Today, according to the Tribe Insider on twitter, the Indians replaced hitting coach Jon Nunnally with Bruce Fields. Nunnally had been the Indians hitting coach since the beginning of the 2010 season and had been with the team since 2006. Before today, Fields was the minor league hitting coordinator for all levels. Since no official announcement has been made as of yet, it is only speculative why Nunnally was replaced. One possible reason is that the Indians hitters have struggled for the most part this season, with only three hitters batting over .250 right now. This move does not seem as impulsive as it could have been however, as it comes after the Indians have won 2 out of the last 3 games and did not occur over their long losing streak. The hitting coach is one of the hardest position to judge as batting struggles can base around so many different things. We just have to trust Chris Antonetti and Mark Shapiro know what they're doing and made the right move.
Player of the Game
Carlos Carrasco won his third game in a row and his third 'Player of the Game' in a row at the same time. Carrasco earned 6.00 'POG' points by pitching 6.1 innings, allowing only one run on 4 hits with 4 strikeouts. For the second game in a row, only one Indian had a negative score, this time it was Jack Hannahan who went 0-4. Other than him and Lou Marson, every Tribesman had a score of over 0.98.
Carlos Carrasco has now allowed only one earned run over his last 3 starts. After going 21+ shutout innings, Carrasco finally gave up a single run to the Pirates.
Because of that one run allowed, Carrasco needed more run support than he has gotten in his last two starts. Over those starts the Indians scored a total of 2 runs while winning both games. Tonight the Indians matched that total in the first 2 innings and went on to bring home 3 more before the game was over.
Shin-Soo Choo is again showing signs of breaking through his season long slump as he has walked 6 times in his last 4 games, including 2 tonight. Choo also added an opposite field single to bring home Asdrubal Cabrera in the 7th. It is almost always a positive sign when a good hitter in a slump stops trying to pull the ball and will go with what the pitcher gives him.
The offense played well tonight, even though Travis Hafner and Matt LaPorta were both absent. Most notably the base running was much better than it has been recently with the Tribe getting 3 steals and 2 extra bases during the game. Grady Sizemore also had a great base running play when he made it to third on a ball that was almost a home run. Rather than going into a trot, he kept going full speed to third which allowed him to score on Michael Brantley's sacrifice fly.
The two relief pitchers used in tonight's game each have impressive streaks going. Tony Sipp has now went 7 straight games without allowing a run and Joe Smith has went 15. This just continues to prove the age old axiom that nobody scores against the Bullpen Mafia.
Travis Hafner got the day off, meaning he will now not start 10 of his first 15 games back, instead of the 9 he will be forced to miss anyway due to interleague play.
Final Score: The Indians guarantee themselves 1st place for one more day,
Cleveland Indians 5
Pittsburgh Pirates 1
Player of the Game
Josh Tomlin threw 6.2 innings, only allowing 6 hits and one run to win tonight's 'Player of the Game'. Tomlin is coming off 4 straight negative games, so it is great to see him getting back to where he was before that. Prior to those games, Tomlin had been positive every game of the season and won 4 'Player of the Game' awards. Carlos Santana put up a nice effort as well with a home run and two singles, knocking in 2, and his 'POG' score of 5.07 would have won in all but one of the last 8 games. Overall, every single Indian had a positive score except for Adam Everett, who was only in the game as an injury replacement. It is the first game in recent memory that only one player was negative.
The Indians had all 9 starting hitters in the lineup tonight for the first time since May 10th. Don't expect this to last long, however, since Matt LaPorta was injured during the game and will certainly be out tomorrow, probably going on the 15 day DL.
Travis Hafner played well in his first game back, which is not surprising since he has been taking batting practice all week and had multiple hits in both his minor league rehab starts. The best thing that could possibly happen for the Tribe's offense was the return of Travis Hafner. Pronk went 1 for 3 with a double, a walk and an RBI.
