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Thursday, April 30, 2009
Pronk down. LaPorta up?

The good news: Travis Hafner, who essentially lost last season with a shoulder injury, has been really hitting the ball this season. The bad news: Hafner's back on the DL with another shoulder injury (same shoulder, which makes it worse). From's Anthony Castrovince: I like the "at least" there ... well played, Mr. Castrovince, because that would seem to be just about the only bill that Dellucci fits. Sure, he's been pasting the ball pretty good in Triple-A, but 1) it's only seven games, and 2) he's David Dellucci; he should beat up on Triple-A pitchers. Same team, Michael Aubrey's batting .438, Josh Barfield's batting .350 ... and Matt LaPorta's batting .368. With five home runs. Which is five more than Dellucci has hit.

Look, Dellucci's had a nice run. After years of failing to deliver on his early promise, he played really well for the Rangers in 2005 and the Phillies in 2006. You can't really blame the Indians for thinking he could help them. And for investing $11.5 million for three years of Dellucci's services.

But it just hasn't worked out. His line in two seasons and 169 games with Cleveland: .235/.303/.397. To this point, Dellucci hasn't cost the Indians much. They won 96 games in 2007 and he didn't play in October. They won 81 games in 2008 and they wouldn't have contended no matter what he'd done. So far they've spent $7.5 million on him, with another $4 million due this season. It's a lot of money if you're wondering how you're going to afford that second yacht, but for the Indians it's little but a sunk cost (and a relatively small one, at that).

More to the point, Dellucci's in a position to cost the Indians something that does matter: a division title. Granted, things aren't looking good now, with the Tribe sitting in last place with an 8-13. But this is the American League Central, friends, and 84 wins might take the thing. The Rays are 8-13 and the Mets are 9-11 and both play in tougher divisions, and you're not going to see them giving up anytime soon.

Maybe there's a good explanation for Dellucci's poor performance in each of the last two seasons. But if there's not -- and I mean a really good explanation -- then the Indians probably need to see if Matt LaPorta's as good as everyone thinks.