August 26, 2014

Chris Perez discusses his time in Cleveland

Josmil Pinto, Chris Perez

Lucky’s Café in Tremont is so damn good that it’s all Chris Perez misses about his time in Cleveland. In an interview with Cleveland.com’s Zach Meisel, Perez, the former Tribe closer, discusses his life with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the way his much-discussed tenure ended with the Cleveland Indians.

It ended a lot better than it started, team-wise. What we were able to do last year was great. Personally, I didn’t pitch the way I wanted to the last two months of my time there, but overall, I gave it everything I had almost every time I went out there and for the most part, I did my job. I had a good time doing it. I have a couple good memories, but at the same time, there was a lot of turnover with coaches, pitching coaches, managers. It wasn’t really stable. I think for the most part, I had a good time there, but it ended on a bad note for me, but overall for the team, it was great. So, it was fine. Things worked out for me. I had a couple good years there. They gave me the chance to close and I established myself. Hopefully it’ll keep me in the league longer because of that.

Perez added that he’s grateful for getting to the postseason in 2013—waving towels, an amped crowd, a culture change—and was glad that his mechanics didn’t cost the Tribe any crucial wins during that final 10-game stretch. In a bit of a weird move, Perez mentioned that the only players he cares to see are Josh Tomlin, Justin Masterson and “maybe” Cody Allen—he has nothing to say to the coaching staff.

The entire interview is well worth the read. The Tribe visits the Dodgers for a three-game series, set to kick off on Monday night. With the Dodgers, Perez is 0-3 with one save and 26 strikeouts over 27 innings.

(AP Photo/Jim Mone)

The 2013 free agent closer class and why you “don’t pay for saves”

photo1I am a Fantasy Baseball player. I love the game. Have been playing for 25 years. I am in two leagues (one being a daily lineup change league), read all of the articles, am dialed into all of the prospects. The more information you can consume, the better the chances you have to succeed. Heck I even listen Fantasy Baseball podcasts (yes, I have issues).

Though he isn’t a part of it anymore, ESPN’s Fantasy Focus Baseball Podcast used to be hosted by “The Talented Mr. Roto” himself, Matthew Berry. You know him as a Football guy, but he has plenty of Baseball opinions as well. For years on the podcast, Berry lived by one adage – “don’t pay for saves.” His view was that wasting high draft picks/big auction money on a closer is a gigantic waste. “You can always find guys who save games later” he would say. And you know something, he was NEVER wrong. [Read more...]

The Top Five Tribe Bullpens of the Last 20 Years

Bullpen-Mafia

Which, if any, late-inning units topped the Bullpen Mafia?

No portion of a Major League Baseball team’s roster experiences more in the way of volatility than a bullpen. One year you think you have it perfect, the next, the same guys look like they don’t belong in the same roles. Sometimes its injury; sometimes its just plain ineffectiveness. But year to year, the ultimate success rate of a bullpen is close to impossible to predict.

[Read more...]

New Dodger Chris Perez on Indians: ‘No hard feelings’

Chris PerezThe biggest change for the Indians this offseason is in the bullpen, with turnover related to 45% of the team’s relief appearances from a year ago.

The most recognizable departure, of course, is former closer Chris Perez. He was quickly released on Oct. 31 and was signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Dec. 21.

In comments to Ken Gurnick, oft-criticized1 Dodgers beat writer for MLB.com, Perez discusses his feelings toward the Indians, this offseason and his 2013 injuries. Here are the interesting quotes from this Spring Training report:

He said — and he’s shown so far in a few impressive bullpen sessions — that he’s healthy.

“Last year was a learning experience, and I learned I can’t pitch through [injuries],” Perez said. “I felt I had to stay out there. I feel a lot better now. I feel I can pitch back to that [All-Star] level. But I’ve still got to show it. I’m excited for the games to start. I’ve got a little chip on my shoulder. I’ve got something to prove.”

He even thanked the Indians for releasing him quickly, giving him extra time to find a new home.

“No hard feelings,” he said. “I understand why they did what they did. They could have non-tendered me much later.”

Perez, who turns 29 in July, had a 3.73 ERA in his final three seasons with the Tribe. His best season was 2010 where he saved only 27 games, but had a 1.71 ERA. It’s certainly possible he could revert to that form — or, much more likely, the production of a decent middle reliever.

Also this offseason, Joe Smith signed with the Los Angeles Angels and Matt Albers signed with the Houston Astros.

