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Extreme Maneuvers

This week in the legendary Wahoo’s on First email chain, a discussion came up about moving players around to different positions and trying out different scenarios. I thought it was interesting. Well, at least as interesting as hypothetical maneuvers with the roster can get. Either way, I thought it was a good enough topic that it warranted use as this week’s Wroundtable question so I asked the group: What is one radical positional move or change you would be interested in seeing the Indians experiment with for a particular player or players? Here’s what everyone had to say.

Kyle Downing: I would love to see what Yan Gomes can do with the occasional start at the hot corner. On days when we face those tough lefties, it would be great to have his arm at third and his right-handed bat in the lineup. Reynolds has proven himself to be a defensive liability as of late (aside from the occasional highlight-reel catch), letting a few RBI grounders get through the hole that someone with a higher zone rating might have been able to snag and get the out at first. Oh, and Scott Kazmir to the bullpen is beginning to sound more and more attractive. Rich Hill might not stick around much longer, and it wouldn’t hurt to have a lefty in the pen who is capable of long relief and isn’t named Scott Barnes or David Huff.

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Evan Vogel: I don’t know if I have a real answer to this question. Outside of moving Kipnis or Chisenhall to LF to give Aviles more at bats at 2B/3B, there isn’t really a reason to move other players around. They already play Santana at 1B, which is great because his bat needs to be in the lineup, which opens up catcher for Gomes to keep his bat and arm fresh. Saying that Giambi should have a solid knuckleball, since he’s so old, and putting him in the rotation seems like the most logical and illogical idea that isn’t putting Gomes at 3B, as Kyle said.

Michael Chaney: The Indians should consider moving Carlos Santana from catcher to first base (or designated hitter) full-time. He’s improved as a defender behind the plate, but it still gets kind of old watching him miss a ball in the dirt that he should probably block. Maybe that’s the fault of the pitching, but the staff also loves what Yan Gomes brings behind the dish. The Yanimal is too good to just be a bench bat, and I’d love to see what he could bring to the table over a full season. Santana’s bat would still profile well at first, it could be better for keeping him fresh, and maybe his hitting would be better when he doesn’t have to worry about catching as often (if ever). The problem with this move is that it would create a logjam between first base and the designated hitter. Nick Swisher could still play first if Santana serves as the DH, but Mark Reynolds and Jason Giambi would lose playing time as well. But if and when Lonnie Chisenhall struggles at third, Reynolds could always play there (his hitting would suffer, but he’s too valuable to just sit the bench). Giambi is here more for leadership and pinch-hitting anyways, so maybe the Indians would think about something like this.

Jeff Mount: Given the depth in middle infield in the system, and his overall athleticism, I can see Jason Kipnis going back to the outfield within the next year or two.  Stubbs won’t be here next year, players with Bourn’s skill set don’t age well, and Swisher looks like he will be a full-time DH soon.  At some point around 2015 we will have two or three infielders ready to play in Cleveland and a bare cupboard in the outfield.  Kipnis is sixth out of the eight AL second baseman who qualify in range factor, so moving him won’t weaken the infield defense.

The other move would be to develop Scott Kazmir into a set-up man.  It would be interesting to look at his career path and compare it to Dennis Eckersley‘s.

Brian Heise: My main move would be to explore the idea of moving Lonnie Chisenhall to the outfield next season. He has been better defensively at third, but for the most part he has still been pretty tough to watch. There is also a distinct possibility that his defensive responsibilities are what’s causing his issues at the plate. A few years back the Royals moved Alex Gordon from third to left for that exact reason and now he is a gold glove winner hitting close to .300. I think it’s worth exploring. That way they can possibly move Cabrera or Kipnis to third and clear a path for Lindor to play short eventually. Will they do this? Probably not, but it would be interesting to see what happens.

Topics: Carlos Santana, Cleveland Indians, Jason Kipnis, Lonnie Chisenhall, Scott Kazmir, Yan Gomes

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