Duncan vs Kearns – Clash of the Titans

Does anybody know how much I love Austin Kearns?

It’s a move that should have been done months ago. The Tribe’s extra outfielder serves no purpose on this team. He is not hitting and hasn’t all year. Defensively, anyone who watched him try to play the Green Monster on Monday and Tuesday could only sit back and scratch their heads. I’m sure he is a solid clubhouse guy and a veteran who helps the young kids. I respect his family-first story, but having him on the 25-man roster in a pennant race is mind-boggling.

With Jack Hannahan away over the weekend on paternity leave, the Indians were allowed to make a corresponding roster move. They called on Shelley Duncan to make his return to the big club. Facing two lefty starters in Texas, the right-handed hitting Duncan was going to see ABs. Remember he was the Indians best pinch hitter earlier in the season and excels hitting left-handed pitching, which is more than we can say for Kearns, who doesn’t excel in anything these days.

Shelley got three starts and went 3-8 with a homer, two RBIs including breaking a scoreless tied in the seventh inning Saturday night, and two walks. He DH’d, played left field, and first base. So he is a right-handed bat that can play multiple positions, is ues to a bench role, hits lefties well, and the team’s best right-handed pinch hitter on a left-handed dominated team.

So explain to me again why Kearns stays on this team over Duncan?

The numbers don’t lie:

Kearns – 150 ABs/.200 BA/.302 OBP/.587 OPS/2 HR/7 RBI/.235 BA vs lefties w/2 RBIs

Duncan – 108 ABs/.250 BA/.299 OBP/.734 OPS/4 HR/22 RBI/.250 vs lefties w/ 11 RBIs

OK, I understand we are not exactly talking about 1990’s Albert Belle vs Jim Thome here, but with the Indians in a pennant race where every game counts, having dead weight on the roster cannot happen.

Hannahan will return Tuesday and a move must be made. One of the three will have to go. Kearns and Hannahan are out out options, but Duncan can return to AAA if he has to. Jackie will stick because he is the best defensive cornerman the Indians have and is often used in late inning situations. Kearns doesn’t offer anything at this point that demands that he stays, other than the fact that manager Manny Acta seems to have the utmost trust in him.

The guy has nine lives and seven RBIs. Three of which came on one swing of the bat, July 4th against the Yankees.

With Shin-Soo Choo coming back soon as well, there is no case for Kearns to stay on this roster. Ezequiel Carrera, who has done a very nice job since being recalled, will most likely be returned to Columbus when Choo arrives, will be back when the rosters expand September 1st. My worry is that the Indians brass will see Duncan the same way, send him back, keep Kearns, and wait until the roster expansion.

The Indians need to win games now with the Tigers coming to town and a soft August schedule. The Indians brass owe it to themselves to put the best 25-man roster together that they can. They can’t say they are doing so if Austin Kearns stays around.

Photo via Chuck Crow/PD


  • http://www.redright88.com Titus Pullo

    Oof, this is a painful topic to read about.

    Maybe Kearns is still on the team because he’s the only one Acta trusts to get his pregame bagel prepared correctly?

  • mike

    “which is more than we can say for Kearns, who doesn’t excel in anything these days.”

    i disagree. he excels at sucking.

  • NJ

    Worth noting that in this offensively challenged environment Duncan actually has a positive adjusted OPS: 105.

    Saying Kearns doesn’t offer anything is disingenious in my opinion. As bad as his defense is, it’s lightyears ahead of Duncan’s. And with Brantley getting dinged up (sure happens a lot), that would have left Duncan in the outfield which is something I do not want to see again. That’s not to defend Kearns or his atrocious bat or his subpar defense. We’re just in a bad spot, that’s all.

  • nullster

    Who do we blame if Kearns makes the cut again? Acta for wanting to keep one of his own or Tribe management for not wanting to eat his salary even though it’s August and would be a minimal hit at best?

  • stin4u

    I’ll take the lesser of two evils in Duncan. With that said there is probably no chance he sticks around when Hannahan gets back. It’s the sad truth that Kearns appears here to stay for some unknown reason.

  • NJ

    This has nothing to do with salary hits. You do realize that cheapo Dolans took on more salary at the trade deadline, right? That they were trying to get Beltran and his $9M salary here too?

    But yeah, keep up with that canard. I’m sure keeping Kearns has got nothing to do with the fact that Duncan is completely worthless as a defender or that he’s got options while Kearns doesn’t. Dolan is cheap!

  • Ghost To Most

    Can Jerad Head really do any worse than Kearns? And Ive never watched him play, so maybe one of the Columbus guys can shed some light on that subject.

    As for Duncan, Im fine with him being on the team in a bench role. Give give him the occasional start at DH or 1B, but Duncan should never be playing left field unless he absolutely has to.

  • Ben

    Acta likes Kearns. Nothing else really matters. Sorry they both suck in different ways. Kearns will be gone next year and we will be having the same discussion about Duncan next year.

  • JM

    He’s a grinder. Oh wait..

  • mgbode

    @Nullster – to complete NJ’s thought :)

    the Dolan’s are already paying Kearns his money regardless of whether or not he’s on the team. it’s a sunk cost.

    i would hazard a guess that our statistic people could figure out that if the FO thinks a minimum wage minor leaguer could do better than Kearns, then the difference in that salary bump by getting MLB-time would be far out-weighed by the extra wins that keep us in a pennant race.

  • Anthony

    Jerad Head is hitting .290 with 21 HR’s this year. I really would like to see both Kearns and Duncan go and give Head a chance. Could it really go any worse than Kearns’ 7RBI in 150 AB’s?

    On a separate note I think Masterson and Ubaldo really need to get us wins in the first two games of this Detroit series. I’m not feeling that Verlander vs Carmona match up in game 3.

  • Steve

    Duncan – 0.3 WAR in 117 PAs, Kearns – 0.5 WAR in 174. If I had to pick one, then I guess I’d take Duncan but honestly, this is not a point worth discussing. Who the 4th OF (soon to be 5th again) is, is just not that big of a deal. The Indians are going to pass the Tigers if Choo comes back to his old self, Santana continues to hit like he has the past couple of weeks and Carmona and Huff really have figured it out. The 23rd-25th guys on the roster aren’t going to make or break the pennant race, so I’m sorry to the guys who can’t stand that bench players and last guys in the pen play like bench players and last guys in the pen, but you’re going to have to live with them.