Results tagged ‘ Chris Antonetti ’
Indians General Manager Chris Antonetti and outfielder Michael Brantley met with media in Goodyear on Thursday afternoon, shortly after the Indians made Brantley’s four-year contract extension official.
Here’s a look at what the duo had to say:
Opening Statement from Chris Antonetti:
On the field, Michael is a complete player. He impacts the game offensively and defensively and he plays the game the right way. Beyond what he does on the field, Michael earned this extension for the way he approaches the game. He is a tireless worker, a great teammate and a complete professional in every sense of the word. When you are making an investment of this magnitude, those are the things you look for. He really embodies everything we look for in our players. There is no one more deserving of this than Michael.
Opening Statement from Michael Brantley:
First off, I want to thank the Cleveland organization for giving me this opportunity; I very much appreciate it. I want to thank the Dolan family as well, and everyone who helped me get to this point: the front office, my teammates, the clubbies, and the coaching staff; they are all a big part of this. I have to thank my family, my mother and father for raising me the right way and getting me to the field. I want to thank my wife for being such a good supporter and my children. This is a great day, it’s a blessing and I’m very happy to be part of the Cleveland organization.
On the motivation behind wanting to sign a long-term deal:
MB: First of all, Cleveland gave me the first opportunity to play at the Major League level. That does not go unnoticed, and I really appreciate that. We made some great strides last year and I feel like we can player even better as a group. We have such a great group of guys in the locker room and I’m excited to be part of it for years to come.
We have a great group of core guys – we are young and coming up. We feed off each other, we have great energy, great team chemistry; when you have that, it’s fun and exciting to come to work every day. I think we did great last year, but we can do even better this year. Everybody in that right room right now is all smiles; it’s just really part to be a part of (this team).
How tough was it to give up three arbitration years and one year of free agency?
MB: It’s not tough at all. The front office takes good care of you and that’s where you want to be. My family is comfortable here, I’m happy here and to put on Cleveland Indians uniform each and every day is a blessing. I’m excited to do that for years to come.
On his versatility:
MB: I always believe team comes first. I am a team player first and foremost. I want to pick up my teammates as much as they pick me up. We have a great group of guys in that locker room that makes sure we stay positive each and every day. When you go through rough patches, your teammates are there. When you have that great group of guys with you every day, it’s easy to play baseball here.
I’m willing to do whatever it takes. I want to win baseball games. I don’t care what it takes — I want to win. The strides we took last year, we are moving forward in a fast direction – it’s fun and exciting and a really great time to be a Cleveland Indians fan.
On how he approaches each at-bat:
MB: I am a firm believer in the game dictates what is going to happen (in each at-bat). If you are a leadoff hitter, you only lead off once a game – you just start the game off. I feel like the game dictates what you have to do in each situation. If nobody is on, you have to get on base for the guy behind you. If a guy is on third with fewer than two outs, you have to get him in. Little things like that will dictate the approach that I’ll have at the plate during that time. Moving up and down in the lineup, if it helps the team, I’m willing to do it.
How much does Michael’s versatility help the team?
CA: Michael’s contributions had a huge impact. Not only did he provide versatility in the outfield, but versatility in the lineup and how Tito constructed the lineup. It’s not easy to do what he did – to bounce selflessly between any spot in the lineup. He was willing to do whatever he could to help the team. That’s a huge advantage for us as an organization and Tito as a manager in putting the best team forward every night.
As I said earlier, it’s a competitive advantage. As Michael said, what enables him to do that is his entire focus is on the team and how we can win games. A lot of guys talk about that, but Michael lives that every day. He does it with how he approaches the game, his work ethic, the teammate he is in the locker room and with how he supports other players. He lives that. I think that approach allows him to view it that way.
On his father’s impact on his career:
MB: We always talked about going to the plate each time with an approach. That started when I was really young. I just made sure that I kept that same mindset and focus each and every at-bat. I try to never give an at-bat away and just making sure that I can do the best for my team. I feel like if you have an approach and a plan at the plate it is easier to execute each and every time.
On the core of the team:
MB: That’s what made us thrive so much last year – we had great leadership. The guys that we brought in plus the young core that we had all came together as one. When you all play as one team, and are all pulling on the same rope as they say, good things are going to happen. I look at it as each and every day we come to work, we have fun doing it, and with the strides that we made last year we are going to continue to get better. I am here, I am a part of it and it’s going to be fun.
CA: The continuity is important. Like Michael said, we feel really good about the core group of guys that we have and we want to try to keep them together for as long as we can. To do that it takes not only an extraordinary commitment from ownership, but also willingness from the players to want to be here. We are lucky that guys like Michael have placed an importance on wanting to be here and staying a Cleveland Indian.
On being traded to Cleveland:
CA: When you make a trade you have some sense from your scouting reports on what a player’s on-field abilities might be and you try to get the best you can to understand of their makeup and what makes them tick. With Michael, we had some sense of those things, but I don’t think we could fully appreciate how great of a worker and teammate he really is. It’s difficult to access those things, but I think having the chance to be with Michael for a couple of years it’s fun to be able to reflect back on bringing him over and he’s been able to excel in the way that he has.
MB: It was a tough transition. I was the player to be named later so I didn’t come over until after the season was over. There were a lot of rumors and speculation that I was going to be a Cleveland Indian. Once I got over here the front office and coaching staff really welcomed me with open arms and made it an easy transition. When I came over here I only knew the guys that I got traded with. The teammates and the good guys that we have all took care of me. It wasn’t a situation where it was tough to gel or make friends. It was an easy transition and that has a lot to do with the front office and who they had in here before me. They made it comfortable for me to be here at that time.
