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Indians Indians Archive Coming Clean
Written by Paul Cousineau

Paul Cousineau
Paul Cousineau is about as optimistic a columnist as you will find. No matter how bad things may seem, Paulie always tries to look at things even handedly, rationally, and stays off the ledge. So when Paul gets hot under the collar, you know it's time to panic. And our talented Indians columnist has had enough. He comes clean, and offers up some suggestions to the overmatched Atomic Wedgie in his latest piece. It's time to come clean on something.

(Deep breath)

I hate this team.

I hate watching the games in agony, waiting for the bullpen to take over for a starter, fully aware that the implosion is coming.

I hate watching the offense score a bundle of runs for a Reyes start like clockwork in vain, only to be silenced for a CP Lee start when only one run is needed.

I hate the feeling that all of the levers are being pulled to put a different, better team on the field and still seeing the same tired names being trotted out there in the lineup.

I hate the feeling that everything could have gone against the team this season has, and that a good portion of it is the fault of the team.

I hate watching them take issue with a perceived slight by another team a full three days after said slight and only when their closer came into a game that they were losing, taking their frustration out on an opponent only so they don't start turning on themselves or Wedge, assuming he's around for the team to turn on.

More than anything, I just hate the losing and the feeling that the winning streak or winning stretch that is necessary to put this team into the AL Central isn't going to come around because the problems.

I hate it all and the trouble is that with each passing game, the sense that this "tinkering" to find a solution is actually doing more damage than anything for the team. Say what you will about how it doesn't matter what reliever enters a game because the song remains the same, but consider for a moment that there have been three combinations of the starting lineup that have been together for more than two games - one for six games, one for three games, and one other starting lineup for two games.

We're not talking batting orders here, where players may move around the different spots in the batting order; we're talking about nine players playing the same position on a team. I'm all for versatility and at one time was fully behind the thought that finding the right mix was still possible by utilizing the versatility of certain players on the team; but at this point, the Indians are just picking names out of a hat...and I don't mean in terms of who's batting where. The team is playing guys at the wrong positions and the net result has been chaos.

Want a crazy idea in an attempt to get some stability to the team?

How about some stability in the lineup?

How about saying, "These are the nine most talented position players on the team, and they're going to play the positions that suit them the best every day"?

How about filling out the lineup card in permanent marker one of these nights and letting it ride for a while to end this chicanery that has ensued in the determination of who plays where and when?

I'm all for making a change to this team to get it jump-started...but not the drastic change that you're thinking of - how about making a change of setting a group of regulars from the players on the roster and...I don't know, play them for consecutive days.

You know what...make it two weeks and see what happens.

Throw this out there and see what sticks:

C - Shoppach
1B - Martinez
2B - DeRosa
SS - Cabrera
3B - Peralta
RF - Choo
CF - Sizemore
LF - LaPorta
DH - Garko

There...there's your lineup for the next two weeks, come hell or high water.

Put them in the batting order however you want, but play them at those positions nearly everyday with Martinez catching Carmona being the only exception to this combination of players. If you want to move Valbuena or Carroll in there for a sporadic start so DeRosa can move to 3B, LF, or RF to give one of those guys a day off, fine. If Hafner returns before those two weeks are up, he takes over the DH spot being spelled occasionally by Garko, who is relegated to the bench otherwise.

Otherwise, go with this lineup for two weeks...after two weeks, see where we stand.

I'm not saying that The Atomic Wedgie should
pull a Norman Dale and play short-handed, telling us in some grand statement that he's fed up with some of the guys in the clubhouse to the point that "his team is on the field" down a player; rather, I'm saying that there is talent in this lineup, but it's being grossly underutilized as Wedge as tried too many combinations of players, many of them in positions that are foreign to them or players that simply don't merit an everyday look in MLB at this point in their careers.

Looking at the bench players in this arrangement, can anyone make a compelling argument that any of these guys should be playing even close to everyday ahead of one of the names listed above?

Dellucci - Age 35 - career 98 OPS+
Carroll - Age 35 - career 82 OPS+
Francisco - Age 27 - career 99 OPS+
Valbuena - Age 23 - career 63 OPS+

Valbuena? Maybe at some point in the future...but right now, if he's not playing everyday, why not just send him to AAA to get everyday AB to be ready to play 2B every day, allowing Barfield can become the designated pinch-runner on a team of base cloggers while not worrying about him not having to bring his bat or his glove for road trips.

We don't need to "find" AB for the rest of these guys, including Garko if Hafner comes back. They can fill in to give regulars a day off now and again, but this constant motion around the diamond and in and out of the lineup is making me nauseous with seasickness and the playing of these guys out of position further exacerbates the problems on this team.

At this point in the season, the Indians are fighting for what's left of 2009 (if it's even salvageable) and it looks like they're going to need all the offensive firepower they can muster to overcome the holes in their rotation and the gas cans that trot in from the bullpen. If that's the case, let's go with the best players available to fill the lineup...every single their best position.

Maybe employing such a novel concept will restore my faith and, perhaps, my love for this team - because right now, I have neither.

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