Tag: Matt LaPorta

Matt LaPorta

Matt LaPorta goes unclaimed on waivers, sent to Triple-A


Here’s how far Matt LaPorta’s stock has fallen since he was the centerpiece of the package Cleveland received for CC Sabathia in mid-2008: Yesterday the Indians dropped LaPorta from the 40-man roster and he went unclaimed by the other 29 teams on waivers.

That means LaPorta–now 28 years old and the owner a career .694 OPS in 291 games in the majors–will remain in the Indians’ organization after being sent outright to Triple-A. He’s no longer on the 40-man roster, however, so if he performs well in the minors the Indians would have to re-add him before a potential call-up.

LaPorta underwent hip surgery last month that makes him no sure thing to be healthy by Opening Day, so the former seventh overall pick is facing some long odds.

Matt LaPorta undergoes hip surgery to repair torn labrum

Matt LaPorta

Matt LaPorta was already facing an uncertain future in Cleveland after repeatedly struggling in various stints with the Indians and now he’ll have to come back from hip surgery.

Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports that LaPorta underwent surgery yesterday to repair a torn labrum in his left hip and “will need three to four months for recovery and rehab.”

That gives him enough time to be ready for spring training, but just barely, and because he’s out of minor-league options LaPorta will have to make the Opening Day roster or be placed on waivers.

Acquired from the Brewers in mid-2008 as the centerpiece of the CC Sabathia trade, LaPorta has hit just .238 with a .694 OPS in 291 games for the Indians and the former No. 7 overall pick turns 28 years old in January.

Indians send Lonnie Chisenhall, Matt LaPorta to minors

Cincinnati Reds v Cleveland Indians

Lonnie Chisenhall was Cleveland’s starting third baseman down the stretch last season as a rookie and headed into spring training as the presumed Opening Day starter, but today the Indians sent him back to Triple-A while handing the job to veteran Jack Hannahan.

Matt LaPorta was also optioned to Triple-A and unlike Chisenhall his place in the Indians’ long-term plans is now very uncertain. LaPorta was acquired from the Brewers as the centerpiece of the CC Sabathia trade, but the former first-round pick is now 27 years old and has hit just .238 with a .701 OPS in 269 games as a big leaguer.

As a prospect LaPorta looked like a potential middle-of-the-order bat with power and plate discipline, but his stock has fallen so far that the Indians signed Casey Kotchman instead of playing him at first base. Chisenhall struggled this spring, but is probably six good weeks at Triple-A away from being back in Cleveland. LaPorta might need an injury and some big-time production in the minors to return in an expanded role.

Running down the rosters: Cleveland Indians

Carlos Santana, Chris Perez

Even after giving up their top two pitching prospects for Ubaldo Jimenez, the Indians couldn’t maintain their hot start last year and lost their last four games to finish under .500 at 80-82. The offseason saw them shopping from the scrap heap, which isn’t unusual, but even as they were forced to pick from largely unwanted players, they did well with what they had. Unfortunately for them, they couldn’t answer when the team that finished 15 games ahead of them last year added Prince Fielder.

Ubaldo Jimenez – R
Justin Masterson – R
Derek Lowe – R
Josh Tomlin – R
Kevin Slowey – R

Chris Perez – R
Vinnie Pestano – R
Tony Sipp – L
Joe Smith – R
Rafael Perez – L
Dan Wheeler – R
Frank Herrmann – R

Disabled list: Carlos Carrasco (R)
Restricted list: ex-Fausto Carmona (R)
SP next in line: David Huff (L), Jeanmar Gomez (R), Zach McAllister (R)
RP next in line: Nick Hagadone (L), Chris Ray (R), Jeremy Accardo (R), Robinson Tejeda (R)

The addition of Lowe from Atlanta was supposed to give the Indians the most groundball-focused rotation the league has seen in years. The Fausto Carmona situation, however, has taken some of the wind out of those sails, especially since it looks like he’ll be replaced by Slowey, one of the league’s top flyball pitchers. I don’t necessarily think that’s a downgrade, though. In fact, I’m not sure the Indians’ original strategy was such a good idea; they play in a pitcher’s park and their outfield defense figures to be quite a bit better than their infield defense.

The bullpen has two openings, with Herrmann and Hagadone competing against a host of veterans on minor league deals. I’m nervous about Perez in the closer’s role — his velocity is down a bit and his strikeout rate took a big tumble last year — but Pestano rates as maybe the game’s best reliever no one knows about. He can step in if Perez struggles.

CF Grady Sizemore – L
SS Asdrubal Cabrera – S
RF Shin-Soo Choo – L
C Carlos Santana – S
DH Travis Hafner – L
2B Jason Kipnis – L
1B Casey Kotchman – L
3B Jack Hannahan – L
LF Michael Brantley – L

C Lou Marson – R
INF Jason Donald – R
1B/OF Shelley Duncan – R
OF Ryan Spilborghs – R

Next in line: C Matt Pagnozzi (R), 1B Matt LaPorta (R), 1B-3B Russ Canzler (R), 2B Cord Phelps (S), 2B-3B Jose Lopez (R), 3B Lonnie Chisenhall (L), 3B Andy LaRoche (L),
OF Aaron Cunningham (R), OF Ezequiel Carrera (L), OF Felix Pie (L), OF Fred Lewis (L), OF Trevor Crowe (S)

And then there’s the lineup. After re-signing Sizemore and bringing in Kotchman to start over LaPorta, the Indians will be able to go with nine left-handed hitters against right-handed pitching. Of course, things will get dicey against lefties. I think Cleveland might have been better off moving Brantley to center and adding a right-handed bat in Sizemore’s place.

That said, the Indians do deserve a ton of credit for bringing in the winter’s greatest haul in minor league free agency. That “next in line” group is probably the strongest any team can boast, and it gives the Indians plenty of bench options.

My controversial call above is sticking Chisenhall back in the minors. I didn’t want to do it, but the bench works much better that way. A right-handed-hitting backup infielder is a must, whether it’s Donald or Lopez. Hannahan, as a lefty, would be pretty useless as a reserve, but the Indians appear unlikely to cut him after re-upping him for $1.35 million last month. My preference would be for a Hannahan trade, leaving Chisenhall as the starter at third.

The Indians’ chances in 2012 figure to hinge on return to forms from Sizemore, Choo and Jimenez. If two of the three former All-Stars contend for a return to this year’s Midsummer Classic, then the Indians should be capable of winning 90 games and hanging in the playoff race.