Matt LaPorta's injury shows the weakest part of the Indians depth chart. While the Indians are stacked in the minor leagues with second basemen, third basemen and outfielders, first basemen are in short supply. Right now the only real options are the return of Shelley Duncan, the resurrection of Nick Johnson or the major league debut of Jared Goedert or Chad Huffman. Every player has negatives, but there isn't much of a choice if LaPorta does go on the disabled list. Huffman and Goedert are young and first base is not their primary position, Johnson is a complete unknown offensively at this point in his career and Shelley Duncan plays defense like a tree.
On a side note, Jack Hannahan played very well at first in LaPorta's absence, bringing up the possibility of the Indians bringing up a third baseman rather than a first baseman. The 'Feathers Down' in this is that top prospect Lonnie Chisenhall recently went down with a concussion and is now on the disabled list himself.
Final Score: Cleveland Indians 5 - Pittsburgh Pirates 1
This is the Pirates’ first visit to Cleveland since 2006, when the Indians took two of three games. The Pirates took two of three games from the Indians each of the past two seasons in Pittsburgh. The Pirates lead the all-time series, 15-12.
Tonight: RHP Kevin Correia (8-5, 3.73) vs. RHP Josh Tomlin (7-4, 4.14)
Tomorrow Night: LHP Paul Maholm (3-7, 3.12) vs. RHP Carlos Carrasco (6-3, 4.09)
Sunday Afternoon: RHP Jeff Karstens (4-4, 2.66) vs. RHP Justin Masterson (5-5, 3.16)
Welcome Back, Carter!
The Tribe has reactiviated DH Travis Hafner off the disabled list prior to todays game. To make room on the 25-man roster, Travis Buck was optioned to Class AAA Columbus. Hafner is in the lineup and batting cleanup tonight as the Tribe opens a three-game series against the Pirates at Progressive Field. Hafner is hitting .345 with eight doubles, five homers and 22 RBI in 32 games for the Indians. Hafner suffered a strained right oblique May 18 in Chicago. He felt pain during a batting practice swing as the Tribe prepared to play the White Sox. He was placed on the DL on May 20.
Pirate News & Notes:
CF Andrew McCutchen lost a 15-game hitting streak Thursday even though he singled in the Pirates' 5-4 victory in Houston. The Mets appealed a scoring decision Saturday in Pittsburgh that McCutchen's double should have been ruled an error, and a Major League Baseball panel unanimously concurred. His streak now is at five.
3B Josh Harrison returned to the lineup after missing four games because of a strained oblique muscle. Playing before family and friends in his native Texas, he delivered an RBI double to deep right in the sixth inning.
RHP Joel Hanrahan, one of the majors' top closer with 19 saves in as many chances, was not available Thursday because of manager Clint Hurdle's personal rule of never using a reliever in more than three consecutive games. RHP Jose Veras got his first save with the Pirates despite giving up a run in the ninth inning.
SS Ronny Cedeno's relay and C Dusty Brown's tough tag resulted in a 7-6-3 double play that nailed Houston's Hunter Pence in the third inning. Cedeno has made only one error in the last six weeks.
LHP Tony Watson, one of the two rookies in the bullpen, continues to impress. He pitched two scoreless, hitless innings in relief of shaky RHP James McDonald, keeping his ERA at 0.00 through two weeks since being promoted.
The Pirates have won 10 of the last 15 meetings between these two teams, scoring at least five runs in eight of the 10 wins.
Garrett Jones is hitting .348 (24-for-69) with seven extra-base hits and 14 RBI in 19 career interleague games.
Kevin Correia is 7-1 with a 2.42 ERA in eight road starts in 2011. Opponents are hitting just .216 against Correia in those road starts. His seven wins on the road this year are also the most in the majors.
Stat of the Series:
4—Number of times the Pirates won the first two of a three-game series, only to fall short of a sweep. That changed Thursday with a 5-4 victory in Houston that finally brought a sweep.
He said what?
"Oh, yeah. We're checking what other teams are doing."
—1B Garrett Jones, after the Pirates' sweep Thursday, on whether the Pirates are scoreboard watching.
3B Josh Harrison (mild right oblique strain) was out of the lineup June 12-15. He returned to action June 16.
C Chris Snyder (herniated disk in lower back) went on the 15-day disabled list June 9, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 10. He had surgery in mid-June, and he might miss the rest of the season.