On Dr. Smooth:
MB: I embraced it! The fans embrace it, I embrace it – it’s fun. It’s a cool nickname.
On potentially winning a Gold Glove in the future:
My job is to do the best I can for my teammates. There is no other way around that. If I play well in the field then I am happy. The gold glove, all the extra stuff is just bonus. It’s about winning baseball games.
–Michael Stimpert, Indians Communications/Photo by Dan Mendlik
Tribe manager Terry Francona is in Cleveland this week for pre-Spring Training meetings, Tribe Fest and various other activities in the community.
He met with local reporters on Wednesday to discuss some Tribe-related topics. Here’s a sample of that chat:
Question: Did you ride the scooter today?
Terry Francona: Yesterday. (GM) Chris (Antonetti) picked me up today. I almost froze my (butt) off yesterday. My eyes almost froze shut.
Question: When do you get that itch to get back?
TF: Usually after Christmas. Things wind down for the holidays and at the start of January, you get that internal clock, it starts kicking in. You start talking to coaches, what drills you’ll run in Spring Training, etc.
Question: How do you organize players in Spring Training?
TF: I didn’t know what to expect last year, I don’t think anyone did. My expectations were never going to change, regardless of who was playing what position. We were just trying to win that day. There’s a process that goes into that; it starts in Spring Training. We’re pretty open and honest in Spring Training, and guys usually fall into three groups:
- Guys who know they’re going to play and are preparing for a lot of time
- A group of young kids that is trying to make a good first impression
- A group trying to make the team.
You try to be respectful of all groups. You form relationships with players, form an identity of the team.
Question: What do you think of the offseason so far?
TF: Getting David Murphy was a really good addition for us. We’re in a unique spot. No one’s sitting here saying we’re the 1927 Yankees, but we have guys in place that we want to pitch and play. We have Yan Gomes in place, we have Carlos Carrasco and Josh Tomlin who we want to see pitch.
So rather than going out and spending money on guys, we want to see our guys. We have Corey Kluber, Zach McAllister and Danny Salazar all for hopefully a full year. Again, we have guys in place. … Now we just have to figure out how well we can play.
Question: How’s Carlos Santana doing at third base?
TF: Carlos offered to go play third base in winter ball, and it sounds like he’s improving. Now, we aren’t going to make any decision today or at the start of Spring Training. If he can handle third, he gives us another option with our middle-of-the-order bats. We will give him a chance to play there in Spring Training.
Question: What’s the state of the roster?
TF: I think we’re pretty settled. Chris is always going to try to make us better, but if we go to Spring training tomorrow, I’m pumped. We’re not the type of team that can just throw the bats and balls out and someone is going to hit a three-run homer. It can happen. But we have to play good baseball to win, and that’s fun. We’ve proven that when we play that way, we can win.
Question: Do you like Santana in the cleanup spot?
TF: I did last year. Early on, we talked so much about his catching duties, I thought it was unfair to hit him cleanup. When he wasn’t catching, he was pretty good in that spot. He hits from both sides, he takes a walk. There’s not a lot not to like.
Question: You had success with Swisher in the No. 2 spot. Do you like that again for 2014?
TF: We wouldn’t make the lineup out yet. The season is so long; those things happen, whether it’s injures or someone is struggling. We’ll see. They have a way of working themselves out. I never make up batting orders in the winter. It’ll write itself out.
Question: Last year you took a chance on Scott Kazmir; this year you’re taking a chance on Shaun Marcum. Are you looking forward to seeing him?
TF: I think he’s a little bit behind where Kaz was last year. But I think it’s a good sign because when he’s healthy he competes his rear end off. He’s done it in the AL east.
Question: Re: the team’s versatility
TF: We want Jason Giambi on our team. We’ve said that until we’re blue in the face. To do that, you have to have the right guys on your team so it works. Having guys that are versatile really helped us last year.
Question: Re: Danny Salazar
TF: The sky is the ceiling for Danny. You don’t want to make too many proclamations on a guy who has had 8 to 10 starts. I can’t wait to see him after 35 starts.
Q: Re: Josh Tomlin
TF: He’s a strike-throwing machine. He’s going to give up the occasional homer because he’s around the plate. We really want to see him pitch. We think he can help us win. When you start thinking about the dollars you can allocate for pitching, I think we’d rather see these guys pitch.
Q: Re: the bullpen
TF: Always the big question: Whether the names are the same or not, you never know. Vinnie (Pestano) struggled last year, and Chris (Perez) had his struggles. Sometimes the names change, sometimes they don’t. Bullpens always make themselves over. You want to have guys in Triple-A because you know you’re going to have to make changes due to struggles or injuries. You have to know you have options.
Q: Re: Trevor Bauer
TF: He’s been very good, and it’s been very encouraging. He’s coming into camp this year closer to the pitcher he wants to be. Last year, it was a lot of experimenting and trying to get comfortable in his delivery. It was tough for him at times. He was very open with us on everything. He’s tried very hard this winter in trying to get comfortable. He’s sent video into (pitching coach) Mickey (Callaway) and the guys in Baseball Ops. Whether he makes the team out of Spring Training or not, we’re really excited about watching him pitch.
Q: Re: bringing Indians prospects to Spring Training (Six non-roster invitations to Spring Training were announced on Wednesday, including Francisco Lindor)
TF: With Francisco Lindor and Tyler Naquin, we’d rather bring those guys to Spring Training rather than older free agents that don’t really have a chance to make the team. It helps us as a staff to get to know these guys and see how we do things.
Q: Re: the starting rotation
TF: We want to see Carrasco pitch, he’s created a little deception with his delivery. But I don’t think we need to anoint our rotation. That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Normally, in Spring Training, someone will get beat up. It happens. Go in prepared and get everyone ready to play.
