August 1, 2014

The Top Five Tribe Rotations of the Past 20 Years

cliff cc

With the 20-year anniversary of Jacobs/Progressive Field almost upon us, we will be taking a look at top-fives in each aspect of the Indians on the field.  We started last week with the bullpens and today we will move to the starting rotations. Coming up with five groups was not an easy task. Let’s be honest here: The Indians have for the most part, been built around their offense and bullpen. That was the John Hart model. Hart’s protégé was Mark Shapiro, who took over the GM reigns during the transition of 2001. Shappy groomed current GM Chris Antonetti, but the landscape has changed over the past six years. When the Indians had their best success, it was because their starting pitching was at its strongest.

And with that….. [Read more...]

YELLING TRIBE, BROWNS AND TWITTER WITH @sportsyelling – WFNY Podcast – 2014-02-28

WFNY Podcast LogoI was very happy to welcome in @sportsyelling for the first time on the WFNY Podcast. She (yes, she) is a Tribe first sports fan, so we talked a lot about the Indians. We talked about Ubaldo Jimenez, the rotation, Chief Wahoo, and Ervin Santana. We also touched on the Browns and how the NFL has dominated the sports world to the point there’s really no “off-season.”

Check out this episode!

Ubaldo Jimenez deal simply made more sense for Orioles

Ubaldo Jimenez dealing

Within the context of MLB free agency, four years and $48 million sounds about right for 30-year-old Ubaldo Jimenez. Within the context of MLB economics, it probably just was a more palatable deal for the Baltimore Orioles than the Cleveland Indians.

You see, even though the Orioles had to sacrifice the No. 17 overall pick1, they’re in a peculiar situation with potentially waning oodles of money to spend and in a division that requires spending. The Indians, although seven games better than the O’s in 2013, already have likely reached their spending limit for the coming season. Indications had been a bound for months that a Jimenez return was unlikely – the two sides reportedly hadn’t talked in weeks.

But the financial flexibility difference between Baltimore and Cleveland, although both face significant pressure for 2014, has a lot to do with TV and its associated boom of sports-related revenue. [Read more...]

___________________________________________________

Footnotes:

  1. According to baseball-reference.com, the No. 17 pick has had a 65% success rate of reaching the majors and 8.3 WAR per major leaguer []

Orioles sign Ubaldo Jimenez to 4-year contract

With pitchers and catchers already in camp for Spring Training, it was only a matter of time before Ubaldo Jimenez finally got a lucrative contract. The Baltimore Orioles gave him just that when they agreed to terms with the former Indian on a 4-year, $48 million contract, per Ken Rosenthal and MASNSports.com’s Roch Kubatko.

Several teams were reportedly interested in Jimenez, one of the last high-profile free agent starters on the market. There had been talk that the Toronto Blue Jays were in on him, and Baltimore had to give Ubaldo the fourth year to get the deal done. The Indians as a result will receive first-round draft pick compensation (the 30th pick) for the loss of Ubaldo Jimenez. The Orioles meanwhile will forfeit the 17th pick and corresponding pool money in this summer’s draft. There was some outside hope that the longer that Jimenez remained on the open market, the greater possibility he could return to Cleveland at a discount. However, news broke last week that the Indians had not spoken to Jimenez’s representation in “weeks” and ended realistic hopes of such an event.

Jimenez was one of the most polarizing figures on the Tribe since his July 2011 acquisition from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for prospects Drew Pomeranz and Alex White. He was a huge disappointment in 2011 and 2012, but his 2013 effort from May through the end of the season was one of the single most critical contributions to the Indians’ surprise playoff run. How huge were his contributions? Here’s an excerpt from my nomination of Ubaldo as WFNY Sportsman of the Year 2013.

He struck out more batters per nine innings than at any point in his career in 2013, and he greatly reduced his walk rate to within the same range as he was at when he was an All-Star and Cy Young contender in 2010. Cleveland went 21-11 in his 32 outings and 8-2 in his no-decisions, including one loss where Ubaldo left with the lead.

Jiménez allowed more than two earned runs in a start just ONCE after July 14th. In his six September starts, the Indians were 6-0, and Ubaldo earned four of those wins himself, allowing just 4 earned runs in 41 1/3 innings (0.87 ERA) while walking just 7 and striking out 51. In Game 162, needing a win to guarantee a wild card spot and not just a home play-in game or a wild card berth that could have potentially taken them on the road, Jiménez was brilliant. He kept the Twins’ bats silent for 6 2/3 innings, allowing a lone run on five hits while striking out 13 batters. Ubaldo Jiménez cemented October baseball being played in Cleveland, Ohio for the first time in six years.

