBIs. He’s a switch hitter who’s not getting it done from either side of the plate (.149 as a lefty, and .163 from the right side). He’s also making weak contact, as pointed out in this WFNY feature. The bottom line is that Santana isn’t going to make anyone forget Albert Belle. For his career he’s amassed 971 at-bats hitting clean up, slashing .220/.353/.398 with 40 homers and 143 RBIs. He’s actually most productive batting fifth. In that same time frame, Santana has 413 at-bats in the No. 5 spot and a line that reads .303/.400/.508 With 59 homers and 70 RBIs. Batting sixth, he’s batting .263/.353/.459 in 255 at-bats. The larger point is the Indians need to start getting production from their clean-up man. How many teams contend with a fourth hitter who can’t hit his weight? ***** While moving Santana out of the No. 4 hole is currently just fodder for this column, the Indians made a very real move by promoting 23-year-old rookie Jesus Aguilar from Class AAA Columbus Thursday. Aguilar was promoted in wake of Nyjer Morgan being sent to the 15-day disabled list. The 6-3, 250-pound first baseman gives manager Terry Francona a power threat the team desperately needs. Aguilar hit 16 homers and drove in 105 runs at Class AA Akron last season. This year, he was batting .298 with a .909 OPS. It’s hard to believe that Aguilar is the first stud power prospect since the days of Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez, but hey, better late than never. ***** Michael Bourn is having one of those seasons. You know the story. He starts off on the DL and never really gets it going. In 20 games, Bourn’s slash line reads .258/.286/.366. Additionally, he’s walked four times compared to 27 strikeouts. Yes, as the leadoff hitter, everyone would like to see him on base a lot more. Bourn has a career .334 on-base percentage. Bourn’s defense has also seen better days, and that’s to be expected when a speed guy is nursing a hamstring injury. The former Atlanta Brave is just two years removed from being the top ranked defensive center fielder in the game. This year, he’s ranked 28th (-0.7 UZR) when compared to players who have played at least 90 innings. It was disappointing to see Morgan go down with a knee injury because he did such an excellent job covering for Bourn. At the plate, Morgan was slashing .341/.429/.439. Defensively, Morgan is ranked lower than Bourn (-2.8 UZR) but his production at the plate was hard to be ignore. ***** Cleveland is Draft City, so I’m looking forward to that other draft. No, not the NBA, but rather that cut-the-tension with a knife nail-biter known as the MLB Draft, which commences June 5. LetsgoTribe.com laid out the Tribe’s draft position the other day, and the Indians have four picks in the first round. With these early selections, I’d like to see the front office target pitching. Any player chosen probably won’t see Cleveland for two or three years at the least, but the Indians have a real problem in their minor league organization that needs addressed, because other than Trevor Bauer, there are no impact pitchers ready to jump into a big-league rotation. This becomes a problem next year, especially if Justin Masterson leaves for greener pastures. Bauer could be in the rotation now, but after the Bauer Outage, the cabinets are bare. Perhaps the next best prospect outside of Bauer is Cody Anderson, who was named the organization’s Minor League Player of the Year in 2013 after going 9-4 at Class A Carolina. Anderson is at Class AA Akron this season with a 5.36 ERA in eight starts. He’s still relatively new to starting, but FanGraphs scouting report states he has a low-to-mid 90s fastball with the slider being his secondary pitch. ***** When Justin Masterson pitched that Opening Day gem against Oakland, I thought he was in store for a big year. Free agency is right around the corner and he was coming of a fantastic spring. This was his time to cash in…and he’s done anything but. “Mediocre” is currently the working title to his 2014 campaign, but there’s still time to turn things around. For the season, he’s allowed allowed five earned runs in four of his nine starts.
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