I’ll take my chances with Danny Salazar, with Corey Kluber for the full year.
Q: Re: instant replay
TF: I’m still learning as we go. It’s going to be new for everyone. You can bet that the day it was announced that the day it was announced that 30 managers were scheming and using it to their advantage. With technology being what it is, I think we’re going in the right direction. Does it go flawless? Probably not. But we’re going in the right direction.
Q: Re: what’s next?
TF: I hope that was the beginning. We need to go get busy, and we have to do it the right way. It’s fun. Our guys go into doing it the right way.
Q: Re: September
TF: I wanted us to get there with a chance. If we could survive some of those road trips, and keep our heads above water, I thought if we had a chance, we could make a run at it. And we did. I didn’t know we’d have to win 10 in a row, but nobody lost. It was fun because we were doing with some guys who hadn’t done it before, some had. That’s what you’re dying for as a manager. You can’t wait to get to the ballpark. You’re tired, and you’re nervous, but it’s a great feeling.
Q: Re: the end of the season
TF: The playoff game stung. I had to talk to the team after the game and it was hard for me to do that. You have to do it so quick. It hurt. Season don’t wind down, they crash to a halt. There’s no better example of that than last year.
The Cleveland Indians on Thursday signed free agent RHP JOHN AXFORD to a Major League contract.
Axford, 30, owns a career Major League record of 22-19 with a 3.29ERA and 106 saves in 281 relief appearances (273.2IP, 240H, 100ER, 329K) with the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals since debuting in 2009. He tied for the National League lead (Craig Kimbrel/ATL) with 46 saves in 48 opportunities in 2011 and finished 6th in the NL in saves (35) the following season. His 49 straight save conversions stretching over 2011-2012 represent the fourth longest streak in MLB history. The Simcoe, Ontario native, who played collegiately at Notre Dame and Canisius (NY), began his professional career in 2007 in the Yankees system before latching on with the Brewers organization prior to the 2008 season.
The hard-throwing right-hander split the 2013 season between Milwaukee and St. Louis, going a combined 7-7 with a 4.02 ERA in 75 relief appearances (65.0IP, 73H, 29ER, 26BB, 65K). He finished tied for 4th in the NL in games pitched and recorded a Postseason ERA of 1.59 in 6 games for the National League Champion Cardinals (5.2IP, 2H, 1ER, 9K, .105AVG) after posting scoreless outings over his final nine regular season appearances (7.2IP, 11K) for St. Louis. After recording an April ERA of 8.44, Axford enjoyed a stretch from May 15-July 24 where he allowed just 1 run (1ER/28.0IP) over 32 outings. He has never been on the Disabled List over his five-year big league career.
In order to clear a 40-man roster spot for Axford, the Indians designated RHP Trey Haley for assignment.
Both Axford and Indians General Manager Chris Antonetti chatted with reporters via conference call on Thursday to discuss the deal. Below are their comments:
Signs of a bounce-back season
Chris Antonetti: He has maintained all of his stuff. He still has an elite fastball and a very good secondary pitch. He made some adjustments towards the end of his year when he got to St. Louis that got him back to the pitcher he was when he had all of the success in Milwaukee. As we look at a lot of information from our scouts, video analysis and analytics they all pointed to a bounce back year after looking at the way he pitched in September. We thought it was the right guy to take a chance on, and we are confident that he will help stabilize the back end of our bullpen. As we have seen, roles in the bullpen can evolve over the course of a season, but our expectation is that John will be our closer.
On Axford’s challenging 2013 season
Antonetti: I think he got ramped up early for the WBC [World Baseball Classic] and then he fell into some challenging habits early at the start of the season. If you look at him after his first four outings, his results were actually pretty good. I think he threw 60+ innings, and his ERA was under 3.00 with good strikeout and reasonable walk totals. His first four outings of the season were challenging. I think he gave up runs in each of those outings. Whether or not that was attributed to the WBC directly or not is hard to say, but I think once he stabilized after the first 10 days or so he pitched pretty well for the balance of the year. He threw especially well at the end of the season and into the postseason.
Confidence in Axford and current bullpen alternatives
Antonetti: We feel that we have a number of quality options for the back end of our bullpen. We feel that John will fit in seamlessly out there. He has experience pitching in high-leverage situations and pitching on competitive teams. We think he will have a tremendous amount of success in that role but we also, as is important for us to do, have alternatives and options. Our job is to build the best bullpen we can, and build in as many quality, late-inning options that we can. As we saw first-hand last year, things don’t always go as planned.
On Bryan Shaw, Cody Allen and others filling vital roles
Antonetti: Both guys did an extraordinary job in the roles they were in. We feel either guy would be capable of expanded duties, whether that was pitching in a closer role, or even in the primary set-up role. We still feel those guys are capable of doing that, but in bringing a guy like John aboard give us someone back there with a little bit more experience and improves our options. I think we feel better about the guys that we have now than we did at the start of the offseason. We feel that we have improved our options, but if there is a way for us to continue to improve we will continue to look to do that, whether that’s in the bullpen or the rotation.
On deciding on Axford
Antonetti: We examined all of the alternatives out there, but in the end we felt John was a very good fit, not only for our team on the field, but in the clubhouse. He is very well-respected as a teammate in the places he has pitched recently. We feel like he will fit in well in our clubhouse and be a leader in our bullpen.
On going through the free-agency process
John Axford: It definitely was difficult. I had to take a lot of different things into account. This was my first experience in the free agent market and I enjoyed it too. It was fun but it was also difficult.
