"To be really just bluntly honest, if he doesn't get hot, we might not be good enough," Francona said. "I'm not trying to put all that on him. But I just think for the moment we're better staying put."
Before the Tribe's 6-5 loss in 14 innings on Wednesday concluded, Cabrera made six appearances at the plate, and none of them ended well. Cabrera, batting cleanup for the 15th time in the past 16 games, turned in the second 0-for-6 performance of his career.
Cabrera's shift to the four-hole corresponded with Francona's decision to slot Nick Swisher into the No. 2 position in the batting order. In his past 10 games, Cabrera is hitting .122/.140/.171 with a couple of doubles and two RBIs. Also, he is batting .183 since July 4.
Francona compared batting Cabrera fourth to playing blackjack.
"You go through runs where you get cold, you get hot," Francona said. "Cabby's got a pretty good track record. If you move Cabby too soon, say, down to sixth or seventh, he's going to get hot. It's like if you're playing 50 bucks, 50 bucks, 50 bucks, and all of a sudden you get hot and you're playing for five.
"He's going to get hot, and I'd like to get the most out of it and keep him where he is. "
During his time at cleanup, Cabrera is batting .210/.242/.323 with four doubles, one home run and seven RBIs. With the Indians lacking a true No. 4 hitter and Cabrera being a veteran and two-time All-Star, Francona believes the current lineup suits his roster best.
"He hasn't swung the bat I think as well as he'd like," Francona said, "but he handles it.
"I think there's been times where he's gone up there and almost predetermined when he's going to swing. There's times when it looks like he's ready to get hot, and then there's times when he's kind of spinning off balls. It seems like a lot of it's been when there's runners in scoring position. He's gotten a little antsy, a little overaggressive."