There have been a few rumors about the Indians running around during the Winter Meetings. The majority of these have involved an improvement to the offense, specifically first base. The Indians, according to indians.com, have already proclaimed themselves out of the running for Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and Carlos Pena (who would want him?) so they are currently looking for Matt LaPorta's replacement through trade. They have already signed Matt Pagnozzi to a minor league deal leading to even more rumors of Carlos Santana moving to first to replace LaPorta. Just for a little background information on Pagnozzi, he is a 29 year old career minor leaguer who hit .275 in AAA last year and was dropped by the Rockies and Pirates. Assuming that the Indians do not make a major signing or trade, let me show you some numbers that will hopefully stop the talk of Carlos Santana to first base.
If Santana moves to first, this will completely remove LaPorta from the lineup. This means the two options at first/catcher are LaPorta/Santana or Santana/Marson. For some people seem to be confused and think that Santana will be replacing LaPorta, but that is not the case. Santana is a given either way, so it is actually the back-up catcher who is replacing LaPorta. The reason Santana's numbers are so special are because he plays catcher. Last season he was one of the top two catchers in the AL, but when compared to firstbasemen was closer to sixth.
This is oversimplified, but I took the numbers of Lou Marson, Carlos Santana and Matt LaPorta from their time with the Indians, averaged it out and extrapolated it out over 162 games, since none of them have completed a full season yet (except Santana in 2011). First I added Santana and LaPorta's numbers together the see what we can expect from the combo if they play every single game next year.
While these numbers aren't spectacular (divide everything by two to see what it is per player), just wait until you see it when you through Lou Marson into the mix.
As you can see, the numbers from the first line that were mostly accrued by Santana have stayed the same or increased (walks and steals), but all power and hit numbers have been demolished. Most noteably, the combined slugging percent is .048 points lower. Now, a .400+ slugging percent isn't really anything that great (the Indians record is .690 by Albert Belle) at least it's better than .380. I hate that I have to spell it out like this, but I read comments of people every day talking about how LaPorta should be released in favor of the Marson/Santana combination and hopefully this will do something to eliminate that ignorance.
Agreed, thank you! Santana has great stats...for a catcher. Lou Marson has a nice arm, but for a weak offense looking to contend, the last thing we can afford is another .220 bat in the lineup. The Tribe needs to sign either a 1b or LF or both to be serious about contending in 2012. More than likely, they'll have to settle on one of the two, and give either Matt LaPorta or Michael Brantley a full-time starting job. Among the likely candidates who've at least been mentioned in rumors - Willingham, Blake, DeRosa, Cameron, Kotchman, Sanchez, Lee, Morales - I'd love to see us make a serious offer for Willingham and Morales. I don't think they'd be willing to eat enough of Lee's contract, and Sanchez isn't likely to be moved after Albert signed in LA. There's no way the Angels keep both Trumbo and Morales, and they don't want either staying in the same division. I wanna see Kendrys Morales in a Tribe uni in 2012!
I concur with your analysis. And as a Twins fan, I know that what makes a great catcher special is............ Actually having him play catcher! Shocking, I know. (Boooo Mauer.)
So even if you guys don't sign Pujols somehow, you leave Santana at catcher and definitely don't cut Laporta!
@Max Forstag I would love to see the Tribe pick up another bat, but unless he is far superior to LaPorta they shouldn't even bother. The idea of Casey Blake or Mark DeRosa returning sickens me. I do like Brantley as a starting outfielder and would like to see him in center next year with Grady moving to left. Trevor Crowe seems poised for a good year and I don't want to see him buried on the depth chart unless its for a very good reason.
@Max Forstag For sure. You guys definitely need to be talking trade with the Angels now that they have Albert. Surely something could get done there?