On his desire to play for Cleveland
Axford: The opportunity to step into a closers role was a big part of it. There were quite a few factors including the team itself and how well they played last year. It’s always good to play for a contending team and a team that’s done well and had success. The makeup of the team and the clubhouse seems like a fit that I will enjoy and that I will enjoy being with for an entire season. Obviously talking to Terry Francona as well before even signing [played a role in my decision]. Hearing everything from him, and the approach he wants to take – he was just very up-front with me about the way he feels about me, the team, the city and the organization. All of those things were telling of a team and organization that I wanted to be a part of.
On challenging 2013 season
Axford: I really don’t want to make any excuses for myself, but in all honestly I just don’t think my arm was ready at the beginning of the year. I pitched in the WBC, and I loved every minute of that – it was great to pitch for my country, but there is something telling about throwing 98 mph. against Team USA and then not being able to hit 91-92 mph. in the second outing of the season. It could have just been a dead-arm issue since I got ready a little too early, but my velocity was definitely down for the first couple games of the year. After those games were out of the way my arm started feeling a lot better and everything kind of clicked again. If you erase those first four games my year last season was actually a decent one. Unfortunately, we can’t get rid of every bad game.
On interest from other clubs
Axford: There were certainly other teams in the mix and that was the most difficult part. I’ve never had to make this decision before of actually choosing between teams. As a non-drafted free agent twice, teams never really wanted me. When I signed with the Yankees originally in 2007 it was the only team that I tried out for. With the Brewers, it was the only team that actually came out to a tryout that I was pitching at. This is the first time that I’ve ever had that opportunity. The difficulty of making that choice was tough, trying to put all the pieces together of what would work, and like I said, it really seems like a great clubhouse. The guys that I have talked to, including Terry, said it’s a great clubhouse and they love every moment of enjoying time with the guys. The team had a good season last year, and they are really stepping into the forefront of where baseball in Cleveland should be.
Close to home
Axford: Cleveland is very nearby to my home. It’s very drivable, I can see my family and they can come see me a lot easier which is fantastic. I live literally northeast on the other side of Lake Erie in a town called Port Dover – my family and I only live about 4 hours away.
Indians General Manager Chris Antonetti answered reporters’ questions on Wednesday regarding the Tribe’s earlier trade for Josh Outman from the Colorado Rockies. Outman is a left-handed reliever acquired in exchange for outfielder Drew Stubbs.
Outman, 29, spent most of the 2013 season with Colorado, compiling a mark of 3-0 with a 4.33 ERA in 61 relief appearances. He limited left-handed batters to a .198 (22-111, .539OPS) average against, recorded a 3.41ERA in Coors Field (29.0IP, 30H, 11ER) and allowed only 3 home runs and averaged 8.83 strikeouts per 9.0IP over his 54.0 innings pitched. He finished 9th among National League relievers in pct. of inherited runners who scored at 17.6% (6-of-34).
Antonetti’s opening statement: We have acquired Josh Outman, a left-handed reliever, from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for Drew Stubbs. One of our focuses this offseason was to really try to improve our pitching and we feel that we have made headway in that respect. We feel like Josh will fit in very well in our pen. He is a left-handed pitcher with really good arm strength that has had a lot of success against left-handed hitters at the Major-League level. We think he will fit into the bullpen and be a meaningful contributor for us this year.
On Outman’s role with the club: Ultimately his role will take shape based upon what our roster composition looks like going into Spring Training, and more importantly what it looks like coming out of Spring Training. He has pitched in a variety of roles, he’s pitched multiple innings, he’s pitched in leverage situations, and he’s pitched in the 7th inning, so he can fill a number of different roles in the bullpen. Again, his primary strength has been his effectiveness against left-handed hitters. This  was his first year pitching exclusively out of the bullpen. Prior to that he had been in that long-man, spot starter role. For us, he will pitching exclusively out of the bullpen and we will try to leverage him as best we can to allow him to be successful and allow our team to win as many games as possible. His role is still to be determined, but I would envision him pitching more against left-handed hitters than right-handed hitters.
On what makes him effective: He’s got a well above-average fastball, a good slider and a pretty good changeup. He’s got a good pitch mix in addition to good velocity to his fastball.
On the difficulty of scouting a pitcher that plays in Colorado – You have to be cognizant of that. We have had the benefit of seeing Josh throughout his career. Not only with Colorado but in his extended time with Oakland and with Philadelphia in the Minor Leagues before that. We have seen him pitch in a variety of places. Not only in Colordado, but on the road at the Major-League level and also in his prior experience in Oakland.
On the team’s interest in Outman at the July 2013 trade deadline: We did talk with Colorado about him at the deadline, but were unable to align on value.
On the team still looking to improve pen: I feel like we are better than we were at the start of the offseason, but we need to continue to work to try to improve. We feel good about the group that we have and we will continue to do what we can to try to improve.
On the difficulty of keeping a bullpen intact for multiple years – There are situations where you have guys that are under team control for multiple years and in those cases you have more stability. As you have guys approach free agency or extend into free agency, as he had in a few cases this year, you are going to have some turnover from year to year. Our job is to try to piece together the best bullpen we can and we feel like we have made some progress with that.
On Shaun Marcum, who was signed to a minor-league deal with Training Camp invite: Shaun is a guy that has had some injuries recently, but we feel he will come in to camp healthy. The one thing about Shaun is that anytime that he’s been healthy he’s been very effective. He’s been very effective against some of the toughest competition going through the rigors of the American League East. We are excited to have him in the fold and he will come into camp in compete for a spot in the rotation.
The Cleveland Indians on Monday signed free agent OF DAVID MURPHY to a two-year contract with a club option for the 2016 season.
