Going into this off-season the Indians' infield looked set, especially considering the utility infielder positions with super-utility man Mike Aviles available to play five different positions and great versatility at first base as well. However, that situation may be changing.
The Indians haven't been totally sold on Lonnie Chisenhall for the past two years and nothing there seems to have changed, especially considering how he ended the season on the bench with Aviles starting. In 2014 he will get another chance at the starting role, but if he fails, Aviles will be right there to replace him. Still looking at the end of 2013, it seemed that Jose Ramirez would be the next utility man in line after a strong September, but Ramirez injured his thumb in the Dominican Winter League and will need surgery that will keep him below full strength through the beginning of Spring Training.
The biggest issue with the possibility of Aviles replacing Chisenhall during the season is that Chisenhall can't play short stop. In fact, he can barely play third base. This could mean that whenever the short stop or Jason Kipnis need a day off, they would just start Chisenhall at third and use Aviles at that position, as generally happened in the later part of last season. There is just one big hitch in that plan, Asdrubal Cabrera has been placed on the trade market and New York is calling.
The Mets need a short stop, but aren't interested in Cabrera at the moment. The Yankees, however, are very interested, most likely as a second baseman for 2014, then as Jeter's replacement in the future. While the Yankees don't have the prospects needed to make a deal, they are the Yankees and generally get whatever they want when they throw their money around. There is little reason for the Indians to keep Cabrera around for his final season before free agency, especially considering his poor play in 2013 and the fact that Francisco Lindor will almost certainly be the starting short stop by 2015. The Mets and Yankees aren't the only teams in the market for a short stop either and with Stephen Drew the only starter left available, Cabrera should have decent value.
If the Indians do trade Cabrera, they will be in a slightly difficult situation, but it will only last a short time. Lindor will likely be able to play for the Indians by July and Ramirez should be available on Opening Day, but may be a little behind. Assuming the Indians give Chisenhall a long leash at third, Aviles could be the starting short stop for the first few months with Ramirez and Ryan Raburn (who has played 34 games at second base in the past two seasons) handling the reserve infielder duties. This situation would leave the Indians a little thin and within one injury of disaster.
This may be why the Indians have been rumored to be interested in Jamey Carroll. He is the kind of player that falls right in line with their recent signings of players like Jason Giambi and the mid-season trade last year for John McDonald. He brings absolutely no offensive ability at this point in his career, but can play all three skill infield positions at an above average level, is a veteran "leader" and would come incredibly cheap. Since he would only be the utility infielder until Lindor arrived, this actually wouldn't be as bad as some of the other Indians free agent signings in recent years.
In all, the Indians without Cabrera won't be much different than with him. If there is anything of value available, they should grab it while they can since he won't be with the team much longer anyway. Lindor is obviously the future and appears to be ready defensively and will be ready offensively very soon. Keeping Cabrera around could be enough to keep Lindor in the minors for most of the season, which would be a mistake. While there would be a slight lack of depth, that short term issue could be dealt with using a league minimum player like Carroll and in the long run, it would greatly benefit the Indians to have Lindor play a half season before becoming the full time starter. Moving Aviles to starter early in the season could also take some pressure off Chisenhall, who wouldn't have to be constantly watching his back waiting to be replaced. In the end, the Cleveland Indians could actually be a better team, now and in the future, without Asdrubal Cabrera.
Chisenhall should watch his back, this year its put up or goodbye. He's another Matt Laporta, a sharponetti consortium mistake. Another Trevor Crowe, a busted first round choice that has been done so much in this front office regime!! Cabrera needs to go, but they won't get much for him! the front office has been doing nothing but Dumpster diving this off season!!!
What are Alex White and Drew Pomeranz doing now? They were so good that Colorado traded both away! What happened to all the first round picks since, say, 1998 on? How many are with the Tribe right now !? I'm talking on the major league roster ! You can have a miss or two along the way, but the Tribe's track record is Terrible!! Right now it looks like Chisenhall will add to that record, starting to look like LaPorta ! Don't get me going on the really bad trades they have made !! This is a CHEAPLY run organization period!! They will bring Cleveland a Championship only if they can get it from bargain basement and has beens and never will be's players with an occasional two or three good ones worked in!! That is why they can't get good free agence to sign here! Even for more Monet !!!
What happened to all those picks from, say the year 2000 on ? They were mostly high choices and I know for a fact they have , in the last year or so, cut two first round choices loose completely. Pomerania and White, good golly, weren't they rookies of the year or something, NOT!,, they are terrible and Colorado has chucked them both !! Time will tell about Lindor, we can only hope, but why did this misfit organization have , at one time three prospects at the short stop position in the system with Cabrera already there, yet no power hitters or even a back up plan at third base?? All those years when they had early picks and came up with squat. Then they don't fill needs, they get countless people at the same position ? You may say they can trade those excess to fill the other needs, don't see it happening ! Still no power to speak of and now they want Santana to try third base ? CHEAP people run CHEAP organizations and that is the answer here. They will bring a Championship to Cleveland, if it comes from the Bargain Basement !!!
Chisenhall has had many chances and has failed them all! I don't know what position he played in High School or whatever he played before the draft. but what did the Indians see in him to make him such a high draft choice? He can't field and he sure can't hit, just a typical lousy , stupid pick as usual !!
@letterman007 Chiz played 3B in Junior College when he was drafted. That draft (2008) as a whole was a bust with only Buster Posey (5) and Brett Lawrie (16) producing anything of note to this point out of the first rounders. In fact, Chisenhall is 13th in WAR of the 46 players taken in the first round. Not a bad choice at all.
As far as the "as usual," since Chisenahall the #1 picks have been Alex White & Drew Pomeranz (who were traded for Ubaldo Jimenez), Francisco Lindor (the most coveted short stop prospect in the country) and Tyler Naquin. It is hard to say any of these were bad picks, especially when they were able to take Kipnis in the second round in 2009. I've also seen the newest pick, Clint Frazier, play in person and, despite his oddities, he is a total beast. The man can hit, run and field at a very high level already considering his age.