Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Please leave now if you still think Matt LaPorta “needs a chance”

If there are any Cleveland Indians fans who still think Matt LaPorta just “needs a chance” to show what he can do, then we don’t know what to tell them.

Because if Tuesday night’s game didn’t convince them that LaPorta is simply not a Major League ballplayer, then we don’t know what will.

LaPorta failed to cover first base in the 12th inning of the game against the Twins, deciding instead to move into right field to accept a cutoff throw that was never coming because second baseman Jason Kipnis fielded the ground ball off the bat of Minnesota’s Alexi Casilla.

Instead of inning over, Minnesota’s Darin Mastroianni scored the go-ahead run from second base.

The best part (or worst, depending on your perspective) is that LaPorta was only in the game because he hit for Casey Kotchman in the bottom of the 11th inning. If Kotchman is still in the game he makes the play (oh, and LaPorta grounded out in the at-bat).

Need we say the Tribe went on to lose the game? If you’ve been following the Indians since the All-Star game, a stretch that has seen them go 17-46, we need not.

“It was a big mental mistake,” Indians manager Manny Acta said after the game. “You don’t think. You have to see the ball go through before you decide to become a cutoff man. That’s pretty much a routine ball to second base. Plus, if that ball goes through, we don’t need a cutoff man. It was too softly hit and they have one of the fastest guys in the game running with two outs.”

That’s the thing about LaPorta. It’s not so much that he’s not a very good hitter – .222 batting average this year with the Tribe, .237 with an OPS of .694 in parts of four season – but that he is one of the worst fundamental players we have ever seen in a Tribe uniform. He just has no baseball savvy.

LaPorta at least seems to know he doesn’t know how to play the game.

“I made a mistake. I thought the ball was going to go through; obviously, it didn’t go through,” he said on Wednesday. “I messed up. There is nobody to blame but me right there.  It’s obvious, if you’re watching the game, what not to do: You don’t go to the cutoff.”

Tuesday night may be the last Tribe fans see of LaPorta in an Indians uniform as the team activated Travis Hafner off the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday (yeah, we don’t know why either). With Hafner back at the DH spot, Acta will reportedly give Russ Canzler who, like LaPorta, bats from the right side, more at-bats at first base.

We’ve written it before, but this really needs to be the end of the LaPorta experiment in Cleveland.

Can anyone honestly say there is any reason to keep him around?

(Photo by The Plain Dealer)

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