Photo Gallery: Latest Progressive Field construction updates

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Workers were in high gear at the ballpark on Monday thanks to temperatures in the 50s — in mid-December! Construction progress continues, with structural support in place in the new bar area in right field, as well as continued progress on the new bullpens in center field.

As reminder, for full renderings of the finished project and a live video stream of construction is available by clicking here.

–Photos by Dan Mendlik

We asked for Tribe-themed holiday decorations, and our fans delivered

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On Monday night, we asked our fans for pictures of their Indians-themed holiday decorations, spurred by this amazing Christmas tree sent in by a fan named Shannon.

Our fans delivered, sending in pictures of their decorations via Facebook and Twitter.

If you have your own decorations at home, Tweet them at us and we’ll add them to this gallery!

AUDIO: Mark Shapiro discusses genesis, importance of Mentor of the Year Awards

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Mark Shapiro joined WTAM’s Bill Wills Show on Monday morning to discuss the organization’s Mentor of the Year Awards, and the importance he sees in recognizing and honoring strong mentors in our community.

Take a listen below!

For more information on Mentor of the Year and information on how to nominate click here. The nomination deadline is this Friday, Dec. 19.

Cleveland makes mag’s list of top 50 places to travel; add the Tribe to your vacation list!

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Some great news to brighten up your Friday: Travel + Leisure magazine’s 2015 list of Best Places to Travel includes Cleveland, and we’re in rare company: We’re one of only 12 U.S. destinations, and the only one in the Midwest.

What the mag has to say about our fair city:

  • Revival is well under way in downtown Cleveland, as young professionals move in and historic buildings are repurposed. The Westin Cleveland Downtown and Marriott’s Metropolitan at the 9 (with a theater and an indoor dog park) began welcoming guests in 2014, joining the Downtown Aloft, est. 2013. Several hotels will follow as the city preps for the 2016 Republican National Convention. Keep an eye out for Ohio’s first Kimpton—in the 1901 terra-cotta Schofield Building—and the 30-story Hilton Cleveland Downtown overlooking Lake Erie. One of downtown’s most buzzed-about 2015 openings is Mabel’s BBQ from Iron Chef and native son Michael Symon, who wants to establish a Cleveland-style barbecue. (He’s finessing the sauce, likely a mix of mustard, Ohio maple syrup, and vinegar.) The innovative local food scene also counts farm-to-table Flying Fig and Mitchell’s Ice Cream, which began churning out seasonal small-batch flavors in April 2014. Both are in the hip Ohio City neighborhood, near the West Side Market, linked to downtown by new bike lanes. Over in Uptown, the Cleveland Institute of Art’s expansion nears completion. It’s a short walk to the Museum of Contemporary Art, which got a shiny new home in late 2012. And don’t forget game-changer LeBron James, who’s back in town and eager to give Cleveland more reasons to be proud. —Kate Appleton

Fantastic news, and we like to think we play a big part: We’ve built a strong core headlined by Cy Young winner Corey Kluber and MVP finalist Michael Brantley, who’ve led our team to the fourth-most wins in the AL over the past two seasons, including a playoff berth in 2013.

Plus, we have dramatic fan experience enhancements coming for 2015, more details of which can be found here.

Here’s our 2015 schedule: Make plans to come check out Tribe baseball at Progressive Field today!

 

 

Santa Slider, Nestle Tollhouse/Indians employees treat Boys and Girls Clubs to holiday parties

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The Cleveland Indians and partner Nestlé Tollhouse played host to parties at three Boys and Girls Clubs locations on Wednesday, as part of each organization’s commitment to the Northeast Ohio community.

Santa Slider and representatives from Nestlé and the Indians front office were on hand at the Boys and Girls Clubs’ Broadway Club, to announce a donation from Nestlé, bake cookies and distribute gifts to children.

“It’s great to partner with Nestlé, a company that shares our strong commitment to our community, especially around the holidays,” said Rebecca Kodysh, Indians Executive Director of Community Impact.

“We’re proud to present the Boys and Girls Clubs with this donation and, with the Indians, allow them to enjoy an afternoon of gifts, a fun treat and visit from Santa Slider,” said Bob Smith, Vice President of the Nestlé USA Sales Division.

The Boys and Girls Clubs are a primary beneficiary of Cleveland Indians Charities, which has donated millions to youth-oriented agencies and organizations in Northeast Ohio.

