Game Fifty: Red Sox 4, Indians 2

Recap
Box Score
Win Probability Added @ Fangraphs

Highest WPA:

Rafael Perez .044
Ryan Garko .040
Casey Blake .035

Lowest WPA:

Grady Sizemore -.142
David Dellucci -.121
Victor Martinez -.121

The game wasn't too interesting. The Red Sox got an early lead, Josh Beckett shut the Indians down, the Indians made a semblance of a comeback, but ultimately came up short. Time for some topical opinions:

(1) Trot Nixon should be platooned. And by platooned, I mean benched when the Indians face a left-handed starter. And benched when facing a left-handed reliever in the late innings. I don't care if this is Nixon's only trip to Fenway Park, he needed to be pinch-hit for in the ninth inning. Jason Michaels is on this team for a reason.

Some relevant statistics:

Nixon vs. LHP, career: .214/.308/.324
Okajima vs. LHB, 2007: .094/.216/.094 (small sample size)

The whole idea behind the outfield of platoons is that the Indians could leverage a two players' disparate splits in such a way that the combined at-bats for the position would resemble a pretty good corner outfielder. They've given Nixon almost as many at-bats (40) versus left-handers as Kelly Shoppach has had in total (46). Not surprisingly, Nixon's splits are in line with his career averages.

(2) Andy Marte should still be in Cleveland. I understand that they needed an extra arm in the bullpen, and Rafael Perez will help. But would there be anything wrong with giving Andy 2-3 weeks' worth of regular at-bats? Now the option has been exercised, and the Indians will be forced to keep Andy in Cleveland in 2008. So where do you play Casey Blake 3-4 times a week? The outfield, where he should be. Both Nixon and Dellucci need to sit against left-handers, and Dellucci hasn't exactly been hitting right-handers with much authority either. Will Dellucci eventually figure it out? Probably, given his career numbers. But if you have other options, why not use them while he does work out of it? There is a way to fit Marte into the rotation, but it's obviously too controversial for Eric Wedge to address.  

Note that I'm not saying "play Marte until August because he has promise!" Maybe he'll never hit. Perhaps Casey Blake will be the best option at third base in 2007. But instead of burning Marte's last option, the Indians had the opportunity to see whether he could stay in the majors, and had the backup plan in place. If he still isn't hitting by the end of June, then go ahead and send him back. The problem is that I don't see any chance of him coming back before September unless Casey Blake gets hurt, thanks to the way both Ben Francisco and Franklin Gutierrez are hitting.

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