When you watched Peralta last
year, it was clearly a case of laziness and lack of focus. Despite
being healthy all season, Jhonny's OPS dropped by almost 200 points.
He walked less, struck out more, was awful with runners in scoring position,
and one of the worst hitters in all of baseball with runners in scoring
position and two outs. And despite committing less errors, he
was a very bad defensive shortstop with poor footwork and range.
Allegedly, Jhonny has worked on his footwork and conditioning this season.
To me, Peralta seems a bit airheaded and aloof as a player, and is prone
to falling into bad ruts when things get tough. With his natural
talent, and the numbers he posted as a rookie, anything less than .280,
20 HR's, 80 RBI's, and improved range defensively would be a disappointment.
Jeff Rickel: Shapiro is overstating a bit
when it comes to Peralta's offensive contribution. While Jhonny
Peralta swinging the stick like the 2005 model would be a nice boon
for the Tribe, there's enough offensive talent to recover for another
mediocre performance at the plate. The defense is a different
ballgame and Shapiro's statement holds true. Peralta improving
his defensive game would help the pitching staff, especially Westbrook.
Poor fielding doesn't always count as an error and I saw several moments
where the infield defense reacted poorly, costing the pitcher a run
or allowing a runner to get on. As the shortstop, Peralta
is the cornerstone to the infield defense. If he improves then
the rest of the infield should get better, especially with Barfield
and Marte appearing to be defensive upgrades.
I do think Peralta is primed
for a rebound season. There've been a couple of juicy tidbits
about Jhonny the past few days. Apparently he had a growth spurt
last season, at least according to Peter Gammons (I think that's where
I read it). That would require adjustment and could cause problems.
He also was diagnosed with myopia (near-sightedness) and it appears
to have become more pronounced prior to last season. Peralta didn't
wear contacts until the end of the season because they were uncomfortable.
Tellingly, I did think he looked better in the last month when it comes
to fielding. Near-sightedness can also have a negative effect
on hitting, making it far more difficult to determine what a pitcher
is throwing and where he's throwing it to. Unfortunately, the September
numbers didn't improve at the plate but I'd imagine there'd be some
adjustment needed when visual ability changes so much.
To my knowledge Peralta has
not had another growth spurt and he had successful Lasik surgery in
the offseason. In addition, Jhonny Peralta has reportedly been
working hard in the offseason to improve his game. I think Jhonny will
have a nice bounce back season. I'm not expecting 2005 numbers
at the plate but I do believe an OPS at or around .800 is probable.
I also believe he will be able to read the catcher and react better
than last season, so we will see an improvement in the defense. If both
do happen, as I think they will, then the Tribe is in great shape.
Cris Sykes: I would qualify Jhonny Peralta
being the most important player on the 2007 Indians as this: if
we are talking position players, then yes he probably is. Overall,
I think any of the starting pitchers are equally in control of the success
of the Indians, and even they pale in comparison to the importance of
the group of Band-Aids currently making up the bullpen.
Jhonny Peralta is as important
to the Indians as any starting shortstop is to his team. Throw
in the fact that he is our best (?) right-handed bat and his importance
grows. However, if Peralta is that guy from 2005, and the bullpen
is the worst in the AL, it won’t really matter. If Peralta is
the guy from 2006, but the bullpen is brilliant, the Indians will be
I think we will see a Peralta
that is much closer to the 2005 version. A lot of players need
that year (2006) to get their head on straight. I think Jhonnny
grew up over the course of last season, but was already in such a downward
spiral that it could not be rectified. If there is truth to the
growth spurt, or the eye problems, then those are some pretty significant
physical issues to deal with, all while trying to overcome a horrible
start and another disappointing season for the team. It would
not surprise me one bit for Peralta to get off to a good start, and
carry that momentum through to a comeback player of the year type season.
Jarad Regano: Peralta certainly will be a
focal point for the 2007 Indians. Some of it has been brought
on by himself, including a sophomore slump and at times lethargic play.
Some if it, though, has to do with him physically being a third baseman
being asked to play shortstop.
He is always going to have
limitations defensively based on his size and build alone. Peralta
should bounce back somewhat offensively, and I feel will be an above
average hitting shortstop. Defensively, the odds are stacked against
him. He should continue to get bigger as his career goes along,
making him even less of a fit at short.
No doubt Peralta is one of
the most important pieces to the 2007 Indians. Some of the expectations
placed on him by management, however, may be unrealistic.
Todd Dery: For the Indians lineup to be
all it will need to be and all that GM Mark Shapiro hopes it will be,
Jhonny Peralta MUST be the guy we saw in 2005, not the regressed version
of 2006. Peralta's confidence took a severe hit as he continued to swing
and miss at the low and away breaking pitch. He was very reminiscent
of Matt Williams in 1997 and the days of Cory Snyder in the late 80's.
Manager Eric Wedge stuck with Jhonny way too long in the 3 hole and
let him flounder before our very eyes.
This season, Jhonny will start off most likely hitting 6th or 7th. Without
Shapiro getting a big bat this offseason (sorry Mark, David Dellucci
and Trot Nixon do not count), the hope is that Peralta will fill that
void the way he did during the 05 stretch-drive when he was so masterful.
He seemed to come up big in the clutch every time they needed him. Unlike
last season though, expectations for the young shortstop seem to be
low. That should play right into his wheel house. Let’s not forget
that Peralta was a AAA MVP at age 22 who could hit to all fields. Nobody
thought he was even close to worthy of replacing Tribe legend Omar Vizquel.
It took no time at all to make the experts think this was a wise decision.
That line of thinking changed last year. Did he rest on his laurel's
after he got his locked in 5 year contract? Who knows. Peralta does
know however that he'd better produce this season or the Tribe will
take a hard look at replacing him.
As a prediction, I think we see something in the middle of the last
two seasons - .280, 15 HR's and 75 RBI. I think you would take that
all day from your shortstop, wouldn't you?