Tag: Luis Valbuena

Luis Valbuena: Latest News, Rumors, Speculation Surrounding Free-Agent 3B

Veteran infielder Luis Valbuena is still searching for a landing spot in free agency after slugging 66 home runs over the past four years.

Continue for updates.

Orioles Show Fringe Interest In Valbuena

Friday, Jan. 6

Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reported Friday that the Baltimore Orioles have discussed the idea of signing Valbuena. He noted that the organization’s biggest need is in the outfield, however, and that’s an area where the 31-year-old Venezuela native has only four games of experience in the majors.

Valbuena was on pace to have his best season to date in 2016 before a hamstring injury brought a premature end to his campaign in August. His .260 batting average and .816 OPS were both career highs, and he tallied 13 homers in 90 games for the Houston Astros.

Angel Verdejo Jr. of the Houston Chronicle noted the versatile infielder was focused on his recovery and not the potential offseason impact after suffering the injury setback.

“I have to get ready and see what happens,” Valbuena said.

He started his career with the Seattle Mariners in 2008 and then spent three years apiece with the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs before ending up in Houston in 2015. In all, he owns a career .232/.317/.394 triple-slash line in 798 games.

His impact has increased over the past handful of years. Along with the aforementioned 66 home runs, he’s tallied 184 RBI and 202 runs scored since the start of the 2013 campaign.

In turn, it’s a bit surprising he hasn’t generated more interest. Crasnick previously linked him to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Joel Sherman of the New York Post noted that the New York Yankees reached out to Valbuena’s representatives in early December. But his market has been mostly cold since.

The Orioles are basically set on the infield, barring any injuries. While they do have a possible opening in right field, Valbuena has never played there at the pro level. Designated hitter is also an option, but Baltimore likely doesn’t want to block prospect Trey Mancini for an extended period of time.

Ultimately, Valbuena may be forced to accept a shorter-term contract than he originally anticipated with hope of proving himself and then reentering the market in 2018 or 2019. If so, he could provide some nice bang for the buck as a late-offseason signing.


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San Francisco Giants’ Top Free-Agent, Trade Targets Post-New Year

Signing All-Star closer Mark Melancon to a four-year, $62 million deal was a necessary move for the San Francisco Giants, but it was one that has seemingly limited the team’s ability to improve the roster elsewhere.

“I don’t think there’s anything more to ask of ownership,” general manager Bobby Evans said, per John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. “It’s more what I can do with what we have.”

That’s understandable for a team with one of the game’s highest payrolls, but if the Giants are going to put an end to Los Angeles’ run of four consecutive National League West crowns, they’re going to have to plug holes in left field and at third base.

What follows is a look at five players, both free agents and trade acquisitions, that the Giants could reasonably target to fill those holes—assuming that ownership is willing to stretch the budget just a bit more than it already has.

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Chicago Cubs: Is Mark Reynolds an Option at Third Base?

With yesterday’s non-tender deadline making Ian Stewart a casualty, the Chicago Cubs now have to take a very long look at their third base position.

Ian Stewart is a player who has never really lived up to expectations. Once rated No. 4 on Baseball America’s top prospect list, Stewart now finds himself looking for a job.

The move has also left the Cubs with two third basemen on the 40-man roster. They are Josh Vitters and Luis Valbuena. Junior Lake can also play third, but the organization has had him playing the outfield during winter ball as a tryout.

Are the Cubs ready to head into 2013 with Valbuena as their starting third baseman? Probably not.

Valbuena filled in for the injured Stewart in 2012 and could have seized the moment. Nobody was waiting in the wings, and he really didn’t have any pressure. All Valbuena had to do was outplay Stewart and he could have locked the job down.

Instead, he didn’t separate himself at all. He batted .219 with four home runs over a span of 265 at bats. He slightly edged out Stewart with his batting average, but in fewer at-bats, Stewart hit more home runs.

There really aren’t many top-flight options at the third base position in free agency this year. Mark Reynolds is a name that has to immediately turn some of the Cubs executives’ heads. While Reynolds is not known for his batting average, he would bring a tremendous amount of power to the lineup that is not generally recognized for its power.

