With the Indians’ offense in a massive funk for most of the season, the time for a change is now in manager Terry Francona’s eyes. Some would argue it’s long overdue. In today’s batting order, Francona has dropped Nick Swisher from second to sixth and Carlos Santana from fourth to seventh against right-hander Jesse Chavez as the A’s go for the sweep.
In today’s game, Mike Aviles and Ryan Raburn will take the spots vacated by Swisher and Santana, respectively. Swisher is battling to stay above the Mendoza line, hitting .203/.303/.323 (.625 OPS) with 3 homers and 16 RBI while leading the team in plate appearances. Santana is second in plate appearances, batting an appalling .156/.319/.293 (.611 OPS) with 5 homers and 13 RBI.
Francona has a reputation for sticking with his veteran and star players until it’s painfully obvious that a change is needed. One such example was last season, when Asdrubal Cabrera spent most of his abysmal season last year rotating between the second, third, and fourth spots in the order. Finally, in mid-August, Asdrubal was dropped to sixth in the order and remained there for the rest of the stretch run. With the Indians at 19-24, the assessment appears to have been the team couldn’t wait any longer for their cornerstones to turn it around in the top of the order.
Longterm, however, it’s a little head-scratching to see Lonnie Chisenhall, he of the .353 batting average, batting behind these two today and eighth in the order against a right-hander. Some managers pride their lineup on consistency, however, and if Chisenhall isn’t deemed worthy of consistent at-bats against left-handed pitching, you’re committing to two entirely different hearts of the order. With Cabrera and Yan Gomes taking the day off today, it will be interesting to see where those two non-lefties slot in. With Jason Kipnis close to begining his rehab and potentially returning soon, that adds another element to the equation. If this is going to be a semi-permanent arrangement, I’d propose Bourn-Aviles-Brantley-Murphy-Cabrera-Chisenhall-Swisher-Santana-Gomes with Kipnis taking Aviles’s slot once he returns. The one complicating factor, of course, is that one benefit to having Swisher and Santana that high in the order as switch hitters was splitting up the left-handers.