RHP Evan Meek (right shoulder tendinitis) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 8. It's his second DL stint for the same ailment this season. His velocity dipped, but Meek said he did not feel pain. He will have the shoulder examined June 13 by Dr. James Andrews. Meek was cleared of any major injury by Dr. Andrews in Pensacola, Fla., and he will remain on a rest-and-rehabilitation path that has him on course to return in late July.
C Ryan Doumit (non-displaced fracture in left ankle) went on the 15-day disabled list May 30. He was headed to Bradenton, Fla., on June 9 to begin his rehabilitation. He is out until late July. Doumit had a CT scan on June 13 that confirmed his injury was healing as expected, and he left the team for Bradenton, Fla., where he was expected to begin his rehabilitation.
3B Steve Pearce (partially torn muscle in right calf) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 29. There is no timetable for his return.
LHP Joe Beimel (left elbow inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list May 28. He threw off a mound June 14 for the first time since the injury.
3B Pedro Alvarez (sore right quadriceps) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 20. He was rehabbing in extended spring training in early June when he suffered a setback. There is no timetable for his return.
RHP Mike Crotta (right elbow inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list May 11.
RHP Ross Ohlendorf (strained right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list April 9, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 30. He threw off flat ground for the first time April 17. Ohlendorf threw from 120 feet April 26, and he threw two bullpen sessions in late April. He pitched his first live batting practice May 3 and threw another May 6. He had a setback, but he resumed throwing over the second weekend of May. He began throwing off a mound in Bradenton, Fla., in late May.
RHP Kevin Hart (right shoulder surgery in May 2010) went on the 60-day disabled list March 18. He was throwing in Bradenton, Fla., in mid-April, but the timetable for his return was uncertain.
LHP Paul Maholm
RHP Kevin Correia
RHP James McDonald
RHP Charlie Morton
RHP Jeff Karstens
RHP Joel Hanrahan (closer)
RHP Chris Resop
RHP Jose Veras
LHP Tony Watson
LHP Daniel Moskos
RHP Daniel McCutchen
RHP Tim Wood
1B Lyle Overbay
2B Neil Walker
SS Ronny Cedeno
3B Brandon Wood
INF Pedro Ciriaco
INF Josh Harrison
LF Jose Tabata
CF Andrew McCutchen
RF Xavier Paul
OF Garrett Jones
OF Matt Diaz
Pirates GM Neal Huntington has built the club back to respectability.
Huntington is the former assistant GM of the Tribe.
Player of the Game
Frank Herrmann won his second 'Player of the Game' award by coming in for Mitch Talbot in the 5th inning. Talbot left with 2 runners on and no one out and Herrmann was able to strand one of those runners and go on to pitch another 2 innings. During that time he struck out a batter and got two double plays, while only allowing 3 base runners. His final 'POG' score was 2.56.
Early in the game the Tribe hitters took advantage of Comerica Field's huge outfield by hitting balls into the gaps and down the line. Grady Sizemore tried to hit for a gap and flew out, but after him Michael Brantley hit a triple and scored on a bad throw to third, Asdrubal Cabrera doubled and Shin-Soo Choo tripled down the line. Later in the game the Indians were completely unable to get on base, but it was a good sign to score twice in the first inning.
When Josh Tomlin starts tomorrow it will mark 6 straight times through the rotation without a missed start. While the pitching has not been as strong as it was early in the season, at least the Indians know they will have a Major League talent starter on the hill every single night. This is very important since the injury of Alex White has made him unavailable.
Austin Kearns has not played in 9 of the last 10 games and Chad Durbin has not played in the last 4. Coincidentally, over the last four games the Indians have won twice after losing 14 of the 18 games before that and my stress levels have dropped significantly. Now that these placeholders have been taken out of the starting lineup and removed from any game action, the next move is to either bring up some players who can actually help the team or sign one of the many players that have been released recently.
