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Indians' Third Base Situation Has No Where To Go But Up

Healthy competition for third base job amongst prospects won’t happen until next spring

ANAHEIM CA - JULY 11:  U.S. Futures All-Star Lonnie Chisenhall #8 of the Cleveland Indians at bat during the 2010 XM All-Star Futures Game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 11 2010 in Anaheim California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM CA - JULY 11: U.S. Futures All-Star Lonnie Chisenhall #8 of the Cleveland Indians at bat during the 2010 XM All-Star Futures Game at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 11 2010 in Anaheim California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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It is clear that the answer to the Indians' third base woes is not currently with the team. It doesn't seem to matter who manager Manny Acta sticks at the hot corner, the Tribe just can't come up with answers. Since the trading of former Indian Jhonny Peralta, the stability at third base has been no where to be found.

The combined efforts of utility man Jayson Nix, along with Andy Marte, and Luis Valbuena (who has no business what so ever at the hot corner since he is a middle infielder) went down in summer flames. The lack of steadiness at that position has clearly had a negative influence on the team's performance since the Peralta trade. Don't get me wrong, Peralta is no gold glove caliber fielder by any means, but only five errors in 91 games for the Indians this year are most likely the best defensive numbers he has posted his entire Cleveland career. In come the other three candidates to replace him, but the relief doesn't. The three have combined for nine errors in just 24 games.

Notice the difference?

Games are being gift wrapped to the opposition due to the lack of defensive support for the Indians' starting pitchers. The pitching, although youthful and inexperienced, has improved a bit. Needless to say, the defense has not. Any die-hard Tribe enthusiast could tell you how many games were lost due to miscues at this tough position.

Playing third base is harder then it looks; scouts around the league even said that Peralta had a difficult time adjusting. You'd think that staying on one side of the infield wouldn't be much of a challenge, but moving from the middle infield, to the corners, is easier said then done. The ball travels quicker off the bat to third then it does to short or second. The two middle infield positions are further away from home plate anyways, this permitting more time for the defender to react.

It's called the hot corner for a reason. Smoking line drives and liners catching chalk and staying fair is a lot for one Major League player to have on their plate; let alone natural second basemen such as Jayson Nix and Luis Valbuena.

So it appears that the Tribe will begin its search for an acceptable third basemen by next spring. Minor League prospects Jared Goedert and Lonnie Chisenhall are not expected to see time with the big league club this fall. Goedert will end his season at Class AAA Columbus, and Chisenhall at Class AA Akron. They are both expecting an open invitation to spring training come February of 2011, and rightfully so.

Then again, throughout their careers in the minors, both of these youngsters have swung the wood quite well, but their defensive struggles have been well documented; and that is the upgrade the Tribe needs the most.

This season, Chisenhall has committed 16 errors in the 82 games he has played for a fielding percentage of .922. It's less then major league quality, especially since he is just at the Class AA level. He still has some fine-tuning to do before he earns a Major League roster spot.

Chisenhall's competition for next year, Jared Goedert, has also committed 16 errors for his 2010 campaign. His total fielding percentage drops down even lower the Chisenhall's does at .909.

So even though both of these prospects impress with their bats, it may not be worth it for the Indians to call them up, especially not this season. The Indians are open to going out of the organization, most likely during free agency, to fill the gap at third that was left when Peralta fled for Motown. The Indians' weakness has been exposed to other ML teams. The Tribe's competition chews them up and spits them out, taking advantage of every gaffe made. Hence the Indians record of 50-74.

Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.