July 24, 2014

Back And Better Than Ever?

Jeremy SowersIndians’ Lefty Looks To Make Triumphant Return To Team In 2008

Saw this on Buster Olney’s ESPN.com blog this morning, and thought I’d pass it along.

Basically, Sowers talks about having to deal with disappointment and frustration for the first time in his young career. I respect the approach he’s taking to his demotion last year and his struggles both in the majors and in the minors.

Sowers has always seemed like a smart and even-keeled individual, and I’m pulling for him to make a full recovery both because it would be great for the team and because I’ve always pulled for him. But followers of baseball metrics will tell you that it may be an uphill battle for Sowers. Their biggest issue with Sowers is, quite frankly, the fact that his pitches don’t miss hitters’ bats. He’s not a dynamic sinker ball pitcher like Carmona or Westbrook, either. Sowers has a career 1.26 G/F ratio, compared to Carmona’s 3.00 or Westbrook’s 2.68. A pitcher who has low strike out numbers, doesn’t throw hard, and induces a lot of fly balls is normally not a recipe for success. But that being said, 2 of his top 3 comparables according to Baseball Prospectus are Tom Glavine and Mark Buehrle. Not the worst comparables to have. I think as long as Jeremy maintains his command, he can have a long career as a solid, above-average even, number 4 starter on a good team.

Anyway, for those of you who aren’t ESPN Insiders, here’s the text from Buster’s email with Sowers:

Jeremy Sowers went into the 2007 season projected to be in the middle of the Cleveland rotation, but he struggled early. Wrote Sowers an e-mail and asked him to diagnose how his season played out, and this is his response:

“For the most part, the life as a baseball player has been successful. Although I definitely got my stuff knocked around a time or two, failures were few and far between. Even when I began to play professional ball, my stops at A, AA, and AAA all led to great numbers. In fact, they improved as I climbed the ladder. “When I first received a call-up in 2006, my initial performances were not very good. However, my team was in three of the four games, and only once did I leave the game before the sixth inning. When my fifth and sixth starts turned into complete-game shutouts, I was able to utilize the confidence until the end of the season. “When I arrived to 2007 spring training, I was told I would be the No. 4 starter. Even though I earned the spot with successful pitching, the path to becoming a member of the rotation was fast and not extremely difficult (1 1/2 yrs of pro ball is a quick rise to the majors — obviously). “The season started out well, but after four or five weeks I had nothing to show for it. Every time I pitched well I seemed to get a no-decision. Being an idiot (in retrospect), I put too much weight on statistics. So when I began to hit a rough patch, my numbers became even worse. From there, I let everything compound. My mentality became more ‘please don’t get a hit,’ rather than ‘you’re not going to hit this.’ “At times I came very close to breaking out of my slump, but never quite got over the hump. It was like riding a roller coaster. I would have a couple good innings, then give up a 3-spot. I also felt like opponents were hitting about .800 with RISP and two outs. All season my pitching coach was telling me to ‘stick with it, things will change.’ Because I never failed for an extended period of time before, I did not take his words to heart. “I was demoted in the middle of June, which was expected. I was not mad by any means. I was still frustrated about the season, but I decided to make the most of the situation. Unfortunately, my failures continued. I think I was 0-4 after a month. The same formula stayed true. I would get very close to pitching a successful game, then give up four or five runs in an inning (mostly with two outs). “Then I had a start against Syracuse. Nothing special happened that day, nor did something profound ignite my confidence prior to the game. Somehow, someway (probably luck) I managed to strike out the side in the first inning. My pitches were perfect, and the hitters looked overmatched. Eight innings later, I finished a CG.

“After that game, I realized one thing to be true: ‘Confidence breeds more confidence.’ The only way to end a slump is to get a couple hits, or win a game or two. Personally I never believed in the ‘think confident’ approach, mostly because I never had to pitch without it.

“From that game on I pitched very well in Buffalo. I still had a couple rough starts, but I always bounced back. Eventually I got promoted back to Cleveland for a spot start against Seattle. Although the first inning was rough, the next four were great. I finally believed I was back to being myself. Unfortunately that was the last game I pitched during the season, so I never got an opportunity to build on the Seattle game. Still, I was happy to end the season at my peak.

“Another thing that helped me along the way was rationalization. If baseball was going bad for me, the other 99 percent was great. I was healthy, had a great family, and soon to be married (which I now am). I also realized I’m only 24, and already spent 180 days in the majors. What the hell was I complaining about?

“Every now and then I believe I need some humble pie. It’s simply too easy to complain, and it has a snowball effect. You have to play this game care-free and loose, not worrying about what’s wrong. The 2007 season was my most painful, but I am a much better person for it.”

“This offseason, I plan to simply work harder. Then be ready to battle in spring training for a spot in the rotation.””

Time Is Not On His Side

CC SabathiaIndians Holding Back On Years For Sabathia

Sometimes the writing on the wall is so obvious, it hurts. The writing on this wall was so bright it served as a blinding beacon. For the past year, I have been telling anyone who would listen that the main factor that is going to prevent CC Sabathia from re-signing with the Tribe was going to be the number of years, not the number of dollars.

Well, it appears that this is exactly what is happening. It’s a story that has gone by surprisingly quietly without a lot written about it, but GM Mark Shapiro has indeed made the Indians’ proposal to Sabathia and his agent. And wouldn’t you know it, the Sabathia camp is not happy at all with the number of years being offered.

I first noticed this story a few days ago in one of the “Hey, Hoynsie” articles in the Plain Dealer. In that article, a question was asked of Paul Hoynes about the Sabathia contract,

“Q: Hey, Hoynsie: What’s up with C.C. Sabathia? Has there been a formal offer made by the Tribe? – Mark Lasher, Bangor, Pa.

A: Hey, Mark: GM Mark Shapiro confirmed that the offer has been made, but would say nothing else. The length of the contract, rather than the money involved, is expected to be a problem. Sabathia’s agents believe he’s earned a lengthy deal (five to seven years), but it’s unlikely the Indians would be willing to make that kind of commitment. It’s doubtful these negotiations will reach any kind of conclusion until the start of the regular season.”

Without any kind of disclosure about the terms of the proposal, it’s hard to comment. Over at Baseball Prospectus, John Perrotto offered a little insight into the negotiations, writing,

“Cleveland left-hander C.C. Sabathia will have a tough decision in the upcoming months, as he must decide whether to re-sign with the Indians or become a free agent at the end of the 2008 season. The Indians are expected to hold firm at an offer of four years and an option, while Sabathia–who genuinely wants to stay in Cleveland–will likely look for a contract similar to what Santana is seeking should he be traded.”

