The Indians' roster management leaves much to be desired

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Matt and Aaron
mentioned the Ryan Garko trade last night, but I’m still thinking about
one aspect of it this morning, and that’s the fact that the Tribe
called up Andy Marte instead of Matt LaPorta to take Garko’s spot on
the roster. Let’s suss that out a bit, shall we?

Matt LaPorta was the centerpiece of the CC Sabathia trade last year,
and he’s gotten nothing but a courtesy callup so far. For now he’s like
me: Tearing it up, but largely wasting his time, in Columbus, Ohio
while the big old world slowly passes him by. Andy Marte, on the other
hand, has had approximately 1,257 chances to make it work in the Major
Leagues and has failed every time. Yes, he too is raking in Columbus
this year, and yes he stands to be a minor league free agent this
winter, but those 1,257 previous chances still weigh heavy on the mind.
Could he be the next Carlos Pena? Sure. But I think it far more likely
that he’s the AAAA player that he’s shown himself to be for several
years now, and if you have to choose between him and LaPorta, you have
to give LaPorta the shot.

Of course the dumbest thing about all of this is that the Indians didn’t have to choose between Marte and LaPorta. They forced that choice upon themselves by carrying a 14 man pitching staff.

Let me repeat that.

The Indians have five starting pitchers and nine — nine! —
relievers on their 25 man roster. Mark Shapiro, in his infinite wisdom,
has decided that he wants to give his embattled manager the option of
running ten pitchers out in a given game. And that happens so often!

Here’s something that doesn’t happen so often, but happened last
night: Because Garko was traded, Travis Hafner couldn’t play (he gets
mandatory days off to rest his shoulder or whatever it is on him that
doesn’t work so good) and Grady Sizemore was sick, the Indians played
the entire game against the Angels last night with literally no one
available on the bench. If Asdrubal Cabrera went down, Cliff Lee is
probably playing short. And who cares? They’re trading him anyway!

In light of that, and in light of the fact that you have two guys
worthy of a callup to the big leagues, you’d think that the Indians
would maybe think about going from the monumentally stupid 14-man
pitching staff to a merely idiotic 13 or a somewhat excessive 12. But
far be it from me to argue against success.

[cough!] 42-58 [cough!]

Video: Nelson Cruz hits second-longest home run of 2016

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 14:  Nelson Cruz #23 of the Seattle Mariners celebrates his solo homerun with Daniel Vogelbach #20 of the Seattle Mariners to take a 2-1 lead over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the seventh inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 14, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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There’s certainly never a bad time to hit a home run, but when you get the opportunity to crush a triple-deck, 493-foot shot off of Tyler Duffey, you should take it. With the Mariners down 2-0 to the Twins in the fourth inning, Cruz hammered a fastball to deep left field for his 39th long ball of the season — and the second-longest home run hit in 2016, to boot.

It doesn’t hurt that the Mariners are 1.5 games back of a playoff spot, although they’ll have to oust the Blue Jays, Orioles, or Tigers to get a wild card. They’ve gone 3-3 in the last week, dropping two consecutive series to the Astros and Blue Jays and taking their series opener against Minnesota 10-1 on Friday night.

Cruz, for his part, entered Saturday’s game with a .299/.337/.610 batting line and six home runs in September. According to ESPN.com’s Home Run Tracker, Cruz sits behind Edwin Encarnacion and Mike Napoli with 13 “no-doubt” home runs in 2016, third-most among major league sluggers. It’s safe to say he can add Saturday’s moonshot to that list.

Marlins’ outfielder and undisputed home run king Giancarlo Stanton remains untouched at the top of the Statcast leaderboard with a 504-ft. home run, and it’s difficult to envision any slugger reaching beyond that before the end of the season. Even so, Cruz won’t need to clear 500 feet to extend an impressive hitting record. One more home run will put the 36-year-old at 40 on the year, making 2016 his third consecutive season with at least 40 homers, and his second such season doing so in Seattle.

Report: John Farrell won’t rule out a postseason return for Pablo Sandoval

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 11:  Pablo Sandoval #48 of the Boston Red Sox looks on from the dugout before the Red Sox home opener against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on April 11, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Orioles defeat the Red Sox 9-7.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.

On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.

At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.

If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.

Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.

Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.