The Cleveland Indians have already played five guys in the outfield in three games, and only one has played all three. Is this a sign of things to come?
What we have seen in the Texas series is pretty interesting, even by Terry’s standards. Even though the Opening Day outfielders were Michael Brantley, Tyler Naquin, and Abraham Almonte, only Almonte and Brantley have appeared in all three games this season, starting two apiece.
The easy argument is that Martin Perez and Cole Hamels are left-handed pitchers, and Naquin and Brantley are left-handed hitters. Francona goes with the matchup, and he sits Naquin and Brantley against lefties until the starter leaves the game.
But, does that make sense this early into the season? What is the message that the Indians are sending to Naquin? It’s not like Naquin was that bad against left-handed pitching last year. He hit .250 against them last year.
Who else could get time in the outfield?
And, how many games is Brantley going to get to rest? Francona said yesterday that having Brantley for two games was better than zero games, and that the Indians are going to check in on him nightly. That’s all well and good, but it’s hard for guys to get in a rhythm if they do not know whether they will be in the lineup regularly.
And then there’s Santana. Rumor has it that Santana is going to play in the outfield against Arizona. Remember, Santana played in left field in the World Series because of how important his bat is.
Who is the fourth outfielder? Who’s the fifth? What about Lonnie Chisenhall? If the first three games are any indication, the Cleveland Indians’ outfield is going to be a merry-go-round for the beginning of the season until Brantley can play everyday and someone does well enough to warrant an everyday spot in the outfield. Until then, the team is going to play six or even seven guys in the outfield.
Is it crazy? Maybe. Is Terry Francona one of the best managers of all-time? Yes. I will not complain if the Tribe wins. Neither will you.