Carlos Santana has struggled over the last 6 games with only 2 hits over that time, both singles. During this cold spell he has struck out 8 times and has no production stats (runs or RBI). Santana's struggles would make a drop in the lineup make a lot more sense than his recent move up to 2nd. It also looks like benching Santana on his days off and leaving Matt LaPorta in the game may be the better move than what they have been doing, which is benching LaPorta so Lou Marson can catch, while Santana plays first.
Final Score: Cleveland Indians 2 - Detroit Tigers 6
Player of the Game
Orlando Cabrera took home his fourth 'Player of the Game' trophy and his first since April. Maybe having a day off every four games or so will do him good. At his age, platooning with Cord Phelps might be a good thing for the Tribe. Not because Phelps necessarily adds value to the team, but Cabrera could be a better player with an occasional day off. His final 'POG' score was 4.45.
Orlando Cabrera went 3-4 with two RBI's. His three hits came in very important spots tonight; he singled in a run in the fourth and doubled in one in the fifth, breaking a 4-4 tie.
Fausto Carmona through five strong innings but the reason why chief wahoo has a feather up in his direction tonight is because of what will not show up in the box score; he battled through a shakey first inning, when he gave up a solo home-run to Brennan Boesch and a two-RBI single to Alex Avila. Fans are used to Carmona completely falling apart after a rough inning. But this time he battled, kept throwing his sinker and emotions in check, performed well for the next four innings to provide what could be his most important performance of the season thus far.
Shin-Soo Choo started swinging the bat well again tonight. Although the box score will only show two hits tonight, he hit the ball hard in four plate appearances. He also walked once.
How 'bout that bullpen! Once again, they held the lead late in the game against a very good Detroit lineup. Rafael Perez, Vinne Pestano, Tony Sipp and Chris Perez did not allow a hit in four innings of work. Each pitcher had at least one strike-out (C. Perez had two).
Carmona had such a good day, he shall be mentioned twice! He did not have good command in the first inning. He worked from behind to most of the hitters and seemed to be "out of it" at times.
FINAL: TRIBE 6
Player of the Game
Justin Masterson took home his 5th 'Player of the Game' of the season in a very ugly game that saw only one other player with a 'POG' score over 0.00 (Joe Smith 0.23). Masterson pitched alright, but was the victim of 2 unearned runs and no offensive support whatsoever. Masterson took the loss, allowing 7 hits, all singles, and 5 walks in 6.1 innings. His final 'POG' score was 1.96.
2,001 a Hit Odyssey. Orlando Cabrera hit his 2,001st hit of his career today and it was a special one, ending Justin Verlander's no-hit bid after 8.1 innings. Since Orlando hits, at most, one hit every other game, we here at Burning River Baseball will continue to note every single one, until he gets to 3,000 two decades from now.
The Indians have averaged half a run over the last 4 games.
Orlando Cabrera was all over the place today. Not only did he get the Indians first hit, but he also made an error that allowed two unearned Tiger runs. Orlando also made a nice play on a ball that had been booted by Asdrubal Cabrera. The real question is why was he even in the field in the first place. Now that the Indians have options on the bench, it seems like they should be putting the best defense out there every night, which would mean Cord Phelps at second base and Grady Sizemore in center field. Manny Acta is being very careful with Grady at this point by DHing him whenever he can, but this is really hurting the Indians defense.
Everyone knows the best thing to get a slumping offense back on its feet is to play against the best pitcher in the league. Almost getting no-hit is just the shot-in-the-arm that this team needed.
Final Score: Cleveland Indians 0, Detroit Tigers 4
They're 7-4 in June and have a chance to move past the Indians into first place in the AL Central. Verlander is 10-11 in his career against the Tribe, but 6-1 in the last two seasons. Miguel Cabrera is hitting .455 (5-for-11) with two homers against the Tribe this season.
Indians lead Tigers, 3-0, this season. Tigers lead, 1,051-1,025, overall.
RHP Justin Masterson (5-4, 3.18) vs. RHP Justin Verlander (7-3, 2.89) Tonight at 7:05 p.m.
RHP Fausto Carmona (3-8, 5.71) vs. RHP Brad Penny (5-5, 4.69) Wednesday at 7:05 p.m.
