Note: This Indians argument occurred earlier this week, before the Casey Kotchman signing. Please disregard all nonsense involving Matt LaPorta as a first baseman. For a more recent outlook on the firstbase situation, check here.
Joe: Last week we discussed the state of the Indians outfield going into Spring Training. This week we’ll take on the infield. Let’s start with the easiest question first. Who’s on first?
Mike: If we had the answer, we would have a desk next to Antonetti and Chernoff. Will it be Matt LaPorta, overcoming 2½ years of mediocrity? Or an in-house hybrid of LaPorta, Carlos Santana, Shelley Duncan and others?
Perhaps the Indians will eventually land that elusive big bat they’ve been chasing to play first. Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder weren’t in the picture because of money, but so far they’ve missed on Carlos Pena and others. It might come down to another late February addition like [Orlando] Cabrera last year or Russell Branyan the year before.
Joe: I hope not. I’m really tired of bringing in players that aren’t as good as the one’s already here. I’ve been a huge “LaPorta Supporta (TM)” for the last couple years, but my patience is being run thin. As long as the final decision doesn’t involve more Lou Marson, I’d be willing to give anything a shot at this point.
Mike: The LaPorta experiment for all intents and purposes is over. You can afford to plug him in at first when you are not expected to contend for the playoffs but not in the current situation. He will have to earn 1B back by contributing when he plays two or three times a week. Also, when you look at the Tigers who have Prince and Miguel Cabrera at the corners, the Indians have to be that much better up the middle (at least offensively).
Joe: The Indians have always been a little abnormal in where the offense comes from. This is probably due to the fact that they can’t afford good corner hitters. Next year, the most important infielders offensively will probably be Asdrubal Cabrera and Jason Kipnis at the top of the lineup. Apparently Manny Acta isn’t expecting much from Lonnie Chisenhall since he is giving Jack Hannahan an even shot at the third base job.
Mike: Did you watch Hannahan play third defensively last year. He looked like Scott Rolen in his prime. And with a staff of groundball pitchers in the rotation, he will be very valuable. Did Chisenhall really do anything that said he was ready to play third base on a contending team last year?
Joe: Chisenhall is already better offensively and has more upside. What is the point in waiting for a player to come around for 3-5 years, then when he does pushing him aside for a player with no present or future. Remember Brandon Phillips?
Mike: Who? Never heard of him. Right now, Chisenhall is a project and risky to start at third on a contending team. He needs to get some work at Columbus defensively before he is handed the keys. Why do you think they re-signed Jack?
Joe: There was no reason not to. He’s a cheap arbitration eligible player who can play two positions that the Indians aren’t deep at. He should be on the team, just not the starter. Here’s another name that I feel is in the same situation, how do you feel about Jason Donald?
Mike: Very good defensive infielder who’s best position looks like SS. He sort of reminds me of Ben Zobrist of the Rays: versatile and a good clean-up hitter. I think he will become one of the most valuable members of the team as the season begins. Especially if the Indians feel they cannot afford Asdrubal and decide to trade him for a big time first baseman. Yeah, I just started my own rumor.
Joe: You’re a nut. I’m going to ignore that and allow you to expand on your love affair with Lou Marson as well.
Mike: Show me a stat that shows Asdrubal as one of the better defensive SS’s in the game. they can save money by trading Asdrubal, plugging in Donald at SS (he is better defensively) and possibly gain offensively by adding a big bat.
Joe: Just stop. If it weren’t for Asdrubal last season the Indians would never had contended. There has never been a good Indians team without a great short stop. From Joe Sewell and Lou Boudreau to Omar, being strong up the middle isn’t just a matter of pride, but of utmost importance to putting a good team on the field. There is not a bigger bat in the league that the Indians could get for Asdrubal and bringing it up is blasphemous.
Mike: Ok name the Cardinals SS last year. oh ok. Anyway…sorry.
Joe: You missed your chance to dote upon #LouMar. So I get to tell you how Carlos Santana is the second most important part of the Indians offense and to reiterate that he needs to stay behind the plate as I wrote about a month or so ago.
Mike: I agree. He has more value behind the plate. But he will get some at-bats at first and our own pickin’ machine Lou Marson will get some time behind the plate.
Can sweet Lou play first too?
Joe: No he can’t. Here is the list of who is allowed to play first base in order: LaPorta, Santana, Shelley Duncan and Jack Hannahan. Only if Russ Canzler turns out to be something or some new names appear will the situation change.
Mike: Our lack of a first baseman really depresses me. You see, I even resort to extremes by trading Asdrubal. I think there are young, promising 1B out there that could be targeted: Logan Morrison and Justin Smoak just to name a few… are you not as scared as I am?
Joe: If you’re scared get a dog. I think that’s enough rambling for one night. So just remember, “We are all Kipnisses.”