Results tagged ‘ Cleveland Indians ’

Photo Gallery: Indians split Wednesday twinbill with SD

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The Indians split Wednesday’s traditional doubleheader with the Padres, winning the first game, 2-0, and dropping the second one, 2-1.

The Tribe got two more excellent outings from its starting pitchers: Zach McAllister went 7.2IP scoreless innings in the opener, marking the longest scoreless outing of his career, before giving way to Cody Allen in the eighth. John Axford earned his fourth save with a scoreless ninth. Jason Kipnis provided all the offense the Indians needed, with a two-run homer in the sixth that just barely cleared the wall in center.

In the second game, Trevor Bauer, up from Triple A Columbus for a spot start, struck out a career-high eight batters but took a hard-luck loss. The Padres scored in the first on a bizarre play and call by the umpires: Chris Denorfia sent a long fly ball to right field that Elliot Johnson appeared to catch; upon transferring from his glove to his hand, he dropped the ball, and the umpires ruled no catch, putting runners on second and third with no one out. Bauer escaped the jam allowing only one run. (Here is video of the play.)

The Indians got a run back in the third on Mike Aviles’ sac fly, which scored Yan Gomes. But Bauer allowed a run in the sixth when Chase Headley singled with the bases loaded, scoring Everth Cabrera; Bauer again limited the damage, but the Padres limited the Indians to six hits for the victory.

Indians Game 1 post-game notes

Check out these notes from the Tribe’s afternoon victory over San Diego; with the victory, the Indians improved to 5-3 on the young season.

CLEVELAND

  • Moved 2 games above the .500 mark (5-3) to match the club’s high water-mark of the season (3-1 record on April 4)…Cleveland’s record has not fallen below the .500 mark this season.
  • Tribe pitching staff posted its second team shutout of 2014, the other coming in a 2-0 Opening Day victory on March 31 at Oakland.
  • Facing San Diego for the first time since 2008, Cleveland improved to 8-3 all-time against the Padres (4-1 at Progressive Field).

ZACH McALLISTER

  • Took his second turn through the Indians rotation and notched his first victory of 2014 with 7.2 scoreless frames (7.2 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 SO, 99 pitches/70 strikes)…matched the longest scoreless outing of his MLB career, also tossing 7.2 scoreless innings in a 1-0 victory on May 7, 2013 vs. Oakland…both of his outings so far in 2014 have come in doubleheaders, as he took the mound in Game One on April 2 at Oakland, but did not factor into the decision of that 6-4 victory (4.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R-ER, 4 BB, 4 SO, 86 pitches).
  • Tallied 7 strikeouts, one shy of his career-high (8, three times) and most since Aug. 13, 2013 at Minnesota (7 K’s).
  • Retired 21 of the first 24 batters he faced through his first 7.0 frames, just 3 more than the minimum…then retired the first 2 batters in the 8th before allowing a pair of singles; was then relieved by Allen.

JASON KIPNIS

  • Broke a scoreless tie with a 2-run homer off fellow left-hander Eric Stults in the 6th inning, his first long-ball of the season.
  • Of his 39 career home runs, 8 of those have come against left-handed pitching.
  • Has driven in 6 runs over his last 3 games after no RBI through his first 5 games.

CODY ALLEN

  • Entered today’s game with 2 outs in the 8th and struck out Seth Smith on a called third strike to strand runners and 1st and 2nd…has now stranded all 5 inherited runners he has adopted this season…has made 5 relief appearances this season, tossing 3.2 scoreless innings.

JOHN AXFORD

  • Notched his 4th save of the season, as he has closed out both wins in this series against San Diego.

SAN DIEGO

  • Padres fell to 1-4 on their 6-game road trip through Miami (1-2) and Cleveland (0-2).
  • Club is participating in its first doubleheader in Interleague history.

