What to do with Mike Aviles?
Bob Toth | On 24, Jun 2013
You can’t have too many good players, but could the Indians be headed toward a problem where they can’t get all their deserving starters into the lineup?
During yesterday’s broadcast Indians General Manager Chris Antonetti said Tribe shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera is between seven to 10 days from returning to the Tribe lineup. Cabrera will travel with the team to Baltimore and continue to workout with the team. According to Antonetti, Cabrera wants to play now and will likely play during the road trip at some point.
And while no one should suggest not giving Cabrera his job back, Mike Aviles has played very well in his absence. Since Cabrera’s injury, Aviles has hit .271, with a home run and eight runs batted in. He’s played nearly every day at shortstop and even replaced Cabrera near the top of the batting order.
When Cabrera returns, he’ll certainly resume his place at shortstop for the Tribe, but Aviles is a guy who deserves to play more than just as a back up when players need a day off. Unfortunately, the options look bleak as to where Aviles would fit. He’ll still spell Cabrera at shortstop, and likely provide an extra day off between his return and the All-Star break until he gets his legs back under him.
But playing time at second base seems sparse considering Jason Kipnis is the Indians hottest hitter. Yesterday was Kipnis’ eighth multi-hit game in June helped raise his average for this month to .379. Surely Aviles will see little time in place of Kipnis.
Third base seems like a potential place where Aviles can see playing time, but the Tribe will have to decide between possibly the best option in Aviles versus the development of Lonnie Chisenhall. Aviles likely could see playing time at third base against left-handed pitching and as a defensive replacement for in late innings. Chisenhall has yet to prove that he can hold down the full-time third base spot this season. After being recalled from Triple-A Columbus last week, he has struggled to bring his offensive production from Columbus to Cleveland.
Aviles may be the present best option at third base, but what are the long term ramifications for Chisenhall?
Increased playing time for Aviles when Cabrera returns could also interfere with the designated hitter carousel. More Aviles at third base will force Nick Swisher and Mark Reynolds to split time between first base and designated hitter. It also means more of Carlos Santana behind the plate and less of Yan Gomes. Despite a poor day Sunday by Gomes, his offense and defense has been a pleasant surprise this season. It could also eliminate nearly all the available at bats for Jason Giambi.
Too many productive players is a good problem to have. It could be worse. However, the Tribe will soon have to make some serious decisions regarding some of their role players, and possibly decide between long term development or immediate wins.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images