With Jimenez officially out of the picture, the Indians head into the spring with Justin Masterson, Danny Salazar, Corey Kluber, and Zach McAllister as four near-locks for the rotation. The fifth starter spot will be a competition between youngsters Carlos Carrasco, Josh Tomlin, and Trevor Bauer as well as non-roster invitees Shaun Marcum and Aaron Harang. A couple starter options do remain in free agency such as Chris Capuano, Joe Saunders, and Ervin Santana.

Related: The Diff: Looking at extension examples for the Indians and Jason Kipnis

Indians haven’t talked to Ubaldo Jiménez in weeks

No player in Cleveland had a bigger turn-around than Ubaldo

Pitchers and catchers are set to report to Goodyear, Arizona and one of their own, free agent starter Ubaldo Jiménez, remains unsigned. Nevertheless, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that the Tribe has not had contact with Jiménez in “weeks.”

Jiménez, arguably the best pitcher in the AL through the second half of 2013, is still on the market and there’s been some chatter about the right-hander returning to Cleveland on a one-year deal, but it’s all speculation at this point. As Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Terry Pluto pointed out this past weekend, Jeff Sullivan over at Fangraphs did an interesting story on Jiménez, explaining why teams are very cautious about throwing sizeable free agent dollars in his direction, including the team’s second-half schedule and the effect of Yan Gomes behind the plate. “Jimenez is probably the most mysterious out of everybody. He’s been an ace, he’s been a wreck, and he’s been everything in between,” writes Sullivan.

The 30-year-old Jiménez posted a 3.30 ERA and 194/80 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 182 2/3 innings last season. He was said to be looking at a multi-year deal upwards of $14 million per year. He was linked to the Toronto Blue Jays at the end of January, but those talks have apparently not progressed.

 

Could Ubaldo have a Cleveland Homecoming?

 Ubaldo Jimenez

(Editor’s Note: The following is a submission from Richard Clark)

With Masahiro Tanaka off the board, inking a 7-year, $155 million deal with the less-than-frugal New York Yankees, and Matt Garza agreeing to terms with the Brewers for four years and $52 million, the free agency pitching logjam should begin to clear out quickly over the next few weeks. The likes of Paul Maholm, Bronson Arroyo, Ervin Santana, and Ubaldo Jimenez will finally get some deserved attention, and lucrative deals, as desperation becomes a key component late in the free agency period. Front offices will be looking to put the final touches on their rosters before Spring Training, and front-of-the-line rotation arms are hard to come by. However, despite gargantuan contracts becoming the norm for starting pitchers – I’m looking at you, Clayton Kershaw – it seems one of the above is likely to come at a bargain; that man is Ubaldo Jimenez. 

[Read more...]

Browns coaching search, Anthony Bennett and Super Bowl predictions with Dennis Manoloff – WFNY Podcast – 2014-01-29

WFNY Podcast LogoIt’s always great to catch up with Dennis Manoloff (follow D-Man on Twitter) and it has been too long since I have done so. D-Man talked to me about a variety of topics today from the Browns hiring Mike Pettine, philisophically how he treats the Pilot Flying J case as a Browns story, and Anthony Bennett.

Does Anthony Bennett still belongs in the d-league after his breakout night?

What are the chances that Ubaldo Jimenez is back with the Tribe?

Will T.J. Ward or Alex Mack be back with the Browns?

How much blame should Mike Brown take for the Cavs’ woes?

What does D-Man think of the cold-weather Super Bowl?

What are his predictions for “The Big Game?”

Check out this episode

Thursday Tribe Notes

Its cold. Its winter. The Cavs are awful. The Browns Head Coaching search is comical at this point. Lets talk about the best team in town, shall we?

Carlos Santana - Dejak AP1. This Carlos Santana to third base thing took on a life of its own over the past few days. Speaking to ESPN Deportes baseball insider Enrique Rojas, the Tribe slugger said that he is expecting to play Third Base in 2014 and that is all he has been working on this winter. In so many words, Carlos intimated to Rojas that he will be the starter at the hot corner. The quotes seemed a little strange, considering the idea was essentially hatched as an experiment during winter ball.

Then yesterday, Tribe manager Terry Francona met with the media and put some water on the flames. Everyone needs to pump the brakes. [Read more...]