For his part, Tim Dierkes over at mlbtraderumors.com speculates what the Indians’ max offer might be,

“Realistically, I think the Indians could top out around four years, $72MM plus an option for 2013 in their offer to Sabathia. Will Sabathia make that concession, or will he go for the free market and maybe get seven years, $140MM?”

In all honesty, I’m surprised this hasn’t been written about any more than it has. I really wish we knew for certain what the Indians’ official offer really is. If the Indians are offering 4 years, and Sabathia would sign for 5 years, it seems hard to believe that gap couldn’t be bridged. Taken at face value, I would expect the Indians to eventually back down and guarantee the 5th year of the deal. It’s hard to make an argument that Sabathia hasn’t earned it. But again, we are only speculating at this point. Until we know for sure the true dollar figures involved, we can’t draw a line in the sand on this issue. Patience will be a virtue on this topic it seems.

I’ll try to keep updating this story as more is learned and as time draws on. With pitchers and catchers due to report before too long, it would be nice to see this time used to make some headway in closing the gap between the two sides. Nobody wants this cloud hanging over the team all season. It will be a major distraction and will just be bad business for everyone involved.

Shapiro Already Talkin’ About The Hot Stove

Indians LogoPeralta To Stay At Shortstop

I talked a little earlier this week about some of the changes I thought we could expect to see in the 2008 version of the Tribe. Yesterday, Mark Shapiro spoke to the press about some of those changes. He pretty much talked about all the main points that I mentioned, but he was able to speak in greater depth, and he also implied that some of the assumptions made on this site were not accurate. He talked about the left field situation, Kenny Lofton, the 4th and 5th spots in the rotation, the closer role, the bullpen, and Cabrera and Peralta’s positions in 2008.

The most important thing to note is that Shapiro actually seems pretty content to go into 2008 with virtually the same team, if need be. Not that he shouldn’t be, for obvious reasons, but as Shapiro said,

”I think about (changes) all the time, but one of the greatest benefits of the way the team has performed is that I don’t need to fill spots this year. We have a unique situ ation in that we can be opportunistic in the offseason. If we are open-minded, opportunities will present themselves to us…We do not have a declining age issue, we play exceptionally well as a team, there’s still upside to many of our players and we have depth.

He mentioned that he was pleased with Borowski, Perez, Betancourt, and Lewis, but he was somewhat unsure what he would do with the 3 other bullpen spots. He also mentioned that the decision on whether or not to pick up the club’s option on Paul Byrd would solely be a baseball issue and not an HGH issue.

The 2 areas that surprised me the most involved left field and the infield. I had assumed that David Delucci would be moved one way or another, as he really didn’t pay off at all this season, but Shapiro seemed to indicate that Delucci would very much be an option in left field, saying,

”I think David Dellucci can play a role if he’s healthy. Jason Michaels also is an alternative, and Ben Francisco and Shin-Soo Choo also could be in the mix.”

It still seems to me that this is a rather pedestrian platoon of left fielders. I’ll be curious to see what Choo and Francisco can bring next year, but I still wouldn’t be surprised if the Indians go after another left fielder, although the pool of free agent left fielders is fairly thin. You can forget about Barry Bonds and the Reds have a team option on Adam Dunn (although I’m not sure Dunn would be a perfect fit for Shapiro’s style anyway). Cliff Floyd has a mutual option for next year and a 40 year old Luis Gonzalez would be less than ideal. So that leaves names like Ryan Klesko, Ricky Ledee, Terrence Long, Shannon Stewart, Preston Wilson, and Brad Wilkerson. None of those guys are really all that exciting, and I think this may be why Shapiro is more inclined to stick with what he’s got at LF already.

As for the infield, Shapiro made it abundantly clear that Casey Blake would be back at 3B and the team expects to work out a deal with Blake before he goes to arbitration. As a result, you can forget about moving Jhonny Peralta to third and Cabrera to short. Shapiro flat out said that Peralta will be our shortstop next year and that means Asdrubal Cabrera might as well settle in at 2B, although he needs to keep hitting or else Wedge may not hesitate to give Josh Barfield another shot at the starting job. It seems a tad unfortunate that our limited range defensively at SS is still going to be an issue next year. It will also be quite curious to see what happens with Andy Marte who will be out of options after spring training.

Also, for those of you wondering what will happen with Kenny Lofton, the prospects of his return sound less than optimistic.

”We haven’t addressed our free-agent decisions,” Shapiro said. ”But it was fun watching Kenny play. He engaged our fans, and it was good to see him play a meaningful role.”

In other words, thanks for the ride Kenny, but we’re looking to go in a different direction next year. Hey, who knows, maybe we’ll make a trade at the deadline next year to bring Lofton back for another run. Frankly, with our LF spot as up in the air as it is and with no plausible free agents to bring in who can make an immediate impact, I don’t necessarily see the harm in making Kenny an average contract offer and see what he says. If he’s willing to come back for a moderate price, I think it would definitely be worth it on every level.

Finally, Shapiro indicated that he expects to try to get CC Sabathia re-signed as quickly as possible, although he acknowledges that in reality, this is probably going to be a long process that may drag into the regular season.

”As far as C.C. goes, there’s not anyone who is stronger in wanting to stay here, and that’s after our best days and our worst days,” Shapiro said. ”But with the magnitude of his success, the question is whether there’s a business deal that can be struck with ownership. I think there’s a chance. It’s my job to put the strongest possible team on the field, and it’s hard to see how I could do that without C.C.”

All in all, we can expect a relatively slow off season. Stay tuned, though, as I’ll be trying to keep us all up to date on the shuffling of positions and any rumors and signings that may take place. Lets face it, at least this team is in a much better position and a much more optimistic mindset going into this offseason compared to where we were a year ago at this time.

2007 Cleveland Indians Wrap Up

Victor is sadWhat Have We Done To Deserve This Misery?

We had it. Story of our lives.

Up 3 games to 1, with our ace, the likely Cy Young award winner, pitching at home to send us back to the World Series…this time with home field advantage…this time playing a team we would have been favored to beat despite their historic hot streak…this time with a team built around pitching and timely hitting, the keys to October success in baseball.

So what happened? CC Sabathia came out and labored through 6 rough, rough innings, giving up 10 hits and 4 runs. Ok, that hurt, but hey, we thought, we’ve still got 2 more chances to win 1 freaking game and we still have our other stud, Fausto Carmona going. The same guy who in Game 2 of the ALDS against the vicious New York Yankee offense pitched 9 stellar innings, giving up just 1 run on 3 hits. No problem, right? Wrong. 2 innings, 6 hits, 4 walks, and 7 earned runs later, Fausto had pitched us out of the game, out of the series, and out of any legit hope of breaking the title drought.

