Ben Francisco, come on down. You're the next contestant on "Does Anyone Around Here Know How to Hit?"
"Our best opportunity is to put other guys in the lineup at this point," Toronto GM J.P. Riccardi told The Associated Press. "Obviously, reduced playing time is not something that he was interested in. In order to let him go forward and get on with his career, I think it's fair to do it at this point."
"I don't know that we have the luxury of waiting two to three months for somebody to kick in because we can't let this league or this division get away from us," Riccardi said.
Wouldn’t it be cool if that was Tribe GM Mark Shapiro talking about getting rid of Jason Michaels instead of Blue Jays GM J.P. Riccardi talking about cutting Frank Thomas? Oh, an Indians fan can only dream. ...
Toronto, who still owes the Big Hurt over $7 million for this year, cut ties with their DH after the slugger struggled to open the season, batting .167 with 3 HR and 11 RBI. This is Toronto, in the same division as the Red Sox and the Yankees, who is worried about getting too far back in the standings early in the season.
No such urgency on the Wahoo front.
Shapiro should have gone out and gotten a left field bat in the offseason, but instead chose to stick with the deplorable platoon of Jason Michaels and David Dellucci. Michaels is hitting worse than the pitchers in the NL, but plays decent defense. David Dellucci has started to imitate a professional baseball player at the plate, but plays defense like your half-retarded brother-in-law who your wife makes you have on your softball team. Meanwhile, Ben Francisco, one of the organization’s top prospects, is stuck in Buffalo behind this platoon.
And because of the current makeup of the Tribe roster – read: a team filled with utility players forced to play everyday – there’s little to nothing that can be done to rectify what is currently the AL’s worst offense, a group of guys that mustered one run in more than 18 innings against the Twins. Unless the Tribe is ready to cut ties with Michaels for good and give Francisco, who should have made the club out of spring training, a shot to play everyday, it doesn’t matter how Wedge shuffles his lineup of utility players.
Calling up Francisco, barring a trade for a left fielder, is the only real option. Asdrubal’s not going anywhere at second, save the occasional spell by Jamey Carroll or Josh Barfield, should he get called up. Casey Blake and his $7 million aren’t going anywhere, especially with Andy Marte behind him. You’re not going to bench Jhonny Peralta or move him to third midseason, and Franklin Gutierrez is going to be given every chance in the world to show that he can play right field everyday.
So the Tribe should get Francisco up here now, cut Michaels, make Dellucci the fourth outfielder, and see whether or not you go after a left fielder or a third basemen in a trade that will certainly include Andy Marte at the deadline, if not sooner. In other words: show some urgency and stop saying “it’s early,” because the division could be gone before you know it.
Bull in the Pen:
I understand why Eric Wedge trotted out Rafael Perez for the 10th inning in Sunday’s game against the Twins. He had been pitching well, and really, beyond Rafael Betancourt, there’s no one in the bullpen who Wedge seems to really trust, and he was saving Raffy Right to close the game in case the Indians pulled ahead.
That being said, after recording the first two outs of the 10th, Perez gave up two very hard-hit singles up the middle on two very flat, hittable sliders/curveballs that stayed up and over the plate. He had already made about 30 pitches in his inning-plus of work, and was facing the Twins lineup for the second time. Justin Morneau, perhaps the best hitter on the Twins, was getting his second look at Perez after striking out against the lefty in the bottom of the 8th.
Why not use Craig Breslow in this situation? Raffy is getting tired. His offspeed pitches are flat and staying in the zone. Breslow, while not looking great, has a 0.0 ERA in five-plus innings of work this year. Isn’t he on the team to be the lefty-on-lefty guy? To get that one tough out? Against lefties? Like Morneau? Just saying. -- Vince the Polack