Friday 5: Roster moves the Cleveland Indians should make to ignite a winning streak


Something has got to give here for the Cleveland Indians.

Now a full month into a once-promising 2015 season, the Tribe sits at 7-14 with one of the worst winning percentages in all of baseball. They have struggled to put together any semblance of a consistent offense; the bullpen has been atrocious; and the starting pitching hasn’t been rewarded enough for its strong first-month performance.

There have undoubtedly been some bright spots. Michael Brantley and Ryan Raburn have been phenomenal. Trevor Bauer and Danny Salazar have been nearly unhittable.

But this lineup is in need of a shakeup. And here’s five roster moves that might just punch the Indians’ ticket to a more productive May:

(1) Promote RHP Shaun Marcum (option LHP T.J. House to Triple-A Columbus)

This should really be a no-brainer. T.J. House is clearly broken and has done nothing but post bad start after bad start since getting blasted by Detroit in his first start of the season. Currently just 0-1 on the season, House has allowed 19 runs across 13 innings of work in four starts. He has failed to pitch out of the third inning in three of his four starts and, worse, House has seemingly lost all command of his pitches. The once-controlled lefty has walked 12 and surrendered 21 hits through one month of the season. Shaun Marcum, meanwhile, has absolutely dominated Triple-A and seems to be healthy for the first time since 2013. Marcum is 3-0 in his three starts in Columbus, posting a 2.00 ERA and surrendering no more than two walks in any one start. The Tribe thought they were getting a major steal with the offseason acquisition of Gavin Floyd, but it might just be their chance on Marcum that could pay off in 2015.

(2) Recall OF Tyler Holt (option RHP Ryan Webb to Triple-A Columbus)

Terry Francona loves a deep bullpen, there’s certainly no doubting that. But the Indians need hitters. And they need defenders. And they need position players who can make an impact on a ball club that might very well be watching its season end before it has even began. In his short time with the Tribe in 2014, Holt hit .268/.307/.296 and stole two bases. His greatest strength, however, is his defensive prowess. Holt has the ability to play all three outfield positions — and play them better than any outfielder on the Indians’ current roster. Through 19 games with Columbus this season, Holt is hitting .328 with three extra-base hits and five stolen bases. There’s a need for him in Cleveland; and he deserve another shot in the bigs. Now.

(3) Activate DH Nick Swisher (designate OF David Murphy for assignment)

There will be some difficult decisions that have to be made in the coming weeks, as Nick Swisher reportedly nears his return to the big leagues. Although Swisher hit just .208 in 97 unhealthy games with Cleveland last season, the veteran switch-hitter appears primed for his best season since being signed as a free agent in 2013. Through four games with Columbus, Swisher has seven hits and a .412 average. He has shown an ability to drive the ball into the gaps with some authority and could either assume the No. 2 spot in the lineup — allowing Francona to break up his left-handed hitters — or he could fit nicely in the No. 7 or 8 spot in the lineup behind the likes of Carlos Santana, Brandon Moss and Yan Gomes (when he returns). While David Murphy hasn’t necessarily played himself out of a job early this season, he has done nothing to make the Indians think twice about losing him. He has hit .256 with two home runs in 43 at-bats in a platoon role with Raburn.

(4) Recall 1B Jesus Aguilar (option RHP Anthony Swarzak to Triple-A Columbus)

The Indians need a middle-of-the-order threat who is capable of hitting the baseball with a little bit of power from the right side of the plate. All of the team’s current power is sapped with a left-hander on the mound, as the Tribe’s left-handed heavy lineup continues its long-term struggles against southpaws. Aguilar is more than capable of being that guy. He hit .295 against left-handed pitching in Triple-A Columbus last season and looks to be a future stalwart in the middle of the Indians’ lineup. While not likely to get everyday at-bats, Aguilar would be an intriguing option to spell Santana at first base and come off the bench as a pinch-hitter in late-inning situations.

(5) Promote SS Francisco Lindor (option SS Jose Ramirez to Triple-A Columbus)

Tribe fans have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the organization’s top prospect for quite some time, and there’s no better time than now. While it’s still early, Jose Ramirez has looked incredibly over-matched and does not appear to be a viable solution as the Indians’ everyday shortstop. After a slow start to his season, Lindor has picked up the pace offensively and currently boasts a .267 average with five extra-base hits, eight RBIs and six stolen bases. Even while his offense catches up to the big league level, Lindor offers a unique skill set at shortstop that the Indians haven’t seen since No. 13 manned the position in the late-90s. Not to mention, Lindor would do wonders to ignite a fan base that was seemingly non-existent for most of the Kansas City series at the beginning of the week.

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