Reynolds is probably best suited for an American League team so that they could split his time between playing third, first and designated hitter. However, he is definitely a serviceable third baseman. The Cubs can use him as a stop-gap until one of their top prospects, like Javier Baez, is ready.

With Anthony Rizzo hitting third, Alfonso Soriano hitting cleanup and Starlin Castro hitting fifth, the Cubs could slot Reynolds into the six-hole of their lineup and pack a serious punch.

Valbuena hasn’t shown to be much more than a .225 hitter with minimal power at this point. With Reynolds, the Cubs will get the same sort of low .200s batting average, but gives them the potential to add 20 to 30 home runs to the lineup.

The Cubs have the ability to pencil a .225 average, 25 home runs and 75 RBI into their lineup simply by signing Reynolds. Unless the Cubs work out some sort of trade this winter, Reynolds will be the only player that could bring that sort of offensive production to the third base position for them.

With the Winter Meetings a mere day-and-a-half away, it will be interesting to see how the Cubs address some of their gaping holes before 2013.

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Cleveland Indians: Why Jason Kipnis Will Be a Breakout Star in 2011

With all of the attention put on the search for a third baseman, the Cleveland Indians might have just as much of a problem at second base this year.

Maybe the hole that is second base is being forgotten because some of the candidates for the third base job (Jayson Nix, Luis Valbuena) are originally second basemen. This compounds the problem, though. Nix and Valbuena probably should not be starters at either position.

The only other candidate currently officially in the mix is Jason Donald. While he is a good player with a 94 OPS+ and 0.8 wins above replacement in 88 games last year, the Indians don’t seem to be married to starting him.

Instead of hoping that one of these three players suddenly establishes themselves, the Indians should see what Jason Kipnis can do with the job.

Though young, Jason Kipnis has all of the tools needed to make the transition to major league starter. He hasn’t had a batting average below .300, an on-base percentage below .385, a slugging percentage below .459 or an OPS below .847 at any minor league level.

What makes Kipnis’ performance even more impressive is that he’s done it while learning a new position. In college at Arizona State, Kipnis played center field. Transitioning from outfield to infield is difficult to say the least, and Kipnis has done very well at it.

Not only has Kipnis’ offense not suffered in the slightest during his defensive transition, he also looks like a second baseman. I watched him play numerous games at Akron this year, and I would have never guessed that he was a converted outfielder.

Admittedly, I am a defensive purist who would rather see a 2-1 game than an 11-10 one. I love watching great defense, and that’s one of the things that stood out to me about Kipnis. He fields his position well and does a good job turning the double play. Any flaws in his defense are minimal. With the level Kipnis plays at offensively, any minimal defensive flaws don’t matter enough to keep him down.

When Kipnis was called up to the Columbus Clippers for the AAA International League playoffs, he took his game to another level. In seven games, Kipnis had a 1.199 OPS and hit for the cycle during the series’ clincher.

Clearly, Jason Kipnis does not shrink away from pressure. There seems to be no reason that he wouldn’t embrace the challenge of being the Indians’ everyday second baseman and run with it.

Unfortunately, I don’t think that he will get the chance out of the gate this year.

Cleveland Indians farm director Ross Atkins says that “we’ve found there’s just a lot less pressure on a young player when they start in the minors rather than have them on the Opening Day roster.”

I don’t care that he goes on to say that Jason Kipnis could be an exception to that rule; that rule is ridiculous. These players are being paid to play baseball, with the ultimate goal of making the big league club. Making the Opening Day roster should be a reward for hard work.

Maybe Atkins and the Tribe are trying to protect prospects debuting in the major league. When a young prospect struggles out of the gate, he can lose his job and be sent back to AAA. This creates immense pressure on prospects to prove themselves immediately.

Things rarely go well right out of the gate for prospects. Basically from the start, they are playing scared. Prospects press because of the fear of losing their jobs.

My point is if a team would just commit to the prospect from the start, he would be fine. Tell him that he is the starter and they are sticking with him, and then back it up. This eliminates most of the pressure problem.

