While We’re Waiting… Can Tribe afford 2014 improvements?

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“While We’re Waiting” serves as the early morning gathering of WFNY-esque information for your viewing pleasure. Have something you think we should see? Send it to our tips email at tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

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Continuing the series on building a Tribe winner in 2014. As I’ve shared, the payroll math isn’t easy: “It’s all about the money. It’s always about the money. In the modern era of sports, no two statements are truer. They especially are true with the Cleveland Indians, an organization that is dedicated to spending what they make, but not running themselves into the red. … In essence, the Indians spent $86.85 million to build the 2013 team. What the 2014 payroll will be remains to be seen, but Indians general manager Chris Antonetti might find himself in a precarious position this winter when consulting his Tribenomics to construct and improve the team for next season.” [Mike Brandyberry/Did The Tribe Win Last Night?]

Talking more Tribe improvements heading into the winter: “Tito, Antonetti and the Indians are not planning to rest on their laurels and expect to make the playoffs next year without making improvements in the club. The Indians as currently constructed are close to being contenders for the World Series title. But they aren’t there yet, and they know that. The budget isn’t going to allow for the type of splash in the free agent market the Indians made last season (Swisher and Bourn), but it won’t have to. They’ll have to get both creative and lucky to improve the club, making small trades (Aviles and Gomes) and picking up cheap veterans and hoping they pan out (Kazmir and Giambi). The core of the club is strong, but this isn’t a roster that can be expected to go deep into the playoffs without some improvements.” [Al Ciammaichella/The DiaTribe]

Addressing the starting lineup quandary for the Cavs: “When it comes to the Cleveland Cavaliers’ backcourt, things are pretty well set. Kyrie Irving will start at point guard, Dion Waiters at shooting guard and Jarrett Jack will come off the bench. A few others will figure in there, but you get the idea. The frontcourt is a different matter. Oh, we know the names — from Anderson Varejao to Andrew Bynum to Tristan Thompson to Tyler Zeller and rookie Anthony Bennett. Those are just the center and power forward spots. Meanwhile, small forward is an even greater mystery.” [Sam Amico/Fox Sports Ohio]

Solid read on how the Cavs have gotten to the point they are now: “How quickly the NBA landscape can change! March 2013 featured a sweaty Omer Asik assaulting rag-doll physics-engine Tyler Zeller. March 2014 could feature a battle of mercurial titans: Dwight Howard vs. Andrew Bynum, with the Cavs and Rockets battling for favorable playoff seeding. Wow. How did we get here? And how great is this?! Step back in time to March 2013.” [Tom Pestak/Cavs: The Blog]

Hi Bowers! Here are 10 keys for Bynum’s return: “Andrew Bynum will enter the 2013-14 campaign having sat out all of last season with injuries to both knees. The keys for Bynum to bounce back and make an impact for the Cleveland Cavaliers this year range from his eventual shot selection once he takes the floor to how he continues to approach his rehab work.” [Brendan Bowers/Bleacher Report]

Neat NFL charts, and man, Jordan Cameron has been good: “Instinctively, you know every team has strengths and weaknesses. You see it in the box scores and the advanced metrics, but when the teams line up, a shitty running back doesn’t look impossibly different from Adrian Peterson. So, here’s a visual aid. Every NFL offense, visualized by how each of the main offensive positions are playing.” [Reuben Fischer-Baum/Deadspin]

Feel pretty bad for the city of Oakland with this impending situation: “There’s a good chance Oakland will lose all three of its professional sports franchises in the next few years. … It makes perfect sense for every last team to leave Oakland. If you read the papers, it’s nothing more than a crime-ridden city with bad public schools, a limited corporate base and a subpar stadium — basically, Detroit with worse facilities, wealthier suburbs and a slightly better accountant.” [Tim Keown/ESPN The Magazine]

  • TOJ

    Do the Indians receive compensatory draft picks if Ubaldo walks in free agency?

  • Scott Hatterick

    I asked myself this question after last seasons free agency…if the indians were to finish just shy of the playoffs, or were to get knocked out in the first round, are the Dolans willing to spend more money next off season to put us over that hump, or was the free spending for guys like Swisher and Bourne just a one and done deal, to try to put fans in the seats, and/or make the team look attractive to potential buyers?

    Now to wait and see…

  • Kildawg

    Only if the Indians extend a qualifying offer, which is a 1 yr 13 mil deal. He might not be worth that.

  • Matt S

    The way I see it, the payroll can easily get to $90M this year. It was $80M in 2008, and since then the STO contract pays out $10M more, with the national TV deal paying $25M more. Granted, they lost money (reportedly) in 2008 and 2007/2008 both had rougly half a million more fans than 2013 (at $20 a ticket, this is about $10M in revenue lost). But there even if you go $10M lower for those two factors, you still should have room for $10-15M in payroll growth.

    The 7 guys who are contracted for next year total a little less than $50M, but there’s also about $20-$30M in arbitration to be factored in. Masterson could be 9-10 by himself, Stubbs and Brantley could each be around 3.5 (Stubbs only being that much because it’s his third time, Brantley would actually be lucky to get this, as that’s what Heyward and Austin Jackson made their first time through with much better seasons), Scrabble between 1.5-2, and you can argue an average of about $1M per for Carrasco, Tomlin, Wood and Pestano. That puts us at $23M in arbitration if we let go of Marson, Herrmann, and Chris Perez. Which puts us at $73M before we do any free agent signings. We’re likely in the low 80s if we resign Perez (we shouldn’t). And that’s not factoring in the 10-12 guys you’d have to pay minimum salaries to at half a million per.

    I think the Indians can extend a QO to Ubaldo, who will likely decline it (Edwin Jackson got 4 years, $52M. Anibal Sanchez got 5/80. His value likely lies somewhere in there, so he’ll decline and I’ll be happy to not pay him that). They can likely re-sign Smitty and Kasmir for around the same amount of money you’d have to commit to Perez, let’s say Kaz at $8M and Smith at $4M. Opening rotation of Masty/Kluber*/McAllister*/Salazar*/Kaz. Bullpen righties are Carrasco, Vinnie, Smitty, Allen* and Shaw*. Lefties are Scrabble and someone else. Gomes* and Santana catch; with Swisher, Kip*, Asdrubal and Chiz* on the IF; Bourn, Brantley and Raburn in the outfield; and a bench of Stubbs, Aviles, Ramirez* and someone else (Wilson Betemit? Juan Uribe? Jason Giambi again?). The stars are the nine guys that would be minimum salary – making a combined $4.5M, and you can probably add $2M for whoever they get to take the two question marked spots. 50 (contracted now) + 23 (arby projection) + 14 (FA signing projection for Smith, Kaz and two question marks) and 4.5 (minimum guys) would put us at $91.5M. And that’s a somewhat conservative off-season not involving Chris Perez.

    If I’m right about the payroll being able to go up, then they’ll have enough money to perhaps sign a few flier-types (Wilson Betemit?) and a mid-level (~$5M) free agent. Perhaps. But the only way we’re making a big splash is by trading Asdrubal.