Boys & Girls Clubs of America also is a community partner of Nestlé, and provides services and programs focusing on education, healthy lifestyle, the arts and character/leadership development. Through a network of 4,000 clubs serving 4.1 million children nationwide, they are a key charity for Nestlé as the company strives to bring Nestlé’s motto – Good Food, Good Life – to the communities where associates live and work.

ABOUT NESTLÉ
Named one of “The World’s Most Admired Food Companies” in Fortune magazine for 17 consecutive years, Nestlé provides quality brands that bring flavor to life every day. From nutritious meals with Lean Cuisine® to baking traditions with Nestlé® Toll House®, Nestlé USA makes delicious, convenient and nutritious food and beverages that make good living possible. That’s what “Nestlé. Good Food, Good Life” is all about. Nestlé USA, with 2013 sales of $10 billion, is part of Nestlé S.A. in Vevey, Switzerland — the world’s largest food company with a commitment to Nutrition, Health & Wellness — with 2013 sales of $99 billion. For product news and information, visit Nestleusa.com or Facebook.com/NestleUSA.

–Photos by Dan Mendlik

Grantland’s Jonah Keri: Gomes, Brantley, Kluber three of most valuable players in baseball

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Jonah Keri, a long-time national baseball writer who now writes for Grantland — and previously looked inside the Tampa Bay Rays’ approach in book form — recently published his MLB Trade Value column, and writes favorably about three of the Tribe’s best players: Yan Gomes, Michael Brantley and Corey Kluber.

Important note: Keri is not writing that these three players will be traded; they’ll be in Tribe uniforms for many years to come. As we’ve written here, each player is under club control through at least 2017. Keri simply writes that each player is among the most valuable in the game, thanks in large part to the contract extensions we signed Gomes and Brantley to before this season.

Details on each:

No. 25 most valuable contract in baseball: Yan Gomes (NR), C, Cleveland Indians

Aside from the minor leaguers, Gomes is probably the player on this list who has the least name-recognition among casual fans. That won’t be the case for long. Toronto drafted Gomes in the 10th round in 2009 and dealt him in 2012 for Esmil Rogers, a trade the Jays surely regret, and one that contributed to their decision to spend $82 million on Russell Martin this offseason. Gomes has quietly grown into one of the AL’s best all-around players, bashing 21 homers and posting a .278/.313/.472 line in 2014 while displaying strong pitch-framing skills and playing generally excellent defense. He’s 27 years old, he’s owed a paltry $20.95 million over the next five years, and the Tribe would need to spend only another $20 million to lock him up through 2021.

If the Indians were as good at signing free agents as they are trading for unheralded prospects, they’d be a damn dynasty by now.

16. Michael Brantley (NR), OF, Cleveland Indians
15. Corey Kluber (NR), SP, Cleveland Indians

I mentioned the Indians’ impressive prospect-thievery skills earlier, and here’s further proof: They got Brantley as a throw-in for CC Sabathia and got Kluber as an afterthought in a random Jake Westbrook–Ryan Ludwick three-way exchange. Not too shabby!

In 2014, Brantley blossomed from a decent all-around player to a .327/.385/.506 one-man wrecking crew who might be even better than his 7.0 WAR indicated. Brantley’s batting average on balls in play spiked to a career-high .333 in 2014, but there’s reason to believe that might not be a fluke: According to ESPN Stats & Info, he ranked eighth in the majors in hard-hit average, trailing only David Ortiz, Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Andrew McCutchen, Adrian Beltre, Edwin Encarnacion, and Lucas Duda. At $19 million over the next three years (with an $11 million club option for 2018),1 the 27-year-old has emerged as a cornerstone.

As impressive as Brantley was, though, he took second billing to fellow breakout sensation Kluber, who tossed 235.2 innings, punched out 269 batters, posted a 2.44 ERA, and won the damn Cy Young. Kluber is 28, Indians property for four more seasons, and isn’t even arbitration-eligible yet. Brantley and Kluber earned two of the top four spots on my fake AL MVP ballot for 2014, and should continue earning that kind of recognition for years to come.

Time-lapse video: New bullpens taking shape in center field

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Last week, we showed you photos of the new bullpens going up as part of out ongoing enhancement project at Progressive Field; now, here’s video!

As a reminder, you can watch a live stream of the ballpark project by clicking here!