“The shade is a tool, a device, a savior / See I try and look up to the sky / But my eyes burn / I think God is moving his tongue / There’s no crowds in the street / And no sun in my own summer” - Deftones, “My Own Summer”

I think that sums things up pretty nicely. Cleveland sports teams find refuge in the shade of mediocrity it seems, but once they try to step out into the sunlight of the big stage and Championships, we crash and burn. There’s no crowds in the street because we have nothing to celebrate. Clearly, no sun in the sky for Cleveland sports this year. And so, as the sun sets and winter comes around the corner, I must say goodbye to Cleveland for 2007. No more Indians game, I have no tickets for any remaining Browns games, and it’s probably unlikely that I’ll attend any Cavaliers games before 2008. So it’s time to look back one last time at the 2007 Cleveland Indians.

OuchDon’t Look Back In Anger

The 2007 season was a roller coaster ride of ups and downs to say the least. After 3 seasons of dreadful Aprils, this team actually came out of the gate attacking, posting a 14-8 record in the month. May showed no signs of slowing as the Tribe tore through the month with a 19-11 record, bringing their overall record to 33-19, good for a 3.5 game lead in the division on May 31st, A lead that would surge to 4.5 in early June. At that point, though, the bottom would drop out quickly and the team fell, HARD, going 15-13 in June and 12-14 in July. They saw their 4.5 game lead slide and transform into a 2 game deficit behind the Tigers. Fortunately for the Indians, the Tigers were unable to use the Tribe’s struggles to put some cushion in the lead. The farthest the Indians would ever trail the division this season was 2.5 games. Heading into August, the team seemed to be at an intersection with a choice to make. They could either continue to play .500 baseball or they could suck it up and make a final push to reclaim the division title that had eluded them for 6 years. Thankfully, they chose the latter, going on a big-time run in August and September (17-11 in August, 19-9 in September) to pull away from a fading Detroit. After a late September sweep of the Tigers in Jacobs Field, the division crown was inevitable, and on September 23rd, the Indians clinched their 7th AL Central title. All in all, the Indians spent 111 days in 1st place, finishing at 96-66 and 8 games ahead of the Detroit Tigers. The rest is, well , history.

It’s easy for me to sit here and say ‘well, if only the umpire wouldn’t have blown the Lofton call at 2nd base or if Skinner hadn’t held up Lofton at 3rd and we would have tied the game, things would have been different’, because I genuinely believe that. I think Skinner lost that game for us because he sucked the life out of our team and deflated everyone, while Boston and their fans got an enormous boost. I believe that Casey Blake doesn’t make that error at 3rd if the game is tied and doesn’t feel like he just lost us the game. I believe that Raffy the Righty doesn’t implode without that error. I believe all these things to be true. But, you know what? It doesn’t matter. We lost to a better team. Our Pythagorean W-L was 91-71, while Boston’s was 101-61. So, while we ended up 5 games better than we really were, Boston ended up 5 games worse than they really were. And that’s a big part of why we could jump out to a 3-1 series lead, but couldn’t win the 7 game series. They were simply a more powerful team, and they showed it by battering CC Sabathia and Fausto Carmona around for 4 of the 7 games.

I don’t know, maybe Manny was right. Maybe it’s not the end of the world. You try to maintain some perspective, that it’s “just a game”, but all the cliches in the world can’t make it hurt any less. This one was hard to swallow, and this wound will not heal for a very long time. All we can do is look ahead to what the future holds for our beloved team.

Pain and MiseryThe Future Is Not What It Used To Be

Brace yourselves. We’re all going to be hearing an awful lot the next couple days from the major media outlets how we should hold our heads high and how this season was still a great success, and blah blah blah. Forget that. In baseball, the future is fickle. Think about it. In 1997, after losing the World Series, did we really think it would be more than 10 years before we’d make it back? When we won the division in 2001, did we think it would be 6 years before we’d make the playoffs again? In a sport in which only 4 teams from each league makes the playoffs, tomorrow’s guarantee is as dull and toothless as a spoon. We play in a division with 3 of the best franchises in the American League (Cleveland, Detroit, Minnesota), and another Sux franchise which sneaks up on you every 10 years or so. And as long as the Red Sux and Yankees are spending 5 times what most other franchises are, you have to assume the wild card will continue to routinely come out of the AL East. This was our chance to win. How often can you expect to be up 3-1 in the ALCS? How often can you expect 4 performances like Byrd’s ALDS Game 4, Westbrook’s ALCS Game 3, Byrd’s ALCS Game 4, and Westbrook’s ALCS Game 7? How often can you expect to have a team hit .450 with 2 outs and runners in scoring position in the postseason? How often can you expect a plague to come down from the heavens to disrupt the opposing team? How often can you expect a team to hit into 13 double plays in a series? This thing was setup for us to win, and we just couldn’t grasp it. That’s why the frustration on the faces of the people in all these pictures is so tangible and real.

Regardless of the suffering, we must suck it up and try to do it all again next year. It’s the eternal mantra of the loser. So what will next year’s team look like? Well, a whole hell of a lot like this year’s, to be honest. Paul Byrd has a $7 million option which, prior to yesterday was expected to be picked up. However, now that this HGH story has broken wide open, I’m not so sure. We’ll have to wait and see. Expect the front 3 of the rotation to look the same, with CC Sabathia, Fausto Carmona, and Jake Westbrook. As for the last 2 rotation spots, I would speculate that rookie Aaron Laffey has a good chance of retaining one of the two spots. He’s earned it with the solid job he did down the stretch and in Game 6 of the ALCS. With the final rotation spot, I would expect Paul Byrd, Cliff Lee, Jeremy Sowers, and Adam Miller to all be fighting for it. The bullpen should also remain very familiar. Lefty and Righty Raffy’s will both be back, as will Jensen Lewis and Tom Mastny. Joe Borowski should be back, but don’t be shocked if the Indians shop around this off season and see who else is available to fight for the closer’s role. In the lineup, again, a lot should be similar. Trot Nixon probably won’t be back, neither will David Delucci. The team will have to decide whether they want to bring Kenny Lofton back for a full campaign with the team. My guess is that they will not. Which leaves Sizemore as the starting CF again and Gutierrez as the likely starting RF, although he needs to start hitting breaking pitches better or he will find himself on the bench as fast as he found his way on the field. I’ll get back to the LF role. Victor Martinez and Ryan Garko will both definitely be back at their respective positions. The rest of the infield is a bit up in the air. Don’t be shocked if the Indians try to get Jhonny Peralta, an obvious defensive liability at SS, to learn the 3B position this off season, which would allow the team to move Asdrubal Cabrera back to his natural SS position. If this happens, I would expect to see Josh Barfield given a chance to start the year at 2B again, but on a very short leash. Don’t be surprised if the team signs an insurance infielder this off season who can help hedge the Barfield bet. So what about Casey Blake, you ask? I think there’s a chance we see Casey back in the OF, filling the LF spot. Casey has a strong arm and was a decent enough outfielder. Other outfielder candidates will include Jason Michaels and Ben Francisco, and I would also bet the team again tries to find a mid-priced middle-talent OF in the offseason to platoon. Finally, Travis Hafner will be back at DH, for better or for worse. Lets hope that Travis can find himself this offseason and discover what it was that hindered him so strongly all season long.