RHP Mitch Talbot (2-3, 4.01) vs. RHP Max Scherzer (8-2, 4.39) Thursday at 1:05 p.m.
RF Magglio Ordonez (right ankle weakness) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 11. Ordonez tested his right ankle pregame workouts May 27-28 in Detroit. He began a rehab assignment with Class AAA Toledo on June 3, and was activated June 13.
3B Brandon Inge (mononucleosis) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 1.
LHP Brad Thomas (sore left elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 11. He threw batting practice for the first time since his elbow locked up and could be ready for a rehab assignment at some point the week of June 13-20.
2B Carlos Guillen (left knee microfracture surgery in September 2010) went on the 15-day disabled list March 30. He remained at the team's Florida camp in early April to rehab. By late April, he had begun running. He worked out at Comerica Park in mid-May, taking batting and fielding practice, but then returned to Florida. He was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 22, and he had stopped doing baseball activities as of Memorial Day weekend. He joined the Tigers for batting practice the second weekend of June but wasn't expected back until at least the All-Star break.
RHP Joel Zumaya (right elbow surgery in July 2010) experienced pain in the elbow during his Feb. 27 spring debut, and he went on the 15-day disabled list March 30. He was transferred to the 60-day DL on April 18. He had exploratory surgery May 10, and he might be out for the season. He will be evaluated sometime in June.
LHP Phil Coke came out firing bullets to Tampa Bay, his fastball hitting 95 mph for his first two pitches. He eased off his fastball a couple of innings into the game, but his breaking ball got better and he was able to mix the two effectively through 6 1/3 shutout innings. Coke wound up without a decision, Detroit scoring only one run for him and Tampa Bay tying it in the eighth.
RF Magglio Ordonez helped Detroit in his return to the Tigers—but with his arm, not his bat. Ordonez returned to action after being on the disabled list since May 11, and he went 0-for-2 and was hit by a pitch. Both outs were sharply lined, to second and third, and he looked much stronger at the plate than earlier this season. Where Ordonez helped out the most, though, was turning a seventh-inning flyout to medium right field with one out and the bases loaded into an inning-ending double play with a throw to the plate. The ankle weakness that plagued him since the beginning of the season is gone. He was taken out of the game for defensive reasons following the seventh.
RHP Joaquin Benoit gave up the tying run in the eighth inning, the second consecutive appearance he has allowed a run after 10 scoreless outings in a row. Benoit yielded three straight one-out singles—two of them on 1-2 counts—and then a sacrifice fly to right that created a 1-1 tie. Benoit got himself into trouble by getting too many pitches up.
2B Ryan Raburn returned to the lineup after sitting out two games and ended an 0-for-7 skid with a single to short his first time up. It was his only hit of the game, but he looked visibly relaxed at the plate and not at all like the befuddled batter he was in the three games prior to his two-game benching.
C Alex Avila had two hits, and he also threw out two runners on the bases and made a key tagout at the plate. Avila's two hits did not factor into Detroit's 2-1, 10-inning win over Tampa Bay, but his defensive work did. Avila threw out a runner trying to steal third with one out in the fourth and got PR Sam Fuld when Fuld overslid second on a two-out steal attempt in the ninth. But his biggest contribution was catching a throw and making a sweep tag at the plate on LF Justin Ruggiano, who was trying to score on a medium-depth fly to right. RF Magglio Ordonez made the one-hop throw, and Ruggiano was called out on the play, though replays showed he might have been safe.
DH Victor Martinez drove in Detroit's first run and scored the winning run from first on a one-out triple to right-center by 2B Ramon Santiago in the 10th inning. The presence of Martinez is a key reason managers are reluctantly electing to pitch to 1B Miguel Cabrera. Martinez singled in a run after Cabrera was walked with a runner on second and two outs in the fifth. He is now 18-for-39 (.462) with 16 RBI following a walk to Cabrera this season. Manager Jim Leyland elected not to pinch-run for Martinez following his one-out single in the 10th, and Martinez came all the way around with the winning run on Santiago's hit.
