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Indians infield and a goodbye note: While We’re Waiting…

On the left side of the Indians infield:

What should the plan be for 2015? The big hurdle was first to identify how to solve Asdrubal Cabrera’s free agency. That got solved in the form of Zach Walters. But what’s the plan now? Who should be back? When should prospects be promoted? Is an addition necessary?

Lonnie Chisenhall is the incumbent third baseman. He’s one of the worst defensive players at that position in baseball. He had a .244/.284/.411 line in 682 plate appearances entering this season. He started with a .366/.423/.581 line in 217 PAs through June 20, but now is at .227/.298/.343 in 219 PAs since. Is he regressing back to his usual mean? Can he be a regular? He turns 26 in October.

Mike Aviles is a big wild card to me. He has a $3.5 million team option potentially available for 2015. At 33, he’s batted .249/.277/.352 in 722 plate appearances for the Indians in the last two seasons. A jack of all trades and a master of none, is a backup utility man really worth that much money?

Jose Ramirez is an intriguing guy to me. I don’t know exactly which theory to buy. In the minors, he batted .306/.355/.411 with 86 steals in 291 games, surprisingly emerging as a top-10 prospect despite his lowly pedigree and unimpressive frame. He only turns 22 in two weeks. I’m still uncertain if he’s an MLB regular long term, but the youth is certainly encouraging.

Walters is a fun guy to discuss. I loved FanGraphs’ comparison of him with Cubs youngster Javier Baez. He surprisingly turns 25 years old tomorrow. The Triple-A line was .266/.307/.523 with 58 doubles and 47 homers in 230 games. He’s a monster slugger, but you’d hope he could get closer to a .240 average at least. The Indians sure could use more pop.

And oh, in Columbus there’s Francisco Lindor and Giovanny Urshela. Lindor is the top-10 prospect in baseball. He’s batted .273/.307/.388 in only 38 games for the Clippers and turns 21 in November, so I’m still patient here. Urshela had a great season at third, batting .276/.331/.473 in 104 games. Could his defense (not just his bat), give him a legitimate chance in 2015?

This is a fun debate to consider. It’s certainly not easy and it’s why the Indians executives do get paid the big bucks. I’d be surprised if the Indians don’t pick up Aviles’ team option. From there? Not certain how the playing time exactly will shake out, but shortstop should be Lindor’s for the taking by June. Everything else? Still very much up for grabs. The depth is an OK thing.

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A (Kinda) Goodbye:

As an update, today is my 24th birthday and I’m starting my drive for Eugene, Oregon on Sunday. I’ll be beginning at the University of Oregon’s Warsaw Sports Marketing Center MBA program with an intimate incoming 20-person cohort. I’m super pumped to finally get started.

I’ve lived in Ohio my whole life, from 18 years in Akron to four years down at school in Dayton and two back here in the 330. It’ll be a wild ride to be far, far away to the Pacific Northwest. I’ll be leaving all of my comfort zones, from my family and friends to all of my previous networking connections.

For now, I’ll probably just be taking a few weeks off from here at WFNY. The drive alone will take me five days, then I have two more weeks of orientation. It’ll take a little bit for me to get fully adjusted in MBA life. But I’ll hope to be back here on the site writing (occasionally) again in the near future.

WFNY is like a second home to me. I started writing here way back in spring 2009 as an innocent 18-year-old freshman at UD. I remember spending countless college weekends manning the site. While many things are changing (including our website design), WFNY is still there. And I’ll hope to be back writing for you all amazing readers in just a little bit. Thanks so much to you all.

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News and Notes:

Victor Martinez as a Cleveland Indian: .297/.369/.463 in 3,449 plate appearances, 19.2 rWAR in 821 games. Victor Martinez since being traded July 2009: .317/.374/.488 in 2,583 plate appearances, 14.3 rWAR in 614 games. Did anyone expect him to become even better offensively in a more difficult environment? It’s kinda crazy how good he has continued to be. He turns 36 this December.

A Youngstown State player blocked his own team’s punt with his butt. Is this not the perfect epitome of Tressel Ball or what?! (h/t ExtraMustard)

Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller had his first 2015 NFL Mock Draft this week. He used the order based on Las Vegas odds. The Browns results: Iowa OT Brandon Scherff at No. 4 (Buffalo’s pick) and Alabama WR Amari Cooper at No. 7. Cooper is a guy I’m certain we’ll hear lots of fans talking about for the next eight months.

USA Today’s Dan Wolken wrote about Terry Bowden working through tragedy to continue building a winner at the University of Akron. If Bowden can actually pull this off somehow … man, that’d be an incredible achievement. It’d be really cool for the town and the school.