This rule that young players should start the season in the minors, and then get called up doesn’t make sense. Prospects don’t become miraculously ready after a month in the minors; if they’re ready in May, then they’re ready a month earlier on Opening Day.

Hopefully, the Indians aren’t blinded by their arbitrary rules and see that Jason Kipnis is the best option they have at second base in 2011. Why delay the future for players who probably won’t be around for much longer? Let’s see what Kipnis has to offer the Tribe, now and in the future.

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If the Shoe Fits: Cleveland Indians Have the Makings to Be Next Year’s Cinderella Team

Miracles happen, especially in sports. 

After a decade of futility the Tampa Bay Rays stunned the baseball world by winning the AL pennant in 2008, the organization’s first ever winning season.

The following year the Mariners, a preseason footnote in the AL West, won 85 games under GM Jack Zduriencik’s inaugural season. 

This season fans hopped on the San Diego Padres’ bandwagon and watched the team battle, albeit successfully, for the NL West Division crown.

Every year, as if on cue, a team marches towards contention following a remarkably quick and unsuspected turnaround.  As baseball nears the season’s climatic end, one is left to wonder which team is prepared to go unnoticed and quietly slip on the proverbially glass slipper come next April?

The Cleveland Indians.

The Indians 2010 season was a disaster. The team struggled from the start and frustrations began to mount as the team quickly faded out of contention. 

Underperforming players struggled to right the ship, young players failed to adjust to the rigors of big league life, injuries forced role players into every day jobs and veteran players were traded to make room for promising prospects. 

However, there are reasons for hope at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario, despite a dismal 69-93 record.    

Trevor Crowe was thrust into one of those aforementioned everyday roles after Grady Sizemore succumbed to injury.

Crowe, a former first round pick out of the University of Arizona, displayed grit and hustle, but provided little help.  In 479 plate appearances he hit .251/.302/.333, and cost the team 12 runs according UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating). 

Using WAR (Wins Above Replacement), Crowe essentially cost the team one win over the course of the season. 

A healthy Grady Sizemore is expected for the 2011 season, but a productive Grady Sizemore is another question.

Sizemore, the team’s regular centerfielder, was one of baseball’s eminent budding young stars prior to the 2009.  He looked like he was on the edge of superstardom after ranking among the sport’s elite from 2006 to 2008.

Then the wheels fell off.

A disappointing 2009 was plagued by injuries, and the internet release of compromising photos in the offseason seemed to set the tone for this year. 

He often looked uncomfortable, and at times lost, in the batter’s box.  After hitting .211/.271/.289 in 33 games Sizemore eventually called it a lost season. 

It’s hard to predict which Sizemore will be patrolling centerfield in 2011, but remember only two seasons ago he posted a 7.1 WAR—essentially an eight game improvement over Trevor Crowe.

Injury also wrecked the season of Carlos Santana, one baseball’s top rookies.

Santana made his debut on June 11, and instantly became a much needed force in the middle of the Indians’ lineup. The team nearly played .500 (22-25) before a nasty collision at home plate ended his season. He hit .260/.401/.467 while the rest of the Tribe catchers hit .203/.279/.309 combined.

Santana’s offense and Lou Marson’s late inning defensive ability should quietly rank among the league’s best catching tandems in 2011.   

The team’s next biggest disappointments, outside of injury, were Matt LaPorta and Luis Valbuena.

LaPorta, considered the key piece in the Sabathia deal, hit .221/.306/.362, and earned a midseason demotion to Triple-A. 

It is still too early to toss him by the wayside with the likes of Jeremy Sowers and Michael Aubrey, but the front office’s patience has to be running thin. 

The former University of Florida alum has proven he can hit minor league pitching, and it wouldn’t be hard for him to take a step forward next year—considering how low he has set the bar. 

LaPorta may not be the impact bat the team thought he was, but any player who posts a career minor league line of .296/.390/.563 will have SOME positive major league value. 

Luis Valbuena, like LaPorta, earned an in-season demotion to the minor leagues.  Valbuena often looked like a black hole in the lineup and on the field. He hit .193/.273/.258 and cost the team almost seven runs on defense, according to UZR. His WAR total of -1.5 was among baseball’s worst. 

