Assessing LaPorta.. Again

Remember when LaPorta was a can't miss prospect...?

Yeah, so i’m trying this again. I love getting on here and writing about my favorite teams, it just seems like I always run out of time and don’t get in the groove. It isn’t going to stop me from trying again, I love it too much. It is like that early baseball season time where you get that itch to play again after you have been playing for years and years. Every time the season is about to start, I get that tingling feeling in my arm and hand wanting to grip a ball and fire a fastball to the catchers mitt. I get that same feeling when I’m on my computer, I just want to read and write all I can about the Cleveland teams. Upon returning, i am going to beat a very familiar drum. In the past i have been very critical of LaPorta’s run thus far with the Indians and I wrote an article prior to this year about how it was a make or break season for him with the Tribe. The once highly touted right handed power prospect has turned into one of the most futile regularly playing members of the Indians and of the whole league. he was recently sent down to AAA to make room for extra bullpen arms. That is how high the Indians organization is on LaPorta at the end of his 2nd full season up in the bigs. He is no longer a spring chicken, he is going to be 27 at the start of 2012, and he has received enough opportunity in the last few years to prove his worth, yet he has come up short each time. This make or break season has done a lot more breaking then making. 

The time of him being the first baseman is over, I know the appeal of a power hitting first baseman from the right side is great, but he is just not the one. His defense has gotten better the more he has been there, but it is still sub par and his bat is further behind. The Indians organization has already said that they need to break him down and rebuild him. Why did that no happen 3 years ago? They knew he was a fastball hitter who would be looking for one and guessing he would get one, struggling to hit the breaking balls. Kind of like Jhonny Peralta. So what are the Indians going to do with him when the season comes to an end? Well, thats where the unknown comes in. A lot of big prospects like he was come and go, some are late bloomers and some are never what people thought they would be. Since he has a minor league option left, I imagine the Indians start him off in AAA Columbus next year, see if they can improve on his swing and then bring him up and see how he fares.

It is already a lost situation. It was chronicled on http://www.waitingfornextyear.com ‘s article a week or so ago just how much of a quagmire he has been for the Indians franchise. He was the main piece in the CC Sabathia trade, and while the other important part of that, Michael Brantley, is fairing a little better, the trade looks like a really bad one in 2011. Sabathia was dominant on a playoff run for the Brewers, and he has been dominant since joining the Yankees. What did the Indians get? A 4-A first baseman who can’t break a .250 average in the bigs but goes down to AAA and absolutely rakes. The pitching down there must be that much more predictable if he can go down there and crush it like he was batting against little league pitchers.

Here’s my solution after another wasted year with LaPorta at first base. Send him down to AAA after spring training in 2012, let him play there and if he crushes the ball for the majority of the year, and you think it is worth another try, bring him back up. He can be a productive member of the Clippers and not cause the Indians so many headaches. But, the questions don’t end there. Who do the Indians find to play 1B? Simple answer, Carlos Santana. make him the regular first bagger, let Lou Marson go every day at catcher. Catcher is a defensively prime position, and he is the better option there. He can handle the Indians young staff better, and this would allow Santana focus on growing offensively without having to worry about managing the game and the pitching staff. i think that situation is a win-win for the Tribe. LouMar might not be the best hitter, but I think I would take his plus defense and average hitting over LaPorta’s negative defense and lack of hitting. easy enough right? I wish…

It is a complicated situation. I know the Tribe’s brass doesn’t want to admit failure on this trade, but it might be time to chalk it up in the loss column. Maybe the team should think about sending LaPorta to Arizona all winter long to break him down and start to rebuild him completely. He isn’t young anymore, but he is not old. Look at what Jose Bautista has done with a later career surge. If the Indians can figure out what it is that causes him to suck so badly when they have him in the bigs, they can fix it. At 27 next year he still has a future, there are so many stories of players figuring it out a little later and becoming major players. Garret Jones, Bautista, and so many others have figured it out a little later and had positive impacts on their teams. All is not yet lost on LaPorta, but the best thing for him and the Indians might be to have him spend some more time refining his play, down in AAA, and put their best lineup on the field without him for the time being.

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