To replace this lost production, the Indians have most notably signed new closer John Axford. They traded away Drew Stubbs for lefty Josh Outman. They’ve also reached small deals with a number of other relievers, including David Aardsma, Scott Atchison, Matt Capps and Mike Zagurski.

[Related: The Diff: Reviewing Indians pitching moves this offseason]

Photo: John Kuntz / The Plain Dealer

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Footnotes:

  1. If you recall, Gurnick was the one Hall of Fame voter who selected Jack Morris and no one else. []

MLB News: Chris Perez signs with Los Angeles Dodgers

Former Indians closer Chris Perez has reportedly reached a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Los Angeles Times’ Dylan Hernandez first reported the story late on Sunday night. Terms of the deal still have not been reported.

Perez, 28, was released by the Indians back on Oct. 31. He earned $7.3 million in 2013 and was expected to make about $9 million if retained. That’s what made his release a near no-brainer after his disastrous season.

Last year, along with the drug charges and his media blackout, Perez finished with a 4.33 ERA in 54 games. After a breakout 1.71 ERA back in 2010, he regressed every season since and became a major target of Cleveland fans. The Indians have since signed veteran reliever John Axford to take over the closing duties in 2014.

In Los Angeles, the enigmatic Perez will likely join their middle relieving corps. Their closer is dominant youngster Kenley Jansen and they signed setup man Brian Wilson to a one-year $10 million deal. The one-year contract for Perez could enable him to re-establish his free agency value for next season, if he can get his control back together in the National League.

[Related: The good, the bad, & the ugly – The life & times of Chris Perez in Cleveland]

John Axford – A Calculated Risk

John AxfordNot everyone who reads this site is on Twitter. I wouldn’t even dare put a percentage of Wahoo backers who actually engage on Twitter, but it is still a good barometer on the pulse of the fan base. Over the weekend, I noticed a lot of angst amongst Tribe fans after the winter meetings ended without any sort of big roster movement. Sorry, I don’t count adding AAA roster fillers David Cooper and David Adams as needle movers.

However, as I pointed out on Twitter, everyone need to take a deep breath and relax. Think back to last year at this time. Nick Swisher was still more than a week away from becoming an Indian. His actual contract wasn’t signed until January 3. Michael Bourn didn’t join the wigwam until a few days before Spring Training in February. Left-handed starter Scott Kazmir didn’t sign his minor league deal with the Tribe until December 21st of 2012. Even noted bust Brett Myers hadn’t joined the team until after the first of the year. Mark Reynolds’s one-year, $6 million deal was inked December 18. [Read more...]

MLB Rumors: Indians interested in closer Grant Balfour

The Cleveland Indians have talked to free agent  closer Grant Balfour, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports.

The Tribe recently parted ways with closer Chris Perez and has been linked to new potential closers for the 2014 season. The Austrailian Balfour has also reportedly been drawing interest from the Seattle Mariners, Detroit Tigers, New York Yankees, Colorado Rockies, Los Angeles Angels and his former team, the Tampa Bay Rays.

Balfour registered a 2.59 ERA and 72/27 K/BB ratio in 62 2/3 innings this past season for the Athletics, saving 38 games. The 35-year old has thrown at least 55 innings every season since 2008, and has struck out 514 batters through 473 career innings.

Per ESPN’s Buster Olney, Perez is on hand in Orlando for the MLB winter meetings, taking in meetings face-to-face rather than sending representation.

[Related: MLB News: Indians sign free agent first baseman David Cooper]

Scott Raab on the Browns beating the Ravens, Chris Perez and Chris Grant’s future – WFNY Podcast – 2013-11-04

WFNY Podcast LogoScott Raab ended this week’s podcast telling everyone to go to the dentist, don’t do drugs and stay in school. You should listen all the way to the end to see how we got there. As per usual, here’s the email I sent Scott last night.

—————

They beat the Ravens. It was a “proof of parity” game for the Browns. The Cleveland Browns with Jason Campbell are no longer defying the rules of parity in the NFL! There’s nothing like going into a bye week with a win. Love it. Love being consistently mediocre with a chance to win. I hate myself for loving it as much as I do.

Farewell Chris Perez. There was a lot of talk about Chris Perez’ legacy this week in Cleveland and it seems like a waste of breath. I supported Chris Perez talking when he was in Cleveland because I kind of like it when athletes don’t shy away from saying something real as opposed to a cookie-cutter phrase. [Read more...]

