On Friday, August 24 the Cleveland Indians called up first baseman/left fielder Matt LaPorta to give him what manager Manny Acta insists a genuine opportunity, reported MLB.com's Jordan Bastian. LaPorta received the most playing time at first base for the Tribe throughout the 2010 and 2011 seasons but endured a demotion when in the offseason the Indians signed free agent first baseman Casey Kotchman. Matt LaPorta as the key player in the 2008 trade which sent Cy Young winner C.C. Sabathia packing from Cleveland entered the city with high expectations, expectations not yet fulfilled.
Regarding Matt LaPorta's call up Manny Acta told the media, "He's going to get plenty of at-bats the rest of the way, He deserves, and we deserve, to give him an extended look for the rest of the year." Honestly I'm unsure what new insights Tribe management thinks they will derive with this "extended look." After all, wouldn't LaPorta's time as an Indian in 2010 and 2011 better qualify as such?
Matt LaPorta hit .221 with 15 doubles, 12 home runs, and 41 RBIs in 2010. The following season he collected 23 doubles, 11 home runs, and 53 RBIs while batting .247. Judging by LaPorta's class AAA stats this season I don't see a reason to expect an improvement in his performance. LaPorta batted .264 with 19 doubles, 19 home runs, and 62 RBIs for the Indians affiliated Columbus Clippers. The upgraded talent at the big league level neutralizes any enhancement those numbers suggest.
Now I'm not trying to ridicule Matt LaPorta here. If you remember back to my piece "Cleveland Indians Sign First Baseman Casey Kotchman: A Fan's Reaction," I declared my LaPorta fandom. I always felt my fellow Clevelanders didn't appreciate the production LaPorta provided because they remained too busy complaining about his inability to live up to the hefty expectations placed upon him.
Ultimately Matt LaPorta represents a solid seventh or eighth spot batter. He will hit around .250 and will collect double figures in long balls. Could those numbers secure LaPorta a starting role on future Cleveland Indians teams? Sure, if the Tribe can pick up a power hitter for left field or designated hitter. However if the Indians rely on Matt LaPorta to become an essential cog within the lineup, then the first baseman turns into a liability.
Zachary Fenell fell in love with the Cleveland Indians during the 1995 season when the Tribe powered their way to the organization's first World Series appearance since 1954. While the Indians lost some allure since the 1990s you will still find Zachary watching the games on TV, listening to them on the radio, or best yet taking in a game from the stands at Progressive Field.
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