Can A Manager Have Favorites?

With Jack Hannahan coming off the disabled list soon, it appears that Lonnie Chisenhall will be on his way back to Columbus when that happens.

The question is did the youngster get a fair shot while he was on the roster?

Chisenhall hasn’t set the world on fire since his recall on May 28th, hitting just .216 in 37 at bats.  But is his lack of production based on the way he was used?

He came up and started his first two games, before being put on the bench in his third game with the big club.  He was used as a pinch-hitter in that game.

He has pretty much been in the lineup for two days, then out the next since then.  For a player used to playing every day in the minor leagues, you have to wonder why he wasn’t used that way in Cleveland.

Manager Manny Acta has sat him down against left-handers, even though Chisenhall has hit .271 with 3 home runs in 48 at bats vs. left-handed starters in his career.

Yes, Chisenhall has issues with the strike zone (54 whiffs vs. 8 walks in 249 at bats) in his young career, but shouldn’t he get the opportunity to be in the lineup everyday?

It could be because Acta feels more comfortable playing veterans like Jack Hannahan, Jose Lopez, and Casey Kotchman if it all possible.

Think about it, what young player did the skipper give a full shot to unless there was no alternative?

The only one you can name is Jason Kipnis, who seemed to be an everyday player from the moment he was called up to the Indians.

Carlos Santana might qualify as well, but Lou Marson was hitting .191 at the time of Santana’s big league debut, so Acta didn’t have a huge choice.

A lot of managers have preferences in terms of playing time, but most of them have to do with production.  As the season plays out, we will see if this is true for Manny Acta.

It would appear to most fans that Acta doesn’t care for the games of Matt LaPorta and Chisenhall.  Granted, neither one is knocking down fences with the regularity of Babe Ruth, but the Tribe have some guys currently getting a lot of playing time without production.

For example, LaPorta’s career stats (.237 batting average, 697 OPS) are better than what Shelley Duncan is doing this season, .208, 649 OPS).  Wouldn’t you give the former a legitimate chance to play LF, 1B, and DH?

Instead, he was sent back to Columbus today.

This is not to suggest that LaPorta is the answer to the Tribe’s right-handed hitting woes.  It is merely to suggest he may be a better alternative than Duncan right now.

The Hannahan situation could be resolved by playing him at first base and shelving the Kotchman experiment.  We are now 60 games into the season, and the veteran glove man is still hitting .215 with a 605 OPS.

Why not let Chisenhall play third regularly with Hannahan at 1B, and give Lopez some at bats at DH?

Hannahan is a good glove and should be able to do a solid job defensively at the other corner.

Again, we aren’t saying this move would vault the Tribe to the best record in the AL, but shouldn’t the manager be thinking of ways to put the best lineup on the field?

Remember, we had to watch a month of Orlando Cabrera hitting like a pitcher last season, while Cord Phelps couldn’t play more than one day in a row.

It’s alright for a manager to have guys he can turn to when the going gets tough, but stifling the development of young players at the expense of average players isn’t good for the organization.

KM

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