Cleveland Sports Insiders

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Asdrubal Cabrera: Above-Average Players and Contract Extensions

 

Eduardo Pérez (Credit: mediamoves.com)

When Asdrubal Cabrera signed a contract extension with the Cleveland Indians in 2012, Manny Acta (rightly) described Cabrera as having carried the offense in 2011. Fresh off a 25-home run season in which he was the third-best offensive shortstop in baseball, Asdrubal Cabrera’s value was at its zenith.

In a sense, it was the worst time for the Indians to sign him.

Fast forward only two years later to April 2014, the two-year, $16.5 million contract set to pay Cabrera $10 million this year is less unambiguously well-received – in much the same sense as John Elway is not unanimously beloved by Browns fans, or in the same sense as LeBron James in 2011 was slightly less Playing For The Cavaliers. Even in the best of times, Cleveland commits to shunning The Astrocab.

His contract is perhaps one of the largest contributing factors to the great heap of disdain. After a 2013 season in which he posted subpar offensive numbers, coupled with the worst shortstop defense in the league, demands for top prospect Francisco Lindor mounted, both locally and nationally, only adding to enmity toward the shortstop – not only was he objectively below-average, he was perceived as the force holding back the best cornerstone shortstop prospect in the game. Given that, bitterness swelled at the idea of giving $10 million to the below-average Asdrubal Cabrera.

Before that line of rhetoric takes off – i.e.: that Cabrera’s contract is a substantial overpay – there are two decisively mitigating factors: service time, and the quality of Asdrubal’s 2014 play. Continue reading


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Audacity: Gomes extension a coup

Yan Gomes belts a homer (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Yan Gomes belts a homer (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

I am writing right now without a traditional sense of objectivity, which is any time one reacts immediately to a deal, there is a tendency to display immense polarity. This is, in many ways, a disclaimer before I lavish much praise upon the Indians’ front office.

As spring training began to wind down and the inability of the Indians to extend both staff ace Justin Masterson and all-star second baseman Jason Kipnis began to weigh on Indians’ fans, Tribe GM Chris Antonetti found a way to blindside the fan base with a move on the eve of opening day. Blindside seems to be fairly appropriate, as there was no hint or foreshadowing any interest of the Indians in extending Gomes this off-season.

This is not to say that Gomes is not deserving of such an extension, but even for myself, a vociferous supporter of buying out arbitration years and tacking on club options, I had not considered such an offer for Gomes prior to this season.

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Opening the Plexiglas Door

The Plexiglas Principle states that a team that unexpectedly breaks out one year should be expected to decline the following year; rather than continue improving, one should expect that team to decline from their previous year’s success.

Regression to the mean is the basis of this principle. Not only should one expect luck-based statistics like BABIP to return to the mean, one should also expect skill-based statistics to regress toward the mean. Expecting Raburn’s or (pre-injury) Kluber’s exceptional skill-based statistics to hold steady or improve is an unreasonable expectation, but that does not mean that the odds-on likeliest possibility is an almost total return to the mean, but merely a regression toward the mean: excellent performances, ones that exceeded projections, are much more likely to be ‘good’ rather than ‘excellent,’ but they’re also unlikely to return to being merely average. Continue reading


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Indians’ projections at the Corner of Carnegie and Ontario

Masterson (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Masterson (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

While rationalizations over the firing of Rob Chudzinsky and the Browns’ ensuing head-coach search engross us here at the Corner of Carnegie and Ontario, a relatively quiet hot-stove league is finally set to give way to the sights and sounds of a new and fresh baseball season. In less than a month, 27 days to be exact, pitchers and catchers report to Goodyear, Arizona signaling the start of the 2014 baseball season.

For most readers of my column, the Browns escapades and the Cavaliers year-to-year folly are mere placeholders for the crack-of-the-bat, the pop of the glove and all of the optimism that comes with the start of every year. The Cleveland Indians won 92 games last season and tasted the playoffs for the first time since 2007. With the major pieces seemingly set, it’s time to start figuring out what is to be expected of the 2014 Indians.

Can this club match the blossoming expectations that are now in place, or is the bar set far too high thanks to an unexpected September run? Regardless of what you believe, the 2014 Indians are set to give the North Coast one thing that neither the Browns nor the Cavs can. Continue reading


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Orbiting Cleveland: Ubaldo Jimenez will be back in 2014

Ubaldo Jimenez (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

Ubaldo Jimenez (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

It may have taken some time, but it appears as if the Indians’ offseason plans are finally becoming a bit clearer.

During the past week, we’ve seen the Indians sign John AxfordShaun Marcum and trade Drew Stubbs to acquire Josh Outman.

None of these moves could be described as big acquisitions, but it does at least signal that the Indians are trying to address their concerns and get… better.

Better — that’s an interesting word to consider.

The Indians won 92 games last season and also earned one of the American League’s Wild Card berths. Knowing that, it’s not going to be that easy for the team to get much better; it’s very difficult to win much more than 92 games in a season.

