Since the Cleveland Indians have lost five of their last six games, there is a lot of nervousness around the club’s fan base.
It’s understandable because the message they are getting from the Tribe’s front office is that changes aren’t forthcoming.
While the plan coming into the season was to continue the development of young players with an eye on 2012, the Indians’ fast start altered that blueprint.
That’s why when Carlos Carrasco went down with a sore elbow in late April, Cleveland dipped into the farm system for former 1st round draft choice Alex White, perhaps a half a year sooner than they wanted to.
Now, there seems to be some hesitancy in making further changes to the 25 man roster, mainly because of the feelings of some veterans who have helped the team build a five game lead within the AL Central and the best record in the American League.
There is no secret the offense took a slight dip in run production when injuries knocked Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner out of the lineup.
However, the fall off in production from players who have been in the everyday lineup from day one is more to blame than the players filling in for Sizemore and Hafner.
In fact, Travis Buck and Shelley Duncan have done a decent job in filling in for Hafner. Buck has an 891 OPS over the last two weeks, and Duncan is 6 for 22 with a homer in the same time span.
Hafner’s ability to take walks has been missed, though.
The fear going into the season was the lack of offense the Indians would get out of two infield spots: 2B and 3B. The past two weeks, that fear has turned into reality.
Orlando Cabrera is just 5 for 35 over the past two weeks with one extra base hit and two walks in that time span. That’s a 382 OPS over that period, which is horrible to say the least.
Manager Manny Acta doesn’t want to sit the veteran down, but he doesn’t have to bat him sixth either.
Hannahan is hitting just .167 (6 for 36) over the last 14 days, with two doubles, an RBI, and an OPS of 453. In the entire month, he’s hitting just .178 with no home runs and two runs batted in and an OPS of just 465.
These aren’t slumps, they are trends, and you can’t generate very many runs with two guys in your batting order hitting like that.
Acta will talk about the defense both players provide, and certainly Hannahan is a vast improvement over the guys who played the hot corner in 2010, but if you can’t hit in the major leagues, it doesn’t matter how good your glove is.
And Cabrera’s defense hasn’t been all that great either. He’s been adequate, but he’s made some errors on key double play grounders over the past couple of weeks.
That puts even more of a spotlight on his lack of hitting.
The point is this. Now is not the time for the organization to get conservative. If young players like Cord Phelps (yes, we know we are harping, but look at his numbers) and Lonnie Chisenhall can improve the 2011 Cleveland Indians, then they need to be in the big leagues.
This isn’t based on the one week of bad baseball the Tribe has played, it’s based on a month of poor hitting.
This first place team can’t afford to wait much longer.