<
>

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 MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince:

    Left-handed reliever Rich Rundles was promoted from Triple-A Columbus to take Hafner's 25-man roster spot, but that is likely just a temporary move in the wake of the burden placed on the 'pen by Anthony Reyes' two-inning start against the Red Sox on Tuesday. The Indians are expected to make another roster move -- or perhaps multiple moves -- in advance of the weekend series in Detroit to bring in a position player.
    Veteran outfielder David Dellucci, who is on the DL with a strained left calf and in the midst of a rehab assignment at Columbus, will get consideration for the callup. Top outfield prospect Matt LaPorta, who has hit .368 with five homers and 14 RBIs in the early going with the Clippers, is also in the mix of candidates, but Wedge made it clear that's a long list.

    "I want to look at everything," Wedge said. "I'm considering everybody right now. We've got a lot of ability down there. We need to spend some time thinking it through."

    Wedge said he will have a conversation with Dellucci, whose rehab stint comes to an end on May 10, to gauge his readiness to return. The Indians are facing three right-handed starters in Detroit, so the left-handed-hitting Dellucci at least fits the bill in that regard.

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.