The revolving door of outfielders
Lonnie Chisenhall has begun a rehab assignment, but his estimated return to the big league club remains up in the air. With Bradley Zimmer and Tyler Naquin also on the disabled list, the Indians have been forced to hope for the best from a relatively ragtag outfield.
Even with Zimmer and Naquin in the fold, though, the Indians outfield as a whole has been underwhelming at best. Zimmer has struck out in nearly 40 percent of his plate appearances. Naquin was hitting well in a small sample size prior to his injury earlier in the month, but we remember all too well the other end of his spectrum.
Brandon Guyer has just one hit in 32 at-bats against right-handed pitching, but has been just effective enough against lefties to make it difficult to decide whether he or Rajai Davis (or Naquin, or Zimmer…) should be the odd man out on a fully-healthy 25-man roster.
Things have gotten so bleak that even Melky Cabrera is being given a chance to see if he has anything left in the tank.
Michael Brantley is the lone pillar of hope in the Cleveland outfield, and barring a convincing show of force from any of the previously mentioned options, he is the only one the Indians can count on to be an everyday player. The lack of certainty or consistency here is not indicative of a team with championship aspirations, and much like the bullpen it must be addressed.
Luckily, there are some good outfielders playing for terrible teams at the moment, and the Indians can trade for one of them if injuries and uninspiring numbers continue to be the norm.
The most intriguing potential option for me is Adam Jones of the Orioles.
Jones is slashing a modest .268/.288/.453 and is in the final year of his contract. His OBP would probably be higher if not for his apparent refusal to take walks (2.5 percent walk rate in 2018), but I digress. Jones’ MVP-caliber days might be in the past, but he would give the Indians an everyday center fielder and a right-handed, middle-of-the-order bat with some power.
With a player like Jones in the fold, it would be considerably easier to fill in the blanks in right field than it is to platoon two positions on a daily basis. I’ll be astounded if the Indians don’t trade for at least some outfield help this summer, but for the sake of being bold, go ahead and pencil Adam Jones in as Cleveland’s starting center fielder in August and beyond.
Final Verdict: Madness
Here’s hoping we can all reflect on this a month from now and say to ourselves, “I can’t believe I was ever even worried.”