The 2007 Cleveland Indians took us all for a ride, that was fun right until it wrecked in front of our eyes. It was an unpleasant way to finish the season, and will leave a sour taste in the mouths of everyone who loves this team, from the owner’s box to the front office to the managers and coaches to the players to the fans. Our brightest hope lies with the hunger for success inside the players. This is a young team, and a hungry team. They’re just not an experienced team and they faded when the stage got the largest and the lights got the brightest. There were a lot of lessons to be learned this year and a lot of knowledge to be gained. If these guys can capitalize and build on that foundation, there’s hope for next year. If not, we are doomed to watch our drought grow in size and weight over the coming years with heartbreak after heartbreak.

ALCS Game 6 Preview

ALCSALCS Game 6
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Fenway Park – Boston, Massachusetts
Fausto Carmona vs Curt Schilling
8:00 PM EST

I’m not going to break this thing down with any kind of statistical analysis or anything like that. Mostly, because none of it really matters at this point. All that matters is which pitcher steps up to the challenge and is able to deliver a performance as large as the stage on which this game will be played. What does Curt Schilling think about this?

“There’s always fear. I mean, I’m scared to death to go out and fail tomorrow. I’m terrified of letting my teammates down and the fan base down and this organization down because they’re counting on me to survive, and get past another day,” he said. “I’m scared to death to not do well, but I’m also very cognizant of the fact that fear is something that has always driven me, always pushed me.”

In other words, Schilling is ready for this. He was born for this. Nobody loves seeing themselves the center of attention more than Curt Schilling. And for his part, what does Carmona think about pitching tonight?

“I’ve got a lot of faith in myself and the club that we’re going to play a nice game and a good game Saturday. I hope we come out of this game victorious and I’m looking forward to my next start.”

So, if we’re to read this right, Carmona (he of the famous Fenway Meltdown last season and who looked absolutely terrified of Boston’s hitters in Game 2) is the confident one and Schilling (he of the 9-2 postseason record with a career 2.92 ERA and two World Series titles) is the scared one. Hmm, I’m not so sure about that. I think both men are saying the exact opposite of what they are really feeling and thinking inside. And that, combined with the fact that I can’t watch the game tonight, is why my prediction is not a happy one.

Boston takes this one 6-2 and extends the series to a mind-numbing seventh and deciding game tomorrow night. Cleveland is about to experience another dose of disappointment and heartbreak….Hey, if Schilling and Carmona can try reverse psychology, so can I….woe is me, woe are we.

A Little Perspective

Paul ByrdI’ve Got Your Perspective Right Here…

The Plain Dealer’s Bill Livingston wrote a nice piece this week about Paul Byrd and his reaction to Eric Wedge’s confidence in him. The article talks a little bit about how and why Byrd developed his old school windup style. It also talks about Byrd’s fearless approach to facing the Red Sox lineup. One line that really caught my eye was when Byrd said, in reference to Wedge’s decision to pitch him in Game 4 of the ALDS over 19 game winner CC Sabathia:

“The whole world wanted C.C. out on the mound, everybody but my mom, Eric Wedge, and my wife. I’ve always appreciated Eric’s loyalty. It’s not me to try to prove everybody wrong. I’d rather prove a few people right. He was one of them. You really start to get the most out of your players when you have that kind of atmosphere.”

I especially can appreciate the part about not proving everybody wrong, but rather, proving those who believe in you right. I think that’s the kind of perspective we all could use more of in our lives.

R.I.P. Jacob’s Field (1994-2007)

Jacob’s FieldProgressive Field To Open In 2008

Ok, so it’s still the same beautiful structure. But in what I can only describe as a tragically sad decision, the Cleveland Indians have sold the naming rights to Jacob’s Field to Progressive Insurance. In 2008, the Indians will play their games in….gulp….Progressive Field.

Hoynsie has the story in the Plain Dealer:

“Jacobs Field, the home of the Indians since 1994, will now be called Progressive Field.

The Indians have reached an agreement with Progressive Insurance for the naming rights of the 40,000-seat facility on the corner of Ontario Street and Carnegie Avenue, a source close to the Indians said Thursday. Progressive Insurance, a Cleveland-based company, is owned by millionaire/philanthropist Peter Lewis.

An announcement is expected to be made today. Terms of the deal were not released.”

Even though terms were not announced, expect the deal to be in the $2 million to $3 million per year range. Even though it’s really just semantics at the end of the day, I think this is a sad day in Indians’ history. Jacob’s Field, or The Jake as we fans have so lovingly called the building, has been an institution in recent Cleveland history. The name is engraved into us as a part of who we are.

I would gladly give up the name if it meant the ability to compete with the higher spending teams in baseball, but really, what is an extra $2.5 million going to do for the team? Allow them to sign more David Dellucci’s and Jason Michaels’s? Maybe bring in an aging veteran like Trot Nixon?

Well I say ‘no thank you’. The naming rights really illustrates the greedy nature of professional sports today. It’s an era where any little bump in the bottom line, no matter how small of a bump, is given credence over the history and traditions of the games we grew up loving.

So to the Dolan family, I say thank you for trashing one of the most special stadium names in all of baseball. And to Pete Lewis, I say good luck in getting me to give in to your millions of dollars…I refuse to call the stadium Progressive Field. And to my readers, I say get used to me using the name ‘Jacob’s Field’ or ‘The Jake’ to refer to the stadium. Make a mental note of this so you are not confused 5 years from now when I’m still talking about The Jake.

In summary, no, this is not the end of the world. We’ll get over it just like we got over the Gund changing to The Q. But for right now, it stings a little having to say goodbye to such a dear friend. And if the magic of The Jake is gone next season, we will all know who to blame and where to look…..as dumb as that sounds.