CF Austin Jackson struck out three times, but he also had a pair of singles for another multi-hit game. The resurgent Jackson now has six multi-hit games in his last 14. Neither hit got out of the infield, but that's one of the things that happen when Jackson is hot.
RHP Jose Valverde pitched one inning, a scoreless ninth in a tie game, so manager Jim Leyland would be able to use him for at least two of Detroit's upcoming three games with Cleveland beginning Tuesday. Leyland will occasionally use Valverde two innings in a tie game if his pitch count is low enough. He threw 19 pitches in his inning, striking out two batters with his split-finger, which he is beginning to use more as the season progresses. He'll tell Leyland whether he can pitch Tuesday night after he arrives to Comerica Park.
LHP David Purcey has been a valuable acquisition for Detroit. Purcey allowed a walk and a single with one out in the 10th inning but wriggled out of trouble via a liner to short that was turned into a double play. Still, Purcey's ability to pitch scoreless innings has given manager Jim Leyland some late-inning options, either in front of or, in this case, behind RHPs Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde. Purcey gained a victory when the Tigers rallied for a run in the bottom of the 10th.
Former Indian Victor Martinez.
RHP Justin Verlander
RHP Max Scherzer
RHP Rick Porcello
RHP Brad Penny
LHP Phil Coke
RHP Jose Valverde (closer)
RHP Joaquin Benoit
LHP Daniel Schlereth
LHP Charlie Furbush
RHP Al Alburquerque
LHP Adam Wilk
LHP David Purcey
1B Miguel Cabrera
2B Ramon Santiago
SS Jhonny Peralta
3B Ryan Raburn
INF Danny Worth
UT Don Kelly
LF Brennan Boesch
CF Austin Jackson
RF Magglio Ordonez
OF Casper Wells
OF Andy Dirks
Player of the Game
Carlos Carrasco put in another masterful start, setting a new high for total 'Player of the Game' score in 2 consecutive starts with a combined score of 18.79. In this game Carrasco pitched 7 shut out innings, striking out 7 and allowing 7 base runners. With the win his score for the game was 8.63, a full 6 points better than the next best player, Chris Perez, who scored a 2.48 for striking out the side in the ninth earning a one run save. It is Carrasco's second straight start that he has won 1-0 and he has both of the Indians last 2 wins. It is his second 'Player of the Game' award of the season.
Manny Acta put a new lineup together in an effort to shake things up a bit. It didn't have great results today, but as often mentioned on Burning River Baseball, it doesn't matter what order you put the players in if none of them do anything. The new lineup features Michael Brantley and Asdrubal Cabrera dropped from 1 and 2 to 3 and 4 with Grady Sizemore and Carlos Santana moving up from 3 and 4 to take their spots. Matt LaPorta had another day off today, but it should be expected that he will probably be put back in the 6th spot after Shin-Soo Choo.
Carlos Carrasco loaded the bases in the first inning and allowed two runners in each of the next two, but was able to keep the Yankees from scoring even once through all of it. Carrasco had an unusually high pitch count due to the hits and walks which kept him from finishing the game, but the bullpen was able to maintain his pace.
With the win the Indians guarantee a share of first place going into the series with Detroit. This is big as it means the Indians only have to win the series to stay ahead rather than sweep.
One run a game is not going to do it on almost any night. Luckily Carlos Carrasco has turned things around and pitched magnificently his last two times out, but the Indians offense needs to turn things around and quickly. This team has only scored 2 runs in the last 3 games and has only averaged 2 runs per game over the current streak of 9 losses in 11 games. If you take out the 7 runs the Indians scored against New York in a game that was already over, they have only averaged 1.5 runs over the remaining 10 games. Whether it will be a move or good coaching or just a change in luck, the Indians need something more significant than a lineup change to happen soon.