Yankees ink Tanaka; Ubaldo Jiménez could be the next domino to fall

No player in Cleveland had a bigger turn-around than Ubaldo

Is Ubaldo the next to sign?

Highly coveted Japanese import Masahiro Tanaka and the New York Yankees agreed to a seven-year $155 million deal on Wednesday. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal was the first to report the details. It’s a record amount given to an incoming Japanese player under the new posting system that caps team transfer fees at $20 million.

But with Tanaka off the free agent board, this now means that pieces should fall into play soon for the remaining top pitchers. This includes likely departing Cleveland Indians right-hander Ubaldo Jiménez as well as Kansas City’s Ervin Santana and Texas’ Matt Garza.

MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo shares that one National League executive bets that deals could be reached for those three as early as this weekend.

Today is actually Jiménez’s 30th birthday. He had an outstanding final four-fifths of 2013 with the Tribe. In his 27 starts from April 29-onward, he went 13-7 with a 2.61 ERA and 179 strikeouts in 165.2 innings. He arguably was baseball’s best pitcher in the second half.

This followed nearly two full seasons of sub-standard pitching, among the worst for any full-time starter. That’s what makes his free agency status fairly intriguing in this rapidly changing market place. Reportedly, he is requesting $14 million per year for multiple seasons.

Jiménez declined Cleveland’s one-year qualifying offer of $14.1 million. That means any signing team will have to forfeit their highest available draft pick for the right to sign him in free agency. That caveat means there’s a small but non-zero possibility he could somehow find his way back to Cleveland.

[Related: The Qualifier: Can the Indians steal back Ubaldo Jimenez?]

 

The Qualifier: Can the Indians steal back Ubaldo Jimenez?

Ubaldo JimenezThe waiting……I cant take much more of it. No, I am not talking about the ridiculous and seemingly clueless Browns Head Coaching search. Just get me to Tribe opening day already.

(Let me get it out of the way. If the Browns are indeed waiting on Denver Offensive Coordinator Adam Gase, then fine. I guess. But what happens when the 35-year old decides he doesn’t want the job? Then what?)

OK no more Browns talk. Let me get to the one team in town that actually has a chance to not only get the playoffs, but actually make a run. Yeah. I said it. Why not? Did any of you see 92 wins coming last year? Nope. I know I didn’t. But with Terry Francona at the helm, anything is possible.

Most people think the Indians are all set with their roster. There will be plenty of opportunities on this team to become members of both “The Goon Squad” and the bullpen. The starting rotation seems to be set with the top four guys with three in-house options along with a veteran lottery ticket attempting to be the final piece to the puzzle.

But is there a possibility that the Indians can pull off another late winter surprise?

[Read more...]

My Cleveland Sportsman of 2013: Ubaldo Jiménez

No player in Cleveland had a bigger turn-around than Ubaldo

No player in Cleveland had a bigger turn-around than Ubaldo
David Maxwell/Getty Images

Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year is an annual must-read. Given that the national recognition rarely has anything to do with the teams or individuals whom we cover. In turn, WFNY will soon announce its choice for 2013′s Cleveland Sportsman of the Year. Here’s one of the nominations for that honor by a WFNY writer.

[Read more...]

Though still unsigned, Ubaldo Jiménez wants $14 million per year

According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the reprentation for Ubaldo Jimenez are telling clubs that he still expects to sign a multi-year deal worth at least $14 million annually.

Jimenez looks to rebound from his rough start in ChicagoAs winter meetings are well in the rear view and spring trainings across the major leagues are set to kick off in just a few weeks, Jiménez remains unsigned after declining his option with the Tribe. Earlier this offseason, it was reported that Jiménez—fresh off of second half that rivaled his 2010 season— was looking for a four-year deal that would pay him somewhere in the neighborhood of $17-20 million per year, but his asking price appears to have been lowered.

Masahiro Tanaka, the highly coveted 25-year-old from Japan, recently arrived in the United States and appears to be the domino that must fall before the rest of the top-tier pitching market starts putting pen to paper. Tanaka went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in 212 innings last summer for Japan’s Rakuten Golden Eagles and is expected to command more than $100 million. His signing deadline is January 24, so it should not be long before players like Jiménez can slot in behind him. The Blue Jays, Diamondbacks, and Yankees have all been mentioned as possible landing spots for the former Indians starter.

The Tribe will at least receive that compensatory first-round draft pick for Jiménez’ past services while hoping that young arms like Trevor Bauer are finally ready for the big leagues.

