August 16, 2014

While We’re Waiting… Kirk Cousins rumors heating up

Cleveland sports fans are waiting. Thus, while we’re all waiting, the WFNY editors thought you might enjoy reading. Because you never know how long we might be waiting. So here are assorted reading goodies for you to enjoy. Send more good links for tomorrow’s edition to tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

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Passing on the latest backup QB fad of Kirk Cousins: “The success of those guys, or lack thereof, doesn’t doom Cousins to a similar fate. What it does offer is a look at relative value. The Cleveland Browns shouldn’t take the same level of risk on Kirk Cousins. The going rate for him will probably be as high as we think it is, in which case Joe Banner should hang up the phone. Still, some consider Cleveland to be the leading contender for Cousins’ new home.” [Jon Stinchcomb/Dawgs By Nature] [Read more...]

MLB Free Agency: Shin-Soo Choo signs massive 7-year deal with Texas

We knew former Indian outfielder Shin-Soo Choo was due for a huge payday this offseason after playing last season with Cincinnati. We just didn’t know how big until rumors surfaced that Choo turned down a 7-year, $140 million deal from the Yankees. He signed a 7-year deal for $130 million with the Texas Rangers this afternoon, though Texas’s lack of income tax puts more money in his pocket than the Yankee deal would have.

Texas just signed a new cable agreement for $1.6 billion for the next 20 years. Seattle signed a similar lucrative deal, and it explains why these AL West teams have been two of the biggest spenders this offseason. The Rangers acquired Prince Fielder in a trade with the Tigers involving Ian Kinsler, and the Mariners have signed Robinson Cano, Corey Hart, and traded for Logan Morrison. The Indians’ deal pays that significantly less annually per Tony Lastoria.

Choo played in Cleveland from 2006-2012. He gets this outrageous free agent deal at age 31, having never hit more than 22 homers, stole more than 22 bases, or drove in more than 90 runs. Choo did hit .285 last season with a .885 OPS in Cincy last year in addition to being a 20-20 guy.

This will likely take Texas out of the big starter market, which leaves one less landing place for the big name starters left on the market, including Indians starter Ubaldo Jimenez. The market is largely waiting for 25-year-old Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka to sign, and everyone else will fall in line after that.

Related: Outman in – Tribe bullpen takes shape before the calendar turns

MLB News: Shin-Soo Choo turns down $140 million from Yankees

The Cleveland Indians’ track record is far from perfect, but it appears they were right on the mark with regard to Shin-Soo Choo. Choo was an absolute steal when the Indians traded Ben Broussard for him before the 2006 MLB season. The team also sold pretty high on him when they traded him to the Reds for Drew Stubbs and Trevor Bauer. Even as WFNY has debated what Choo would garner on the open market, I really had no idea that it would come to this. Jeff Passan of Yahoo! reports that Choo turned down $140 million from the New York Yankees.

In the aftermath of Robinson Cano’s defection to Seattle, New York presented Choo a seven-year, $140 million deal, three sources outside the Yankees’ organization told Yahoo Sports. When Boras countered asking for more money – one source indicated he wanted “Ellsbury money,” or $153 million over seven years – the Yankees pulled the offer and signed Carlos Beltran to a three-year, $45 million deal.

That’s right. The Yankees preferred to sign a three-year deal with a guy who is going to be 37 years-old near the end of April than offer any more than the $140 million they offered to Choo.

None of this is to mock out Choo, who I loved as a Cleveland Indians regular. The point is just how crazy the market has become for even somewhat flawed players. I loved Choo’s bat and loved watching him throw the ball in from the outfield, but to call him an All-Star level player is likely only occasionally true when he’s having a particularly good season.

Or maybe the market’s not as crazy as I thought. The Yankees walked away.

[Related: MLB Trade News: Indians reportedly trade Drew Stubbs to Rockies]

Talking trolling, Shin-Soo Choo, the Tigers and off-season baseball with Boney – WFNY Podcast – 2013-12-03

WFNY Podcast LogoToday after writing a post striking back at someone who I thought attacked me, so I decided to go after one of the pre-eminent Cleveland trolls, Boney. He and I have had our ups and downs and I wanted to talk over his trolling comments on Twitter and what he looks to accomplish. And as a Detroit fan, I also wanted to pick his brain on what Detroit is doing this off-season and how it might end up for them and for the Indians as they continue to chase the Tigers in the Central. (Also, Brian Spaeth there was intermittent mention of you during this podcast, so you’ll want to listen.)

