Tribe Still Has Questions to Answer in 2010

A harsh dose of reality hit me last week when I discovered catcher Carlos Santana would miss the rest of the season after his horrific knee injury (at the legs of Ryan Kalish … jerk), for which he underwent successful knee surgery on Friday. The good news is that Santana will most likely be ready in time for spring training 2011 without any aftereffects of the surgery.

However, that’s 2011, and we still have to play out the rest of 2010. I had to ask myself this question, and answer it honestly:

Is this team still worth watching without Santana?

Santana was the brightest light on this 2010 team, with a .401 OBP and six home runs in 46 games. But Santana had proved he at least didn’t belong in the minors anymore. He’s something the Indians can be sure of (well, as sure as you can be about a catcher who just had season-ending knee surgery), they know next year they can pencil in Carlos Santana at catcher.

What the Indians don’t know, is about the rest of this team.

Asdrubal Cabrera and Shin-Soo Choo have proven they are legit big leaguers, but the same cannot be said about the rest of the lineup. Matt LaPorta is starting to come around, but if he were to go on the shelf for the rest of the year would you feel comfortable naming him as your starting first baseman? Hell no.

No, this next month in a half is critical for the Indians. If manager Manny Acta uses these games wisely, he can figure out if guys like LaPorta or Michael Brantley have a future in this league. He can use this time to see if Jared Goedert,  Andy Marte or Jayson Nix can be a suitable stopgap at third base. Or if Jason Donald or Luis Valbuena are worth their roster spots as utility infielders.

In the bullpen, Chris Perez is the only thing close to a sure thing as he assumed the closer’s role this month. Raffy Perez has shown some value again, but he needs to finish strong to convince the Indians to re-sign him. Guys like Tony Sipp and Frank Herrmann have had Jekyl and Hyde-type seasons. Acta should figure out if they are loose parts or viable cogs for the future pen.

And as for the rotation, I’d say only Fausto Carmona is guaranteed a spot in the rotation next year. Justin Masterson may end up in the pen, and who knows what the future holds for Mitch Talbot – he still needs to prove he’s a starter. Jeanmar Gomez and Josh Tomlin have filled in admirably, but are they really big-league starters?

The Indians have a lot of questions left to answer in this season, so there will definitely be things worth watching. The Tribe is just lucky Santana answered his question before he went down.

Tags: Andy Marte Asdrubal Cabrera Carlos Santana Chris Perez Fausto Carmona Frank Herrmann Jared Goedert Jason Donald Jayson Nix Jeanmar Gomez Josh Tomlin Justin Masterson Luis Valbuena Matt LaPorta Michael Brantley Mitch Talbot Rafael Perez Ryan Kalish Shin Soo Choo Tony Sipp

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