The emergence of Cord Phelps, Jared Goedert, Josh Rodriguez and Jason Kipnis will provide plenty of options, and upgrades, for Manny Acta to use next season at second and third bases. 

There is reason to believe in Cleveland baseball, again. The young pitching staff took a step forward after the All-Star break.

Fausto Carmona had his most productive season since the team’s magical run in 2007.  Justin Masterson was lights out for the final 5-7 weeks of the year, Carlos Carrasco started to capitalize on his vast potential and the farm system has some of the best bullpen arms in all of baseball. 

Hope runs eternal during spring training. Perhaps next spring the Indians will slip on the glass slipper and run all the way towards late season contention. 

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Tribe Talk: Summing Up What Went So Colossally Wrong For The Indians This Season

Welcome to Tribe Talk, where Bleacher Report’s Cleveland Indians fans weigh in on the ups and downs of the club each week throughout the season.

With the Tribe’s disappointing 2010 season finally winding down, it’s time to take a look at each facet of the Indians’ play and take our best guesses as to what went so terribly wrong in each area specifically, and more importantly, why. 

I would like to thank this week’s participants, Lewie Pollis, The Coop, and Nino Colla, for their contributions. This discussion is open to all, so please feel free to comment below and share your thoughts on the questions we’re addressing this week.

Go Tribe!


1. What went so wrong with the defense?

Samantha Bunten: It boils down to two things: horrible, horrible errors at extremely critical points in games, and the three-headed monster known as “Nimartuena” wreaking havoc at third base.

Throw in the fact that the team’s two best defenders (Sizemore and Cabrera) were both seriously injured, and it’s not surprising the defense leads the league in errors. 

Nino Colla: Asdrubal Cabrera got hurt, Grady Sizemore got hurt, and the Indians were playing Jhonny Peralta and “Nimartuena” at third. Seriously, that’s what happened. 

Cabrera is the anchor of the infield, he makes everyone better. Sizemore is the anchor in the outfield and even when he was playing, he was hurt.

For my money, those are your two best defensive players and they missed time, one more than the other, but they still missed time. 

Then you try and make someone like Jayson Nix a third baseman and he undergoes what you should have expected, a period of adjustment.

Then you try and shuffle in Marte in random spots and how can you expect someone to play consistent defense when they aren’t playing consistently?

Then you have Valbuena, and I won’t even bother disclosing why that is a bad idea. 

For the most part, the defense was good early, then it just fell off the track. Making big errors in big spots was the biggest thing, then they just started coming in bunches as the two guys mentioned above started to drop off.

Lewie Pollis: FanGraphs’ Bryan Smith wrote a great article before the season about the Tribe’s “bold strategy” of having three natural shortstops (Cabrera, Peralta, and Valbuena) around the infield. The problem was, all three are poor defenders. 

For all his flash, Cabrera really needs to improve his range. I don’t want to relive the horrors of Peralta’s miserable glove, but it seemed somehow fitting when Jayson Nix made an error at third base the night after he was traded. 

The outfield is a mess, too. Aside from Choo (the only player on the team with a UZR over 4.0), Sizemore, Brown, Brantley, and Kearns have all left something to be desired. Then there’s Trevor Crowe’s -34.2 UZR/150 in center field.

The Coop: There’s an old adage that says good defenses are built up the middle, and if you believe that, then look no further. 

The revolving door that is the Indians’ infield is not very talented with the leather, and this is the biggest culprit for the Indians lackluster defense.

They’re not the worst I’ve ever seen, but when you grow up watching Carlos Baerga and Omar Vizquel, you have an understanding about what a good defense can do for a team. 

Stability has obviously been a problem, and that starts with the double play duo. At short, Asdrubal Cabrera and Jason Donald have been awful. At second, Luis Valbuena is good with the glove, but he is disastrous at the plate, and this has kept him out of the lineup. 

Meanwhile, Donald is better than he is at short, but that’s not saying much. Even tossing in third base, Jayson Nix makes Jhonny Peralta look like Brooks Robinson. 