  • What’s the point of trolling
  • What reaction do you hope to get?
  • Trolling Jason Kipnis
  • Trolling Scott from WFNY
  • Talking Tigers baseball
  • Prince Fielder trade
  • Doug Fister trade
  • Shin-Soo Choo to Detroit?
  • The Cleveland Indians’ moves
  • Jason Kipnis and how good he can be
  • Lonnie Chisenhall and his upside [Read more...]

MLB: Shin-Soo Choo and his agent eye Jayson Werth and Carl Crawford deals

People in Cleveland loved Shin-Soo Choo, yet had very little issue with him being traded to the Cincinnati Reds during last off-season. Most of the reason that Indians fans were alright with the deal is due to Choo’s free agency which is happening right now.

According to Jon Heyman, Choo’s expectations for his next contract are all of what Scott Boras can dream up and then some in terms of dollar signs.

That person didn’t specify which rumors he was referring to, but word is out Choo and agent Scott Boras have previous deals for Jayson Werth ($126 million, seven years) and Carl Crawford ($142 million, seven years) in mind while gauging teams’ interest in Choo and Ellsbury.

Whether or not those gaudy numbers ever come to pass remains to be seen, but Craig Calcaterra of HardballTalk astutely points out that “we live in a world where Hunter Pence just got $90 million.”

You will remember that by the time the dust settled on the Choo trade, the Indians got Drew Stubbs, Trevor Bauer, Matt Albers and Bryan Shaw in exchange for Choo, Jason Donald, $3.5 million, Tony Sipp and Lars Anderson.

As you watch the ping pong balls flutter about on Shin-Soo Choo’s lottery ticket chances, keep in mind that we also live in a world where Drew Stubbs has some trade value, so the Indians might not be close to done reaping rewards from that deal. And no, I’m not even counting Trevor Bauer’s rap career.

I’ll be sitting hoping that Choo doesn’t score anywhere near Werth money not because I have any ill will for Shin-Soo Choo, but because I hope to point at Jon and tell him just how wrong he was.

[Related: MLB Rumors: Stubbs Draws Trade Interest]

Indians Outfield Defense: How Improved Will It Be?

Michael BournI’m going to be honest with you: I have my misgivings about advanced defensive metrics—especially those that are publicly available to schmoes like you and me. 1  It’s not that I think the methodology behind these stats is flawed or that the approach itself is a silly one—it’s just that all these metrics seem a bit too reliant on two somewhat flimsy inputs.

First, there is the simple problem of sample size: it is unlikely that a single player will accrue enough defensive opportunities on different sorts of batted balls in a given year to give us a realistic impression of what his actual skills are.  It’s been said that you need three years of defensive data—I assume playing almost every day—to make up for this paucity.  [Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. Craig just got back from the Sloan Analytics Conference, and I’m dying to talk to him about it.  One item I’m hoping to discuss is the movement toward proprietary, team-housed analytics, especially in regard to defensive valuations in baseball.  This is where it’s going, methinks.  There was a decade or so where the schmoes were outsmarting the teams, but I’m pretty sure that’s over now.  They’ve bought out the geniuses and their IP, and moved it behind closed doors.  The “Moneyball Era” was exciting.  But let’s face it: it’s over. []

Shin-Soo Choo to Indians: “I will always be thankful”

It’s easy to dismiss some of the meaningful stories that can occur with success in baseball. For Indians fans in February 2013, filled with optimism after the signing of two high-profile free agent outfielders, that means the amazing ascent to relevance by former fan-favorite Shin-Soo Choo.

In a fairly emotional article by Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that just posted early this morning, Choo made public a letter that he sent over to Indians General Manager Chris Antonetti this offseason shortly after the trade that landed him in Cincinnati and Trevor Bauer (among others) in Cleveland.

Choo’s letter said: “I want you to know that my family and I will always be thankful for this opportunity and want you to know how much I will remember the chance I was given in Cleveland … Because I firmly believe that without this opportunity, there is no Shin-Soo Choo and I would not be remembered.”

Rosenthal’s article also shared Choo’s initial reaction (shock) when he heard he’d be playing center field for the Reds. Among the other quotes related to Antonetti and the Indians, this also was very touching: “You have a lot of young and talented players … but most importantly … players that will listen and follow your leadership … As a result, I know you will get great performances and results in the near future.”

Of course, going to the way-back time machine as you might recall, Choo was one of several Mariners prospects the Indians somehow poached in the mid-’00s. Acquired along with Shawn Nottingham for Ben Broussard and cash in July 2006, he appeared in only 14 MLB games with the Mariners.