MLB has moved its draft back to a Monday start. Is this a sign of giving up on national exposure for the draft, which had started on Thursday the past few years? (h/t BaseballAmerica)

And in case you haven’t seen the news yet, Portland’s Chris Haynes is joining Northeast Ohio Media Group to become the new Cavs beat writer. Here’s his goodbye reflection from CSNNW where he served as a Trailblazers beat reporter. I’m excited to see his work.

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Best Tweets:

  • Paul

    Wait, so you were the player to be named later in our media’s trade for Chris Haynes? Good luck in Eugene. Make plenty of road trips to PDX and Canon Beach, drink your Stumptown Coffee, and enjoy your perfectly moderate climate.

  • Harv 21

    First of all, good luck, Jacob. How exciting.

    Re infield, I imagine a future with Chiz at DH (based on his early success sitting and pitch hitting) or right field (he has a decent arm and can run a little), Kipnis back in the outfield (based on his continued absence of any infield instincts), Walters in right field or left if he’s on the team, Ramirez at second where he might be perfect next to Lindor, and somebody – Walters? Urshela? Ramirez? – at third. Santana looks comfortable and still improving at first. But right now most of these guys look like little boys stumbling around in their dads’ shoes out there.

  • mgbode

    Lots of agreement from me on the 2015 Indians.

    -Kipnis going back to the OF/RF makes sense.
    -Promote Lindor to SS
    -J.Ramirez moves over to 2B
    -Chisenhall & Urshela fight over 3B. I still watch Lonnie and think he can hit despite most of the evidence showing otherwise.
    -Santana & Swish to flip between 1B/DH
    -Gomes at C
    -Brantley in LF
    -Bourn in CF
    —Holt, Walters, and possibly Aviles forming a decent bench.

  • mgbode

    Jacob, congrats again and enjoy the P-NW. Fantastic area of the country and one that I am sure you will enjoy. Been great reading your stuff the past several years.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    Good luck, Jacob. That’s awesome.

  • Harv 21

    Yeah, I was fast-forwarding to a post-Swisher/Bourn team. I think Swish is done and I’m harboring unfair thoughts about Bourn. He can’t /won’t run and he seems to save his horrible at-bats for whenever I turn on the telly, and I only know about his good ones from the graphic about his previous at-bats.

  • boomhauertjs

    Good luck! Great to see a fellow Flyer doing big things!

  • Chris Mc

    Good luck out there, Jacob. I’ve enjoyed reading your posts through the years. Hope you make it back.

    As for Victor, If the Indians hadn’t bungled that all up, he could have been the greatest player who ever put on an Indians uniform. I’m aware that it’s most likely a pipe dream, but if they could ship Bourne back to the National League (where he clearly belongs), shed Giambi’s $1m, and restructure Aviles’ deal to save a million or so over a new 2 year deal, maybe they could get close to what it takes to resign Victor to a 2 year deal ( team option for 3rd) or something along those lines.

  • MrCleaveland

    You’re going to love it out there, Jacob. Go get ’em.

    P.S. The Youngstown butt block was the punter’s fault.

  • Kunal

    Good luck Jacob!! Let me know if you drive through Chicago along the way!

  • WFNYJacob

    I’ll be there very briefly on Sunday night, actually!

  • nj0

    Urshela’s defense is suppose to be top notch. If he can hit major league pitching, I’d take him over Chiz. Let Chiz DH. Jose Ramirez is the real deal. I just hope they can find him a position. He was mostly a 2B in the minors. Unfortunately, I think he’s going to get moved around over the years because of Kipnis and Lindor.

    I hope if the front office learns anything this year it’s that bad infield defense is really, really costly. If we keep playing the way we do and miss out on the playoffs, I’m putting the blame squarely on our first few months of terrible, apathetic defense. Chiz/Santana at third, Zombie Swisher at first, two statues up the middle – how many games did that cost us?

  • nj0

    And good luck. Leaving Cleveland was the best thing I ever did. And that’s not meant as a knock on Cleveland.

  • Kunal

    If you’ve got time I’d love to see you! Shoot me a text.

  • Pat Leonard

    Good luck Jacob, and safe travels! Stay clear of the bears in Yellowstone Park on your way through Wyoming… I understand that they’re known to swipe picnic baskets.

  • mgbode

    Chis and Swish can platoon-DH.

  • The_Real_Shamrock
  • The_Real_Shamrock

    NY Daily News will no longer print Chief Wahoo. On a side note the NY Daily News will continue to no longer print news.

    http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/mlb-big-league-stew/new-york-daily-news-says-it-won-t-print-indians–chief-wahoo-logo-anymore-081547024.html

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Clevelanders recite LBJ’s essay:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCSypZNHI6I

  • Laura

    I am beyond on board with the idea of Chisenhall in right field. I wish I had the power to make this happen.

  • Laura

    Good luck, Jacob!