Jensen Lewis Loves ‘A Christmas Story’ Too

Jensen LewisIndians’ Reliever Talks All Things Christmas (Including Mariah Carey)

In case you missed it, the Cleveland Indians’ website featured a brief yet entertaining Q and A session with relief pitcher Jensen Lewis this week, in which he discussed his favorite Christmas artifacts.

Some of the highlights included Jensen professing his love for the greatest Christmas movie of all time (with all due respect to Christmas Vacation), “A Christmas Story”, as well as Jensen talking about his favorite Christmas song, which somehow turns out to be a Mariah Carey song. I don’t know, you try to figure that one out.

Anyway, it’s fun to also read about how Jensen is now able to be a better Santa now that he’s making real MLB money. Here are some highlights from the article:

MLB.com:What’s your favorite Christmas movie?

Lewis: “A Christmas Story.” I’m a huge, huge fan of that. You’ve got to watch it on Christmas Eve. It makes going to bed a little easier, knowing everybody’s happy in the end. And it was filmed in Cleveland, so there’s a little hometown flavor.

MLB.com: How about your favorite Christmas song?

Lewis: Actually, a good one — and this is going to be embarrassing — is Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You.”

MLB.com: I don’t know what to do with that information. What’s the best present you ever received?

Lewis: Probably Sega. The first year it came out, my brother and I played the original “Sonic the Hedgehog” game in the story, and we said we’d give up the rest of our Christmas presents for that. But my dad didn’t like video games, so he said, “I don’t think we’re going to do this.” We were praying to God, “Please, please bring a Sega for us.”

We were opening all our gifts and getting down to the end, and there were no big boxes left, and we were like, “All right, Santa, we don’t believe in you anymore.” But leave it to my mom to hide something. She brought it out from under the kitchen counter or somewhere. We opened it up and played the rest of the day for 12 hours straight. I think we beat the game in one day.

MLB.com: That’s very reminiscent of the Red Rider BB Gun gift from “A Christmas Story.” Now that you’ve got some of that big league money in your pocket, what kind of gift-giver will you be this year?

Lewis: I think I’ll be able to be more flexible. I won’t be as strapped. It gives you a little more calmness. You go into the offseason knowing you’re not going to be under the gun on a Minor League salary. It will be nice. I’ll be a good Santa this Christmas.”

CC Is About To Get Paid, Big Time

CC Is On FireBut Who Is Going To Pay Him?

Today, there is going to most likely be a lot hysteria over the release of the Mitchell Report. As for me, I honestly couldn’t care much less about the whole steroid thing. I don’t feel like talking about it. So I decided instead to focus on the Indians’ biggest task at hand right now….signing CC Sabathia to an extension.

GM Mark Shapiro has repeatedly stated that the team hopes to come to some kind of a resolution, one way or the other, by February. Prior to the GM’s Winter Meetings, there was a lot of talk about Shapiro being close to taking their proposal to the owner for approval, and that perhaps even the extension offer would be given to CC’s representation at the meetings. That proposal never happened (although Shapiro did meet with CC’s agent in Nashville, but only loose generalities were discussed), and all has been quiet now for a quite a while on the CC contract extension front.

Perhaps everyone is waiting to see what happens with Johan Santana. There isn’t much of a comparable market for a pitcher like Sabathia. Perhaps 2 of the closest comps are San Francisco’s Barry Zito and San Diego’s Jake Peavy.

Peavy, CC’s Cy Young counterpart in the National League, just signed a 3 year, $52 million extension with the Padres. Zito, the left handed Cy Young winner from 2002, signed a 7 year, $127 million deal with the Giants last year. So how, exactly, do all these pitchers match up to each other? Check out this table:
TableAll of these numbers are actually quite close to each other, particularly in age, seasons, and ERA. CC is in the middle in terms of age and seasons, but has the highest career ERA.

So what does all this really mean? Well, in a nutshell, the biggest numbers to look at is the New Contract Value Per Year column. You can bet Santana is going to go over $20 million per year based on this market. As for CC, well, I would guess that he fits right in at about that $18 million per year range. As I’ve said all along, though, the big issue is going to be the number of years. The Indians can afford to pay CC $18 million per year. But they won’t do it for 7 seasons like the Giants did with Zito. That’s just not going to happen.

The Indians would probably prefer to do what the Padres did, and go for a 3 year extension. 3 years, $55 million would probably be about what the Indians would like to offer. The thing is, though, there’s no way CC agrees to that deal. I can’t argue with that, either. He’d be foolish to sign such a short term deal right now. CC’s value has never been higher. He’s coming off his best season, a Cy Young award winning season. His agent, if doing his job properly, is going to make sure CC maximizes his worth right now.

The Indians have two things going for them. One, CC wants to be in Cleveland. In November, he told XM Radio “I’ve been an Indian my entire career. I grew up here, and I’ve been here since I was 17 years old, so I really can’t see myself leaving the organization. My agent is meeting with the team, and hopefully they can get something done real soon.” Two, there is a little bit of risk on CC’s part if he doesn’t sign an extension with the Indians right now. Had CC been a free agent this winter, there’s absolutely no way the Indians could have re-signed him. However, by being the only team that can negotiate with him right now, the Indians are at a decided advantage. If CC has a down year this season, or if he gets injured, has to have Tommy John surgery, anything like that….If anything bad happens, he will never get more money than he could right now. On the other hand, it would be hard for his ceiling to get much higher than it is right now, no matter how well he pitches this season (what I mean by this is that it’s hard to fathom a team going over $25 million for CC, so he is close to his max value right now as it is).

So risk vs reward is leaning slightly, and I mean slightly, on the risk side. All of this adds up to a bit of a perfect storm, where compromise on both sides seems to serve each side best. If the Indians can agree to do 5 years, and if CC can agree to settle around $18 million, I think a deal could be done for 5 years, in the $88 to $95 million range.

Obviously, this is still a LOT of money for the Indians organization. But they just signed Travis Hafner to a 4 year, $52 million extension, putting him at $13 per year. If you can pay Hafner $13 million, you can pay CC $18 million. Maybe the deal will end up being closer to a 4 year, $65 to $70 million range. The point is, the money is there, the incentive is there, and the talent is there. This is a deal that just might come together yet. I can tell you one thing, I’d rather be reading about Sabathia negotiations today than Mitchell Report revelations. Oh well.

Using Absurdity To Prove Absurdity

OmarWhat Do All These Numbers Really Mean?

