What has become of the 2013 Cleveland Indians season? A campaign that started with such promise has culminated in a team counting on… Jason Kubel?
Alright, you caught me. That’s a little over the top.
But what exactly are the Indians getting with the reported acquisition of Kubel from the Arizona Diamondbacks? Well, here is what we know…
We know the left-handed hitting outfielder is just one season removed from a 30 home run and 90 RBI campaign. We also know that season seems light-years away from what has become a miserable season in Arizona, hitting only .220 with five home runs in 89 games.
We know the 31-year old has been bogged down by injuries all season long. We don’t know how much that has impacted his ability to drive the baseball but his .324 slugging percentage and .104 isolate power are both career-lows despite a career-high line-drive percentage of 26.1.
If injuries have played a big role in why he is hitting just .147 since June 22nd, how healthy is he now? Again, what we don’t know…
We do know Kubel is very familiar with the American League Central having played parts of seven seasons with the Minnesota Twins. He is a .278 career hitter against the Detroit Tigers with seven home runs in 332 at bats.
We also know he must be comfortable hitting at Progressive Field. He has eight round-trippers to his credit in Cleveland and is slugging at a very respectable .482 clip there.
We know there is an option on Kubel’s contract for 2014 at $7.5-million. We can guess that the Tribe will buy that out for a million in the off-season.
And finally, we know this is not the first time that Chris Antonetti has flirted with the idea of acquiring Kubel. Back in 2011, the Tribe reportedly put a claim in on him before they eventually landed DH Jim Thome in August.
So what is this really? A desperation move?
Well, yes. It absolutely is for a team with an offense on life support and that has been blocked numerous times trying to get better through waivers this month. Unfortunately, a better record has worked against Cleveland many times in just the last week.
But is it a bad move? Not necessarily.
Sure, it all comes down to how well Kubel performs over the course of the final month – and possibly beyond. Can he be that spark plug the Indians need? Consider me a skeptic, yet intrigued.
For a team who sees their playoff chances dwindling with every missed opportunity, grasping at straws is just about all they can do in their current situation. Maybe a change of scenery – to a place that is somewhat familiar – will be just what the doctor ordered for Kubel and the Tribe.
A savior? Heck no. He has always been a depth guy who flourishes when used properly. I have always been a fan of Kubel’s as more of a platoon stick, likely how the Tribe will use him. Maybe Arizona got a little greedy asking (and paying) for more. If the Indians start expecting more, they will likely be just as disappointed.
But as far as low-risk stab in the dark moves go, there are far worse options. (If you’ll remember, Matt Carson had a meaningful pinch-hit at bat on Wednesday in Atlanta.)
And let’s not lose sight of what will really save the season for the Indians – having their best players start hitting like it. Kubel is not going to carry an offense and another month of averages near or below .230 will not cut it for Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, Michael Brantley, Asdrubal Cabrera among others.
Is adding Kubel a desperate addition? Sure. But that certainly doesn’t make it a bad one. In fact, I would classify it as a solid pickup but his impact will be extremely limited.