Murphy, 32, owns a career Major League average of .275 (739-2690) with 160 doubles, 15 triples, 86 home runs and 364 RBI over 849 games with the Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox since debuting in 2006. The Baylor University product owns a career on-base pct. of .337 to go along with his career on-base+slugging pct. (OPS) of .778. In 2012 the left-handed hitting outfielder batted .304 (139-457) with 29 2B, 15HR & 61RBI in 147 games, finishing 6th in the American League in on-base pct. (.380) and 10th in batting average (.304).
The native of Klein, Texas was the first round pick (17th overall) of the Boston Red Sox in 2003 and later appeared in 23 games for the Red Sox (2006-07) before being traded to Texas in July 2007 in exchange for RHP Eric Gagne. He appeared in 27 postseason games during his tenure with the Rangers from 2010-12 (.373OB%/ .759OPS) and owns a career average of .280 (571-2042) against right-handed pitching (.347OB%/.469SLG%/ .816OPS). He has enjoyed his trips to Progressive Field, hitting at a .365 (27-74) clip with 4 2B, 1 3B, 3HR & 15 RBI in 21 career games. The versatile outfielder has logged time at all three positions during his career and his 35 assists since 2009 are 8th-most among A.L. outfielders over that span.
In order to clear a 40-man roster spot for Murphy, the Indians designated RHP Tyler Cloyd for assignment. Cloyd was originally claimed from Philadelphia on October 2.
Both Murphy and Indians General Manager Chris Antonetti chatted with reporters via conference call on Monday to discuss the deal. Below are their comments:
Murphy provides strength and versatility to the outfield and the lineup
Chris Antonetti: For right now, we expect him to get most of his at-bats in right field, primarily against right-handed pitching, but he will also get some opportunities against the right left-handers as well.
We feel that we have a very good compliment of outfielders that will give Terry the opportunity to mix and match based upon what gives us the best opportunity to win that night’s game while also keeping everyone healthy and fresh. Some of that will also depend upon how we shape the DH position because there could be potential at-bats there as well. Right now with the compliment of outfielders we have, we feel we can match up well no matter who is pitching.
I think as we sit here today we feel good with the group of outfielders we have. We will continue to look for opportunities to improve the team and make adjustments as the offseason goes along. The versatility of our outfield – Michael Brantley has the ability to slide over to center, Drew Stubbs gives us great protection in both right field and center field and we are confident he could go to left as well – Ryan Raburn can play not only the corners, but also the infield, if needed. It provides us a great deal of flexibility and versatility and that was one of our strengths last year and we are looking to build upon that heading into next year.
Confident Murphy will return to form in 2013
Antonetti: In talking with David, he felt with Josh Hamilton leaving he put some pressure on himself to try to do a little more and got in to some challenging positions with his swing. He tried to create a little bit more lift to hit for more power and it took him a little while to work through that. I think combining that with a little bit of bad luck led to a down season. If you look at his track record he has been pretty consistent, especially against right-handed pitching and we expect him to bounce back and get far closer to his career norms than how he performed last year.
We spent quite a bit of time, not only looking at the objective information, but talking with our scouts who did quite a bit of video work looking at any tell-tale signs between his swing from 2012 and 2013 and there were not very many significant differences. There is a lot of reason why we are confident that he will bounce back and get back to the player that he has been throughout his career.
Murphy is well-respected on and off the field
Antonetti: He’s been renowned throughout any organization he has been with, whether it’s his initial time with the Red Sox, or his time with the Rangers. He is an exceptional person and is a guy that not only plays the game the right way but lives his life off the field that way. He and his wife are very involved in the community in which they live. They have given back to those communities and feel like that is their obligation. He had also fit in seamlessly into every clubhouse and is well respected as a team – he was extraordinarily well-respected in the Texas clubhouse.
The news broke when Murphy’s daughter said at day care, “My daddy is going to be an Indian.”
Antonetti: That was the first time a 5-year old has ever broken a free agent signing. I think they were talking about Pilgrims and Indians in advance of Thanksgiving and his daughter shouted out, “my daddy is going to be an Indian.” That’s how the story broke. It was a first for us.
On what attracted him to Cleveland
David Murphy: When the offseason began and I thought about where I wanted to go, I wanted to go to a place where I was wanted as badly as I wanted to be there. Cleveland was very aggressive from the very beginning. They were easily the front runner the entire time. Honestly, it was pretty simple. From the first phone call I received from my agent about interested teams, they were first and foremost in my mind.
On what adjustments he may make offensively in 2014
Murphy: A few different factors played into (2013). I saw we lost Josh (Hamilton), Michael Young and Mike Napoli, and I put pressure on myself to step into a role and play a bigger part in the offense. I tried to re-create my own identity instead of being the same guy I had been in the past. I had that mindset, which created a little bit more of a pull mindset instead of using the entire field. That created some bad habits that lengthened my swing and that obviously produced the results that it did.
I think every player wants to be as complete a player as possible. After having the best year of my career in 2012, I knew that I could hit for a high average after that; I wanted to add the power to it. That added to that mindset of lifting the ball and pulling the ball. After I finally got away from that mindset, halfway through the season, I didn’t have the greatest luck. Some years, balls fall. Some years, they don’t. 2013 was a year when I didn’t have the greatest luck. In the end, I’ll put it on myself in not having the right mindset. I’m looking forward to getting back to the old me in 2014.
On the Indians offensive balance and how he fits in
Murphy: There are a lot of guys I’m excited to play with on this team. I’ve loved the type of player Jason Kipnis is since he came into the league. I love what he brings in all aspects of the game. I’ve known Michael Bourn since high school; I played against him in college and the minor leagues. He’s a dynamic player that’s great in the leadoff spot. Up and down the lineup, it’s a very balanced lineup and I’m excited to be a part of it.