The Diff: Reviewing Indians pitching moves this offseason

The Diff is your weekly WFNY look into the amazing world of sports statistics. For a complete log of articles, click this link. On Friday, I wrote about the Cavs’ terrible offense (except for when they play the lowly Philadelphia 76ers, apparently). Today, I’m writing about the many offseason transactions involving pitchers for the the Cleveland Indians.

The Diff

Entering this offseason, it appeared the Indians were in a lot of trouble with their pitching. In 2012, they were terrible, abysmal and among the worst in baseball. In 2013, everything seemingly went well. Players were healthy and reclamation projects turned into stars. Yet, the Tribe only ranked slightly better than average among AL teams with a 3.82 ERA. But then, they were set to lose players to free agency responsible for 38% of their starts and 45% of their relief appearances. Everyone knew the Indians would be busy and would need to spend money. But would they make a splash to replace the lost production? Thus far, they haven’t. [Read more...]

My Cleveland Sportsman of 2013: Mickey Callaway

Mickey Callaway, miracle worker (Associated Press)

Mickey Callaway: Not a miracle worker, but pretty darn close
(Associated Press)

Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year is an annual must-read. Given that the national recognition rarely has anything to do with the teams or individuals whom we cover. In turn, WFNY will soon announce its choice for 2013′s Cleveland Sportsman of the Year. Here’s one of the nominations for that honor by an WFNY writer.

[Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… Moving To Third, Getting Bynum The Ball, and Forsaken Baseball Teams

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.

WWW_Refrigerator_Indians1

Leading off, we know Carlos Santana is playing winter ball to get some reps at third base. But how likely is he to succeed? Grant Brisbee at SB Nation has some examples. “Right now, if you’re an Indians fan, you’re thinking about Miguel Cabrera. He’s rummaging around in your brain like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, even as you’re trying not to think of him. You’re getting sad. And that’s before you consider that Cabrera wasn’t really that bad at his return to third, considering. Then remember that he had a ton of professional experience at the position, and that his conversion was much more likely to succeed than Santana’s. Sorry. But if you’re looking for optimism, think about Pablo Sandoval, who had 105 games at third in the low minors compared to Santana’s 58. There was no reason for Sandoval to work out at third, especially when you get to his … unique physical geometry. But it worked out. Sandoval’s had an up-and-down career at third defensively, but the ups are quite up. He was a Gold Glove finalist in 2011, and he deserved to be.” [SB Nation]

The Cavaliers have had trouble getting Andrew Bynum in the right spots. Alex Raffali at Stepien Rules elaborates, “Bynum has an old school type of game. Big men of his size and skill come once in a generation. He can play on both blocks, even if he seems to prefer being set up on the right side, where he can face up, go over both shoulders for a hook, or spin in the lane.   He can also take a couple dribbles and finish with a nifty layup or a devastating dunk at the rim. This does not make him ineffective on the left block, where he seems to enjoy turning around towards the baseline for a fadeaway jumper that is so sweet you wonder how such a monstruous human being can move so smoothly, or a simple but extremely efficient up and under when he turns towards the paint. His combination of strength, quickness and footwork makes him a complete package guy around whom you want to build a powerful offense.  It is easy to understand why Mike Brown wants to make him the number one threat on that end of the floor.” [Stepien Rules] [Read more...]

How badly do the Indians need more starters? – Cleveland Indians Roundtable

WFNY_roundtable

Craig: Maybe I’m blinded by optimism, but I’m not overly concerned with a pitcher. The Indians have Masterson, Salazar, Kluber, McAllister and guys like Tomlin, Carrasco and Bauer to find five guys today. Yes it would be nice to insert a name in that list somewhere, but I’m not feeling desperate just yet. Look at me being a Tribe optimist!

Am I taking those top three for granted and overrating the Tribe’s own guys? How anxious are the rest of you to add starting pitching versus other roster needs?

Scott: Ubaldo Jimenez and Scot Kazmir were worth just a little less than six wins between the two of them. In just 10 starts, Danny Salazar was worth 1.2; Corey Kluber was worth 2.7 in 26 starts. Extrapolating is a dangerous tactic, but it wouldn’t be far-fetched to assume that these two could help fill in the gaps that were left by pesky things like innings limits and injuries. [Read more...]

Chris Antonetti talks Indians offseason on Sirius XM

Cleveland Indians general manager Chris Antonetti was on Sirius XM earlier this afternoon to talk about the team’s upcoming offseason.

