The Cleveland Indians surprised many people Sunday when they announced the firing of hitting coach Jon Nunnally. Nunnally has been replaced by Bruce Fields, who was the team’s minor league hitting coordinator, and has major league experience in this position with the Tigers.
Nunnally was the scapegoat for two months of slumps by key players such as Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Santana, and Grady Sizemore, but it says here the biggest reason for the change was the continued strikeouts by Tribe hitters.
Indians’ hitters have fanned the third most times in the AL, behind only the Tigers and Angels. Since manager Manny Acta likes to play what he calls “action baseball”, which includes putting runners in motion and the hit and run, this is not a good statistic.
When the Indians were having success offensively early in the season, they were in the middle of the pack in striking out. Acta obviously believes that the hitters needed to cut down on swings with two strikes, and that message wasn’t getting through to the batters.
If you have a team that is below average in power, you need to make contact.
For example, the Angels, who rank second in whiffing and fourth from the bottom in home runs, have the third worst offense in the American League. Acta doesn’t want that happening to his team.
If nothing else, it is a move that shakes up the ballclub. And with the way the Indians have been playing in the month of June, that’s not a bad thing.
Another change that was made was with the injury to 1B Matt LaPorta, the skipper said Carlos Santana would get the bulk of the playing time at first, with Lou Marson going behind the plate.
With the other alternatives on his bench, it’s kind of sad that Marson is probably the best option offensively because he’s not exactly known for his stick. However, when compared to Austin Kearns and Adam Everett, he looks like Albert Pujols.
It is curious that Travis Buck was recalled to replace LaPorta on the roster because Shelley Duncan seems to be a better choice, although Buck is a better defensive player. Isn’t that why Kearns is on the roster?
Look at the right-handed batter currently on the team, that is to say, exclusively right-handed hitters: Marson, Kearns, Everett, and Orlando Cabrera. No wonder the Tribe has problems against southpaws.
It is crazy to think that we are almost to the half way point of the season and Everett and Kearns are still here. By the way, Cord Phelps game winning three run homer on Sunday gives him more RBI’s than those two players COMBINED.
Something else might have to be addressed soon, the performance of the starting rotation, or at least two fifths of the rotation, namely Fausto Carmona and Mitch Talbot. Right now, those two and not keeping their team in games on a regular basis.
Trading Carmona makes no sense because his value is very low, so perhaps a demotion to the bullpen with Jeanmar Gomez taking his start is in order. Keep in mind that Zack McAllister and recently David Huff are both pitching well in Columbus as well.
The front office could easily make a move by sending Frank Herrmann, who has pitched very well recently, back to AAA and moving either Talbot or Carmona into the bullpen to make room for Gomez.
No matter what happens in the next ten games, the Cleveland Indians are going to reach the halfway point of the season in contention. That means they can’t afford to stand pat. They need to improve the team any way they can to keep them in the race.