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