One of the things that my Statistics professor at Ohio State always used to tell us has always really stuck with me. He always had this saying, “Beware of statistics, because once an individual has become aware of how to properly manipulate numbers, he can use them in any manner he pleases and can even prove to you that the earth is square.”

Now, I know that’s really just a load of hyperbole, but there is a point inside the saying. The point is, numbers are devious. There are literally hundreds of stastics that we can use to try to compare players in sports. What frequently happens is, people picks the numbers that prove their points, and leave the rest behind. They then pound those stats into everyone’s heads as though it were telling the whole story.

Some very, VERY smart statisticians have begun creating all sorts of metrics that they claim can be used to aid in comparisons of players across eras. They make some compelling arguments, and these numbers are a lot of fun to follow and to try to use. However, I sometimes wonder if these people aren’t just doing the same thing as has always been done…..using the stats that they deem relevant, to create these formulas. I tend to fall somewhere in the middle. I think all these new comparable metrics are a useful tool in analyzing players, but I also do not think they are to be relied on in any kind of vacuum.

All of this is to let you know upfront where I’m coming from on this. I saw something in Rob Neyer’s blog tonight that really grabbed my attention. In the post, Rob (one of my favorite baseball writers today) takes offense to an article in which a writer seemed to insinuate that Omar Vizquel is better than Ozzie Smith was. This was all done under the question of whether or not Omar is Hall Of Fame worthy. Well, Rob goes off, writing,

” I have to say, this is a new one on me. I’ve heard people suggest that Omar Vizquel is comparable to Ozzie Smith. But Dobrow is saying that Vizquel is better.

According to Win Shares and Baseball Prospectus’s WARP3, he’s not. Ozzie beats Omar in career Win Shares, 327 to 259; in WARP3 (Wins Above Replacement Player) he’s got him, 139 to 108. So it’s not close, at least according to these two reputable objective methods for evaluating a player’s overall value.

Granted, most methods suggest that Vizquel, all those Gold Gloves aside, has not been a great defensive shortstop. A good one, yes. But not a great one. But let’s say all the methods are somehow missing the truth. Let’s say Vizquel really was a great shortstop. Does that necessarily mean he was Smith’s equal?

Of course it doesn’t. Ozzie Smith defines greatness at shortstop, just as Willie Mays defined greatness in center field and Bill Mazeroski defined greatness at second base. Sure, other great center fielders and second basemen have come alone since Mays and Maz, but it does not necessarily follow that their successors were as great. Frankly, the evidence suggesting that Vizquel was as great as Ozzie simply does not exist. Or if it does, no one’s yet found it.

So let’s agree that Vizquel, at best, was a great shortstop but not as great as Smith. Does he make up for it with the bat? Was he, as Dobrow says, “considerably better offensively”?

Again, there simply isn’t any evidence to suggest that’s the case. In terms of raw batting stats, Vizquel comes out ahead with a .340 on-base percentage and .357 slugging percentage, compared to Ozzie’s .337 and .328.

But those numbers don’t account for their home ballparks or their eras. When you do that, using OPS+, Ozzie comes up 13 percent worse than league average and Vizquel 16 percent worse. And we’ve not even mentioned baserunning. Ozzie stole 548 bases in his career; Vizquel’s stolen 380 and has been caught more times than Ozzie was.”

Ok, fine, Rob doesn’t think Omar is of the same caliber as Ozzie Smith was. That’s fine, it’s his opinion. I watched Omar play every day for 11 seasons, whereas I barely remember Ozzie Smith playing, mostly because I almost NEVER saw him play except for the playoffs and All-Star games (pre-interleague play and pre-ESPN in my household). So I’m not qualified to make any kind of comparison.

But what I take exception to is Rob’s claim that, “Granted, most methods suggest that Vizquel, all those Gold Gloves aside, has not been a great defensive shortstop. A good one, yes. But not a great one.”, but he then goes on to say “Ozzie Smith defines greatness at shortstop, just as Willie Mays defined greatness in center field and Bill Mazeroski defined greatness at second base. Sure, other great center fielders and second basemen have come alone since Mays and Maz, but it does not necessarily follow that their successors were as great. Frankly, the evidence suggesting that Vizquel was as great as Ozzie simply does not exist. Or if it does, no one’s yet found it.”

Oh really, Rob? How can you go from at first trying to say that most statistical methods suggest Omar was not a great defensive players (just absurd) and then using a completely baseless claim that Ozzie “defined” greatness just Willie Mays “defined” greatness in CF. What does that even mean?? How can you hop so effortlessly from objectivity to subjectivity?  For someone like myself, Omar DOES define greatness at SS. He is easily the greatest defensive player I have ever seen with my own eyes. Does my subjective view of Omar trump your subjective view of Ozzie? No. And that’s the point. That’s why that whole paragraph was such a lousy piece of writing in terms of trying to prove ANYTHING.

The other paragraph that really bothered me was, “But those numbers don’t account for their home ballparks or their eras. When you do that, using OPS+, Ozzie comes up 13 percent worse than league average and Vizquel 16 percent worse.” Well, gee, wouldn’t you expect this in the steroid era that Vizquel played through? I don’t know for a fact that Omar was clean, but I’ve never heard anyone suggest otherwise, and I’ve never seen anything about Omar to suggest otherwise. So is it really fair to compare Omar’s reltive batting average compared to a bunch of other players who were illegally increasing their offensive production? Hardly. You could make a VERY compelling argument that Omar putting up better batting statistics than Ozzie in an era in which pitchers were juicing up to stay strong for every start is more impressive than any other comperative method.

Look, I don’t know if Omar was better than Ozzie. My only point is that we should use caution when spouting stats, figures, and opinions. You might end up trying to prove that the earth is square, on in this case, that Omar Vizquel was not a great defensive player. If you’ve ever seen Vizquel play the position, you would know precisely how ridiculous that kind of claim really is. And in this writer’s opinion, I see no reason why Omar is not Hall of Fame worthy.

When Sports Can Really Matter

Wahoo is CryingMy grandfather passed away today.

I debated back and forth as to whether I wanted to write this post. It initially felt like a hollow gesture. But the more I sat here, the more I felt that it was something I wanted to write. After all, isn’t that what blogs are all about….expressing our feelings through a connected platform by which others can share in your thoughts and opinions? Well, this one is for my Grandpa.

Some people will never get it. We’ve all been questioned many times before….why do we care so much about sports? It’s just a game. It’s not the end of the world. There’s always next year.

And all those are true on the surface. Yes, it’s a game. Yes, tomorrow will still come when our team loses that heartbreaker. But if you dare to dig deeper, you can find that sports can often hold a deeper meaning and serve a deeper purpose in our lives. Sports can connect us to people in our lives. They can serve as a bond between us and those we care most about.