–Video by Nick Owens and Steve Asbury

Construction updates: Bullpen walls going up, Kids Clubhouse work under way

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Work continues on the enhancements to the fan experience at Progressive Field, with the walls for the bullpen in center field going up and demolition work in the Kids Clubhouse beginning. (For renderings of what the project will look like when it’s complete, click here.)

Check out photos above and a time-lapse video below:

–Photos by Dan Mendlik/Video by Nick Owens

ESPN’s Olney high on quintet of Tribe players

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ESPN Insider Buster Olney has completed his annual positional rankings, and Indians players fared well: Michael Brantley was the top-ranked left fielder, while Yan Gomes, Jason Kipnis, Corey Kluber and Cody Allen also rated highly. (Olney factored in more than just the 2014 season, hence Kluber’s ranking.)

Since Olney’s blog is an Insider blog, some Tribe fans may not have access to it; here’s a link and Olney’s reasoning behind placing our guys where he has:

Left fielders

No. 1 — Michael Brantley: He was a working definition of consistency in 2014, with 200 hits (Jose Altuve was the only other player to reach that mark), 67 extra-base hits, 52 walks and 56 strikeouts, plus 23 stolen bases in 24 attempts. His OPS before the All-Star break was .901, and afterward it was .876. In September, when the Indians were making one last push for the postseason, he posted a 1.022 OPS. The only position players who scored higher in Fangraphs’ WAR last season were Mike Trout and Andrew McCutchen. Brantley finished third in the AL MVP vote, exactly where he should’ve finished.

Starters

No. 8 — Corey Kluber: He doesn’t have the long track record of other starters on this list, but it’s hard to overstate how dominant he was last season, with a breaking ball that confounded hitters who were so often behind in the count. Check out these highlights — the run of his fastball, the spin of his breaking ball — from a start he made in July. After the All-Star break, hitters had a .555 OPS against Kluber, third-best in the majors.

Catchers

No. 7 – Yan Gomes: Gomes is perhaps the majors’ most underrated catcher, and Indians GM Chris Antonetti deserves a ton of credit for making a deal with the Blue Jays for him. The 27-year-old product of Brazil took over from Carlos Santana in the summer of 2013 because of what he can do defensively, and Gomes is really good offensively as well, having posted an .826 OPS in 2013 and .785 last season.

Gomes scores well in the pitch-framing numbers, and deserves a share of the credit for the staff-wide improvement of the Cleveland hurlers.

Relievers

No. 9 — Cody Allen: A big swing-and-miss reliever, Allen held opponents to a .601 OPS last season. He’s entrenched as the closer in the Indians’ bullpen.

Second basemen

No. 6 – Jason Kipnis: There’s no getting around it: Kipnis had a terrible season in 2014, posting a .240/.310/.330 slash line, and his extra-base hits plummeted from 57 to 32. But we’re giving him a mulligan, given his age (27) and the fact that he suffered an early-season oblique injury that seemed to put him in a hole from which he never climbed out. Maybe he got caught up in the effort of trying to make up for lost time and simply fell into bad habits. Justin Havens sent along these notes:

In 2013, Kipnis posted a .754 slugging percentage on fly balls, with 14 home runs and 9.5 percent of his fly balls turning into homers. Bizarrely, in 2014, he slugged just .301 on his fly balls, with only 4.3 percent (5) of them going for a home run. Perhaps most telling, his average fly ball distance dropped from 290 feet in 2013 to 270 in 2014. How good Kipnis is centers largely around which performance against left-handed pitchers is “real.” See below (chase rate is defined as percent of pitches out of the strike zone that result in swings):

2014: .208 batting average, .244 slugging, 30.1 percent chase rate
2013: .308 BA, .480 slugging, 18.8 percent chase rate
2012: .215 BA, .282 slugging, 21.2 percent chase rate

Carlos Santana — aka @TheRealSlamtana — at it again on Twitter

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Carlos Santana has had a pretty good 2014: After a slow start with the Tribe, he rebounded to become the first Indians switch hitter with 25 or more homers and 100 or more walks in the same season, finishing with 27 homers and 113 walks. (He led MLB in free passes.)

Then he played with the MLB All-Stars in the Japan Series.

In between, he joined Twitter, and Tribe fans have benefited since — Waiting for Next Yearhas called him Cleveland’s most engaging Twitter personality. He’s tweeted out fun (and sometimes weird) pictures, but most often just answered fans’ questions, pulling back the curtain a little on what it’s like to be a big-leaguer.

He did that again on Monday night — a sampling:

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