ERIC STULTS

  • Took his second loss of the season despite pitching into the 6th inning and surrendering just one earned run (5.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R-1 ER, 2 BB, 1 SO, 1 HR, 90 pitches/52 strikes)…was touched for both runs he allowed on a 2-run HR by Jason Kipnis…retired 14 of the first 18 batters he faced through 5.0 innings.
  • Left-handers had been 1-for-6 with a single & GIDP (both by Brantley) prior to the Kipnis 2-run HR in the 6th (lefties were 2-for-8 on the afternoon against Stults)…including today, has limited left-handers to a .181 avg. (52-287) since the start of the 2012 season.
  • Today marked his second career game/start at Progressive Field, the other coming in a no-decision for Chicago on May 7, 2012 (6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R-ER, 4 BB, 4 SO, 1 HB, 107 pitches)…Tribe won that contest 3-2.

NICK VINCENT

  • Entered today’s game with 2 outs in the 6th and struck out the only batter he faced (Gomes) to strand runners at 2nd and 3rd…Vincent has now stranded all 5 runners he has inherited this season…stranded 16 of 21 (76%) inherited runners last season.

Indians Game Information: April 9 doubleheader vs. San Diego

Starter Zach McAllister went 2 scoreless innings giving up just one hit.

CLEVELAND INDIANS (4-3) vs. SAN DIEGO PADRES (2-5)

RHP Zach McAllister (0-0, —) vs. LHP Eric Stults (0-1, 11.25)

Game #8/Home #5 » Wednesday, April 9, 2014 » Progressive Field

» 12:05 p.m. (ET) » SportsTime Ohio/WTAM/Indians Radio Network

CLEVELAND INDIANS (+Game 1) vs. SAN DIEGO PADRES (+Game 1)

RHP Trevor Bauer (Triple-A: 0-0, 1.50) vs. LHP Robbie Erlin (0-0, 0.00)

Game #9/Home #6 » Wednesday, April 9, 2014 » Progressive Field

» TBD (~20 min. after G1) » SportsTime Ohio/WTAM/Indians Radio Network

BLAME IT ON THE RAIN

  • Cleveland is set to play its second doubleheader (split or traditional) already this season, as the Indians & Padres saw their series opener get washed out on Monday night…rain showers have been somewhat omnipresent through Tribe’s first week, starting with a soggy 3-game series in Oakland that saw the Coliseum’s first rainout since 1998 and therefore Cleveland’s first doubleheader of 2014 (split)…the start of Cleveland’s home opener was also delayed 2 hours, 13 minutes on Friday.
  • Today will mark the earliest calendar date ever for the Indians to play a split or traditional doubleheader at Progressive Field (1994-2014); previous distinction belonged to a day-nighttwinbill on April 17, 1999 vs. Minnesota, while the earliest traditionalDH played at this ballpark prior to today took place on May 12, 2008 vs. Toronto.
  • Rain played a role early for Cleveland last year, as the team played 3 doubleheaders prior to the All-Star break for the first time since 1992.
  • Over the past 5 seasons (2010-14), Cleveland has gone 17-5 in 11 doubleheaders with 6 sweeps and 5 splits.

LOVE ME TWO TIMES

  • Broadcast Info: Both games will be carried live on SportsTime Ohio (TV) and WTAM (radio)…first pitch for Game 1 is scheduled for 12:05PM (gates open at 11:00AM), while Game 2 is set to begin approx. 20 minutes after the conclusion of the first game.
  • Media Availability: The Indians will make Terry Francona & Zach McAllister available in the HCH Multipurpose Room during the 20-min. window between games…the remainder of post-game player availability will take place following Game 2.

• Provided that Game 2 concludes prior to 7:05PM (the time of last night’s first pitch), the Indians & Padres have a legitimate shot atplaying their entire 3-game series in less than 24 hours.

  • Tickets: Fans currently holding or purchasing tickets dated April 9 may attend both games of today’s DH for the price of one…fansholding tickets for Monday’s rainout (April 7) may exchangethem for today’s DH, but MUST do so at the Progressive FieldBox Office.

