September 28th, 2008. Exactly 23 days until the final game of the season. While we have heard rumblings of fans hoping that the Indians can pull off a Colorado-like surge, this is the date by which we have to get that done. But this date also has another reminder attached to it:
The time which Mark Shapiro and company will decide whom they will add as the Player to be Named Later from the C.C. Sabathia deal that went down nearly two months ago.
It was July 7th where we broke down three of the possible additions to the Tribe farm system: Taylor Green, Lorenzo Cain, and Michael Brantley. Paul Hoynes recently went on record to say that the team has narrowed their choice down to four players. While not much different from what we knew two months ago, it appears that Green and Brantley are still in the mix.
Green, 21, is the infielder that could be the scrappy answer to our second base woes. In high-A ball, Green managed to log over 400 plate appearances and hit .289/.382/.443 with 19 doubles, 15 home runs and 73 RBI. Though appearing to have a solid composition at the plate, Green is far from a power source from third base. Of course, moving him to second base would make this a bit of a different story – though he made nary a start in the four-hole through the season.
A left-handed hitter, Green has managed to hit lefties better than righties this season. In 88 at-bats, Green’s OPS against southpaws was an astounding .916. Against righties, Green was not far off with a .800 – both conisdered to be solid numbers assuming he can translate that up the ranks.
On the defensive side, Green had a fielding percentage of .934 witha range factor of 2.55. For comparison purposes, the big league’s average fielding percentage is .971 with a range factor of 3.89. For what it’s worth, Jhonny Peralta ranks above average in bothareas with .979 and 4.47 respectively.
Brantley, on the other hand, continues to light up the basepaths. Here, you have an outfielder that does not hit for much power (out of his 134 hits this season, only 23 were of the extra-base variety), but has an amazing eye at the plate. In 420 at-bats, Brantley has only struck out 27 times but has earned 50 bases on balls. Think about that a bit. The only player that the Indians have on their big league roster that is even sniffing a ratio like this is Grady Sizemore with 89 walks and 108 strikeouts. This is a large reason why Brantley has been able to get on base at a combined 39.8 percent of the time.
If one thing is worrisome with Brantley, aside from a severe lack of isolated power, it has been his transition between Single-A West Virginia and Double-A Huntsville. In the former, Brantley’s splits were .335/.413/.440; the ladder, .251/.353/.294. Yes, that is a slugging percentage that is LOWER than an on-base percentage. Not very common, but that just shows Brantley’s ability to get on base without swinging the bat.
While on base, Brantley has been able to cause a few headaches for the opposition. He stole 35 bases last season, and has snagged 28 this year – split evenly between affiliates. Some have said that he still is not 100 percent after spraining his ankle, so who knows what he could do if given two healthy limbs.
I still point you back to this post over at the recently-moved Brewers Nation, where they exclaimed that Brantley is the last player they would like to see moved given his electric play. And just like I said then, I would expect Brewers fans to know more about their players than I would. And if they like the guy, I’m sure he would make more than an impact here.
The only cost would be, would we want a Juan Pierre-like player? If you ask me, Pierre’s big downfall is the fact that he is overpaid. A singles-only, average armed, lead-off hitting base stealer should only cost a team so much. Plain and simple, Los Angeles overpaid.
A lot of fans are saying that we need power in our corners. But if we have power in center field that more than compensates for our lack of power now, can we not compromise a bit?
Let me put the ball in your court. Assuming that we do not know who the other two players are, and have to choose between these two, who would you rather have?
Both are 21-years of age. Both make solid contact at the plate. Green could play a position that we are in dire need of filling, but is “could” to dangerous to wager this selection? Green offers a lot more power than Brantley, but Brantley has the OBP and speed on the bases. To me, he seems like a Carlos Gomez with an exponentially better strikeout-to-walk ratio. I’ve gone on record touting Gomez before, but it is a lot harder to overlook his 124 strikeouts and 21 walks this season when you see what Brantley has been able to do this season.
Thus, if you have to choose between the scrappy infielder or the speedy outfielder, which way do you go? Which is a better gamble for the long-haul, and which do you think would ultiamtely make the biggest impact with this Indians team. Given what we now know from this season, ultimately more than we did in early July, which portion of this team needs the most attention? Feel free to pretend that we bunt every once in a while if it helps make your decision!
With that said, put your Mark Shapiro hats on, and let’s hear it in the comments.