With more steady playing time in Cleveland, the now-30-year-old South Korean then blossomed into one of the better outfielders in the American League, as highlighted by back-to-back 5+ WAR seasons in 2009-10. He is likely to reel in a huge payday this coming offseason after his potential one-year rental stint with the Reds.

[Related: Cleveland Indians makeover is fun, but will it work?]

The Diff: Cleveland Indians embrace the strikeout

Changing the topic this week back to my original favorite sport, baseball. Thanks again to all for your really positive feedback on last week’s edition on franchise-building in the NBA.

The Diff

“The best way to improve your team is to score more runs and allow fewer runs. I’m not as concerned at how we do it, but our focus is to score more and allow fewer.” Those were the inspiring words of Cleveland Indians general manager Chris Antonetti in an AP story on Dec. 12. Yet, despite that pretty elementary proclamation, all it seems anyone wants to talk about this offseason is strikeouts. [Read more...]

WFNY Podcast – 2012-12-28 – Craig talks to Jon about the Tribe and the business of sports

You set out to talk to Jon about the Tribe and of course you end up talking about cable news networks, HGTV, being a new father and a whole host of other topics … in addition to also breaking down the Tribe, their acquisition of Nick Swisher and advanced baseball metrics.

Here’s what else we touched on:

  • The business of sports related to the NBA
  • National and international fans of sports as opposed to localized, team-first fans
  • Regional sports cable networks and TV contracts for baseball
  • How much do people pay for ESPN in their cable bill?
  • The future of cable TV and how government regulation could change TV contracts for sports franchises
  • Nick Swisher choosing Cleveland
  • Cleveland replacing Shin-Soo Choo with Nick Swisher
  • What were the Diamondbacks thinking?
  • What were the Reds thinking?
  • How effective is WAR and does it also transfer to teammates?
  • Will Trevor Bauer make the Indians’ rotation out of spring training?

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WFNY Top 10 Cleveland Sports Stories of 2012: #9 The Trade of Shin-Soo Choo

2012 was one crazy year in the wild wacky world of Cleveland Sports. Some would tell you 2012 was as bad as it has ever been here. As the year comes to a close, like we have done the last four years, WFNY will take a look at what we view to be the 10 biggest sports stories affecting our local sports scene. Each day through the rest of the year, we will be counting down from ten to one. We started earlier today with the Buckeyes Final Four trip . Number nine is something that happened just a short two weeks ago.

#9 The Indians send Shin-Soo Choo to Cincinnati in a blockbuster three-team deal that netted them the ace of their future, Trevor Bauer.

It literally came out of nowhere. Sure, there was a lot of speculation both at the 2012 trade deadline and all winter long that the Indians would move perhaps their best player, Shin-Soo Choo, but the price was reported to be very steep. No true rumors have been floated or names bandied about. All seemed quiet on the Choo front. After the Winter Meetings ended with Choo’s name never mentioned, I was resigned to the fact that the Tribe would hold Scott Boras’s flavor of the month, hope he had a great year, and then move him to the deadline.

Then it happened. [Read more...]

Newest Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer in videos

Trevor Bauer is all the talk all over Twitter, but I’ll be honest, I didn’t know much about him before yesterday. Well, there’s a lot of quirks about the Indians’ newest pitcher. First of all, he has a unique set of warm-up rituals to get ready to play the game. It includes a long toss session that can range from 340 to 400 foot throws. Just watch the video.

[Read more...]

Antonetti pulls off a coup for Choo

To quote the great Nick Gilbert…. “What’s Not To Love?”

I have killed Chris Antonetti time and time again for his head scratching roster decisions, but none of those will be mentioned in this piece. I am here to stand up, clap, and give the much maligned Tribe GM his proper due.

Throughout this offseason, the Indians have been in the center of activity in baseball’s hot stove league. They have a powerful and well respected new manager in Terry Francona, and a roster with a young core group of players, four of whom were prime trading chips. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that the Indians needed a makeover.

But would they actually have the stones to go through with it? And if so, how would they go about it?

It started with the trade for Mike Aviles. It seemed like a small move, but it was one that would start the facelift. On Sunday, the Indians decided they no longer wanted to wait on Kevin Youkilis and instead signed free agent first baseman Mark Reynolds for half of the cost (one year, $6 million) of Youk (who signed a one year, $12 million deal tonight with the Yankees).  But as I said on Monday, there was no chance Antonetti was done. [Read more...]

MLB Trade Rumors: Indians and Reds nearing deal for Choo

The Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds are reportedly in advanced talks in a deal that would send Gold Glove-nominated outfielder Shin-Soo Choo down Interstate 71.