So let’s consider that word one more time. Has this team actually positioned itself to be better in 2014?

Offensively, it looks as if that may be the case.

A platoon of David Murphy and Ryan Raburn will now replace Stubbs in right field. Murphy is coming off a rough 2013 campaign, but he does seem like a solid candidate for a rebound season.

Also, we know the back of the bullpen was a problem area for the Indians in 2014. They did improve that a bit by acquiring the lefty Outman, and Axford will now be the closer. However, Axford has not been a closer since 2012, and he also has a career average of 4.0 walks per nine innings. Tribe fans can probably expect that Axford has a comparable performance to Chris Perez, and it’s no guarantee that he will offer much more than that.

Also, it appears as if the Indians are banking on offensive players like Michael BournNick Swisher and Asdrubal Cabrera having much better seasons at the plate. It does seem likely that all three of these players could rebound, but what if then Yan GomesCarlos Santana and Jason Kipnis also have down years at the plate?

In all honesty, it seems fair to conclude that the offense has made a slight improvement with the addition of Murphy over Stubbs, and the bullpen does seem a bit more stable. The team now has two viable left-handers in Outman and Marc Rzepczynski, and that was not the case last season.

But there is one area where the team is noticeably thinner — starting pitching.

As of now, the rotation appears to be Justin MastersonDanny SalazarCorey Kluber and Zach McAllister. The fifth spot in the rotation will likely be decided in a battle between Carlos CarrascoJosh TomlinTrevor Bauer and Marcum.

Sorry, that’s simply just not enough.

The Indians have already lost Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir, who both played integral roles in leading the team to the postseason last year. Do the Indians win 92 games without either of these two guys last year?

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12 Days of Christmas at the Corner of Carnegie and Ontario

Progressive FieldIt’s Christmas time here at the Corner of Carnegie and Ontario, and what that means for the Pete household is a respite before loading up the Pete Family Truckster for a criss-crossing, 2000 mile trek up and down the East Coast, taking my family to both Florida and Pennsylvania over the next two weeks.

Trust me when I say that I’ll enjoy the respite of Christmas day with just my family, opening presents, watching 24 hours of a Christmas Story, and hopefully falling asleep at some point around 5:00 P.M.

Hopefully you’ll be doing the same.

With all of that said, it’s Wednesday, and the column must go on. I’ve decided to take a much more relaxed tone this week, and have delved into the land of theme.

With Christmas Day finally here, I’ve decided to go the route of the ‘Twelve Days of Christmas for the 2014 Cleveland Indians.’ Oh, I could have rehashed the 2013 season (it certainly would have been easier), but thought it would be fun to take a look into Christmas’ future, rather than Christmas past.

Jeez, I just hope I, or the Indians, don’t bump into the Grim Reaper along the way.

Let’s give this a whirl…

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Optimistic offense at the Corner of Carnegie and Ontario

Santana Slam (by Jason Miller US Presswire)

Santana Slam (by Jason Miller US Presswire)

The winds of change are blowing here at the Corner of Carnegie and Ontario, as Drew Stubbs was sent packing to the Colorado Rockies for left-handed reliever, Josh Outman.

The deal in and of itself wasn’t something that should shake the ground that Cleveland Indians fans walk on, but it certainly showcases Chris Antonetti’s drive to reshape this team.

Stubbs became expendable back in November when they signed outfielder David Murphy to a two-year deal, and while there was speculation that Michael Bourn may be the better candidate to deal, it turned out that the initial belief that Stubbs would be dealt turned out to be true.

Who is Josh Outman?

He’s most certainly going to be the second left-hander in the bullpen, after the Indians acquired Marc Rzepczynski last year. He’s the pure definition of a LOOGY, as he absolutely decimated left-handers last year to the tune of .186/.251/.272 over the course of his major league career as both a starter and a reliever.

Outman should also provide a bit of a value gain from Drew Stubbs, as he should make $2 to $3 million less than the former fleet-footed outfielder would have made with the Indians this season.

I know that many people wanted more for Stubbs based on a market that seemingly is overpaying for everything, but he’s likely exactly the right value.

Will this preclude the Indians from making more moves as the offseason continues?

That’s the real question.
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Optimistic offense at the Corner of Carnegie and Ontario

Michael Brantley (photo: AP)

Michael Brantley (photo: AP)

The winds of change are blowing here at the Corner of Carnegie and Ontario, as Drew Stubbs was sent packing to the Colorado Rockies for left-handed reliever, Josh Outman.

The deal in and of itself wasn’t something that should shake the ground that Cleveland Indians fans walk on, but it certainly showcases Chris Antonetti’s drive to reshape this team.

Stubbs became expendable back in November when they signed outfielder David Murphy to a two-year deal, and while there was speculation that Michael Bourn may be the better candidate to deal, it turned out that the initial belief that Stubbs would be dealt turned out to be true.

Who is Josh Outman?

Continue reading