What’s the Message Behind Acta’s Words?
By Christian Petrila
I was low on ideas for my weekly column, when ESPN’s Jim Bowden tweeted that Manny Acta said the Indians need three bats and a starter to compete with Detroit and Chicago.
Needless to say, this made the topic for my column infinitely easier.
What can we interpret from Acta’s quote? Is it his frustration seeping through? Is he hinting at the Indians’ brass that they need to spend money or the team will continue to stumble around aimlessly?
There’s no denial that the Indians’ lack of spending has hurt the team this season. However, Acta is the first from within the organization to address it. The Indians are one of 10 teams in the MLB with a total payroll under $80 million. Among those teams are Colorado, San Diego, KansasCity and Houston. Those four teams are either in last place or second-to-last. The Indians’ payroll competes with four teams that have an average record of 45-70. Yet somehow, Acta was able to keep this team competitive until the 11-game losing streak that all but derailed the season.
Fifteen of the 32 players the Indians have suited this season have/had contracts where the Indians were responsible for at least $1 million. Derek Lowe ($5 million) and Johnny Damon ($1.25 million) have been released. Grady Sizemore ($5 million), Roberto Hernandez ($3 million) and Kevin Slowey ($1.5 million) haven’t played a single game for the Indians this season. Meanwhile, Travis Hafner’s $13 million dollars have landed on the disabled list once again, while Rafael Perez’s $2 million contract has been on the DL since late April. Among the others in the millionaire’s club, Ubaldo Jimenez ($4.2 million), Justin Masterson ($3.83 million), Casey Kotchman ($3 million) and Jack Hannahan ($1.14 million) have underperformed all season.
Of the 15 players making the most money on the team, only four have played well enough to be considered deserving of the money: Shin Soo Choo ($4.9 million), Asdrubal Cabrera ($4.55 million), Chris Perez ($4.5 million) and Joe Smith ($1.75 million). You can’t exactly blame Acta for getting frustrated when most of the guys making the money don’t get the job done.
It’s safe to say the three bats Acta was referring to were a left fielder, first baseman and third baseman. Left field has been a disaster all season. The platoon of Damon, Shelley Duncan and Aaron Cunningham was a mess. It’s still too early in his stint to determine whether or not Ezequiel Carrera could be a long-term answer, but he has been playing very well since his promotion from Triple-A. At third base, Hannahan has been hitting a dismal .226 this season. At first, despite his 10 home runs and 40 RBI, Casey Kotchman is also only hitting .226.
The Indians will have plenty of money coming off the books after this season. They could easily gain back some of the fan base’s trust with a few smart investments, rather than hasty roster-fillers. Acta’s frustrations are justified by the poor decisions the front office has made over the last few years, and especially the last few months. But it’s obvious that another year of Casey Kotchmans and Johnny Damons will not cut it.
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