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In Cleveland, hope dies last

Archive for the category “Matt LaPorta”

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.

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Browns take a big hit

We all feared the news was coming, but Tuesday’s announcement that Browns guard Eric Steinbach will miss the season after undergoing back surgery still stung.

“He was a starter, so we’re gonna have to make some decisions to see who plays left guard for us,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur told The Beacon Journal. “So we’ll be going through that process.”

That process includes fifth-round draft pick Jason Pinkston, who has played in Steinbach’s absence during the preseason is in the running to take over the starting left guard spot between Alex Mack and Joe Thomas.

Pinkston has impressed the coaches so far.

“I tell you what, Jason Pinkston has made huge, huge strides in three-plus weeks,” Shurmur said. “It’s one thing to be on the perimeter running routes as a rookie and doing it, but when you’re in there in the thick of it, it’s very challenging for those big guys. It really takes development and seasoning and I think he’s making huge progress.”

However, is it realistic to expect a fifth-round draft choice to step in and play effectively? One thing working in his favor is that Pinkston, if he is the starter, will have Thomas to his left and Mack to his right.

“Sometimes I come up there and I freeze a little bit,” Pinkston told The Beacon Journal. “Joe will say, ‘Do you know what you’re doing?’ Then I have Alex to my right. Those guys have been great.”

If Pinkston doesn’t cut it, the Browns may be forced to turn to Oneil Counsins, who the team claimed off waivers from the Ravens this week.

Cousins was the Ravens staring right tackle when the preseason started, but was moved to right guard after a bad game and then demoted. The Ravens then signed Bryant McKinnie, who was cut by Minnesota after showing up after the lockout at almost 400 pounds.

We don’t like where this is headed.

With Steinbach in the lineup, the Browns had a great left side of the line, now you just don’t know. Plus, with Peyton Hillis (252 pounds), Owen Marecic (245) and Montario Hardesty (227) the Browns were building a beefy backfield that would have looked good running behind Thomas and Steinbach.

Now they’re left trying to fill a major hole less than two weeks before the season opener.


The Indians didn’t want to let the Browns have all the player transaction news on Tuesday, so they got in on the action by sending Matt LaPorta to AAA Columbus in a move that was, in some ways surprising while also being overdue.

Someone had to go to make room so Jeanmar Gomez could start Tuesday night and LaPorta, the centerpiece of the C.C. Sabathia trade of 2008, earned the short straw with his season-long poor play.

LaPorta is hitting .238 with 18 doubles, 11 homers and 44 RBI in 97 games. He has struck out 79 times, while drawing 20 walks. He heads down I-71 with a .289 on base percentage and a .404 slugging percentage.

The question is, what took so long?

LaPorta hasn’t been good all year; his monthly batting average and OBP are April (.247/.337), May (.240/.301), June (.239/.271), July (.217/.246) and August (.246/.266) all bear that out.

Plus he seems to not have a lot of baseball smarts, especially in the field.

So, to summarize, the Tribe traded Sabathia and wound up with:

  • LaPorta, now in Columbus
  • Michael Brantley, on the disabled list with his .266 average and .318 OBP
  • Rob Bryson, still in the minors
  • Zach Jackson, out of baseball

Boy, that sure worked out well.

Better start updating the rule book

Someone better get Bud Selig on the hotline right now.

The Cleveland Indians placed Matt LaPorta on the disabled list after the first baseman injured his ankle during a rundown between second and third base on Friday night against Pittsburgh.

“He will be out two to three weeks with a mild high ankle sprain,” manager Manny Acta said of LaPorta, who is hitting .242 with eight homers and 32 RBIs in 59 games.

Clearly, the rundown is an inherently dangerous play and must be immediately outlawed.

That’s the new protocol, right? At least that’s what happened when San Francisco catcher Buster Posey was hurt in a play at the plate last month. His agent and Giants general manager Brian Sabean both cried about the injury and how the rules should be changed.

Thankfully the Indians are move level-headed about such things.

Of course, this could have all been avoided if LaPorta, who doesn’t seem to have good baseball instincts, would have not tried to go to third on a groundball to the short stop.

“It is safe to say I didn’t want him to go to third base whether or not he was getting injured,” Acta said in published reports.

(Photo by The Associated Press)

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