April 20, 2014

An Open Letter to Chris Perez

Dear Chris Perez,

I hope this is all starting to make some more sense. The trials and tribulations of a fan base scorned, essentially lied to and perpetually left holding the bag of disappointment, have all bubbled up to the surface in a Vesuvian fashion.

Despite your outwardly vocal and oftentimes unsolicited opinions, there’s a reason why many Cleveland fans wanted you to stay prior to the Major League Baseball Non-Waiver Trade Deadline.1 This wasn’t due merely to what a sale would signal. Your passion for what you do is only surpassed by the successful level at which you do it; if only we all had a mere two off days in a four-month span. But you see, Chris — I can call you Chris, right? — just as many Clevelanders will gladly chalk up your quotes to a misdirection of athletic frustration, Cleveland fans will gladly admit to doing the same. After countless years of being told that your team would do what it took to compete when the time was indeed right, they stood pat. Again.

No buying. No selling. Purgatory. Like the eighth-seed in the NBA playoffs. Certainly, the wins were fun as they came in roughly every other night. The window was opened, but the winterized vacuum seal was never removed. The playoffs are over two months away and the division, up until the abomination in Minnesota, within reach, all we asked was that this team make a decision. Conviction is not a far-fetched desire. Instead, we were handed more “What If?” commercials and a few additional lines about “potential.”

“The most important thing,” general manager Chris Antonetti said on Tuesday, “is for the guys that are here to do what they can to perform to their potential. I think if that happens, we’ll be in a much better position at the end of the season than we are right now.”

With no injuries on which to blame a fallen season, the Indians opted to play the expectations card. We will never know the exact inter-workings of what was said and to whom when the phones rang with inquiry.

Some may say that this team simply had too many holes to fill, that one trade deadline would not be able to suffice. We will never quite know what budget, if any, was allotted to pick up those missing pieces — the exact same pieces that have been missing since the 2011 season when the team opted for an 11th-hour slap-hitting lefty and a feel-good story entirely too late in the year. This time around, as the the seasonably warm winter came and went, doing more to ruin Snow Days than to help bolster an obviously imperfect roster, while right-handed corner infielders and corner outfielders were signed by a few of your 29 other competitors, we sat and waited. As several of the same teams added pieces throughout the summer, specifically the two teams with which you locked into nightly jockeying for position within the AL Central, your front office sat on their hands. They did so through June and July, ultimately falling five games out of first place, left wondering why they had lost feeling in their fingers.

While Youkilis and Dempster and Pence2 were all moved on (or prior to) Tuesday, Cleveland was given a late-game defensive replacement in Brent Lillibridge. Listening to your Antonetti fumble through his post-deadline address with the same string-in-the-back replies was disheartening to say the least. Having spoken with Mark Shapiro one-on-one over the last several weeks, I do trust that phone calls and inquiries were ineed made. But while the parking and concessions endeavor turned a few heads, all goodwill just took a nosedive off of the I-480 bridge as they, your superiors, have managed to lose the faith of even the most staunchly (blindly?) supportive. In fact, I believe you’d be hard-pressed to find another independent web site more supportive than WFNY, ticket giveaways notwithstanding.

Cleveland, believe it or not, is a fantastic sports town. Undoubtedly fickle, but fantastic. We provided a nearly-packed house to watch you guys topple Justin Verlander about one week ago; Approximately 4,200 fans descended upon Berea to watch the Browns practice, and a lottery-bound Cavaliers team featuring something called a Semih Erden even averaged 16,000 fans per evening. And yes, this city sold out 455 straight baseball games3 .

But all of the players in those infamous “What If?” commercials? Not only are they no longer active aside from the bobbleheads that get trotted out a few times per year4 , they were not the result of this current regime. That “455″ on the wall just above the right field seats? That’s not Chris’ or Mark’s or Paul’s or Larry’s. It’s ours. We are the ones who filed into that stadium every night, doing so to watch not only a winning baseball team, but one that continually made agressive moves to ensure that the team kept up with their coutnerparts.