My grandpa was a huge Cleveland Indians fan. It was a legacy that he passed on to my dad, and my dad in turn passed it on to me and my brother and my sister. The bond connected me to my grandpa. It was one of the things that my grandpa would talk to me about almost every time I saw him. He would always ask me things like “So, do you think the Indians can catch the Tigers this year?” or “So what do you think of the Tribe’s chances in the playoffs?” My grandpa loved collecting the Indians bobble heads. He grew up with names like Feller and Lemon and Doby and Calavito and Boudreau, continued through names like Thornton and Swindell and Carter and Snyder, through Lofton and Belle and Baerga and Vizquel and Nagy. The names on the back never mattered quite as much as the name on the front of the jersey. And that’s why he enjoyed the bobble heads of guys like Sabathia and Sizemore and Martinez and Hafner just the same.

And even when later on, as his eyesight began to fail him, and he could no longer watch the games on TV, my grandpa still faithfully listened to Hamilton and Hegan call the games on the radio. It was more than a simple dedication to a meaningless game. It represented so much more. To me, I saw this game as hope. As the Indians went on a wild ride to the Division Title and within 1 game of the World Series, at times I couldn’t help but think about this through the scope of this generational bond from my Grandpa to my Dad to myself. Had the Indians won the World Series, the first person I would have called would have been my Dad. And I would have been so excited to see my gtrandpa the next time and to say to him, “Well, they finally did it!”

It wouldn’t have been just about a simple game. It would have been about the pride and elation that was instilled in me from the generations of this family who came before me. It would have been about that connected feeling of unity within my family. Sure, maybe sometimes I care a little too much about sports. But other times, sports has time and again shown it’s healing powers.

My memories of my grandpa will extend far beyond sports. I will always remember him when I look at my coin collection, a hobby he passed on to me. I will remember spending the night at my grandparents’ house, and the next morning my grandpa would always take me out for breakfast at his favorite diner, and he would always tell me that they had a chocolate cow in the back who would make the chocolate milk. I will remember the time my grandpa took me fishing. That’s the thing about those we love. They always live on in our memories. But there’s one other way my grandpa will always live on, and that’s through the Cleveland Indians. Every summer, through every big victory the franchise experiences, the memory of my Grandpa will be right there with them. And there’s just something comforting about that thought. It may not heal the sadness right now, but that day when the Indians finally win the World Series again, you can bet I’ll raise a glass for my Grandpa and think to myself “Well, grandpa, they finally did it!”

New (Old) Look Tribe

New Uniforms for 20082008 Brings New Alternative Uniforms

Even if the Tribe fields almost the same team in ’08, they will still look different, yet familiar, on the field. The Indians unveiled their new alternative uniforms for 2008, as they have dropped the old vest look and have moved to a retro, throw-back style uniform.

Call me crazy, but I kinda like them. There was a lot of talk about the offensive (depending on who you ask) nature of Chief Wahoo in the days leading up to the conclusion of the ALCS. I have pretty much come to terms with the fact that the Indians will probably do away with Chief Wahoo sometime in my lifetime. I think using a retro look is a nice way to embrace the history of the team without using Chief Wahoo.

The vest look that the Indians brought out in 2002 was a designed step in the team distancing itself from the Wahoo logo. I personally don’t know how I feel about it. I think it seems a little excessively ‘PC’ and I don’t think the logo is so inherently and overtly racist that it MUST go (although I will admit, the bright red skin of the logo is of questionable taste). Regardless, I don’t want this to be a political blog. My whole point in bringing this up is that I think the team is definitely searching for alternatives to using the Wahoo logo, and I think these retro uniforms are a nice start.

The new uniforms are described as:

“A crème-colored tone, block “Indians” lettering on the front chest, Chief Wahoo logo on the left sleeve and dark navy blue cap with a vintage block “C” highlight the new uniform.

The block lettering harkens back to the 1960s, the coloring is similar to that of the late 1940s and the block “C” is reminiscent of the early 1900s.

And in keeping with the old-school approach, the alternate uniforms will not include a player’s name on the back.”

One interesting thing to note is that Mark Shapiro evidently had a hand in the design, and was involved in the decision to go without a name on the back. For his part, Shapiro said of the new uniforms,

“They are uniforms we think are reflective of our team’s personality. They are throwback uniforms, and we have a throwback team, to some extent.”

The alternative jerseys will be worn on opening day, home weekend games (Saturdays and Sundays), and home holiday games. The Indians regular jerseys, including the Chief Wahoo logo, will continue to be used on all other days.

Cy Young Returns To Cleveland

Cy Young AwardC.C. Sabathia Takes Home AL’s Top Pitcher Award

Cleveland Indians’ starting pitcher C.C. Sabathia has won the American League Cy Young Award. The Cy Young marks the third major award taken home by the Tribe this offseason, following the Executive of the Year Award (Mark Shapiro) and the American League Gold Glove Award (Grady Sizemore). This is just the second Cy Young to ever be won by an Indians’ pitcher, the first since Gaylord Perry won it back in 1972.

There were some questions about Grady Sizemore’s merits in winning the Gold Glove award, but there will be few who will gripe about C.C.’s award. The big lefty had simply a dominating regular season this year, going 19-7 with a 3.21 ERA. He struck out 209 batters while walking only 37 in 241 innings pitched. He had 4 complete games and 1 shutout. His WHIP was 1.14. He was selected to his third All-Star game. All in all, this was the best year in an already solid career for C.C., as he posted career bests in Wins, ERA, innings pitched, strikeouts, walks, WHIP, and number of starts.

The other candidates for the award were Josh Beckett of the Red Sox (20-7, 3.27 ERA, 194 strikeouts, 40 walks, 200.7 innings pitched) and John Lackey of the Angels (19-9, 3.01 ERA, 179 strikeouts, 52 walks, 224.0 innings pitched). Looking at the numbers, it’s easy to see why C.C. was given the nod. Mainly, you can look at strikeouts to walks and innings pitched. As Rick at Halftime Adjustments predicted earlier in the day,

“What might push the vote toward C.C. is the number of innings he pitched. Ironically, that may have hurt the big guy in the postseason, but should win him the award for the year.”

And it appears that’s exactly what happened. Again, congrats are in order for a member of the Cleveland Indians family. Congrats to C.C. on an award much deserved, and here’s to hoping Mark Shapiro and Chris Antonetti, along with the Dolan family, can figure out something creative to keep the big fella in Cleveland for the rest of his career so we can see a couple more of these Cy Youngs in the future.