And of course, another major reason for the poor defense is the absence of Grady Sizemore. It certainly doesn’t help to have a Gold Glover out of the lineup, personal feelings aside.


2. What went so wrong with the offense? 

Samantha Bunten: An exceptionally slow start killed momentum early to such a degree that I’m not sure the Indians ever really came back from it. 

Injuries and a revolving door of slumping players resulted in large number of roster members not seeing consistent plate appearances, which made it difficult for many of them to settle in and find their stroke. 

As a group, their pitch selection regressed from last season, as most of the lineup waffled back and forth between not being aggressive enough and waiting on walks and flailing at anything within three feet of the plate.

Also, there was a glaring lack of power hitting from the middle of the order.

Nino Colla: Early it was bad and I don’t think anyone knows why. 

Okay, so Sizemore was gone and hurt, Branyan took awhile to get going after he even got back, Peralta was up to his usual early tricks, and Cabrera was sub-par early. 

It just didn’t click from the start and then you started replacing the pieces you were counting on to be reliable and that is when your offense goes to hell in a hand-basket. Simple as that.

Lewie Pollis: Every single position player the we’ve had has either plain-old played poorly, gotten injured, or both. I have nothing more to say.

The Coop: No power hitting. You can keep your small-ball if you want. I’ll take doubles, homers, and runs batted in. 

Sure, base stealing, moving runners, and taking extra bases is important. But for as much effort as it takes for a small-ball offense to manufacturer one run, a team with some power hitters can change an entire game with one swing of the bat.

Hey, you might not necessarily guarantee yourself a playoff spot with good power numbers, but you will definitely guarantee yourself mediocrity or worse without them.

Of the teams that rank in the bottom 10 of the majors in home runs and slugging percentage, only one (San Diego) is in a pennant chase right now. The Indians have absolutely no one who strikes fear in an opposing pitcher. 

They have three guys with double-digits in home runs and probably no one that will finish with more than 100 runs batted in, and no one with a slugging percentage over .500. That’s just not going to cut it.


3. What went so wrong with the starting pitching? 

Samantha Bunten: Let’s begin with the fact that the Tribe spent way too much of the season with two guys in the rotation who didn’t belong there.

At the risk of beating a dead horse, Masterson belonged in the bullpen. At the risk of beating a dead mule, Huff should probably never have been in the majors in the first place. 

That said, starting pitching wasn’t the team’s biggest problem. The starters for the most part did a fair job, except maybe for the lack of ability to go deep into games in terms of innings. 

A team with starters who can’t go more than five or six innings requires a far stronger bullpen than the one we had. The fact that the bullpen couldn’t back up them up was probably the biggest overall problem for the starters, aside from issuing too many walks.

Nino Colla:  I don’t think anything went wrong here. It went as well you could have expected things to go if you ask me. 

This was the doom and gloom part of the team and they ended up being one of the most stable units on the club from start to finish.

They had rough patches, but they were the only thing worth watching early in the season and right now, they are showing some promise with young guys like Jeanmar Gomez and Carlos Carrasco pitching very well. 

The one thing that I think did go wrong overall was David Huff. The way his season played out was not ideal and definitely opposite of what I expected.

I thought he was going to play a major part in this rotation and establish himself as one of the guys for this team now and in the future. Now his status is in serious doubt after he’s put himself in Acta’s dog house and consistently denied doing things the organization’s way. 

I’m worried about his future because I think he has the potential to be a part of this rotation, but he may be damaging the relationship beyond repair.

Lewie Pollis: The rotation’s collective 5.3 K/9 rate was the lowest in baseball, and our 3.5 BB/9 rate was the worst in the AL. The solution is simple: throw some strikes.

The Coop: More than anything else, I believe that pitching (and getting good at pitching) takes time, patience, and experience. So at the risk of breaking your rule about not blaming youth and inexperience anymore, I believe that this is the only thing that held the Indians back. 

Other than that, I would say the starting pitching was the lone bright spot in an otherwise dismal year. They are definitely talented, so I think the future is very bright for the Indians’ rotation in years to come.