Final Score: Cleveland Indians 1, New York Yankees 0
The Columbus Clippers are 42-22, 22 games over .500 and on top of the entire International League in AAA. This is a testament to them and the fact that their team is made up almost entirely of Major League ready talent. The Clip Show roster includes former pros, Hector Ambriz, Justin Germano, Jeanmar Gomez, David Huff, Josh Judy, Jensen Lewis, Anthony Reyes, Luke Carlin, Jason Donald, Nick Johnson, Luis Valbuena, Ezequiel Carrera and Josh Rodriguez. That makes 13 of the 29 players of the Clippers roster former Major Leaguers. Some of these players have just been on the Indians this season, but others like Lewis, Reyes, Johnson and Valbuena have had careers more than a couple years long. Along with those players with MLB experience, many of the other players are completely ready for the Major Leagues. This includes, Jerad Head, Lonnie Chisenhall, Jason Kipnis, Chad Huffman, Zach McAllister, Scott Barnes and Zach Putnam.
Value over replacement player (VORP) is an interesting and useful stat. It is a very complicated aggregate of a whole slew of stats, some conventional and others not. It is used to compare current Major League players with average replacement players, or all those players listed in the first paragraph. A VORP of 0 means that player is roughly the same as any random player you could pluck out of AAA.
Austin Kearns currently has a VORP of -1.1, ranking him 50th in the Majors among left-fielders. There are only 30 teams, so this means at least 20 ML back-up left-fielders are better than him. A couple random LF better than Kearns in VORP are Ryan Ludwick (7.3), Travis Buck (4.6) and Milton Bradley (3.2). It's good news, I guess, that Kearns is still better than Jason Michaels who has a VORP of -2.7. For those who like conventional stats, Kearns is hitting a line of .195/.290/.280. The .195 batting average is about 20 points lower than the next worst Indian, Lou Marson's, batting average.
Kearns other low point (other than being one of the worst offensive players in the league) is his defense. It is hard to point at any particular stats that show this other than simply watching him play. Kearns has awful instincts and has missed multiple catches going back on balls that Michael Brantley could have made without trying. Kearns has made a couple diving plays in the outfield this year, which some look at as impressive plays, but they are always on balls that could have been caught without the dive by a faster player, like Brantley or Travis Buck. While he has yet to make an official error this season, Austin has cost the Indians more than a couple runs than Brantley would have, due to his lack of speed, outfield instincts and arm strength. In the last game against the Yankees alone, Kearns cost the team at least 2 runs, possibly more, by allowing a double to Alex Rodriguez that should have been caught, then was unable to throw out any runners at the plate, even though he had multiple easy chances.
Due to the Indians position of lacking a true DH at the moment, Kearns could be released for a player at any position. With Grady Sizemore back to starting every day, Brantley in left and Shin-Soo Choo rarely needing a day off in right, Travis Buck can more than take care of the off days. With Orlando Cabrera no longer starting in the field, he is available to DH, meaning that the Indians don't even need to bring up a player that is ready to start, just one who will not hurt the team when he is used.
Who the Indians should bring up depends on where they think the biggest holes are on the team. Until a few days ago, the two weakest positions for the Tribe were second and third base, but both of these have been taken care of, at least temporarily, with the advancement of Cord Phelps and the improved play of Jack Hannahan. First base is a weakness, because Matt LaPorta has no back up outside of Carlos Santana, meaning his real back-up is Lou Marson, and he only has a VORP of 4.4. Designated hitter is the other obvious weakness, but this will be filled as soon as 4 days from now when Travis Hafner returns from the disabled list. The main choices in AAA ready to be advanced are Nick Johnson, Jerad Head, Jason Kipnis and Chad Huffman.
While Johnson has yet to prove himself in AAA, he has a long Major League track record and would fill in better than any other player at the first base, DH role. Head and Huffman are both outfielders, but have spent some time at other positions. Head has played a couple games at third, while Huffman has spend considerable time at first. This makes Huffman the more desirable of the two as the Indians don't need another outfielder right now. Most likely, Kipnis will have to wait until another infielder is demoted, meaning the failure of Cord Phelps or whenever the Indians tire of Adam Everett's weak bat. The best move in my mind would be to bring up Huffman immediately and release Kearns. I am aware of the emotional reasons Kearns returned to Cleveland, but the fact is he is not producing. With the plethora of young outfielders the Indians have available, the signing of Kearns didn't really make sense in the first place, but now it is just plain irresponsible to continue to put him in the field.