The good, the bad, & the ugly – The life & times of Chris Perez in Cleveland

Chris PerezAh Chris Perez…..Pure Rage…..The Beard…..The Long Hair…..The games in which he fired out a raucous yell after closing out a save……

The blown saves…..the 2012 mid-season strange but sadly true statements about ownership and the lack of fan support……the Marijuana bust……the media blackout……the late season slump that nearly cost the Indians a playoff spot…..

We ran the gamut didn’t we, CP?

It all came to an end rather quietly yesterday afternoon as the Indians gave Perez his release, making him a free agent. They held his rights for one more arbitration eligible season, but despite his lackluster 2013 performance, CP was going to receive around $9 million. The Tribe just was not going to pony that up for a closer in this market, especially one that lost his job in September and was as disliked by the fan base as any local player in recent memory. GM Chris Antonetti didn’t even wait. They released Perez the first possible time they could – the day after the World Series. [Read more...]

2013 Indians in Review: The Bullpen

ChickenThe Indians wild ride has come to an end. The 2013 season was one that nobody expected. A 96 loss team turned into a 92 win club that advanced to the playoffs for the first time since 2007. GM Chris Antonetti and Manager Terry Francona helped changed the culture of the organization and has our baseball team on the rise. There is a buzz in the city about the Indians again. It was a season to remember with so many great moments and the arrival of some new fan favorites.  

Each day this week, we will look back at a different portion of the club and see where we are today, a plan for 2014, and so on. We began with the starting rotation, and now we move onto the relievers. [Read more...]

Early thoughts on the 2014 Indians: WFNY Roundtable

Following Wednesday’s AL Wild Card loss to Tampa Bay, the WFNY staff was still giddy about the Cleveland Indians’ 2013 season. But, some were already not as optimistic about the picture for 2014. Here’s another look inside the WFNY email thread to see what we were talking about yesterday with regards to the Tribe’s future.

WFNY_roundtable

Jacob: From 1995-2012, 58 MLB teams had .600+ records in 1-run games. Of those 58 teams, 44 regressed the following season: 75.9% of teams. In total, those 58 teams regressed by an average of 5.8 wins/162 games the following season.

Sure, that’s probably just regular regression to the mean for good teams anyway, but still notable. I don’t think winning 1-run games is a skill however, unless you have Mariano Rivera. The Indians went 30-17 (.638) in one-run games this season, second in baseball to the Yankees: 30-16 (.652). Both could be prime candidates for 2014 regression. [Read more...]

Despite the loss, this was a game Cleveland needed

Tribe Pano Smaller

Last night’s Wild Card playoff was a game this city desperately needed. No, one game is most assuredly not “enough.” No, I’m not satisfied that the Indians peed down their leg with runners on base last night.1 All the same, last night was a game that this city needed and it was a game that the team needed. As I said yesterday, this city has been doing a lot of bickering and in-fighting over the years since LeBron James left town and took all of Cleveland’s playoff hopes with him. What was left was a lot of self-loathing, bitterness and negativity.2 It’s been wearing on this city’s fans and filtering to the players too. With those things in mind, I’m elated with the fact that Cleveland got at least one playoff game so the city could explode positively for a night.

It was absolutely electric, except that’s something everyone says. It was more than electric. The pride, excitement, and nearly palpable effort by Clevelanders last night to will their team to victory was everything we all remember as kids growing up with the 90′s Tribe. It was another taste for those of us in this age bracket, but it was even more important for so many people who hadn’t seen it before or were too young to remember. But that’s just the fans. It was also imperative for Cleveland Indians players to see it. [Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. I’ll leave the real recap work to the experts. []
  2. Some justified and some probably a bit over-the-top. []

The Diff: Playoff stats research for the Cleveland Indians

The Diff is your weekly WFNY look into the amazing world of sports statistics. For a complete log of articles, click this link. Last week, I recapped some stats from the Indians’ turnaround 2013 regular season. Today, I’m taking stats research questions from my WFNY colleagues with the Wild Card game tonight.

The Diff

Kirk: “How about how often the best team wins it all in baseball? Wild card vs. top division winner success.”

That’s a great question, Kirk. This week, I was planning to write about MLB payrolls, but then realized that was too depressing of a topic. If payrolls don’t matter anyway, then have the low-to-medium-sized payroll Indians struggled for much of the last decade? Either way, my answer to this: The MLB playoffs are an absolute crap-shoot, even despite the incredible payroll imbalance. [Read more...]

