Free Lonnie Chisenhall!

Jason Miller

Chisenhall was a mess earlier this season, but enough is enough.


Lonnie Chisenhall
has been on fire in Columbus and it's time the Indians brought him back to Cleveland.

The 3B's line with the Tribe over the season's first six weeks was just .213/.253/.351. In 99 PA he compiled 22 strikeouts against just 3 walks. Awful. As they tucked themselves into bed on May 12, the Indians held a 20-15 record, were tied for 1st place, and held aspirations of making the playoffs. In his previous 40 PA, Chisenhall had one extra-base hit and one walk. A change made sense.

Mark Reynolds, who was killing ball to that point (a .996 OPS at the time of Chisenhall's demotion), was moved from DH and occasional 1B work to playing 3B almost every game. Reynolds' numbers have since fallen off a cliff. His OPS since then is just .486, with a paltry 3 extra-base hits in 29 games. I don't mean to say that the move to 3B caused his massive slump (though being moved to a much more difficult position wasn't likely to help), he was never going to keep up his hot start and anyone with their eyes open knew it, but the switch and his slump have coincided, and with few other options, Reynolds has sat out only one game off during this entire run.

Meanwhile, Chisenhall's line in Columbus: .402/.473/.707. He's got 14 extra-base hits in just 23 games, and he's drawn 11 walks too.

The team's bats have slowed way down over the last three weeks (averaging just 3.68 runs per game and scoring more than 5 just once) and while part of that has been due to facing good pitching, anything with a reasonable chance at improving production ought to be tried. Certainly, given Chisenhall's numbers from the last month, there's a reasonable chance he provides a boost.

It goes without saying (well, no it doesn't, as I'm about to say it, but you know what I mean) that MLB pitching is much tougher to hit than that found in Triple-A, but Chisenhall has proven everything he's going to prove in Columbus and if he hasn't get his head and/or mechanics right after a month down there, maybe he's just not going to. There's no certainty he'll be a good player when he's brought back up, but we're past due to find out.

Problems in the infield were compounded when Asdrubal Cabrera strained his quad last week and had to be placed on the DL, forcing utility infielder Mike Aviles into the starting SS role. Calling Chisenhall back up wouldn't do anything to return Aviles to a backup role, but it would move Reynolds off the position and allow Terry Francona to better mix and match his lineups (Reynolds could still play 3B against lefties). Improved flexibility under a smart manager can be a big boost. Bringing Chisenhall up should end the 8-man bullpen (please end the 8-man bullpen!). Matt Langwell is the most likely candidate to be sent down, but I wouldn't miss Nick Hagadone either.

Not many teams that suffer a 4-16 stretch of the baseball are destined for a good season, but after winning their last two games in Texas, the Indians are just 1 game below .500 and only 4.5 games back in the AL Central. The season has certainly felt lost to many Tribe fans recently, but it's not... not yet anyway. After this weekend's series with Washington, the schedule takes a turn for the easier: 4 games in Baltimore and 4 vs. Detroit are the Indians' only games against teams with a winning record until July 26th (though there is an 11-game road trip in there).

It's time to see what the team has got, all hands on deck. If Chisenhall is as bad as he was in April, so be it. Maybe something really has been fixed though, maybe he's ready to be the player we've been waiting for the last couple years. There's only one way to find out, and like all of life's best hopes and dreams, it doesn't involve Columbus.

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