August 16, 2014

The Top Infield & Catching Groups of the Past 20 Years

Roberto Alomar Omar Vizquel

In the next part of our series, we take a look back at the best infield/catching groups of the Jacobs/Progressive Field era. The Indians of the mid to late had so many stars and big bats, but once the turn of the century rolled around and the payroll cuts came into play, lets be honest, there was a lot of dreck. So much so that I really could only come up with four groups that were worth discussing.

I mean lets face it, even the two most recent playoff team (’07 & ’13) didn’t exactly have all stars at every position. Ryan Garko, Josh Barfield/Asdrubal Cabrera, Jhonny Peralta, and Casey Blake would probably get the nod over the cavalcade of first baseman, Jason Kipnis, Cabrera, and the Lonnie Chisenhall/Mike Aviles/Mark Reynolds triumvirate. But even still, both crews miss the cut. The top four though are all worthy. So without further ado…… [Read more...]

MLB News: Indians re-align three coaching positions

The Indians season ended last Wednesday with a 4-0 whimper in the AL Wild Card game against Tampa Bay. Five days later, we have our first piece of Cleveland baseball news of the offseason, according to multiple media reports.

Three members of manager Terry Francona’s coaching staff will see their responsibilities change for the 2014 season. Overall, all six of Francona’s coaches will return. But the realignment news today will likely turn a a few heads.

Brad Mills: Old position = third base coach; new position = bench coach
Sandy Alomar Jr: Old position = bench coach; new position = first base coach
Mike Sarbaugh: Old position = first base coach; new position = third base coach

MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reported (tweet) that the shift was due to a preferred alignment with the three coaches’ skill sets. None of the shifts are considered demotions, despite what one might initially assume about Alomar moving away from the bench coach job.

Notably, Mills (father of former Indians prospect Beau Mills, with whom he owns a young bucking bull) is the only one of the three to have previous long-term MLB managing experience. He coached the Houston Astros from 2010-2012 before being fired last August. Alomar managed the Indians for just six games in interim status last year. Sarbaugh was an up-and-coming managerial prospect after several years in the Indians minor league system.

In other related coaching news, the Chicago Cubs are not currently considering Alomar a candidate for their managerial opening, according to CSN Chicago’s David Kaplan. Former Cleveland skipper Manny Acta is meeting with the team today.

[Related: 2013 Indians In Review: The Starting Rotation]

MLB News: No players elected to HOF; Kenny Lofton and Sandy Alomar off ballot

If you were reading and paying much attention to the buzz surrounding this year’s HOF voting, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the BBWAA didn’t elect anyone to the hall this year. Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and those associated with the steroid era were denied. The closet was Craig Biggio, who fell 39 votes shy of the 75 percent required for election.

Cleveland Indians Kenny Lofton (3.2%) and Sandy Alomar Jr. (2.8%) did not receive enough votes to remain on the ballot for next year.

[Related: the Lofton HOF case]

MLB News: Lofton, Alomar Jr, Mesa and Franco make 2013 HOF ballot

In what is another sign of the Indians’ heyday of the mid-90s being a distant memory, several members of the teams to make it to the 1995 and 1997 World Series have been named to the latest release of the MLB Hall of Fame ballot.

As notated by The Plain Dealer’s Paul Hoynes, long-time Indians Kenny Lofton, Sandy Alomar Jr., Julio Franco and Jose Mesa could potentially be enshrined in Cooperstown, joining Roberto Alomar and Eddie Murray as players from the same era. All first-timers, these four Tribe greats are joined by Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Craig Biggio and Sammy Sosa among the ballot freshmen.

The left-handed Lofton finished his illustrious career having made six All-Star teams, earning the Gold Glove award four times and leading the league in stolen bases on five separate ocassions. Lofton wrapped up a 16-year career tallying 622 stolen bases and was, per Baseball-Reference, worth 65 wins.

Alomar, presently the bench coach for the Cleveland Indians, spent 11 years as a player with the Tribe, representing the team six times as an All-Star. He was Rookie of the Year in 1990 and garnered MVP consideration in 1997. In his 20 seasons at the big league level, Alomar recorded an OPS of .716 and was worth 11.5 wins.

The ageless Franco was arguably one of the best pure hitters to wear an Indians uniform, averaging .298 over the course of his 23-year career. Appearing in three All-Star games and winning the Silver Slugger award each of those three seasons, Franco obtained MVP consideration in 1988, 1991 (where he hit .341)  and 1994. Recording 2,589 hits despite several stints overseas, Franco was worth 39.7 wins.

Mesa, who may be the least popular member of this bunch, was in the league for 19 years, seven of which were with the Cleveland Indians. Saving 46 games in 1995, Mesa was second in Cy Young voting and fourth in MVP voting. He recorded 321 games over the course of his career.

The Hall of Fame Class of 2013 will be announced on Jan. 9, 2013

[Related: Face Transplants, Rebuilds, and the Case for Trading Asdrubal Cabrera]

Indians Announce New Coaching Staff

Terry Francona’s Indians are starting to take shape. In his first big order of business as Tribe skipper, Francona has assembled his coaching staff for the 2013 season. Via their Twitter feed, the Indians announced the who’s who.