WINS & LOSSES

  • San Diego made it interesting with a 3-run rally in the 9th, but the Indians hung on to take the series opener from the Padres by a score of 8-6 last night here at Progressive Field.
  • Cleveland is 2-2 mid-way through this 6-day, 6-game homestand against Minnesota (1-2) and San Diego (1-0)…club is coming off a brief 3-game road trip to open the season during which Tribe took 2 of 3 from Oakland, improving to 27-9 against the A.L. West since start of 2013 campaign…series win came despite plating 9 combined runs, 6 of those being scored in the 9th inning…second game of Oakland series was rained out, forcing a day-night DH on Wednesday…both Indians wins vs. A’s had same winning (Allen), losing (Johnson) and saving (Axford) pitchers…Friday began a stretch of 10 consecutive game dates before club’s next scheduled off day on April 14 in Detroit.

A.L. CENTRAL STANDINGS

  • Cleveland holds 2nd place in the A.L. Central standings, one half-game behind first place Detroit (4-2) & one half-game ahead of 3rd place Chicago (-1.5G, 4-4)…Tribe has spent 2 days in 1st place, 6 days in 2nd place and one day in 3rd place.

AIN’T THAT PECULIAR

  • Over the past 5 seasons (2010-14), Cleveland has gone 3-43 when allowing 15+ hits to an opponent.
  • Last night marked the first time for the Indians to win a game in which they allowed 15-or-more hits, but collected fewer than 10 hits of their own since a 7-6 victory on April 28, 2006 vs. Texas (out-hit 8-15); prior to that ‘06 contest, you have to go back to a 4-3 win on Aug. 15, 1984 vs. Toronto (out-hit 9-17) to find another such instance…those are the only 3 such wins for Cleveland since 1953, while only 14 total examples were found dating all the way back to 1914.

NIGHT MOVES

  • Prior to Game 1, the Indians recalled RHP C.C. LEE from Triple- A Columbus to join the bullpen; to make room for Lee, the club has optioned RHP VINNIE PESTANO to Columbus.
  • In between games of today’s DH, the club will formally recall RHP TREVOR BAUER to start Game 2 as the 26th man permitted under MLB rules governing DH’s.

HERE COMES THE SUN

  • Regardless of when Game 2 begins, both of today’s tilts will be classified as day games…Tribe has gone 1-3 in day games against a 3-0 record in night games.

Through Tribe Rewards, Indians Season Ticket Holder has experience of a lifetime

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Think being a Season Ticket Holder pays? Just ask Mike Gersper.

The 35-year-old downtown Cleveland resident, also a Season Ticket Holder of the Cavs, Browns, Charge, Gladiators and Monsters, along with a youth tee-ball coach in Ohio City and a member of Downtown Cleveland Improvement Corp. board, redeemed his Tribe Rewards points for the experience of a lifetime on Tuesday – a ceremonial first pitch.

The Silver Tier Tribe Rewards member won the first pitch in an auction for about 10,000 Tribe Rewards points. Better yet? April 8 was his birthday.

Gersper threw his pitch to Tribe pitcher Danny Salazar, and it was right down the middle – if lobbed a little.

Afterward, he said it was a little intimidating.

“It’s far,” he said with a chuckle. “”I have always been proud to be an Indians Season Ticket Holder. It was truly a special moment to stand on the same pitching mound as countless Indians legends. I sincerely appreciate the Indians allowing me to celebrate my birthday by throwing out the first pitch.  My family will cherish this memory for years to come.”

Not only do Indians Season Ticket Holders save money over the price of Single-Game tickets – in 2013, Season Ticket Holders saved on average 40%– but they also receive Single-Game On-Sale and Postseason ticket priorities, along with access to Tribe Rewards. In Tribe Rewards, points are awarded based on spend and tenure as well as other bonus activities, and can be used on a variety of rewards based on each Season Ticket Holders’ own preference.

For more information on becoming an Indians Season Ticket Holder, visit Indians.com/SeasonTickets or call us at 216-420-HITS.

–TribeVibe contributor Joel Hammond

Photo Gallery: Indians Batting Practice, April 8

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The guys were in good spirits during BP on Tuesday — only the second time the team has taken BP outside this year. Gotta love Mother Nature!

