Bonds’ unemployment at least makes some sense, as there are questions about his knees, the obvious steroid allegations, as well as the scare that he may be a cancer in the clubhouse. Lofton doesn’t have any of the aforementioned troubles. He is a great teammate by all reports, and still has much of the speed that helped him lead the American League in stolen bases five times during the '90s. Lofton is 40 and many have compared his left arm to the strength of a wet noodle, but he can still cover a lot of ground in the outfield. The four time Gold Glove award winner has openly wondered during the young season why he does not have a team to pay his bills. He has every reason to wonder, especially since he batted .296 last season.
The real question really is: why haven’t the Cleveland Indians signed Lofton? Last season, Lofton gave them a boost during the regular season when he was acquired from the Texas Rangers for minor league catcher Max Ramirez. He also provided immeasurable leadership and experience during the post season. Lofton is a fan favorite in Cleveland, as he helped the team to one World Series appearance and numerous Central Division titles during the 1990’s. The Indians are almost last in the league in hitting, and only two of their regulars (Grady Sizemore and Victor Martinez) have been hitting with any consistency.
One reason for his unemployment could be because many people question whether he can still hit right handed pitching. Indians manager Eric Wedge used Lofton primarily against left handers last season as he platooned with Franklin Gutierrez in left field during his tenure this time around with the Tribe. The outfielder has claimed that he does not want a huge contract and with the season slowly slipping away, the Indians could easily afford him.
The Tribe was picked by many analysts to win the Central Division and even make it to the World Series, but with over 35 games of the season under their belt, they find themselves at the bottom of the division standings. The five time all-star would provide the boost they need in the lineup as well as in the club house. His mentality could calm the nerves of some of the young players and convince some of the veterans that they can get back on track. Lofton doesn’t have a huge amount of power, but he has a knack for working the pitch count and getting on base any way possible.
One of the main problems for the Indians at the moment is that when their big hitters come up to the plate, they don’t have anyone on base to drive in, which in turn makes the pitcher’s job easier, as they don’t have to give those hitters many pitches that are close to the plate.
One thing is for sure, if someone doesn’t sign Lofton before the trade deadline, baseball fans are going to miss out on seeing the greatest DHL commercial ever made.
The writer of this article can be reached by e-mail at BJordan@BusinessofSportsNetwork.com.