Sure, there is roughly $30 million coming off of the books this winter. But there are also a handful of players looking at an arbitration-avoiding bump as well as just as many open roster spots. Josh Hamilton, to borrow a phrase, isn’t walking through that door.

Rarely do I feel bad for millionaires; playing a game many of us would do for free, after all, isn’t a terrible way to make a living. But just as the Indians want to banter about competitive windows, I realize that you, as an athlete, also have a window. Shin-Soo Choo is going to be 31-years old, and simply wants his five-tool talents to be utilized by a winning organization, not one that merely hopes for career years out of one-year rentals. Jason and Vinnie and Michael… These guys give it their all each and every night. There’s a reason you all are fan favorites — if only Mr. Brantley had Twitter so that he could witness the adulation first-hand.

While the front office and marketing department want to continue to embarrass themselves with “What If?,” Mr. Choo has, thankfully, taken a different approach. “Why Not?”

“I hope [this team makes moves]. Why not?” Choo said. “We knew in Spring Training our lineup was all left-handed hitters. We needed a right-handed power hitter and they were looking for it. And then starting pitchers. Next season, or maybe later [this season], you never know.

“I hope we bring somebody here to make it a better team.”

Unfortunately, just as you were in first place when the White Sox acquired Kevin Youkilis this past June, time has not been on your side. Waiting and hoping is simply no way to run a business.

I’m about as far from a reactionary sports fan as you will find. Baseball is undoubtedly a marathon, so a losing streak here or there is simply rectified by one where your team comes out on top. But I’m officially deflated. I’m 31 years old and, given this nonsense about contention windows while never pitchfork and torching for change, I feel that I have, maybe, four-to-five more “windows” down this road of life. If the subsequent ones are handled even remotely close to how these last two years have gone, well, we’ll just be Waiting for Next Year. With television rating already cratering, just don’t expect much of Cleveland to do so within the confines of Progressive Field. After all, we can only be kicked in the collective wallet so many times.

So please, with all due respect, keep being you. While some fans will take objection to “being called out,” the truth of the matter is that we are all just as frustrated as you are. Perhaps more. Keep firing those mid-90s heaters, keep throttling your fist after a third out in the ninth. After all, these nights are becoming fewer and further between.

It’s not you. It’s them.

Sincerely yours,

Scott Sargent, WFNY

(AP Photo/Joseph Darwal)

___________________________________________________

Footnotes:

  1. Me included. Seriously. Look. []
  2. Once again []
  3. Under admittedly different economic circumstances []
  4. It’s safe to assume that after the Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez debacle, where both players had their bobblehead nights after being traded, that the team will no longer do this with veterans []

  • AMC

    AMEN.

  • Foghorn Leghorn

    well written. another Cleveland sob story, but well written.

  • Eric G

    Hate how perfect this is

  • josh

    Extremely well said…

  • Christopher Perez

    4200 fans at a practice for the Browns!? These idiots should be supporting our third place team– we’re only 3 games below .500!

  • boomhauertjs

    Terrific!

  • ClevelandFloridian

    amen

  • http://twitter.com/dconeil Dave

    It just continually amazes me how Mark Shapiro still has a job. It’s just so sad what this guy has done to our organization. I am as die-hard a Tribe fan as they come and I’ve watched only two of their past eight games (which is unreal for me). I hate this organization. I won’t spend another cent on supporting them. I do like some of the players (and am indifferent on a vast majority of the rest), but I cannot simply blindly follow this front-office group of jokers. They are the absolute worst.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Very nice hopefully Scott saved a draft for editing for next season. Loved the “why not” by Choo unfortunately we could probably spend hours on this subject and frankly it’s just not worth it anymore.