If I had to place blame on anything, I would say that David Huff was a major disappointment, and that the team has wasted time on having Justin Masterson in the rotation and not the bullpen (c’mon, you knew it was coming).


4. What went so wrong with the relief pitching? 

Samantha Bunten: First of all, “Kerry Wood” and “Good Bullpen” are two mutually exclusive entities. The Indians rode the sinking ship that is Kerry Wood far too long, and they ended up drowning. 

Generally speaking, the biggest problem was the ungodly number of walks issued late in games. With an offense largely unable to overcome any sort of deficit in the late innings, the last thing the bullpen should be doing is issuing free passes. 

Throw strikes. Force your opponent to swing and put the bat on the ball well enough to earn their way to first base. The Indians’ bullpen doesn’t post nearly enough strikeouts to cede as many walks as they have. 

Nino Colla: Early on I think they had no stable chain of command. Even though Perez was a semi-stable option early, the lead-up to him was weakened by him moving to that closer’s role. 

Believe it or not, whether you like him or hate him, Wood returning to the role sort of stabilized everything because Perez moved back and made the chain stronger.

Now Perez is back in the role and the options leading up to him are much stronger, which is why I think the bullpen has been very successful since that point Wood was traded. 

Particularly, Jensen Lewis and Jess Todd’s outcomes were not pleasing. I think the club mistreated Lewis and I think that situation isn’t going to end ideally. Todd’s progression in Columbus was disappointing, and I expected more from him in the major leagues.

Lewie Pollis: When a team’s closer posts a 6.30 ERA and the bullpen combines to walk almost a batter every two innings, what do you expect? 

Really, though, for a rebuilding team with no hope of contending, this shouldn’t have been where we put our resources anyway.

The Coop: Geez, it should be easier to be critical with a team this bad, but I’d say the relief pitching wasn’t too bad this year either. 

The biggest problem was that the Indians held onto Kerry Wood too long (obviously in an attempt to get some trade value for him, which now remains to be seen). However, this year’s bullpen was definitely an upgrade over the past few years. 

Depth might be the biggest “problem” with this unit. I said at the beginning of the season that I wanted Chris Perez to be the closer, and he has done a very good job with the opportunity.

I think he’s the closer of the immediate future, until a certain current starter is moved to the bullpen and groomed for the job. 

As for the other guys, Tony Sipp and Rafael Perez are certainly capable major league relievers. This is another group that I think has potential for the long-run.

5. What went so wrong with the base running? 

Samantha Bunten: This is by far the least concerning area of the Indians’ game. The base running wasn’t that bad, and it was also sort of hog-tied by the lack of hitting in that if our players can’t get themselves a single or a walk in the first place, then they won’t be getting a good jump off the bag or stealing second. Duh. 

I look at it like this: I’m all for small ball and manufacturing runs, but in order to do that successfully, you need to have the kind of lineup that boasts hitters top to bottom who consistently get themselves on base. 

And let’s face it: if anyone could actually hit the ball out of the infield with any sort of regularity, then runs would cross the plate whether the base running was exceptionally good or not. 

At the end of the day though, we can always blame Trevor.

Nino Colla: I would say this was a stronger part of the team. It is an overlooked aspect, but this club was good in this department. 

It was good to see Acta employ some tactics like hit and run and moving base runners and it was good to see some execution on the club’s part.

Of course, a lot of that had to do with the type of talent on the club vs. the talent that used to be on the club, but Acta seems like the one to do this stuff regardless. 

Choo’s aggressiveness got him into some boneheaded situations, but overall, nothing to complain about. Steve Smith seems like a solid guy at third. I would like to see Brantley run more, but he has to get on base, which is the biggest issue for him not running as much as you would like.

Lewie Pollis: I don’t think the baserunning has been that bad. Sure, Lou Marson and Matt LaPorta look like they have refrigerators on their backs while they sprint, but this is far from my biggest area of concern.

The Coop: Nothing. Jhonny Peralta had an inside-the-park home run. That trumps anything negative that you could possibly say!

