Most of you probably read the headline and immediately thought I have some sort of mental disorder. Just hear me out on this one. Yes, Jason Kipnis is one of the core pieces for the Cleveland Indians. Yes, Jason Kipnis is an All-Star second basemen. Yes, Jason Kipnis is a key part of the clubhouse. Is Jason Kipnis replaceable? Maybe.
For the past 6 years Jason Kipnis has been a fan favorite and key part of the Cleveland Indians. Whether it be his dirtbag style of play or entertaining social media posts he has garnered the support of the tribe faithful. I am a HUGE Jason Kipnis fan. I never want to see a player I specifically turn on the T.V. or go to the ballpark sit out some games, but in this case I wouldn’t mind seeing him take some time off. For starters, he needs to make sure his body is right. Baseball is a GRIND. To put that into perspective they are playing 162 games in 181 days. That is only 19 days off. Now you may look at this and say to yourself, “well it’s not football; it’s not a contact sport.” And no, it’s not basketball either. But when you train, practice, and play for that period of time with that little rest it takes a toll on your body. No one is every 100% healthy entering the playoffs and the players, coaches, and front offices understand that. With the Indians poised to make a deep postseason run they need to keep their key cogs as healthy as possible and Kipnis is no exception.
The health of Jason Kipnis is not the only reason that you won’t mind seeing him sit out some games. Lets look at the previous season. The Indians had a breakout start, and MVP candidate Jose Ramirez emerge. He had been making trips up and down Interstate 71 to and from Columbus pretty consistently for a few years, proving that he could be a solid utility player. Well, Michael Brantley goes down for all but 11 games and Marlon Byrd is busted for PEDs (again) effectively ending his career, and what do you know? Jose Ramirez is now your starting left fielder. As the season progressed he turned into the everyday third basemen and cemented himself as an MLB regular. This would not have happened if injuries or stupidity didn’t take place. The biggest difference can be discovered with the unlikeliest of circumstances.
Fast forward to 2017. The Indians do not have a utility player on the bench (please for the love of all things that are Holy DO NOT put Michael Martinez on the roster). There are a few interesting names coming up from the minor leagues. Yandy Diaz, Erik Gonzalez, Ronny Rodriguez, and Gio Urshella. If you have paid any attention to the offseason you have noticed that Yandy Diaz is a massive human, and Gio is playing pretty well for a feisty Columbia in the WBC.
One of these guys will end up taking that spot Kipnis will vacate on opening day. The winner most likely will end up moving into the utility role when Kip comes back. A few of these prospects have had a cup or coffee or two in the majors but no significant time. Beating out other top prospects for a major league sport would be great confidence for a young up and comer. Also, they always say the best thing for a young player is to be playing. This would give them that opportunity, and help them build confidence for the stretch run of the season when their number will be called upon.
July 31st is a date that is marked on every baseball fans calendars. For good reason too. It is the most active trading deadline in all of the major sports, and any team that is in contention of the playoffs is making moves to bolster their roster to win the ever elusive World Series. What playing a young prospect in the absence of an All Star second basemen gives you is the ability to showcase their talents on the big stage. When that trading deadline comes around and the Indians need to make a move they will have one or two prospects that hopefully played well at the major league level that they can flip to fill a need. We also need to remember that Jason Kipnis is now 30 years old. Whether we want to think about it or not, the organization is already thinking of a succession plan for when he either falls off the map or becomes too expensive. Seeing these young guys play gives us a glimpse into the future. So I for one don’t like to see one of my favorite players being shutdown, but I am also not going to panic over the situation either.