Wild Card Questions: WFNY Tribe Roundtable

We’re just one day away from playoff baseball in Cleveland again! In light of that and the Tampa Bay Rays’ win last night, the WFNY writers discussed some of the hot button issues surrounding the roster, bullpen use, and lineups for the Indians.

WFNY_roundtable

Assume the following players are locks: Salazar, Masterson, Smith, Shaw, Allen, Albers, Rzepczynski, Hill, Gomes, Santana, Swisher, Kipnis, Cabrera, Chisenhall, Aviles, Brantley, Raburn, Giambi, Bourn, and Stubbs. Pick your last five players for the wild card roster.

Kirk: Ramirez, Carson, Carrasco, Kluber, and I guess Chris Perez. Ramirez and Carson have been key late inning replacements. With Carlos likely playing first, he could slide behind the plate in event of injury, so no Shoppach. I’d love to sentimentally add Vinnie or Tomlin, but just can’t do it. Carrasco has pitched some key moments, and he’s found it in the pen.

Jon: I’ll take Carrasco, Shoppach (in case of emergency), Perez (yes), Kluber OR Kazmir (long-man), and Carson.  Sorry Vinnie.

Jacob: That 20-man Wild Card roster draft leaves you with three bench position players. Against a right-handed starter, they’re likely to be: Chisenhall/Aviles, Stubbs and Raburn. I’d think, in a Wild Card game, the Indians probably wouldn’t need many more bench hitters to the plate. Perhaps then Jose Ramirez makes the squad as the last position player as a possible pinch-runner. I give him the nod over Matt Carson. Then, my final four bullpen guys: Nick Hagadone as an extra matchup lefty, Zach McAllister since he’s on regular rest, Josh Tomlin as another late guy and Chris Perez. Biggest question: Do you trust Perez more than Chen-Chang Lee for any playoff innings? I love CC Lee, but I give the edge more to Perez as your final guy. Neither would likely pitch anyway. [Read more...]

The Cleveland Indians and Pearl Jam are bringing back my youth

Pearl Jam and Swisher(The soundtrack for this post is “Sirens” by Pearl Jam. I listened to it on repeat while writing this.)1

The way I felt yesterday watching the Indians celebrate in the guts of Target field was overwhelming. I didn’t cry, but I also wouldn’t have dared speak aloud in those moments as the Tribe were bouncing up and down together on the field in celebration. This Indians team has brought me back to much younger days of being a Tribe fan. I’m back to my freshman year dorm in college when the Indians were battling through the playoffs toward an ultimate loss to the Florida Marlins. I’m back in high school as the halls were united in Tribe playoff runs, including girls talking about their crushes on Kenny Lofton and Omar Vizquel that would normally be reserved for cover stars of Tiger Beat magazine. All too recently, I also feel like I’ve been back to the 80′s when I started watching the Tribe as a pitiful club managed by Pat Corrales. But not this Sunday. That brought me back to the good days.

Those same time periods in my life – high school and into college – are lush with memories of music too. Upon entering college in the fall of 1997, I was obsessed with rock bands like Tool and Pearl Jam while also being fiercely protective of my home city and its teams as one of a very few Clevelanders at Boston University. Like most kids who go to college, that was just a jumping off point. You bring your experiences and favorite things in as precious little jewels of who you were before you left the safety of your parents’ house. You have no idea what the experiences are going to spit out at the end. [Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. I loved this section from “Sirens” by Pearl Jam
    It’s a fragile thing, this life we lead, if I think too much, I can get overwhelmed
    by the grace by which we live our lives with death over our shoulders
    Want you to know, that should I go, I always loved you, held you high above too
    I studied your face, the fear goes away. []

While We’re Waiting… Chris Perez, 2007 vs. 2013, and getting to know the Bengals

“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 attips@waitingfornextyear.com.

WFNYBanner www

Leading off, Anthony Castrovince tackles the Chris Perez and now open closer position issue, “Francona would be wise not to press his luck this time around. He knows the potential pitfalls of the “closer by committee” that erupted in Boston the year before he arrived there, and I’m sure that knowledge plays heavy in his mind right now. But it’s a different thing to open a season with a relief platoon than it is to – ahem – close one, because now Francona has a full season of data – involving both his own team and the Twins and whatever other opponents might await – at his disposal to make educated guesses. In Smith, Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw, Marc Rzepczynski and, yes, even Masterson or Danny Salazar or Carlos Carrasco, he has an array of arms with which he can play percentages or exploit weaknesses.” [CastroTurf]