You can listen for yourself on this SiriusXM link for a 3.5-minute portion of the entire interview. Per Twitter, other topics mentioned: Asdrubal Cabrera’s offseason training regimen, Trevor Bauer’s rocky 2013 and Danny Salazar’s unrestricted 2014.

From the available 3.5-minute comments, here’s a paraphrased transcription.

On Ubaldo Jimenez…
Antonetti said he’s not certain if he’ll be back next year, but the team “would be thrilled if he accepts the qualifying offer.” Gave credit to Jimenez and pitching coach Mickey Callaway for the pitcher’s impressive 2013 season.

On starting pitching depth…
Named off, perhaps surprisingly, Carlos Carrasco and Josh Tomlin as options for next season. Said the team feels good about its depth, but would obviously love Jimenez back.

On other offseason needs…
“We’ve lost a lot in our bullpen,” he said, mentioning released Chris Perez plus free agents Joe Smith, Matt Albers and Rich Hill. Expects the team will add a couple of pieces to the bullpen. And the team will be trying to find another “complementary bat.”

On the offense…
“We’re in a fortunate position going into the offseason in that we basically are returning an entire position player team that was fourth in the American League and fifth in baseball in runs scored.” Discussed the offense’s versatility.

On that “complementary bat”…
Antonetti said, in an ideal world, this would be a left-handed hitter. He rattled off outfield, first base, designated hitter and third base, in order, as potential positions of need for this player.

[Related: The Diff: Indians offseason, 2014 salary and contention windows]

The Diff: Indians offseason, 2014 salary and contention windows

The Diff is your weekly WFNY look into the amazing world of sports statistics. This is my 41st edition of The Diff. For a complete log of articles, click this link. Last week, I injected some stats into a Cavs rotation projection. This week, I’m writing about 2014 Indians salary issues.

The Diff

For many, talking about baseball salaries is a tiring and depressing issue. These fans will point to the unfair system that allows teams like New York, Los Angeles and Boston to spend their way into the playoffs each year while teams like Tampa Bay, Oakland and Cleveland wilt away at the bottom. But this idea ignores a clear truth: Teams like the Rays (four straight 90-win seasons) and Athletics (seven playoffs in 14 years) still have managed to win baseball games consistently. Their small-budget success makes one wonder how the Cleveland Indians could be even more efficient in the future. That continues with this current offseason. [Read more...]

Talkin’ Tribe: Winning the Ubaldo trade, Kazmir’s future, and Tim Hudson?

Scott KazmirYou can forget any talk about Ubaldo Jimenez returning to Cleveland, no matter what GM Chris Antonetti said yesterday. Of course they want to talk to him about a long term deal. Doesn’t mean it is going to happen. I am sure that Ubaldo’s agents will give the Indians brass a courtesy meeting, but he priced his way right out of town with his superb performance after the All-Star break. As I have said for six plus weeks – the Edwin Jackson/Cubs four-year, $52 million contract from last winter should be the absolute starting point for any negotiations for Jimenez and any team he talks to. That being the case, it is obvious we have seen the last of Ubaldo Jimenez in an Indians uniform.

With the Ubaldo era all but over here, we can now close the book on the infamous trade that was panned initially by so many – yours truly included. Despite the fact that two of the two and a half years he was here were extremely uneven, Antonetti traded for Ubaldo to help pitch his team to the playoffs. In the end, that is exactly what he did, just a couple of seasons later than he was acquired to do so. You can now say with conviction that the Indians got the better of the deal with the Rockies that sent former first round picks Alex White and Drew Pomeranz to Colorado. [Read more...]

MLB News: Indians extend qualifying offer to Ubaldo Jimenez

The Indians announced this afternoon that they have extended a one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer to right-handed starter Ubaldo Jimenez. The team had until 5 p.m. today to make their decision.

Notably, Cleveland did not extend a qualifying offer to lefty Scott Kazmir. He also was eligible to receive such an offer. He now will be a free agent, able to sign with any MLB team with no risk of draft compensation.

In the event that Jimenez signs with another squad, the Indians will receive an additional early draft pick for next June. Cleveland already received an extra draft pick from the competitive balance draft lottery.

It’s unsurprising that the soon-to-be 30-year-old Jimenez received the offer. He had a huge bounceback season, finishing 11-9 with a 3.30 ERA in 32 starts. Fans were mixed when it came down to Kazmir, two days older, who was 10-9 with a 4.04 ERA in 29 starts after missing over two full seasons.

Jimenez has until 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 11, to decide whether he’ll accept the offer.

[Related: The Scott Kazmir decision looms large for Indians]