April 17, 2014

Medina
Intermittent clouds
47°F

Commentary: Bring up Carlos Santana — now

For the past three weeks, I’ve gone to the park and written catcher Lou Marson’s little name into my little scorebook and wondered why it wasn’t Carlos Santana’s big name instead.

The Indians are sinking fast in the Central Division – 10 games out of first place  – and have called up a plethora of players from Triple-A Columbus including Trevor Crowe, Jason Donald and Shelley Duncan, yet they are reluctant to promote the top prospect in the organization?

While it’s true that Crowe and Donald were brought aboard to replace injured center fielder Grady Sizemore and shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, that’s no excuse for not bringing Santana up by now.

What’s the point?

Manager Manny Acta all but said that, though the Indians are obviously trying to win every game, they are playing for the future with less than lofty expectations for this season.

Few, if any clear-thinking individuals see this gang of Dolan’s Discounts doing anything outside of embarrassing themselves further. What do the Indians have to lose by bringing up the 25-year-old Santana for his major league debut?

Santana didn’t make the club out of spring training because the Indians wanted him to spend some time at Triple-A for the first time in his career. He’s been in Columbus for moe than a month and has looked far from out of place, batting .314 through Friday with a team-leading nine home runs and 39 RBIs in 41 games.

That’s more than enough time for some Triple-A seasoning, so what’s with the delay?

It’s unlikely that Santana would come aboard and carry Cleveland’s sagging offense in his first big league stint, but the power-stacked switch hitter might be able to breathe some life into an offense that has been comatose all season long.

It’s a safe bet that he’s going to bring more to the offensive table than Marson, who carries a .209 batting average with no homers and one RBI in 30 games.

There was speculation that when the Indians recently promoted Duncan rather than Michael Brantley, they were trying to delay Brantley from becoming arbitration- eligible. They could be taking the same approach with Santana, which reeks of Team Dolan and its penny-pinching ways.

Players become arbitration- eligible after three years of big league service, but some deemed “Super 2″ players (determined by the amount of time they have spent on a big league roster, the top 17 percent qualifying) can become eligible after two-plus years.

If the Indians are worried about that, they are looking way too far ahead. Who knows what type of salary Santana will command when he becomes arbitration-eligible anyway?

Using that approach, it would seem that the only players the Indians want on their roster right now are veterans and younger players that they don’t view as potential stars – in other words, stiffs.

I can live with the Indians starting Santana out at Columbus, but it doesn’t make any sense to keep him there any longer, not just to save a few bucks that they don’t know if they will have to spend anyway.

At the very least, give the masochistic fans who show up regularly at Progressive Field and spend their hard-earned money a reason to watch this team.

Contact Chris Assenheimer

at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com.