A key part to the Cleveland Indians success went down in a heap behind first base last night in New York. Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera was running out a grounder and his quad muscle popped, causing him to come up lame and force the Tribe to place him on the 15 DL today.
This is a devastating blow to the club. Although batting third may not be the best spot in the order for him, he does bring a calming influence to this team. A team that has gone through it’s troubles over the last two weeks, yet still are only a game behind the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central.
Cabrera is also one of the top defensive shortstops in baseball. Something this team depends on and the pitching staff needs. Mike Aviles will fit in fine in the short run, but doesn’t bring the defense or the bat that Cabrera has. He will take over short and Cord Phelps will probably be brought up from Columbus to take the vacant spot on the roster, Phelps can play second and third, but short is a different story. Thus the team might be better served to look in a different direction.
It would be quite a jump, but the star of the club’s farm system is Francisco Lindor. The shortstop is currently with the Carolina Mudcats in Zebulon, NC of the Class A Southern League and raising eyebrows. The Indians could move Lindor into the starting shortstop role for two weeks, get a look at the budding superstar of the farm system and see what they have first hand.
At Carolina, Lindor is making a name for himself. A few weeks ago on the “Ohio Baseball Weekly” show, Cleveland minor league guru Tony Lastoria said Lindor was improving daily, especially at the plate. Lastoria added Lindor was “major league ready” in the field.
Lindor has improved in every aspect this season, but mostly at the plate. The 19 year old is hitting .319 with a .839 OPS through 49 games. A jump of almost 60 points from one year ago this time. On top of that, Lindor is adding the stolen base to his repertoire, with 13 thefts so far. However defense is where he would excel with the Tribe, and where they would expect him to shine. As many have said, Lindor reminds everyone who watches him of a young Omar Vizquel. High praise.
Granted this is a risky move. Lindor could join the team and be overwhelmed. He could be struck down with failure and have to rebuild his confidence from the ground up.
Or he could be a 19 year old in the mold of a Mike Trout or Bryce Harper. A kid who is older than his years and ready to show the world the talent he has. A player ready for the limelight, the kind that come around once a decade. Certainly the Indians haven’t found that player in their minor league system in over a decade.
No doubt the Indians front office know best, but at least its something they have to think about because currently there is no decent backup shortstop to Aviles in the organization. Aviles can play the position, but he’s more valuable as a replacement.
Right now Lindor might be more valuable in Cleveland.
Dave Mitchell and Mark Donahue co-host the “Ohio Baseball Weekly” show every Monday night at 9pm. Dave will also host the new Thursday night show “Ultimate Sports Talk” every Thursday night at 7pm beginning June 20th.