  • mgbode

    very fair on all points. i wish we had more to look forward to the rest of this season (either a playoff push or exciting prospects to nurture)

  • BIKI024

    the lack of moves was a direct result of unsuccessful drafting the past several years. we really didn’t have much in terms of valued prospects.

    but if we don’t resign Masterson, then it totally made no sense in not moving him, as for the other tradeable assets that aren’t signed for 2+ more seasons (Choo, Perez) my guess is that any offers we got for them were pretty weak.

    it is what it is. there are still 59 games to go. maybe our underperforming pitching and bats heat up in the month of August, maybe not. either way, too early to throw in the towel just yet.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kstyles1 Kevin Styles

    Standing O!!

  • tribefanjp

    I really wish chris would read this and maybe just maybe he might understand a little bit of what us fans go through by following and supporting this team.

  • mgbode

    i’d imagine sending the link to his twitter account could do the trick.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/ Scott @ WFNY

    He’s already replied.

  • baclap

    I came and read this after I saw CP compliment Scott on Twitter. Great writing and it seems the message was received.

  • Jessie

    Personally speak, I think this year falls squarely on the shoulders of the Dolans. Has Shaprio and Antonetti made some bad choices, absolutely. They did TRY last year and made a move to get Ubaldo and it just hasn’t panned out like they would’ve hoped. This year, they sit on their hands and do nothing? To me that screams Dolan saying “you tried, it didn’t work. Now, go back to normal business and do not add any additional payroll to this team.”

  • mgbode

    Chris Perez is fantastic.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I can’t believe I’m about to type this but what did he say and will you include a graphic of the interaction? I actually had Twitter at one point but stopped using it because it wasn;t for me but it would be neat to see his response.

  • http://twitter.com/ejmaroun EJMaroun

    ChrisPerez54: @WFNYScott Very well thought out, and written; Definitely the best article I have read in awhile (about 1 hour ago from web in reply to WFNYScott)

  • http://twitter.com/Mike_CavsHQ Michael Curry

    I don’t get it. Is Chris Perez supposed to keep calling the fans out for recognizing that this team wasn’t good enough and that the front office was never committed to actually winning anything this year?

    Sometimes Cleveland fans are fickle. But it’s just as fair to say that the Indians fans who took a wait-and-see approach to this baseball team were absolutely right to do so. Pessimism was both appropriate and justified in dealing with this Indians team.

    Perez, and a lot of people, wanted Indians fans to ignore the larger trends and just go spend their money regardless of the team’s real chances at contending. Nevermind that the front office clearly didn’t believe what they were trying to sell.

    So while I share Scott’s frustrations, I am disappointed that he didn’t make the advice for Perez more clear. Perez needs to put the pressure on his employer to make the moves necessary to contend, not push it onto the fans who don’t get to make the personnel decisions. Admit that the fans who weren’t supporting this team were absolutely right not to do so, because the organization is not, and never was, committed to trying to win a championship this season.

  • Steve

    Perez wanted Cleveland fans to realize how ridiculous they were being by still obsessing over Lebron, and demanding a winner but then ignoring the, at the time, first place Indians while still piling on the runaway freight train that is the Browns. Let’s make sure we address his points appropriately. If the team was in last place at the time, or maybe just 20th in attendance instead of dead last, he probably wouldn’t have pointed out the lack of attendance.

    “because the organization is not, and never was, committed to trying to win a championship this season”

    Stuff like this needs to stop being said. Its, simply, bad analysis. It is said showing a lack of understanding beyond “SPEND SPEND SPEND!!1!” and all the inner workings of a MLB team.

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    “So please, with all due respect, keep being you.”

    pfffft.
    no words.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Ah cool thanks. I get irritated by #54 with all his Twitter crap but his passion cannot be minimized. The shame of it all is his feelings are misplaced he should be questioning his organization instead of the fans. It shouldn’t be the fans v players it should be the fans & players v the FO and ownership.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    I’ll reply without telling you how you should post your feelings I’ll leave that to the word wizard below instead I’ll say I posted something similar above in Perez calling out his bosses. Now I know it’ll never happen but it sure looked bad, as Scott pointed out in his piece, that the FO, for whatever reasons, failed to do just about anything to further assist the team this season. Couple that with Antonetti’s famous quotation about players playing better (will be remembered for years to come just like the other Tribe speak things said) and it really looks like this FO has no idea what is happening. If this is the case then they are doing a disservice to not only the fans but the team and owners as well. If I were the cash strapped Dolan’s I’d think I’d demand a little more accountability from my FO which has piloted this team into the Bermuda Triangle.