About his daughter’s now famous comments breaking the news Murphy was signing with Cleveland
Murphy: She was at preschool one day and with Thanksgiving coming up, they were learning about Pilgrims and Indians. She happened to speak up and said, “My daddy’s going to play for the Indians.” Nowadays, rumors spread quickly and word got out there pretty quickly. It wasn’t the best situation how that got out. But in the end it’ll be a cute story one day that we can tell her about.
On whether he feels comfortable hitting at Progressive Field; he’s hit at a .365 (27-74) clip with 4 2B, 1 3B, 3HR & 15 RBI in 21 career games at the ballpark
Murphy: I don’t know if there’s anything to that. I know the places I’ve been before and I know the places where I like to hit and feel comfortable in the box. I have no real reason for it but it’s always been a place where I’ve liked to hit. It’ll be great to play half my games there.
On his relationship with Indians manager Terry Francona
Murphy: I was drafted by Boston and had about 35 days of MLB service time with the Red Sox between 2006 and 2007, and I spent time with the team in Spring Training from 2004 to 2007. I had the chance to play under him there; he definitely played into the decision to sign with Cleveland. He called me pretty early in the process. He did a great job of letting me know how interested they were, but at the same time not putting any pressure on me. He made me realize I’d be doing an injustice if I didn’t look at all the options out there.
On his impressions of the 2013 Indians from the opposing dugout
Murphy: They reminded me of the Rangers when we started to become a good team in 2009 and 2010. It’s a group of young, talented guys, with veteran leadership with Giambi and Swisher mixed in, and it’s a group of guys that looks like they have a lot of fun on the field and believe in one another. They won 92 games last year and they look like they’re only going to get better.
Among the many important decisions being made by MLB front offices this time of year sits the deadline for teams to file their Major League and Minor League reserve lists, which occurred at Midnight ET last night – the establishment of each club’s preliminary 40-man roster is particularly notable because it helps determine which players are protected from being selected in the annual Rule 5 Selection Meeting (more commonly referred to as the “Rule 5 draft”) that is scheduled to take place on Thursday, December 12 at the Winter Meetings in Orlando, FL. In basic terms, a player who signs his first contract at the age of 18 is shielded from the Rule 5 draft for 5 years, while those 19-or-older fall under the same classification for 4 years – at that point, their respective Clubs must decide whether to extend that protection by adding a given player to the 40-man roster or alternatively run the risk of losing him to another team in the Rule 5. TribeVibe will take a more in-depth look at Rule 5 procedures during the Winter Meetings.
Late yesterday, the Indians announced that the club has added 5 minor league players to the 40-man roster, purchasing the contracts of RHP Bryan Price from the Triple-A Columbus Clippers, RHP Austin Adams, INF Jesus Aguilar and OF Carlos Moncrief from the Double-A Akron RubberDucks and INF Erik Gonzalez from the Single-A Carolina Mudcats. In a conference call with local beat reporters, GM Chris Antonetti discussed each player selected to the roster, and the difficult decisions that were made regarding players that were left unprotected.
RHP Bryan Price -
CA: “In Bryan’s case it was a guy that really thrived this year in Triple-A. He made a lot of progress in how he attacked hitters. He features a good fastball and two good secondary pitches – he was one of the more effective relievers in all of Triple-A. He could (contend for a roster spot in Spring Training). He will come into camp and we will have to see how things shake out in our bullpen, but he could be a guy that comes in and earns a spot.”
RHP Austin Adams -
“Austin has bounced back from his shoulder surgery extraordinarily well. He worked really hard to get back to where he was pre-surgery. He’s got one of the best arms, not only in our system, but throughout the minor leagues. He has a good compliment of secondary pitches as well, and has missed a lot of bats. He is another guy that we feel isn’t too far away from contributing at the major-league level if he continues to make progress. He is a reliever at this point; a power arm with really good stuff.”
OF Carlos Moncrief -
“He was one of the highlights of our development system this year, because it is a guy that has made a lot of progress. If you look at what he’s done and how he continued his development as a hitter – he really cut down in the strikeout rates, continued to improve his defense in the outfield to the point where he is now a very good outfielder with a well above-average arm with good reads and routes – that’s now become a strength for him and he’s continued to improve as a hitter. Given his limited experience as a hitter, because he started his professional career as a pitcher, it’s been encouraging to see the progress he has made.”
INF Jesus Aguilar -
“He is getting closer (to contributing to the Major League roster). He made a lot of progress from last year to this year. The Double-A level is always a good test, especially for position players, and Jesus did a really good job of anchoring that lineup. He is continuing his work in winter ball, he’s off to an extraordinary start down there and is continuing to work hard. He has a really bright future, he is on a good path developmentally and we expect this year that he will get some opportunities at Triple-A. If and when we have a need he can certainly be an option for us.
(He has played some third base in the winter league because) they had a lot of injuries. It is always good to increase your versatility. We will have to continue to see how that goes. It wasn’t something (considering Aguilar an option at first base) that was top of mind for us as the season ended, but the fact that he’s gotten opportunity and experience down in winter ball is something that we will look to maybe continue as we head into Spring Training, but right now we view his primarily as a first baseman.”
INF Erik Gonzalez -
“Another great development story; Erik is one of the hardest workers and best teammates in our organization. He did a tremendous job of improving himself as a player. He has always been a really good defensive player, and has worked hard at every position he has played on the field. We gave him an opportunity to play some shortstop and he really excelled there. We think he has the chance to be an above-average defender no matter where he plays defensively – whether that’s shortstop, second base, he can play the corners on the infield, and he can play the outfield and he has also continued to improve as a hitter. As much as any player in our system, he’s made progress through his hard work this year. I wouldn’t set any ceiling (defensive position) on him. With the work he’s put in defensively and the way he’s playing in winter ball, some of the reports we are receiving back from there (are proving) defensively he is capable of playing at a very high level right now and he’s continuing to develop offensively.”
