Note: This is the second in a series of posts looking back at the realities of the Indians 2010 season. We’ll look at what was hoped for, what actually happened, and what the expectations are going forward at the position in 2011.
Perhaps no position better defined the Indians 2010 season than the catcher position. The Indians had traded everyday catcher Victor Martinez last season, along with backup Kelly Shoppach in the offseason. They entered the season with rookie Lou Marson as the opening day starter and veteran Mike Redmond was signed to a one-year deal to be the backup and Fausto Carmona’s personal catcher. Acquired in the Cliff Lee deal, Marson was expected to keep the dish warm for the prized jewel in the Indians farm system: Carlos Santana.
What actually happened almost went according to plan. Although he was solid defensively, Marson struggled with the bat (and Redmond was almost non-existent offensively until his release in June), and the Indians had a huge hole at catcher. On June 11, the Indians decided they couldn’t wait any longer and made the call to Columbus. Carlos Santana was making his debut that night.
I say perhaps no position better defined the 2010 Indians than catcher because of Santana. Indians fans suffered through a miserable half season by Marson and were delighted by the promise shown by Santana (who I must mention was acquired for Casey F-in Blake).
And he knew how to display that promise. In 46 games, mostly thrust into the role of #3 hitter, Santana had a .401 OBP (.868 OPS) with 6 home runs in only 150 at bats, despite enduring a rough stretch in July. Santana was a reason to get excited about this Indians team. In spite of all the losing, here was a shining reason to watch this team. One would get excited just watching him play.
And then, faster than you could say “Ryan Kalish”, it was over.
Santana suffered a gruesome left leg injury when Kalish bowled him over in a collision at home plate. Santana was done for the year, and the Indians were stuck with a tandem of Marson and Chris Gimenez. Doesn’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of opponents. Gimenez did little in a limited backup role.
For the year, in 87 games, Marson had a .274 OBP (.560 OPS) with 3 home runs (including an improbable grand slam in September). While Santana is expected to make a full recovery in time for next season, Indians fans can’t be blamed for being pessimistic. Thus, the Indians future rests squarely on the recovery of Santana’s left leg. If it’s healed and Santana can continue his development, then the Indians are sitting pretty at the catcher position. Marson can’t really be as terrible as he was last year and would make a decent backup.
But if the Indians’ worst fears are true, then the Indians rebuilding project would be taking a major hit with the loss of Santana. Santana is expected to be a fearsome middle of the order hitter, and for the Indians to lose that would be devastating.
But as of right now, news is that Santana is recovering nicely from his injury. And from an Indians season that was low on hope, I’ll grab on to whatever I can.