  • NamedMyKidPrice

    Great article!

  • Steve

    Furthering assisting this team for just this year is a fool’s errand. Only Greinke could possibly have done enough to fix this rotation for the rest of the year. The FO has a good idea of what is happening, the team this year is more or less sunk, but next year’s team isn’t. Maybe you really loved Wandy Rodriguez’s 106 ERA+ or Pence’s 109 OPS+. Those are the guys that would have been around next year. I would have liked to have gotten one, but am not losing sleep over them.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/ Scott @ WFNY

    With regard to Antonetti, I’m left with the lasting visual of an old Bob Saget skit on SNL where he played a track coach. Chris Farley was one of his runners.

    “You need to just run faster.”

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    “The FO has a good idea of what is happening,” you really do believe this don’t you?

    “The team this year is more or less sunk,” welcome to the party pal!

  • Steve

    Yes I do. If you ever want to have a discussion about this, instead of just spouting an opinion with no facts behind it, I’m game. The FO even has a great idea what their market limitations are, which, from our discussions, I feel you don’t grasp too well.

    Wow, you were pessimistic early in the season. Congratulations, you win. What you win, I don’t know. Being miserable about your team all season sure doesn’t sound like a reward though.

    You still don’t bring anything factual. You just say they don’t. Yawn. You don’t even respond to the points I made about next year. You just want to gripe.

    I’m not sure how the Indians are moving the goal line, but I know the fans are pretty damn good at it. And, actually, not a lot of people in this town watch professional baseball, unless the division is guaranteed.

  • Harv 21

    Concur, Michael Curry. Disagree only as to your point that the FO didn’t itself believe what it was selling. I fear the opposite, that it sincerely believes that certain players are performing beneath their capabilities, when it is just as reasonable to think one previous promising season was an aberration.

  • Harv 21

    Lots of players are passionate, lots want to win. That’s quite different from drawing attention to yourself by seeking out reporters to blast fans.

    Dear Chris: play passionately and shut up. We know why we don’t go to games, and we know why we boo. When you chastise fans the only point you make is that you have a very limited understanding of what a privilege it is to make a living playing sports. If you think it’s appropriate to call out those paying your salary, here’s some unsolicited advice back at you: save your baseball money. Because the real world will hold some unpleasant surprises for you if you must toil in it.

    Dear Scott: can’t believe you are enabling Chris after a month of blessed silence. Now we are virtually guaranteed to be treated to more of his commentary.

  • mgbode

    i’m with Shamrock on a couple of these points:

    the FO sold hard that 2012 would be a year in which we could compete for the playoffs. while, we showed promise at times, it was pretty evident when our pitching didn’t respond that we wouldn’t have a shot unless we made a trade for a starter (which we never really even got into). i’d say this was undoubtedly evident by mid-June.

    so, the FO is moving the goalline to competing in 2013. it’s not all their fault, mind you, but it is what they are doing (if we didn’t completely fail at finding a 3rd starter for the OF, then they’d have a better case as well). really, it’s what they have to do or risk losing even more of their fanbase, but it would have been nice for them to acknowledge it and try to get some assets out of the deadline (even middling ones).

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Well why don’t you enlighten me hell enlighten all of us with your deep seeded understanding of not only what it is the FO of the Cleveland Indians is thinking but also about professional baseball. I mean you obviously know more then anyone around here certainly more then this lazy ranting bafoon of a poster so have at it Sherlock, elnighten us with your baseball mastery.