Steve Orbanek at IBI takes a look at comparing the 2013 Indians to their 2007 counterparts. Comparisons are always tough, but this one does a pretty good job at lining up some real similarities between the two, “Of course, that 2007 team was also blessed with Victor Martinez, who hit .301/.374/.505 with 25 home runs and 114 RBI. The 2007 Indians were fortunate as it’s rare for a team to have a power-hitting catcher with that type of offensive production. The 2013 team has two. Individually, Carlos Santana and Yan Gomes may not possess the offensive prowess of Martinez. But together, the two make for a deathly combination. Gomes currently has a .295/.350/.491 line with 11 home runs and 36 RBI in 85 games. Santana has also been impressive and boasts a .267/.376/.446 line with 19 home runs and 70 RBI in 151 games. Gomes has also been incredible defensively as the right-handed hitting catcher has thrown out 42 percent of base stealers this season. In 2007, Martinez threw out 32 percent.” [Indians Baseball Insider]

[Read more...]

MLB news: Francona removes Chris Perez as Cleveland’s closer

It appears that Terry Francona has seen enough of Chris Perez in tight situations.

On the Indians’ pregame show on Fox Sports, Francona said he would use a committee type of approach to the closer role, using individual match-ups to determine who pitches when.

Chris Perez gave up a pair of home runs on Tuesday night, losing the lead in the process before Jason Giambi homered in the bottom of the ninth to bail the Indians out.

Last night Perez allowed four earned runs in the ninth inning. The Indians are clinging to a 1 game advantage over the Texas Rangers in the wild card standings with just three games to go in the season. The Indians can’t afford a blown save going forward, which is why Francona has made the move that he has.

[Related: Closer Jeopardy, who's the man now?]

Closer Jeopardy: Who’s the man for the Indians now?

Josmil Pinto, Chris PerezIt’s not like many fans didn’t see this coming, right? Perhaps not the 89-70 record, but maybe the Chris Perez demise?

Here we are. Three games left in the regular season. The Cleveland Indians are on the verge of the playoffs and, it appears that with last night’s performance, Perez might be out of a closer’s job. Heck, he nearly volunteered it up with an “I don’t want to cost us games” statement, per Terry Francona in his post-game press conference.

So what’s next? Playoffs are on the horizon and it’s fairly unprecedented for a contending team to drop their allegiance to their designated **ninth-inning win-or-die guy** suddenly after game 159. Let’s review all of the options available for Francona and the Tribe as we head into this incredibly dramatic final weekend.

The Hot One: Bryan Shaw
Season stats: 7-3 record, 3.24 ERA, 70 games, 75.0 IP, 60 H, 28 BB, 73 K [Read more...]

Chris Perez: “I don’t want to cost us games”

Indians closer Chris Perez told manager Terry Francona “I don’t want to cost us games” after nearly blowing a 6-1 lead for Cleveland on Thursday night, the manager shared during his post-game press conference.

With the help of Joe Smith, the Indians barely held on for a 6-5 win over the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. But for the second straight appearance, the former All-Star Perez coughed up several runs in the ninth inning.

Francona was far more non-committal and stoic about Perez’s performance and future as the team’s closer after the game. He applauded the 28-year-old Perez for walking into his office to share that comment. He said “we’ll figure it out” in reference to the closer position.

It was a rare sign of non-confidence in his players. Francona said it’s best not to make snap judgments with these decisions five minutes after a tough outing. But he reiterated several times that he was happy the club found a way to pull off the victory, which was what they obviously set out to do.

The Texas Rangers also had a walk-off win on Thursday and the Tampa Bay Rays won, keeping the same order in the American League Wild Card standings. Cleveland has three more games against the Twins this weekend, but perhaps without a clear closer.

[Related: Justin Masterson: Ace to Closer?]

Debating Chris Perez’s closer role – Cleveland Indians Roundtable

Shortly after last night’s incredible ninth-inning comeback, former WFNY weekend man Brendan Porath nudged the WFNY staff: Let’s do a roundtable about Chris Perez. So here we are, again, talking about the controversial closer’s role for the rest of 2013. Share your takes in the comments.

WFNY_roundtable

Brendan: So, Jason Giambi delivered one of the most dramatic and enjoyable wins in Indians franchise history. But it promptly overshadowed the continuing troubles with Chris Perez — the Tribe’s shaky (is what we’ll call it) closer. Next time, the stakes may be higher and we can’t repeatedly count on old Jacobs Field magic when there may be other options. [Read more...]