–Photos by David Cleveland

More relaxed in Year 2 in Cleveland, Bauer to make first big-league start Wednesday

Trevor Bauer throws his bullpen session today.

Starting at Tribe Fest in January, if you asked anyone around the Indians clubhouse their impressions of Trevor Bauer, you would have heard, “he seems relaxed, doesn’t he?”

Bauer, from his interactions with media, teammates and staff that weekend, seemed much more at ease in his second go-around in the Tribe clubhouse. It carried into Spring Training as well, where he pitched well save for one rough outing against the Angels and seemed, again, at ease with his surroundings.

After being optioned to Triple A Columbus to begin the season, he got a no-decision in his first start of the season despite striking out nine and allowing just one earned run in six innings.

So, what’s been the difference for Bauer, as he prepares for his first big-league start on Wednesday as part of the Indians traditional doubleheader with the San Diego Padres, necessitated by Monday’s rainout?

“This has been the first Spring Training that I repeated with one team,” Bauer said in a Spring Training interview. “I know the people around, the procedures, what’s expected. It’s a lot easier, when a lot of that stuff comes as second nature now. I don’t have to focus on who’s who and where do I go at what time?”

Those things may seem trivial, but Bauer — the No. 3 overall pick by Arizona in 2011, out of UCLA – said it can be a distraction. Now, he said, he’s better capable of fitting in in the clubhouse, and of focusing on pitching. Outside that one ugly line in Spring Training, he struck out seven in five innings, allowing just two runs. He’s also hit 97 on the radar gun in the early going.

“I’m a lot more relaxed when you can go auto pilot on that,” Bauer said. “You can focus on other stuff that’s going on, the fun stuff between the guys in the clubhouse, all the other stuff that goes on that makes you seem more integrated into the team. I may have missed some of that stuff last year because I was focusing on some of that other stuff because I was new and making sure I showed up at stretch at the right time.”

Indians Manager Terry Francona echoed Bauer’s thoughts before Tuesday’s  game, when he announced that Bauer would be called up as the team’s 26th man for Wednesday’s doubleheader, as allowed by Major League Baseball rules.

“A spot start is a tough thing to do, but he’s better situated for it right now,” Francona said. “He’s more comfortable with himself, with the organization. Familiarity has been good for him.

“His last four outings, he’s been pretty good. When you have success, confidence comes with it. Hopefully he steps in, goes six innings and keeps us going.”

–TribeVibe contributor Joel Hammond

Indians Game Information: April 8 vs. San Diego

Detroit Tigers v Cleveland Indians

CLEVELAND INDIANS (3-3) vs. SAN DIEGO PADRES (2-4)

RHP Corey Kluber (0-1, 13.50) vs. RHP Tyson Ross (0-1, 5.40)

Game #7/Home #4 » Tuesday, April 8, 2014 » Progressive Field » 7:05 p.m. (ET) » SportsTime Ohio, WTAM-WMMS/IRN

RAIN FALL DOWN

  • The Indians saw their series opener against San Diego get washed out on Monday night, as rain showers have been somewhat omnipresent through Tribe’s first week…Cleveland will play its second doubleheader already this season tomorrow afternoon…a rain-soaked series in Oakland saw the Coliseum’s first rainout since 1998 and therefore Cleveland’s first doubleheader of 2014…the start of Cleveland’s home opener was also delayed 2 hours, 13 minutes.
  • Rain played a role early for Cleveland last year, as the team played 3 doubleheaders prior to the All-Star break for the first time since 1992.

TWO TO TANGO

  • The Indians and Padres will play a traditional doubleheader on Wednesday beginning at 12:05PM (gates open at 11:00AM)…the second game will begin approx. 20 minutes after the conclusion of the first game.
  • Fans holding tickets dated Monday, April 7, and wishing to attend Wednesday’s doubleheader MUST exchange their tickets at the Progressive Field Box Office…all tickets for April 9 will include two games for the price of one…fans unable to attend the April 9 DH can exchange their April 7 tickets, subject to availability, for many of the remaining home games this season…the deadline for those exchanges is May 31.

