It is time. 8 games into the 2010 MLB season, the calls from the fans are beginning to become clear, as sad as it might be, one of my favorite Indians players of the past few years, the guy we all thought would figure it out and become a star, is finally just wasting space in the Indians infield. This is my opinion, but for the time being, the Indians should bench Jhonny Peralta now, to preserve what little trade value he has for when the Tribe looks to dump his contract this summer. I think that in a bench role and ultimately being traded from Cleveland, Jhonny has more value to the team than he does actually on the field. I remember a few years ago we got a young stud in exchange for an overrated third baseman named Casey Blake. Arguably however, Casey Blake is still much better than Jhonny Peralta.Here is the preposition, clearly the Indians need to bench Jhonny Peralta. The old hit on him was that he was not athletic enough to play short stop, this dilemma was solved with the establishment of Asdrubal Cabrera as the new franchise short stop. There was however always a but attached to that statement about Peralta. He could make all of the routine plays without fail and he could hit. Well now he plays third base, and while he can still drive in probably 80 runs a year, his power is below par for 3rd baseman in the American League. Look at his competition at the position, A-Rod, Michael Young and many more, the National League actually boasts more 3rd baseman of a higher caliber, but still, Peralta right now, and fairly routinely, is ranked 29th on ESPN’s fantasy baseball player rater. He has a negative player rating. Surprising? Not in the least. He has already proven that he cannot make the routine plays at 3rd base, he has not had to actually work to get to a ball at all this season and has barely been able to get the ball across the diamond. Fact is, even when Andy Marte is there, LaPorta especially, they are having to save errors on every throw from 3rd base…
That being said, Marte did play a big role in Peralta’s other costly error earlier in the week. But the play in last night’s game, not just on the error but every time he touched the ball, Matt LaPorta had to either jump or dig the ball out of the dirt. The one time LaPorta was unsuccessful, it costs the Tribe 2 runs. Justin Masterson did not pitch terribly well, but he pitched good enough to get a win with the potential of the Indians offense. Let’s be honest, the Indians cannot afford to have a potential error on every ground ball to the left side.
Then there is his offense. He was, and in some people’s minds still is, expected to drive in 80+ runs, bat around .265 and hit over 20 homeruns. Last year he hit 11 homers. He still managed 83 rbi’s but batted a low .254. A clear drop off, a even greater lack of dedication and effort than in previous seasons. My hope for the 2010 season was that Peralta would show up motivated, and play hard for the new coach Manny Acta. That was a pipe dream. Peralta seems as disinterested as ever, knows his time in Cleveland is almost up and he is putting forth even less effort than usual. His .148 average is not helping things. Sure he has a homer and 4 rbi, but just yesterday he killed 3 rallies and left 7 guys on base.
Another reason to bench him… Andy Marte. I know, no one really likes this guy. The former 3rd baseman of the future. He would be a much better placeholder for Lonnie Chisenhall. Marte is a better defender, that is the one thing he was always billed to be “a major league ready defender” and he showed in AAA last year that with consistent at bats he could produce offensively. There is a huge difference between AAA and the MLB, but regardless, he did show a good bat when he was brought up late last year. So why not give him a shot to prove his worth to the franchise, while we look for a trading partner to Jhonny? It makes sense to me, so we’ll see what Acta does. I don’t see why Shapiro can’t convince some GM somewhere to overpay for Peralta like he did with Casey Blake and Mark DeRosa. So what the team should look into is trying to move Peralta while playing Marte every day. This would allow the team to see what they really have in Marte by actually giving him a real chance at making an impact on the major league level. The other added benefit, the team would be able to put him on display for other teams as well. Remember, Marte is still fairly young, and could have more value to the team as trade bait if he performs well in an every day role.
Do the Indians really want a guy getting paid several million dollars taking up a lineup spot, batting poorly, striking out more often than he gets on base and playing very bad defense? No. Bench Jhonny Peralta.