Sandy Alomar Jr., who was the runner-up to Francona for the managerial position, will stay on as Tito’s bench coach. This is the same roll he had on Manny Acta’s staff last season. Joining Sandy will be now-former Columbus Clippers manager Mike Sarbaugh, who will be the team’s first base coach. The Indians have elevated Minor League pitching coordinator Mickey Callaway to the big club’s pitching coach.

Callaway, Alomar Jr. and Sarbaugh know the ins and outs of the majority of the young Indians, so having these three on board will be a nice aid for the transition from Acta to Francona.

The rest of the staff includes former Houston Astros manager Brad Mills, who spent three seasons in Philly with Francona as his first base coach, and six seasons with him in Boston as his bench coach. Mills will take over as the third base coach. Ty Van Burkleo is your new hitting coach. He comes over from the Houston organization where he was their minor league hitting coordinator since 2010 before becoming their interim hitting coach mid-way through last season. He spent two seasons as the hitting coach in Oakland before a one year stint as Don Wakamatsu’s bench coach in Seattle. Kevin Cash, a former catcher for the Toronto Blue Jays who retired before last season, is the new bullpen coach and rounds out the staff.

[Related: Francona: “We Don’t have a 1B, LF, or DH. But That’s Going to Change”]

Toronto Sun: Robbie Wants Sandy To Land Blue Jays Manager Position

Roberto Alomar, currently a special assistant for the Toronto Blue Jays organization, has come out in support of his brother, Sandy Alomar Jr., being the next manager of the Jays, The Toronto Sun reports.

“”I hope it’s my brother,” Hall of Famer Robbie Alomar said Wednesday. We need someone who wants to put his heart and soul into his team. Someone who wants to be here.”

Alomar Jr. lost out to Terry Francona in the Indians’ search to replace the recently dismissed Manny Acta. The prevailing belief is that Sandy would stay on the staff as Francona’s bench coach should he not find a managerial job. Alomar Jr. was 3-3 as interim manager following Acta’s termination at the end of September.

MLB Rumors: Sandy Alomar to manage the Toronto Blue Jays

Essentially replicating a game of musical chairs, Cleveland Indians bench coach could be on his way to Toronto to manage the Blue Jays for the 2013 MLB season and beyond.

Late Saturday, it was reported that a deal between the Red Sox and Blue Jays was consummated that would send former Indians pitcher John Farrell to the Red Sox as their new manager, meaning that the Blue Jays managerial spot had been vacated. The Red Sox managerial job was open after the Sox fired Bobby Valentine after one year of service; it was Valentine who replaced the fired Terry Francona, the recently hired manager of the Cleveland Indians.

It was reported that Alomar would return to the Indians as their bench coach after six games as interim manager, but this was under the assumption that the long-time Tribe catcher would not be offered a magagerial job of his own.

[Related:WFNY Podcast – 2012-10-17 – Browns ownership reflecting on Indians ownership]

(Source: Matt Loede/92.3 The Fan)

15 Years Ago: The Team Of (Almost) Destiny

Strap in folks, this is a long one……

I love Twitter for so many reasons. It’s my source for news, sports, comedy, etc. I am a Twitter junkie no doubt. I feel like I’ve read so many articles and stories that I would have had no clue existed if not for my timeline.

Then there are the stats or the pieces of history that you can be alerted to. Take two days ago for example. Our buddy from Indians.com Zack Meisel tweeted out that it was exactly 15 years ago Monday that Tony Fernandez hit a 10th inning, solo home run off of Baltimore reliever Armando Benitez in Game six of the 1997 American League Championship series, vaulting the Indians into the World Series for the second time in three years. [Read more...]

While We’re Waiting … New York Giants Prep, Browns’ 0-4 Starts, Indians Changes Ahead

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.

A usual CLE writer shares his thoughts on a bigger stage about one key difference between the Browns and Giants: “On Sunday, the Browns face the defending Super Bowl-champion Giants. Though QB Eli Manning gets most of the publicity, he, like any quarterback, wouldn’t be where he is today without his wide receivers. … For the Browns, they still haven’t been able to find a No. 1 receiver, let alone build the Giants’ championship-level depth at the position (remember, New York was gluttonous enough at the position to let Mario Manningham leave through free agency). And now, with the injury bug biting the Browns’ wide receivers — this includes Josh Cribbs (concussion), Travis Benjamin (hamstring) and Mohamed Massaquoi (hamstring) — the time for a true No. 1 receiver to emerge has been expedited to right now.” [Steve DiMatteo/Pro Football Weekly] [Read more...]

Sandy’s First Game As Manager Provides Mixed Feelings

David Blaine, David Copperfield, Harry Houdini, Manny Acta… one of these men is not a magician.

