Inbox: Will Chisenhall start in right in 2016?
Beat reporter Jordan Bastian answers Indians fans' questions
It seemed a foregone conclusion that Lonnie Chisenhall was gone next year. Do you think his incredible August means he'll be the starting right fielder next season?
-- John B. (@jjsnowcat via Twitter)
Since being recalled to the Majors on July 30, Chisenhall has turned in seven Defensive Runs Saved (second in the American League for the entire season) in 183 1/3 innings. His 41.1 UZR/150 ranks first in the AL among right fielders with at least 180 innings.
Offensively, Chisenhall has found his rhythm again, too. Since his recall, he has a .370 average and a .940 OPS through 27 games. It is reminiscent of Chisenhall's hot start in 2014, when he hit .393 with a 1.057 OPS in his first 53 games. During both hot streaks, manager Terry Francona picked his spots for using Chisenhall against lefty pitching. Since July 30, Chisenhall has hit .429 in only seven at-bats against southpaws.
So what the Indians appear to have in Chisenhall is a plus defender in right field who can thrive in a role that has him facing primarily right-handed pitching. That's a similar role previously filled by veteran David Murphy, who was traded to the Angels in late July. Murphy was on the books for $6 million this year, and his contract includes a $7 million team option for '16.
If the Indians were willing to pay Murphy that much under a different scenario, then Chisenhall's projected arbitration salary for 2016 (he netted a $2.25 million salary through arbitration for '15) suddenly doesn't look so bad in light of his recent production. Under the new circumstances, I'd say Chisenhall looks like he'll be in the fold for next year. He could be the "starting" right fielder in the sense that he'd get the bulk of the at-bats there (vs. righty pitching).
With Mark Shapiro leaving Cleveland to be the Blue Jays' new team president, Indians owner Paul Dolan said the Tribe's presidential duties will be split among others in the front office. But what is the future of the general-manager spot? Does anything change there?
-- Dillan T., Lexington, Ky.
The last time the Indians made a change at general manager, it was Shapiro advancing to the team president role and Chris Antonetti being promoted to GM. That's a unique situation. Antonetti hasn't sought the president job and the Tribe does not plan on finding a replacement specifically for Shapiro. As you noted, Shapiro's former duties will be divided among others who will report to Dolan. Antonetti will remain on as the Indians' GM, and likewise, Francona will remain as manager.
Before Shapiro was named the Blue Jays' president, the Tribe and Jays were rumored to have been engaged in talks at the non-waiver Trade Deadline. Is that mere coincidence, or had these talks been going on much earlier than initially reported and we were hearing about potential compensation pieces?
-- Mike R., Jacksonville, Fla.
During Monday's news conference about Shapiro's decision to go to Toronto, Dolan noted that he did not seek compensation from the Blue Jays as part of the move. Out of respect for Shapiro, Dolan did not want to take any steps that would potentially get in the way. The rumored trade talks prior to July 31 were traditional trade talks.
Could you see Francona going to a six-man rotation for the remainder of the season? Danny Salazar, Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco have already surpassed their career highs in innings for a season, and Corey Kluber is on track to do the same.
-- Mike R., Jacksonville, Fla.
Hey, it's Mike again! When Carrasco comes off the disabled list, the Indians will indeed have six starters, with Cody Anderson and Josh Tomlin still in the mix. Francona said last month that he wouldn't do a six-man rotation for a long period of time, but he noted that the Indians could find appropriate times throughout September to provide extra rest for any arm that needs it.
Francisco Lindor really settled in after 100 at-bats. Does this change the outlook within the organization on other guys as to when to call them up to maximize wins?
-- Chris D (@chris_d_davies via Twitter)
Lindor is a special player -- it might take others even longer to adjust to the Major League level. And a lot of young players start hot and then struggle when the opposition learns their areas of weakness. In Lindor's case, he started off slow and then took off. I don't think one player's success or failure would dramatically alter a team's thinking in terms of player development, though. I do agree that Cleveland could have promoted Lindor earlier this season.
Is Lindor's bunting being forced on him as a form of rookie initiation?
@fed_scivittaro (via Twitter)
I'd say the cheerleader outfits worn by Lindor and fellow rook Giovanny Urshela were more initiation than all the sacrifice bunts. Lindor is a young player who wants to do anything -- big or small -- to help set the table. Along those lines, he has said he takes pride in moving runners with bunts as Cleveland's No. 2 hitter. That said, I'd rather see Lindor swing away in the first inning, especially with how hot he's been in the batter's box lately.