    Hold on why do I get the feeling market limitations is Indian speak for excuses but go ahead.

    Wait a second OBJECTION. First off the Indians are not my team I don’t have a team I just like the sport as well as numerous different players. I’ve said this repeatedly not only for the Indians but also the Cavaliers and the football team. Ok go ahead.

    Wait wait what did you say about next year I must have missed it all I saw you mention were Wandy Rodriguez and Hunter Pence? Proceed.

    Wait hold on last interruption but the Indians move the goal line by constantly changing their message. Last year the acquisition of Jimenez was supposed to signal that the organization was within their window of opportunity and thereby going for it. They proceeded to follow that up by doing what they do best and that is signing blue light specials and saying that the team needed to play better. Meanwhile you have countless teams including the Pittsburgh Pirates and Houston Astros (one winning and one losing team) make all sorts of moves before and during the trading period. Meanwhile the Indians FO sits in varitable silence making one trade.

    As far as the fans go I won’t speak for them but what I’d like to see is less talk and more action from this FO and this doesn’t mean resigning it’s own marginal players. You want to show me something resign Choo and not someone like Sizemore. I’d like to see an organization that can actually draft players AND grow them. You can say what you want about fiscal limitations but the simple truth is had the Indians had viable legitimate baseball prospects they probably could have done something to improve the team because that is what was at the heart of almost every trade made yesterday.

    Okay I believe I gave every one of your points the attention you despertely desired so now, without interruption, enlighten all of us with your deep seeded understanding of not only what it is the FO of the Cleveland Indians is thinking but also about professional baseball.

  • https://twitter.com/jimkanicki jimkanicki

    thank you harv!
    geez, i was thinking i was the only one.

  • markn95

    People talk about the Dolans and the front office as if they’re separate entities but remember, Paul Dolan is the CEO of the Cleveland Indians (and he was President before the Shapiro promotion). What, besides the family name, could possibly qualify him to be the chief executive of a multi-million dollar corporation? I remember Mike Trivisonno interviewing Paul shortly after he entered the front office (this was around 2000 or so) and Trivsonno talked circles around the guy (seriously). At the time, I thought ahh boy, another David Modell in charge of ruining a Cleveland sports franchise. And little that has happened since has convinces me otherwise. Where’s the accountability?

  • Steve

    I don’t see that as goalline moving. It’s adapting to changing conditions. They didn’t change their position to compete this year and next. They expected to compete in both 2012 and 2013. They haven’t changed anything about 2013. Yeah, I wish they could have added a starter – Rodriguez, who I’m pretty sure was the only non-rental SP moved. I’ve been complaining about the starting pitching for quite a while now.

  • Steve

    The market limitation is real, and, honestly, I have no idea why refuse to acknowledge it. It goes into signing Choo. They will never be able to outbid bigger markets. As long as Choo is determined to get every last dollar (which is why he signed Boras), then he’s not coming here. The only guys who are willing to sign here (because of the reputation of Cleveland along with the lack of revenue) are those lower salary guys. It sucks, we all know it, but some of us don’t beat our heads against the wall pretending it can be otherwise. Why can’t you understand that? That’s not Dolan’s fault, that’s not Shapiro’s fault, that’s not Antonetti’s fault.

    Yes, I would like to have seen better drafting before, but it’s been improved recently. Chisenhall and Kipnis have looked good, and Pomeranz and White got you a top of the rotation return on the trade market. That trade looks busted, but they turned legitimate baseball prospects into something that could have improved the team. Of course, many fans now were certain that Jimenez wasn’t a front of the rotation pitcher (an actual example of goalline moving, unlike your example).