CBS Sports’ Danny Knobler reports that the Indians would receive center fielder Drew Stubbs and shortstop Didi Gregorius in return. The Reds are expected to receive another player in addition to Choo. Choo would play center field for the Reds while batting lead-off. Gregorious would provide even more depth at the shortstop position as the Tribe continues to work the phones in hopes of trading All-Star Asdrubal Cabrera.

Choo had a .373 on-base percentage and an .815 OPS last year for the Indians. As Knobler points out, he led off 98 times, and had a .389 on-base percentage in those games.

The 2012 season was rough for Stubbs as the 28-year-old hit .213 with an OPS of .610. He did manage to steal 30 bases, giving him three consecutive seasons of such a feat. In 604 at-bats in 2011, Stubbs nabbed 40 bases, scoring 92 runs. He has seen a considerable year-over-year regression since his 2010 season of 22 home runs, 77 runs batted in and 91 runs scored (.773 OPS).

Stubbs would likely play center field with the Indians sliding Michael Brantley to left. Given his speed, he would undoubtedly be in contention to be the team’s lead-off hitter.

[Related: Tribe Adds Reynolds, But Can’t Stop Here]

Tribe At The Winter Meetings: Will They Add, Or Blow It Up?

With Baseball’s annual Winter Meetings getting underway today in Nashville,  your Cleveland Indians find themselves in a very interesting predicament. In dire need of a revamping, Team President Mark Shapiro and GM Chris Antonetti saved their jobs by landing Terry Francona as their manager. While the hiring was a complete coup, none of it will matter unless the now three-headed braintrust monster can figure out a clear path going forward.

But which direction will they go?

As Antonetti will tell you, the core of Asdrubal Cabrera, Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana, Michael Brantley, Shin-Soo Choo, Lonnie Chisenhall, Justin Masterson, Vinnie Pestano, and Chris Perez is a nice group of young players that they can build around and contend with. Add a big bat and a couple of starting pitchers, and the Indians could possibly make noise in the AL Central in 2013 if the cards are all played correctly. [Read more...]

Buster Olney: GMs expect Indians to be busy in trade market

In his latest trade rumor report today, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney writes about some of the leading market forces in play with the major deals that have already happened or could happen this winter. His No. 3 point targets the Indians exactly:

3. The Desperate Team Syndrome
The teams that typically drive the winter market — the Yankees, the Red Sox, etc. — don’t seem to be playing that role. Rather, it’s the teams starved for success. The Mariners are thought by agents to be in this mode, aggressively shopping around at a time when they are under a lot of pressure to do a big move. The Indians are in need of a big shakeup, because of their search for good young starting pitching, which is why they are expected by other GMs to be in the middle of the trade market (Asdrubal Cabrera, Shin-Soo Choo, Chris Perez).

It’s been heavily reported that all three of those players could be potential trade pieces this offseason. A likely target of the Indians then would be major league pitching, although the team is not expected to jump ship on all of those players in one mega-deal a la the Miami Marlins.

[Related: And You Thought The Dolans Were Bad…]

MLB News: Shin-Soo Choo to skip World Baseball Classic

Cleveland Indians outfielder Shin-Soo Choo will forego the upcoming World Baseball Classic in order to “prepare” for the 2013 season, reports FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi.

With free agency looming, it appears that Choo and his agent Scott Boras are doing everything they can to ensure that market value remains in tact, even if it means disparaging one of 30 potential employers and skipping the a tournament that means considerably more to his home country than it does to those in America.

“While insurance is provided to teams and players through the WBC — a joint venture between Major League Baseball and the players’ union — some stars choose to sit out because of fears that the tournament will affect their regular-season performance and, thus, their earnings,” writes Morosi.

Choo posted an .815 OPS with 16 home runs in 155 games for the Indians in 2012.

[Related: A Hypothetical Off-Season: Getting Specific with the Indians Roster]

Boras: Indians ownership has to show intentions to win

Shin-Soo Choo has let it be known that he has a desire to win. I think the ownership in Cleveland, foundationally, they’re going to have to illustrate some dynamics with new revenues and where they stand about what they are going do to show their fan base and their players who they are in competing. That’s a new calling that they are going to have to bring forth to give players, and everybody involved, [an idea] about what their intentions are in their ownership.

