Lonnie Poopenhall

So...I've been fairly vocal about my feelings on Lonnie Chisenahll...

And the Internetz has certainly made their feelings about my feelings felt.
So I thought maybe it was time to better explain my stance on Cleveland's favorite Lonnie.

I don't hate Lonnie!  Really!  I don't.

But this season of disappointment began with the Tribe Faithful convincing ourselves that Jose Ramirez and Lonnie Chisenhall could hold down two starting spots on this roster.  Now we're looking at 2016 and saying the same about Abraham Almonte and Lonnie.  It's like the old saying goes - fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on Lonnie.

After an abysmal first-half, Lonnie's BABIP has crept back to right around league average - .295.  Yet, his wRC+ (83) and OPS+ (81) are still well below average.  For his career, Lonnie is somewhere around an average offensive player - with wild swings in production.  It's difficult to predict what to expect - as his last slump lasted nearly a full season (from mid-way through 2014 to mid-way through 2015).

The good news it that after losing his starting job at third base this year, Lonnie from the Block was rebirthed from the Columbuterus as a right fielder.  And he's been a defensive monster.

Yes, I made that using MS Paint and Power Point.  No, I am not secretly Banksy.

Lonnie has been a spectacular right fielder, defensively.  He's going to be fairly cheap next year.  He's only going to be 27 and is a former top 25 prospect who has been an average offensive player in his career.

These are exactly the types of players teams like the Indians need.  Lonnie has a ton of value.  I like Lonnie.

I don't like the Indians' offense.

Their 4.11 runs per game ranks 19th in MLB and their team OPS is 21st. And while there were some flukey numbers at the beginning of the year with runners in scoring position - the team OPS with RISP (.727) is now actually higher than the team average as a whole (.722).  And this isn't a new phenomenon - their runs per game in 2015 (4.11) is almost dead-on with their numbers from 2014 (4.13).

So the team needs offense.  It's a crime against baseball that they just wasted a year of a mostly healthy and dominant rotation on awful defense and below average offense.

Which brings us back to Lonnie.  He helps that awful defense!  That's a good thing!  But with Lonnie in right field, it gets harder and harder to understand where an offensive upgrade can be found.

The only open positions for an upgrade right now are first base, third base, center field. and right field.

And while I've already sort of discussed all of this - it's hard to see where an offensive upgrade comes from the spots the Indians need to fill.

With Santana and Johnson at first base/ DH, it's difficult to slot in another high-priced player that is limited in terms of positions.  Third base has an interesting young player in Giovanny Urshela and another knocking on the door in Yandy Diaz which makes sinking trade assets or payroll into the position unlikely.  Center field is the most obvious, but not an easy position to find a plus offensive player.

Right field is going to have a glut of available free agents and players that will likely be available in trade (Puig? Reddick?)

So my problem isn't that I don't like Chiz.  It's that I don't trust the Tribe's current roster to produce enough offense to contend next year.  With Urshela and Chisenhall most likely penned into the lineup, that puts a lot of pressure on the front office to fill center field with a plus offensive player - and while we all have dreams of Zimmers dancing through our head - we may not even see him in 2017 and this core isn't getting any younger (that's how age works, guys).

The current roster construction is going to force the Tribe to make some hard decisions when they see someone like Marcell Ozuna available in the trade market - because the options outside of him are extremely limited.

So please, remember, I don't hate Chiz.  I just look at 2016 and wonder who is gonna give us the runs.  And that always brings me back to Poopenhall.

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