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    FACTS FACTS I WANT FACTS all I see is your opinion where are the FACTS? Isn’t this what you constantly tell me? What a letdown here I thought you had something profound to say when all you did was whine about having an owner who can’t afford a better team. Guess what next year won’t be any better even if they take all that money off the books. You know why? Because the same FO who has made bad decisions whether it be free agents, drafting or resigning their own mediocre players will still be calling the shots and they showed this offseason they are not good at what they do.
    They had a season a year ago to build off and they blew it. The team regressed with players who were supposed to produce “normal” stats failed and the FO just sat back and watched. I don’t know why you can’t wrap your mind around that little nugget but you can’t.
    As far as the trade goes for Jimenez I didn’t have a problem with it and I still don’t and a large reason for that was because at least they tried to do something. It hasn’t panned out but it’s not like Pomeranz and White have done anything. Thank goodness. I seriously doubt either would have brought anymore then what they did a year ago too.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Dude baseball is changing daily that’s the nature of the game. Did you or the FO actually think teams like the Angels, Rangers, Tigers or even the White Sox would simply stand still while the Indians tried to get better? MLB added a second wild card and even that wasn’t enough incentive for the blue light special Indians.
    You keep talking about the starting pitching as if it’s the sole reason why the Indians are in the predictament they are but it’s simply not the case. You can throw all those statistics for the offense you want at me I’ve watched enough of the Indians to know the lineup is just plain horrible. The only way it produces is if they are lucky enough to have 3-4 guys maximizing their production. The fact that you see guys having strong stretches at different times throughout the season tells you just how inconsistent those players are. Good lineups do not work like this and they sure as heck can’t have 1B, 3B and LF occupied by players who aren’t even mediocre. These three positions have been a problem for how many years now? Factor that in with a drop in production from your starting catcher and starting shortstop and I don’t care how many walks you dry your not going to score.
    If you can’t score on somewhat of a regular basis then you better have a pitching rotation the likes of the Angels or Giants. Guess what the Indians don’t have a single starter who would probably even make either of those teams rotations.
    Come back to reality will you please!

  • http://twitter.com/TribeTime87 Matt Dieter

    I cried a little after I read this.

  • Leo C

    Good article Scott….well written….this organization continues to amaze me in a bad way. They want to wish and hope things turn out great without really giving much effort in FA or trades…that explains this whole ‘What if?’ thing that is so last year. This team was basically the same as last year, they refused to cut ties with Grady and Fausto Roberto and spent money on Kotchman and Damon who were horrendous and continually kept Shelley Duncan around for whatever asinine reason. I am not surprised this team is falling apart. They have no core players to trust and the pitching isn’t any better. Unlike their division rivals and other AL teams that are great, they have no stars and don’t wish to get any. Tribe games are supposed to be fun and exciting and at times they were but now its like they completely imploded, in late July/August again. If they don’t make any other moves, don’t expect much difference next few years

  • clevefan4life

    Great response Michael. This ownership has NEVER shown it will do what it takes to put a winner o the field. They have always done the bare minimum and hoped for a winner.

    455 games and we were rewarded with the Dolans. That should be considered an act of cruelty.

  • Avory

    You’re not.

  • Avory

    Nonsense. The players took a nosedive, no one else. You’re telling me we’ve lost 8 straight in the most ugly fashion possible because of management?!?

  • Avory

    Yep, always everyone but the guys paid the most: the players. Gimme a break. You plan on guys giving you historical norms, then your two top guys in the rotation take two turns on the road and stink up the joint. They win 3 of 4 and the road trip is 3-5, not a disastrous 0-8. And the “hitters”? Shrinking violets whenever the spotlight is the brightest. I know it’s easiest to blame those making personnel decisions, but when players stink like this, it’s the players who should be called out for their putrid performances.

  • Avory

    Gag indeed.

  • Avory

    Since Chris’s comments are rarely if ever “well thought out,” I don’t think he’s someone who can judge anything well written, much less well conceived.

  • wiseliver

    How can you win when you don’t have any right handed batters to offset the lefties pitching and you don’t have any left-handed starters to turn other teams’ lefties into mincemeat like they do our left-handed batters. This is not advanced math here, it is just common sense. Do unto others as you have done unto you.