The Cleveland Indians have been playing so well this far into the season, its hard to believe the whole team isn't healthy. Good news does seem to be on the horizon, however, as Grady Sizemore, Jason Donald and Joe Smith should all be returning to the Tribe in the coming weeks. The Indians have already made a move for Joe Smith, sending down Frank Herrmann, which will be effective for Friday's (4/15) game.
With all this movement to be coming in the near future, I thought I would throw my two cents out there, on what I would like to see the Indians do (or wish they would have done).
Starting with the Joe Smith move, because it already happened, I think a mistake was already made. I would have rather seen Chad Durbin released, than Herrmann sent back to Columbus. So far this season, Durbin has had only one successful outing (against Boston on April 6th) and in that appearance he only pitched to one batter (and struck him out). Every other appearance he's made, he has allowed a hit and a run, except another one out appearance, where he allowed a single and walked a batter. For those who will claim small sample size, or weather conditions, please note that he has a career ERA of over 5.00 in almost 700 IP. That should be significant enough for anyone. With Herrmann and a number of other young up-and-comers being Major League ready, it seems a waste to have Durbin on the roster.
As far as Sizemore and Donald go, the obvious choice would be to send either an outfielder and Adam Everett down, or two outfielders. Here, I would like to see the Indians do something a little out of the ordinary and only bring Grady back up. The two most vulnerable outfielders would be Travis Buck and Shelley Duncan, and I don't think Donald would be an improvement (as far as offense goes) over either of them or Everett. The team is playing so well right now, it would be a shame to lose either Duncan or Everett, who have both played well in their few opportunities.
Grady will obviously be immediately reinserted into the line-up, the only question remains, "Where?" Manny Acta has already announced that Grady will be playing center field, with Michael Brantley moving to left. This is the best move, but will leave whoever is left of the Austin Kearns/Travis Buck/Shelley Duncan three way platoon with even less at bats. Of these three hitters, the one I would like to see stay on the team most is Shelley Duncan. He provides something, in his pinch hit and power abilities, that no other Indians outfielder has.
The last question is, "where will Grady hit in the line-up." This question remains unanswered, but is interesting to think about. Grady has never played well outside his standard, lead-off spot, but Michael Brantley has been producing very well there this season and is a more prototypical lead-off hitter. The two spot could be a better fit for Sizemore, but Asdrubal Cabrera is there, and he has been the Indians offensive MVP to this point. The next open spot would be the 6 spot, which is occupied by Orlando Cabrera. The problem with either Sizemore or Brantley hitting 6th is the reduction in at bats. The best line-up I can think of right now is this:
1. Michael Brantley
2. Grady Sizemore
3. Shin-Soo Choo
4. Carlos Santana
5. Travis Hafner
6. Asdrubal Cabrera
7. Orlando Cabrera
8. Matt LaPorta
9. Jack Hannahan
It seems unfair to move A. Cabrera, but this line-up has been playing so well, its hard to imagine moving anyone else. The other option would be Sizemore leading off, followed by Asdrubal, with Brantley hitting 7th. Normally this would be a better idea, but all of a sudden, Asdrubal Cabrera has become a power hitter, and if he is going to keep it up, it wouldn't hurt to have him hitting behind Hafner. That's my take on the situation, now let's sit back and see what really happens.