More Hardware For The Tribe

Grady SizemoreGrady Sizemore Collects Gold Glove Award

In a somewhat surprising result, Cleveland Indians’ centerfielder Grady Sizemore has won a Rawlings American League Gold Glove Award, given annually to the best defensive player at each position, as voted on by managers and coaches for each team. The other 2 outfield Gold Gloves in the American League went to Seattle Mariners’ Ichiro Suzuki and the Minnesota Twins’ Torii Hunter.

The award will probably be acknowledged by analysts and pundits as a bit of a surprise and maybe even somewhat unwaranted. But anyone who watched Sizemore play as often as we Indians fans have knows what an elite defensive player Grady can be. He made more than his fair share of spectacular diving catches, creating outs in the gaps, and preventing runs. He also made the routine plays. That level of consistency yielded only 2 errors in 405 chances (.995 fielding percentage) this season.

Like I said, though. Be ready Tribe fans for the onslaught of negative feedback Sizemore will receive for winning this award. In the trendy age of defensive metrics (most of which I do believe in), the fact is that Grady Sizemore is probably not one of the three best defensive outfielders in baseball. Already ESPN’s Rob Neyer has sneered at Sizemore winning this award, saying:

“And the outfield? It’s another year, which means more awards for Ichiro and Torii Hunter. So they win as repeaters, and Grady Sizemore wins because he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated. It’s a shame the voters didn’t realize just how well Coco Crisp and Curtis Granderson were playing this year.”

I wish Rob would go in a little bit more detail as to the reasons he feels Sizemore is unfit to win this award. Regardless of what anyone says, and I think the SI cover is a shallow excuse in this case,  I’m happy for Grady and I think he deserves the award. They say the numbers don’t lie, but they also say seeing is believing, and I’m sure I don’t watch as much baseball as Rob Neyer does, but I can tell you that I have not seen 3 outfielders in the American League play better defense than Grady Sizemore this season.

Better Than The Rest

GM Mark ShapiroMark Shapiro Wins Executive Of The Year Again

For the second time in three years, Cleveland Indians Geneal Manager Mark Shapiro has been named Sporting News Executive Of The Year. In a vote amongst his peers, Shapiro received 13 of 47 votes. Second place went to Colorado Rockies GM Dan O’Dowd, who received 11 votes.

It’s not hard to understand why Shapiro won this award yet again. Look at the facts…The Indians payroll was 23rd largest in baseball, the team was able to bring up key players from the minors to contribute to the division title, the Kenny Lofton deal was significant in solidifying the outfield, the team won 96 games and finished tied with Boston (2nd highest payroll in baseball) for the best record in baseball, the team won its 7th AL Central title, and they eliminated the team with the highest payroll in all basebal, the New York Yankees, in four games in the divisional round before finally succumbing to the overpowering eventual World Series Champion Boston Red Sox.

“There’s not one moment in the season that stands out,” Shapiro said. “I just remember standing in the locker room after we clinched the division and thinking how many games we had to win to get to that point. Then I looked around at all the different players celebrating and knew we’d done it with people we believed in and didn’t have to compromise those beliefs in any way.

It’s a collective achievement. There are so many people who contributed – coaches, scouts and an assistant general manager [Chris Antonetti] who is more like a co-general manager. Hopefully, we can take some of this hardware and exchange it for the kind we can wear on our fingers someday.”

This award just goes to further emphasize what I was saying last week about the Indians’ front office organization. It is validation for the amazing job this collective group of individuals have done in creating a team that competes hard, wins games, and is a team we can all take pride in. Congrats to Mark Shapiro and everyone else in the Indians front office. You all deserve this award.

Thanks, But No Thanks

Chris AntonettiAssistant GM Chris Antonetti To Stay With Club

For the past few years, the Indians’ roster has gone through a lot of changes. The outfield in particular has been a revolving door, Casey Blake has played every position practically except for pitcher and catcher, we’ve seen 3B go from Boone to Marte to Blake, we’ve seen 2B go from Belliard to Barfield to Cabrera, we’ve seen first base go from Broussard to Perez to Blake to Garko. The one constant behind all the shuffling has been the steadfast resolution of the Tribe’s trinity of minds, Manager Eric Wedge, Assistant General Manager Chris Antonetti, and General Manager Mark Shapiro. Despite my many moments of doubt, these guys have simply delivered on a product that is fun to watch, works hard, and plays right. The success that is only deserving to follow that formula finally started coming through this season, after a couple years of promise and unmet potential. And all throughout the past couple seasons, I have had a nagging worry.

You see, the Indians under Shapiro and Antonetti have built the franchise into one of the best top to bottom systems in all of the majors. They have kept the minor leagues stocked, brought in some cost efficient veteran help when needed, and leaned on home grown players to lead the way on the field. Organizations like Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America have consistently ranked the Indians organization in the top 10 over the past 5 years. So what has had me worried, you ask? I have been worried that another team was going to pluck away our secret weapon, Chris Antonetti.

I remember back in 2003 reading about our young 28 year old assistant GM…the guy they called a computer guy and a stats geek. I remember him talking about the business plan behind letting Jim Thome go, and how he had a computer filled with stats and models and plans and graphs showing the ways it made little business sense to sign Thome to a long term deal for the dollars he was asking. It’s been that kind of brilliant foresight, analysis, and emotionally vacant managing that has shrewdly led the Indians to where they are today.

This week, the rumors were louder than ever. The St. Louis Cardinals were going to offer their GM job to Chris Antonetti. But then something bizarre went down. Antonetti suddenly withdrew his name from consideration for the job. What happened? Well, according to Peter Gammons in his blog this week,

“It appeared Antonetti was leaning toward moving to St. Louis until Indians owner Paul Dolan stepped up, defined the succession process under which Mark Shapiro will eventually be the club president and Antonetti the GM and made other promises.”

I can honestly think of no better news than this. I am absolutely thrilled at the prospect of being to able to keep Shapiro and Antonetti both in the Indians’ family for a very long time to come. Just earlier this year, the Indians signed Antonetti to an extension through 2011, so who knows what was all promised to keep him in town, but I’m happy it went down this way. Evidently, so is Antonetti, saying,

“I am very fortunate to be in a great personal and professional situation in Cleveland. After conversations with Mark and Paul Dolan, I am very comfortable with my current position and future with the Indians. I feel privileged to have been considered for the opportunity in St. Louis.”

As a fan, I feel comfortable with Antonetti’s position and future within the organization as well. As long as these 2 (Shapiro and Antonetti) are the major forces behind deciding the shape and direction of this franchise, I expect nothing but further successes.