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Luis Valbuena’s Horrific Offense is the Problem


THE SUBJECTLuis Valbuena, also known as Baby Louie.

Luis Valbuena came over to Cleveland in the three-way deal with with the Mets and Mariners that sent outfielder Franklin Gutierrez to Seattle and J.J. Putz to New York.

After spending 22 games in Triple-A Columbus, Valbuena made a quick debut with Cleveland and opened a lot of eyes as a potential second baseman for the club’s long term future.

Valbuena hit 10 home runs and scored 51 times in 103 games played for the big league club. But that didn’t stop the Indians from trying to pursue other options at second base. They offered Orlando Hudson a multi-year contract and signed several veteran middle infielders.

Hudson didn’t accept the offer, which left the Indians with Valbuena as the default second baseman. That couldn’t have instilled much confidence in him and if that is any indication to how he’s played, then it would make sense.

Valbuena has struggled and he’s lost at-bats to the likes of Mark Grudzielanek, Anderson Hernandez, and rookie Jason Donald. Had Asdrubal Cabrera not gone down with a broken forearm, he’d be back in Columbus instead of splitting time at second with Donald.

So while he’s here, we might as find out what exactly is wrong with him.


THE PROBLEM Just about everything offensively.

Luis Valbuena has been downright atrocious this season. Offensively he’s been anemic with the bat and defensively he’s had his issues, especially when called upon to play shortstop.

But even recently his defense at second base has fallen off. Yet you could live with the defense because he does make his fair share of decent plays.

When Asdrubal Cabrera went down earlier in the season for a few games, Valbuena was called-upon to start at short and the results were less than stellar. So when Cabrera broke his arm and was placed on the disabled list, the Indians called up Jason Donald to get the regular starting nod at shortstop and Valbuena would split time at second with Mark Grudzielanek.

While his second base defense is somewhat tolerable, his offense, regardless of position, has been horrific to watch. There are players getting called up that are approaching his statistical totals in a shorter span and he isn’t getting any better.

This presents us with a huge problem. Luis Valbuena is killing the bottom of the order and has been for the entire season. 


THE EVIDENCE Numbers that are important

Luis Valbuena Ratio Statistics





































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MLB Averages











Provided by Baseball-Reference.com : View Original Table

Generated 6/19/2010.

His extra-base hit percentage is higher than the average for his career and it has a lot to do with last year, where it was abnormally high. However this year is incredibly low. He was also hitting a homer every 37 at-bats, where he’s up to one every 70 at-bats this year.

Last year his percentage of hits that went for extra-base hits was at 41% while this year he’s dropped to 29%. The pattern here is obviously the fact that he may not be as a much of a prolific extra-base hit machine that we thought he could be.

Luis Valbuena 2009 and 2010 Comparison














































Provided by Baseball-Reference.com : View Original Table

Generated 6/19/2010.

Luis Valbuena had a career year regardless of level last year. It was the most home runs he’s ever hit in a season and ten of them came at the major league level, the most he ever got was 11 for the Mariners Double-A club. He also had the most doubles he’s ever had in one year. He fell short to his RBI number, but matched his 2007 year with 44.

Left-Right Splits 2010














vs RHP as LHB













vs LHP as LHB













Provided by Baseball-Reference.com : View Original Table

Generated 6/19/2010.

One of the problems with Luis Valbuena coming into the year was the idea of him facing left-handed pitching. Well, they’ve done their best to shield Baby from the lefties, but when he’s gotten the small opportunity, he’s actually come through.

It may be a very small sample size against the left-handed pitching, but if you project those numbers out to how many times he’s faced right-handers, he’s doing a great job in this instance. In a way it is a bit puzzling, regardless of sample size, to see him hit lefties like this.

He had just eight hits in 39 at-bats against left-handed hitting in 2009, so he’s definitely made some progress there.



Is there really a solution to fix this mess of a hitter?

One thing that really stands out to the naked eye is the fact that Valbuena’s average is still under .170 despite it being June. Even Lou Marson was creeping up to .200 before his demotion. Valbuena has just been downright awful.