Antonetti also addressed the inevitable difficulty in having to leave other prospects unprotected:
CA: “I won’t go through the specific guys, but there were a lot of tough decisions. We felt like there were another handful of guys that were very deserving of being on the roster, but unfortunately we only have so many spots that we can use to protect guys.”
– TribeVibe contributors Michael Stimpert/Court Berry-Tripp
Terry Francona chatted via conference call with Cleveland-area reporters on Tuesday night, shortly after he received the 2013 BBWAA American League Manager of the Year Award in a presentation broadcast on MLB Network.
Here are portions of that conference call, in some cases edited for brevity:
Question: What does it mean for you to be up against (Red Sox manager) John Farrell?
Terry Francona: I don’t think I was up against anybody. I got nominated for this because this is an organizational award. That’s what makes me so happy. I share it with coaches, players, clubhouse guys, (General Manager) Chris (Antonetti), (President) Mark Shapiro and (owner) Paul (Dolan). It’s because we did it together all year. So when things like this happen it’s an organizational award.
Question: What were you proud of in managing this year?
TF: I was proud of our effort. I thought we were resilient. I thought our guys enjoyed trying to play it the right way. We had a coaching staff that was fun to be around. I’m most proud of, from the moment I was hired, it’s always been a we mentality. From the front office, to the ownership (on down). That’s only growing. I’m proud of that. It’s not always easy to attain that. Chris and his guys have made me feel so at home. It makes my job easier and a lot more fun.
Question: What do you think was the difference this year?
TF: Winning is the ultimate award. You do the best you can every day, and when teams and organizations perform, things like this happen.
Question: Was this satisfying that you guys were able to have success while you overcame so many things?
TF: The biggest thing was how we did it. We did it the right way. When we clinched in Minnesota, those hugs were real. I couldn’t want to get to Chris, (traveling secretary) Mike Seghi, the clubhouse guys. Those were real. The next day, I didn’t feel any different when we prepared for Tampa. When you like the guys you work with, you want to do well.
Question: Did this year, reuniting with Chris and Mark, did this heal the hard feelings from your departure from Boston (after the 2011 season)?
TF: Yeah. It was easier to talk about it because of my comfort level in Cleveland.
Q: What made the team so resilient?
TF: It was a combination. We had great veteran leadership, with Giambi, Swisher’s enthusiasm, Bourn and Yan Gomes’ emergence. I could go on and on. That’s what made it so fun, had so many contributions from all over the map. That’s what made it good. When we played the baseball we were supposed to, we generally gave ourselves a chance to win.
Q: When did they tell you this?
TF: I felt like I was on a dating game. I was listening in my earpiece, and heard it when they announced it. They did a great job (keeping it secret).
Q: Will you do anything to celebrate?
TF: I have a load of laundry in. I’m going to go golfing tomorrow, like I always do. The way I celebrated it was the whole year. I got to live it.
Q: Who has called you?
TF: I got about 50 text messages and a bunch of voice mails. My dad, Chris, Joe Smith all sent some really nice messages. A lot of the players have texted, which made me feel good.
–TribeVibe contributor Joel Hammond
Indians Designated Hitter Jason Giambi spoke with reporters today during a conference call after he re-signed with the club on Thursday. Here are some of his quotes from that chat:
On re-signing with the Indians early in the offseason: “I’m ecstatic about it. … I talked to my wife, and I’ve been talking to the Indians, and there is no place I want to be other than Cleveland. I had so much fun and I love the direction we are going – with this organization and this team, with Tito and the guys on this team, I had so much fun last year playing that I didn’t want to go anywhere else. The Indians gave me the opportunity to come back and I’m definitely blessed and I’m grateful for it.”
Discussions with Indians about returning: “I talked to Chris (Antonetti, Tribe GM) and Tito (Manager Terry Francona); they were feeling me out to see what I wanted to do. Did I still want to play? Did I want to go into coaching? I told them I’d really love to play. This was near the end of August or the beginning of September and I told them I still really wanted to play. After the season, Chris and Tito definitely had to sit down and see if there was still a fit for me in Cleveland because I told them I really loved it there and I really wanted to be back. At the end of the season I had my agent reach out to them again [to see if there was a spot for me on this team]and then I talked to Chris and they really felt like there was still a spot for me to help this ball club. I was ecstatic. I wanted to jump on that opportunity to sign back there and everything came about.”
On signing another Minor League contract: “I definitely know with my age and everything like that [it’s difficult] to get a big-league deal. Unless you are going to have a Raul Ibanez year with 27 homers [it’s difficult to find a Major League contract].
“I’m not worried about it (signing a Minor League contract). I’m going to come into spring in great shape. (Signing a Minor League contract) also helps the ball club out because they can protect their extra player that they need to protect, and I’m all for it. I love being here and I love being in Cleveland, I love everything about it.”
Thoughts on still playing at age 43 (turns 43 in January): “I think you only dream about it. This will be 20 Major League seasons for me. I think when you go through your certain stepping stones of your career — whether it be I need to get to the big-leagues, I need to stay in the big leagues, I need to try and last in the big-leagues and get my 10 years in — after that, everything is kind of gravy. I’m definitely blessed and truly grateful for this opportunity. Not in my wildest dreams did I think that I would still be here. I don’t know if there will ever come a time that I’ll say that (going into a season thinking it’s the last). I think your body will give you a point and say I can’t do it anymore. There is going to come a point when that happens. I’m fighting and kicking and scratching to not make it happen, but there definitely is. I’ve been so blessed so far with my career in this game, it’s been unbelievable. Maybe someday, but right now I’m just trying to keep the attitude on what’s happening right here, right now in the present moment, which is to push this team to win a World Series because I think we have that type of ball club.”
