Sunday, June 15, 2008

Jody Gerut Underscores Indians Coaching Failure

Former American League Rookie of the Year Jody Gerut -- now with the Padres -- returned to Cleveland for his first game there since being cast aside by the Indians in 2004, going 3-5 with a homer and two RBI to raise his average to .289 and help defeat his former team 8-3.

The re-emergence of the 28-year-old Gerut -- named top rookie by the Sporting News after hitting .279 with 22 homers and 75 RBI in 127 games with the Indians in 2003 -- continues to draw attention to seeming inadequacies in the Indians coaching and scouting staff, which willingly let Gerut get away three years ago.

Gerut's separation from the Tribe is slightly complicated, having been excellerated by his torn anterior cruciate ligament in 2004, and his struggles to recover while playing for Triple A Buffalo.

And yet the fact remains that while Gerut was on the comeback trail he was traded for Cubs outfielder Jason Dubois, the Indians having failed to recognize not only Gerut's remaining potential but his strength of character, tenacity and determination to revive his career.

Ironically, after acquiring Dubois for Gerut the Indians also failed to develop Dubois, who like Gerut had been regarded as a potential star.

If it had been only Gerut whom the Tribe let get away, or just Dubois, that would be one thing. But rightly or wrongly a peculiar pattern can be discerned when one considers that no sooner than the team had acquired top prospect Andy Marte last year -- for instance -- coaches began tinkering with his swing to the point that he hasn't been the same either, though he remains with the team.

Add the cases of Gerut, Dubois and Marte to the Indians handling of second baseman Brandon Phillips, now a star in Cincinnati, and second baseman Josh Barfield, who has spent most of this season in Buffalo, and one cannot help but wonder.

Not only has Barfield failed to succeed under Indians tutelge, but the player traded to acquire him -- third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff -- has done quite well for himself in San Diego, the Indians having nothing to show from that deal either.