As a fan of the Cleveland Indians I often keep a close eye on what is happening in the American League Central, especially with the Detroit Tigers. Cleveland is just 1 ½ games ahead of the Tigers in the AL Central heading into the Friday, May 4 games. The Tigers still have arguably the most balanced roster in the division.
On Friday afternoon the Tigers announced they had designated 1B Brad Eldred for assignment. While this may appear to be minor news seeing how he has appeared in just five games for Detroit while batting .188 with a .235 OBP and striking out six times, he has been tearing it up at Triple-A Toledo this season.
In 20 games with the Mud Hens in 2012, Eldred was batting .388 with 13 home runs and 35 RBIs. He boasted a .444 OBP. These are very impressive statistics to say the least, especially in just one month of action.
For those not familiar with the terminology, when a player is designated for assignment he is immediately removed from the 40-man roster. The club then has 10 days to decide what to do with the player while freeing up a roster spot for another move. In the Tigers case, it is the addition of Delmon Young after serving his suspension.
Detroit must now either place Eldred on waivers, trade him, or give him his outright release.
With this action by Detroit, my interest in this move really begins to peak. Eldred is a right hand bat with power that plays first base. Currently the Indians have Casey Kotchman who is a left-handed bat and is stellar on defense but has not shown much promise at the plate through the month of April. Waiting in the wings at Triple-A Columbus is the failing experiment known as Matt LaPorta. Yeah, I'm not excited about Cleveland's options either.
Unfortunately for Cleveland, they have no space for Eldred on their 25-man roster. Jose Lopez was already moved to make room for Johnny Damon and Jason Donald is the Indians' sole utility infielder. There is always Aaron Cunningham but he is a solid defensive outfielder and a defensive step ahead of both Shelley Duncan and Damon in left field.
Is it worth the risk for a journeyman right-handed 1B who has a career .203 average? I would argue no but his performance in Toledo this season has opened my eyes. At the same time, LaPorta is batting .371 with nine home runs and 20 RBIs through 24 games at with the Clippers. Is Cleveland ready to give him a second chance yet?
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