It appeared that he might start to erase his first two months with a decent June, but he’s not getting regular enough playing time to do so. His bat has been so bad, it hurts to put him into the lineup.

We might as well start with the most obvious reason he’s struggling. Maybe he’s just not that good. Maybe 2009 was a bit of a fluke, has that struck the minds of anyone? Now is Luis Valbuena .167 average bad? I don’t think so, but I don’t think he’ll ever do what he did in the second half of 2009.

Valbuena only hit .250, so he’s not going to hit for a high average. The most remarkable thing he did in 2009 was hit 38 extra-base hits, 25 of them doubles, 10 of them home runs, and three of them triples. I don’t think he ever has it in him to hit 30 extra-base hits in a season, mostly because that’s what he’s trying to do.

If Luis would concentrate on just trying to make contact and hit like a second baseman should, he may not be in the rut he is now. It’s obvious to anyone who watches him hit his goal is to hit the ball as hard as he can and that just shouldn’t be his game.

Lou Marson, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Grady Sizemore all have more extra-base hits than Valbuena in less at-bats and they are all either injured or in Triple-A. Trevor Crowe and Jason Donald both have more extra-base hits and they’ve been here for less time than Louie.

It took Carlos Santana all of one week to match Valbuena’s totals in doubles and home runs.

When players who have been here way less than you have started matching the statistics you were depended on, there is a bit of a problem.

The only solution, if there is a solution to this problem, is to send Luis Valbuena to the minor leagues, a place he can do no damage to the big league club. The problem is with Asdrubal Cabrera on the disabled list, they don’t really have someone to be the backup at short and second if they start Anderson Hernandez regularly and send Valbuena down.

So Valbuena has to remain on the roster, at least until Cabrera is ready to return to action. The club could call up Brian Bixler, but they would have to create a 40-man roster spot for him and the Indians probably don’t want to do that until they have to, which is when Cabrera is due back.

Essentially then, the club is stuck with Valbuena getting some meaningful playing time at the major league level to try and end this hard skid he’s in.

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Cleveland Indians: What To Do With Crowe, Brantley, Valbuena

As we have now heard, Grady Sizemore is expected to miss a good deal of the year, if not the whole season due to his knee, which needs surgery. This raises several questions for the Indians, the most important of which is what to do in center field.

Michael Brantley was kept in AAA with the Columbus Clippers not because he was playing bad, but because the Indians wanted him to play every day. Well, with Sizemore gone, he can be brought up and can play every day. We can see how good the young prospect can be under pressure, and it works well for the Tribe.

However, if Brantley is brought up, what do we do with Trevor Crowe? He’s played fine as the replacement for Sizemore up to this point, and it would be a shame to demote him, since I would like to see both him and Brantley get some daily playing time. Unfortunately for Crowe, the other two outfield positions are our two solid positions right now in Austin Kearns and Shin-Soo Choo.

Crowe hasn’t played second base professionally since 2006, so that’s not an option to get him playing time, and he’ll probably end up being demoted. Speaking of second base play, I just can’t stand keeping Luis Valbuena on the roster anymore.

I know we’re trying to develop our young talent and we are not going anywhere this year, but when’s the last time a semi-regular player on the roster has hit .134? You would have to go back to the pitching season of 1968, when Detroit Tigers shortstop Ray Oyler hit .135 in 215 at-bats (29 hits). Valbuena’s nearly halfway there, with 97 at-bats and 13 hits.

The problem is, with how terrible Valbuena is, who do we bring up? Brian Bixler and Anderson Hernandez are not on the 40-man roster, and are not in the Indians’ future plans, but they’e played in the majors, why not see how they can do for a little while? I’d be fine with playing Mark Grudzielanek every day, but we’re trying to develop talent, so handing a spot to a 40-year old does not fit.

With Valbuena, the Indians are in a no-win situation, figuratively and literally. If we get desperate we can promote Cord Phelps to AAA and see if that lights a fire under Valbuena, though honestly if the fires already lit under him haven’t helped, then I say we have to demote him. If nothing else, he can find his hitting confidence again down in Columbus.

At least the Tribe finally promoted Jensen Lewis back up, if nothing else.

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