Weekly Wroundtable: What Roster Move Should the Cleveland Indians Make Next?

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The Cleveland Indians are struggling so far this season, and they’re heading into Detroit as a 5-9 team set to face the 11-5 Tigers. The team just isn’t quite firing on all cylinders, thanks to a combination of individual struggles and roster management issues.

It’s a long season, and overreaction is never the way to win, but something has to be done to turn this team around. This week on Wahoo’s on First, the staff tried to determine which player on the major league club was most expendable and in need of replacement.

What one roster move do the Cleveland Indians need to make immediately?

Let’s hope that the Indians do something to get the team headed in the right direction.

Andrew Schmid: If I could make any one roster move, I would send down Jerry Sands and call up Tyler Holt. Why would I want to send down the one Cleveland Indian who is hitting well? Because his hitting is not sustainable. Sure, Sands’ .381/.435/.476 slash-line looks excellent on the surface, but it quickly falls apart when you see that it is across 23 plate appearances. His .533 BABIP throws a wet towel on the hype even quicker. Tyler Holt, on the other hand, is a solid defensive outfielder. The Sands-Holt swap looks even better when you realize that Sands is a reclamation project, and Holt is a 26-year-old with the potential to be a good fourth outfielder. 

Matthew Bretz: I didn’t think I’d be saying this in April, but I’d option Jose Ramirez to Triple-A and call up Francisco Lindor. Ramirez has really struggled with the bat, hitting only .174 with a .224 OBP. While his defense has certainly been better than Asdrubal Cabrera‘s from a year ago, he’s simply not on the same level as Lindor. Sending down Ramirez could also allow him to experiment with a few other positions (like possibly center field).

Lindor hasn’t exactly lit it up himself with the bat. He’s batting a mere .119 in Triple-A; however, he also has a very good 11.1 percent walk rate. Combine that with his extremely low .216 BABIP, and there’s reason for optimism despite the low batting average. Where Lindor will really shine is on defense, where he will immediately be a Gold Glove contender. Some may argue that it’s too soon and the Indians risk destroying him, but the kid has off-the-charts makeup and baseball instincts. He’s the type of prospect that can make an early leap. Worst case, he hits like Ramirez has, but with better defense. Very little downside, if you ask me.

Katrina Putnam: The Tribe needs to move Anthony Swarzak out of the way for Kyle Crockett. Crockett is a young, lights-out lefty, while Swarzak is a veteran long reliever.  So far this year, Swarzak has allowed three runs in seven innings of work. Sure, he gives the Indians length in the pen, but moving Zach McAllister to the bullpen has made that a redundant position. While I’m sure he’s a very nice person, at some point it’s time to accept that Swarzak is a very average reliever, and on almost any given day, there will be someone on the waiver wire that has the equivalent of his talent. Crockett, on the other hand, is impressive. Last year he pitched over thirty innings for the Tribe and allowed just a 1.80 ERA, in addition to 28 strikeouts. In 2.1 innings with the Tribe this season, he struck out four and didn’t allow a run. Swarzak has seven strikeouts this season, but that’s an anomaly, as he only struck out 47 in 86 innings last season. The time has come to bring Crockett back to Cleveland and add some young talent to the relief crew. 

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Cody Norman: Starting pitching has been a strong suit for the Tribe thus far, as they seen solid efforts from Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar and Trevor Bauer in the early going. The one name missing from that list, though, is staff left-hander T.J. House. After posting a steady 3.35 ERA and a 5-3 record last season, House was an easy option to fill a void in the Indians’ rotation out of camp. But in two starts in 2015, House has been tortured over seven innings, allowing 11 earned runs and striking out just four. Though the Indians will skip House in the rotation while in Detroit this weekend, it won’t be long before manager Terry Francona is going to need a fifth arm in the rotation. The move I’d make right now would be to allow House to get extra work in Triple-A Columbus, and give veteran right-hander Shaun Marcum an opportunity in Cleveland. Marcum was stellar in one appearance already this season, throwing five innings of one-run ball against the Tigers. He’s since gone down to the minors and won two games, thrown 12 innings and allowed just two earned runs during the stretch. When healthy, he’s proven to be a viable back-of-the-rotation pitcher — and he seems healthy now. It’s time for the Indians to give him a shot.

Next: #TBT Remember when the Indians could score?

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