Sandy Alomar Jr. won his first game as the manager of the Cleveland Indians last night. It couldn’t have gone much better, really. He got a quality start from I-71 veteran in southpaw David Huff, the piecework lineup combined for 16 hits, and the bullpen closed it out with Chris Perez capped it with his 39th save. The Tribe topped the Royals in the series opener 8-5, and there were smiles all around for the former behind the plate legend and bench coach that most like and respect. However, as I watched the game and heard the growing discussion about Sandy’s candidacy for the job and the likelihood that he’ll get the job, it was a tad bittersweet for yours truly. All I can think about is that sad day when they’ll have to cut him loose, as the Indians did with Manny Acta on Thursday.

Why am I so discouraged by this development? It’s a combination of disagreement in the timing and dismissal of Acta, the ineptitude of this front office, and the sad state of this organization’s major and minor league rosters. It’s hard to say that Sandy Alomar, Terry Francona, or whomever the next Tribe skipper is will be handed a better roster than Acta was at the start of the 2010 campaign. [Read more...]

Castrovince: Name Alomar the Manager and be Done with it

With Manny Acta’s ousting — and reprecussion-free front office — on Thursday, the Cleveland Indians have named Sandy Alomar Jr. as interim manager. MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince believes the team should save everyone the time and merely drop the “interim” tag from the long-time catcher’s title.

“My advice to Antonetti?” writes Castrovince. “Save your time, save your cell phone minutes and save everybody involved the hassle of submitting to a process that seems to have yet another inevitable result. Just name Alomar the permanent manager and be done with it.

“This is not meant to belittle the names that will be tossed into the fire of the rumor mill. Nor is this an affront against the benefits of careful deliberation and consideration. But given these particular circumstances — with a perfectly reasonable candidate in place and many pertinent and pressing questions being posed about the direction of the franchise — I’d say Antonetti and Co. would be best-served to place their emphasis and put their time in elsewhere.”

Alomar will be in charge of the Indians through their final six contests. He has drawn interest from multiple other teams in their past managerial searches and obviously has ties to the city of Cleveland. The Indians, engulfed in an inferno of PR disaster, could easily leverage nostalgia in their favor and, as Castrovince writes, has a lot of fans wearing jerseys with the name “Indians” scrawled across the front.

[Related: Indians talking to former Red Sox manager Terry Francona]

Manny Acta dismissed, Sandy Alomar named interim manager of Cleveland Indians

Saying Manny Acta was the problem this year with the Cleveland Indians would be tough to do with a straight face. It also would be tough to say conclusively that he was a part of the solution going forward. With that, and on the heels of an disappointing epic of a season, the Cleveland Indians have fired Manny Acta with six games to go and naming Sandy Alomar Jr. as interim manager, according to Jordan Bastian.1

It’s difficult to understand the timing of the dismissal. With six games left, it doesn’t seem like the Indians are getting any kind of substantial look at Sandy Alomar as manager. Additionally, if they don’t know Sandy by now, it is reasonable to wonder if they ever will.

I’m sure the story will come out eventually. Was Acta pushing the Indians to make their decision? Were other teams calling for permission to interview Alomar with the end of the season so close? Are there some other tea leaves blowing in the wind that I just can’t smell yet?

For now, we know that Acta is gone and he won’t be back next season. There will be a 4:15 PM press conference with Tribe GM Chris Antonetti.

[Related: Indians win 6-4, knock White Sox out of first place]

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Footnotes:

  1. And every other Indians writer and commentator for that matter, but I saw Bastian first. []

WFNY Confessional: Rick

Right from the start, the idea for this piece came from a post over at 11Warriors. It looks like they got the idea from the college football blog Every Day Should be Saturday. We give them full credit for the idea. Everyone happy? Good.

I am not Catholic, so I have more of an ‘outsiders’ understanding of a confessional. I get repentance. Anyway, the idea of getting things off your chest that others might find offensive is appealing to me in the sports genre. So without any more adieu, here are my biggest Cleveland sports confessions.

1. When I was very young I didn’t really like the Indians.

There I said it.

In fact, I rooted for the Orioles for a while. The first World Series I ever watched was the Orioles vs the Phillies in 1983. That was a killer pitching staff. Boddicker, Palmer, Flanagan, McGregor. Throw in Cal Ripken, Eddie Murray and Rick Dempsey and you had an excellent team. [Read more...]

Tribe Flashback: Sandy Alomar Jr.

02sTRIBEb.jpgAbout 10 days ago, the new class was inducted into the Indians Hall of Fame. The most celebrated member of that class, was Catcher Sandy Alomar Jr. Sandy was one of the symbols of the renaissance of Tribe baseball that took place during the 1990′s.  Sandy played here 11 seasons, from 1990-2000 and was the starting catcher on a 100 loss team and a 100 win team. Pretty remarkable.

People in this city put Sandy up on a pedestal about one step down from Omar Vizquel and two from “The Lord” Bernie Kosar and Lebron James.  Who can forget perhaps the greatest moment in Jacobs Field history, his eighth inning, game-tying home run off of Mariano Rivera in game four of the 1997 ALDS. That night, he saved the Indians from extinction, and a week later helped propel them into the World Series. [Read more...]