On becoming a leader in the clubhouse: “I’m definitely honored. (Being recognized as a leader) comes a lot from your teammates. It’s not something you raise your hand and say, ‘Alright, I’m the team leader.’ I think I got such a taste of it when I was in Oakland, playing for those great teams of the late 80s – when those guys were still around like Eck (Dennis Eckersley), (Mark) McGwire, (Terry) Steinbach and Dave Stewart, all of those great players – I got a taste of it. Then when all those guys either retired, we traded Mark (McGwire) and then all of sudden (GM) Billy (Beane) and (Manager) Art (Howe) sat me down and said, ‘This is your team. You’re going to be that guy.’ I had a few years under my belt, I was still young and the team was brand new. We had (Tim) Hudson, (Mark) Mulder, (Barry) Zito, (Miquel) Tejada and (Eric) Chavez – I just really loved it (being the leader). I really wanted to embrace that position and make guys feel welcome, but also try to teach those guys what I had learned from Mark (McGwire), Steiny (Terry Steinbach) and those guys. I really felt that it was a gift that those guys passed on to me. They went out of their way to help me learn the game. I see it now, it’s kind of funny, they used to call me kid all the time when I was playing, and now I’m calling Kipnis that and it really gets passed on. I really think that’s the gift of the game. You pass it back down and even when you’re out of this game that’s how you still live in the game. You pass those lessons on and hopefully they will pass them down to the next generation.”
Thoughts on 2014 team mentality: “I definitely want this team to keep reaching further and further. I think what we have here in Cleveland is something special. I think this is a team that could have an opportunity to win a World Series. We definitely have the pitching to do it; we have the offense to make those strides. We are growing as a team, and I think we are going to keep getting better and better. Hopefully the guys come into spring training in great shape and wanting to further that. Not just, we made the playoffs last year (and be satisfied with that). I want us to keep moving forward and to not take a step backwards. I think this team, and the young players we have, and the pitching and the young pitching we have in the minor leagues, this team can be a force for years to come.”
–TribeVibe contributor Michael Stimpert
Indians General Manager Chris Antonetti spoke with reporters today during a conference call and media availability at Progressive Field. Here are some of his quotes from those sessions:
Thoughts related to Jason Giambi’s return to the organization in 2014:
“I don’t think there’s any better way to start our off-season than by re-signing Jason. I think he made such a huge impact on our team [in 2013] and he embodies everything we’re looking for in our players – his professionalism, the way he works and prepares for a game, the teammate that he is, the energy he brings to a team and the clubhouse made an immense impact on our team this year and we’re thrilled to continue to have him as part of the organization.”
“We started those discussions right away. As soon as the season was over, that was one of the first calls we made. We worked through things with his agent and ultimately Jason said this is where he wanted to be, and we obviously wanted him here. We are happy it worked out.”
On bringing Giambi back on a minor league contract for a second consecutive season:
“[We're bringing him back] in a very similar context to last year, although at this point we have a first-hand appreciation of all the other things Jason brings to a team and an organization beyond just his [physical] ability [...] we had heard that from other people about how he could impact a team in those ways, but last year we lived it first-hand and now go into Spring Training with a clear understanding of the value he adds beyond what he produces on the field.”
Comments regarding the trade to acquire LHP Colt Hynes from San Diego:
“Colt’s a guy with a good fastball/slider mix that we’ll bring into Major League Spring Training and give him an opportunity to compete for a spot on the Major League team.”
“He’s been extraordinarily effective against left-handed hitters [...] this past season, he lowered his arm-slot a little bit and was dominant against left-handed hitters at Triple-A and was very effective against them at the Major League level…[a lefty specialist role is] certainly a strength of his, one we feel he’ll excel at, but we wouldn’t limit his role to just left-on-left because we feel in time he has the ability to not only get left-handed hitters out, but right-handers as well.”
On how the organization came to the decision to give Chris Perez his unconditional release:
“We considered a variety of factors as we got to that point (unconditional release of Perez) and felt that this provided us with roster flexibility in advance of Dec. 2 (MLB tender deadline) and allows Chris the opportunity to find his next team [...] obviously (Chris) is arbitration-eligible again this year and he’s due for another raise through that process and we have to make some determinations of where our team needs are and how we’re going to allocate our resources moving forward.”
“We worked through our offseason planning process and our meetings and we made the determination that Chris would not be a fit on our roster for next year so once we got clarity on that, we felt that it made sense to move forward with the transaction now rather than waiting until Dec. 2.”
Regarding other options for the closer’s role in 2014:
“We feel that we have some guys internally that are capable of doing that, but I do anticipate that we will look externally to add to the group that we have [...] We go into the offseason with some quality alternatives, but I expect it will be an area that we seek to address as we work through the winter. We will try to bring in guys – whether it’s an experienced closer or other guys that have experience pitching in leverage innings out of the bullpen – that will complement the group we have.”
“Cody Allen and Bryan Shaw are two returning guys who have had the most experience pitching in those high-leverage situations; we’re still confident that Vinnie Pestano will bounce back and be a contributor on our team. We’ll also take the off-season to look at opportunities to fortify our ‘pen [...] we re-signed Matt [Capps] a couple weeks ago and he’s healthy at this point so he’ll come into Spring Training ready to go and compete for a spot on the team [...] the roles in the bullpen evolve over the course of the season and how those roles take shape is something that we’ll get a better sense of once we have full knowledge of the group heading into camp and how those guys pitch once they get the opportunities.”