What Will the Indians Do With Travis Hafner?

Travis Hafner was destined to become a marquee player for the Indians when he signed his lengthy contract extension in 2007. After having a monster 2007 in which he became on of the biggest threats in the lineup. the Indians locked “Pronk” (as he was nicknamed) to an extension. Management thought that Hafner was going to be the face of the future and hoped for many good seasons to come.

It is now 2012 and times have changed quite a bit for the Indians. Hafner has been the Indians DH since signing that extension, however, injuries have limited the amount of games he has played since that 2007 season. The most amount of games Hafner has played in one season since signing that extension was 118 games, which was in 2010. Hafner hit a respectable .278 but only had 13 home runs during that year. With the exception of 2010, Hafner has not played 100 games in a season since 2007.

Hafner’s home run numbers have been down since 2007 and this season has not been great for the struggling designated hitter. In only 60 games, Hafner is only batting .238 with 11 home runs and 32 RBI. With another trip to the disabled list this past week, the Indians will have to consider whether or not Hafner is worth bringing back in 2012.

After the 11 game losing streak ended, a lot of the questions management faced had to do with whether or not the Indians can contend in the future. It was brought out that a lot of the prospects in the trades that sent Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia packing from Cleveland did not work as well as anticipated. With several different prospects down in AAA Columbus, the Indians will have to decide who will go and who will be brought in for next season.

The rough season cannot be all pinned on Hafner’s struggles, however, keeping him for next season may not be the best option. Hafner has struggled in different areas of the lineup, has low productivity at the plate and has stranded runners on base. With an offense that is struggling, the Indians will need to decide whether or not Hafner can really contribute enough to this team to bring him back.

After several surgeries, Hafner is at a point in which playing in the field is not an option. Hafner is unable to play first base, which is what he started out as, making him very limited in different situations. For Interleague games against National League teams, Hafner often gets benched when the DH rule cannot be used and struggles in pinch hit situations. With the possibility of more Interleague games next season with the Houston Astros moving to the American League, the Indians may not be able to afford to have a struggling Hafner who can’t play in the field on the roster.

The Indians have been dreadful offensively this season and while Hafner is not all to blame, the Indians could be looking at another option for the designated hitter spot. Hafner has struggled and with a lineup that needs improvement, the Indians may be forced to look elsewhere for someone who is more consistent. Hafner is not the only player in the lineup who is in this position but the Indians management will have to decide whether or not partin ways with Hafner in favor of someone else will improve the offense.



~ by jeffrsabo on August 12, 2012.

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