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Five fixes for the Tribe

Carmona and his sinker would benefit from improved infield.


The Indians were supposed to be a prime contender in the weak AL Central this year, but they've opened the year 12-21, giving them the worst winning percentage of any team in baseball outside of the Nationals. Let's run down some potential fixes for the club.

1. Fire manager Eric Wedge

An increasingly popular solution, Wedge's stock has taken a big hit since his Indians finished 96-66 and lost in the ALCS in 2007. He's been slow to adjust the roles of struggling players and he seems all too content to live with poor defensive play. However, both of those are subjects on which the front office may be influencing or even dictating policy.

Regardless, Wedge is currently in his seventh year on the job, which is an awfully long tenure for someone who has never been regarded as an elite manager. A change makes sense.

2. Play Matt LaPorta

LaPorta will be making his fifth start in 11 days with the Indians in tonight's game. So far, he's 2-for-13 with a homer, a walk and three strikeouts.

Decision time is most certainly coming. Travis Hafner (shoulder) is probably a week away, and if LaPorta still isn't playing more by then, he's almost surely going to be demoted. With Ben Francisco down to .247/.324/.361 as the primary left fielder, it makes sense to go with LaPorta an everyday guy for the week and see if he can provide a boost.

3. Move everyone, start Luis Valbuena at second base, send down LaPorta

The Indians did experiment some with Jhonny Peralta at third base during spring training, and Asdrubal Cabrera has plenty of experience at shortstop. In theory, going to Valbuena at second base and moving Mark DeRosa to left field would considerably improve the Cleveland defense. In reality, it's a pretty big risk to be trying in the middle of the season.

Then again, the Indians are 12-21. How much of a gamble would it really be? With no true strikeout pitcher in the rotation, an improved defense could do wonders for the team.

4. Commit to Kelly Shoppach behind the plate

Along those same lines, the Indians could make their best catcher the starting and use Victor Martinez strictly as a first baseman. They'd lose Ryan Garko's decent bat in the process and they'd be taking a big downgrade offensively when Shoppach needs a day off, but it might be worth it anyway.

In Martinez's 17 starts at catcher this year, the Indians have a 6.08 ERA, and he's just 2-for-12 throwing out basestealers. Shoppach's catcher ERA is 5.45, and he's 5-for-11 throwing out basestealers.

Of course, that's a small sample size. Martinez was actually better than Shoppach at throwing out runners last year, and the two had practically identical catcher ERAs. Still, I think most would agree that Shoppach is the superior defender.

5. Jettison Jeremy Sowers, call up David Huff

The Indians called up Sowers to start last week because they actually thought Aaron Laffey would be more valuable in the bullpen. Sowers promptly gave up seven runs over five innings in a loss to the Red Sox, giving him a 6.05 ERA in 36 starts since the beginning of 2007.

Scott Lewis (forearm) is still at least a couple of weeks away and can't really be counted on given his injury history, so unless the Indians want to return Laffey to the rotation, it would make sense to see what Huff can do. The 24-year-old left-hander is 4-1 with a 4.05 ERA, 26 H and 26/14 K/BB in 33 1/3 IP for Triple-A Columbus. He projects as a long-term third or fourth starter.