– MLB player representative Scott Boras, who represents Cleveland Indians outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, in very damning statements regarding one of the 30 teams with whom he would have to negotiate as his players enter free agency. Choo, one of several players potentially on the Indians’ trading block,  hit .283 (169-for-598) in 2012, adding 43 doubles, two triples, 16 homers and 67 RBI. He scored 88 runs, stole 21 bases and was a finalist for the Gold Glove award.

[Related: Indians trades need to look like more than cost cutting]

(Source: Paul Hoynes, Cleveland Plain Dealer)

Indians trades need to look like more than cost cutting

Obviously this entire conversation is based upon the assumption that the Indians will make a trade or two this off-season. It also assumes that at least one of those players traded will be Shin-Soo Choo, Asdrubal Cabrera or Chris Perez. If that assumption seems faulty, then read no further. I’ll wait… … Assuming you’re still reading, I think it could end up being a little more treacherous from a public relations standpoint than what we’ve all considered.

A quick glance at the Indians payroll from last year shows that Travis Hafner’s $13 million is falling off the books. Then, after Hafner, the next three highest paid players in 2012 were Choo, Cabrera and Perez in that order. Choo made $4.9 million in 2012 agreeing with the Indians to avoid arbitration. Perez made $4.5 million and is due another raise in arbitration as well. Finally, Cabrera is due $6.5 million this year and $10 million in 2014 before becoming a free agent. If the Indians trade all three of those guys, just for example, they will be chopping somewhere in the ballpark of $17 to $20 million from the payroll in 2012 alone.

This assumes that the Indians trade for younger prospects who aren’t making big-time MLB salaries. I think that’s a safe assumption as the Indians need to reload their farm system with all kinds of different players that any trade involving these guys will bring in younger, cheaper players. So, assuming that, the most cynical of fans will be left to once again proclaim that the Dolans are cheap and will do anything to become the Pittsburgh Pirates. [Read more...]

MLB Rumors: Indians could be “center of trade activity” at GM meetings

With a handful of quality position players and a starting rotation in shambles, the Cleveland Indians could find themselves at the center of trade talks during the off-season general manager meetings.

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Indians, represented by Chris Antonetti, have already begun receiving phone calls on four key players: Justin Masterson, Shin-Soo Choo, Asdrubal Cabrera and Chris Perez. In response, Antonetti far from slammed the door on any potential firesale:

“I’m not looking to move those guys,” Antonetti said. “But we have to be open-minded.”

Heyman lists the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the big-market New York Yankess among potential suitors for Choo; the Los Angeles Angels would “make sense” for Perez; the Red Sox and Tigers being among the teams interested in Cabrera, though Heyman does state that the shortstop would be tough to trade due to the drop-off to the recently acquired Mike Aviles.

The Indians, needing an outfielder, a starting pitcher and a first baseman, were also the subject of a recent piece by ESPN’s Buster Olney stating that the offloading of these key players would be a recommended move for the future.

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

Pitchers’ Duel Crumbles Into Chicago Slugfest

I’ve had the pleasure1of recapping several of Corey Kluber’s starts this season. For nearly six innings tonight, it was his best start of the season by far as he held the potent White Sox offense in check. But, those pesky pale hosers broke through with two outs in the sixth and struck for four runs. The Tribe had no answer for that, mustering just two hits of their own, as they went on to lose this final series opener 11-0.

Kluber had command early in this game and navigated through the first five innings allowing just two hits while walking one and striking out five. His changeup was effective, and in addition to the K’s, he was jamming the White Sox for lots of easy grounders and shallow fly balls. In the first five, his biggest threat was in the second when he surrendered two leadoff singles and a passed ball by Santana moved up the runners. Then came the sixth.

In the momentum shifting sixth, Kluber retired Gordon Beckham on a groundout before Dewayne Wise bunted his way on base. Kluber bounced back to strike out Kevin Youkilis before squaring off with Adam Dunn. During Dunn’s AB, the Tribe battery tried to keep tabs on Wise, owner of 17 steals in 98 games. But, when Wise took off on a 1-1 count, Santana’s throw was too late and to the wrong side of the bag.2 Of course, Dunn made them pay as he took a vanilla 91 mph slider with too much of the plate and served it into center to break the scoreless tie. After a Paul Konerko walk, Alex Rios followed that up by banging one high off the left field wall, plating Dunn and dispatching of Kluber. Joe Smith then gave up a pair of singles to A.J. Pierzynski and Dayan Viciedo before recording the final out of the inning. [Read more...]

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Footnotes:

  1. Tongue-in-cheek here. []
  2. Carlos also had two passed balls. I agree with the STO guys, it looked like Santana was a little lazy behind the dish. []