WINS & LOSSES

  • Despite out-hitting the Twins 15-9, Cleveland dropped Sunday afternoon’s rubber match by a score of 10-7 to Minnesota…Tribe faced a 6-2 deficit before tying to score at 6-6 in the 5th only to see the Twins rally for 3 runs in the 6th and one more in the 9th…Indians had not lost a game in which they collected at least 15 hits since taking a 10-inning, 10-8 defeat on Aug. 5, 2012 at Detroit (17 hits) – also the first such instance in a home game since an 11-7 loss on July 8, 2011 vs. Toronto (15 hits).
  • Cleveland is 1-2 mid-way through this 6-day, 6-game homestand against Minnesota (1-2) and San Diego (3 games)…club is coming off a brief 3-game road trip to open the season during which Tribe took 2 of 3 from Oakland, improving to 27-9 against the A.L. West since start of 2013 campaign…series win came despite plating 9 combined runs, 6 of those being scored in the 9th inning…second game of Oakland series was rained out, forcing a day-night DH on Wednesday…both Indians wins vs. A’s had same winning (Allen), losing (Johnson) and saving (Axford) pitchers…Friday began a stretch of 10 consecutive game dates before club’s next off day on April 14 in Detroit.
  • Cleveland is T2nd with Kansas City in the A.L. Central standings, 1.5 games behind Detroit (4-1) & one half-game ahead of Chicago/Minnesota (T4th, -2.0G, 3-4)…Tribe has spent 2 days in 1st place, 5 days in 2nd place and one day in 3rd place.

FACING THE FRIARS

  • Cleveland is set to welcome the San Diego Padres to town in just the Friars’ 3rd-ever visit to Progressive Field, the others coming in 2003 and 2008…Tribe has made just one visit to Petco Park, which came in 2005…the Indians are 6-3 all-time against the Padres, taking 2 of 3 games in each of the 3 series played between the two clubs.
  • Cleveland ended this year’s spring training slate with a pair of friendlies against the Padres on the University of San Diego’s Fowler Park & Cunningham Field; Tribe took first game 16-4, but narrowly dropped the second by a score of 9-8.
  • Padres Exec. VP & GM JOSH BYRNES began his front office career with the Indians from 1994-99 and contributed in multiple roles, finishing his tenure in Cleveland as club’s Scouting Director before joining Dan O’Dowd’s staff in Colorado.

BACK IN BLACK

  • Padres MGR BUD BLACK returns to Cleveland where he spent several seasons wearing an Indians uniform…the right-handed pitcher was acquired from Kansas City in June of 1988 (for INF/OF Pat Tabler) and was with the Tribe until being traded to Toronto in Sept. of 1990…Black also ended his career with Cleveland in 1995.

GET ON THE GOOD FOOT

  • Opponents have scored first in 5 of the Indians’ 6 games so far this season (2-3 record), although Cleveland has managed 2 come-from-behind victories in those 5 contests…additionally, Cleveland’s pitching staff has allowed 8 of its 29 total runs in the first inning…staff has a 12.00 ERA (8 ER/6.0 IP) in first inning, but a 3.45 ERA (18 ER/47.0 IP) from the 2nd inning on…in 2013, Cleveland went 68-24 when scoring first, but 24-46 when opponents tallied first.

A chat with Brohio Gov about rocking first weekend

 

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(Editor’s Note: Get your Brohio tickets for April 18 and April 19 vs. Toronto by clicking here. As of Thursday at 2PM, tickets were $32, but those prices will rise as the game nears. Get them now and save!)

Judging by Tweets out of Brohio this past weekend, it sure seemed like Adam Gockowski had a successful first run as our Governor.

 

 

As the next Brohio weekend rapidly approaches – as of right now, tickets are only $31.25 for Friday, April 18 and $31.25 for Saturday, April 19, and you get this cool new Brohio design T-shirt – we wanted to catch up with Adam to see how things went and what he has up his sleeve.

His responses:

TribeVibe: How did the first weekend go?

AG: The first series was a huge learning experience. I realized a lot of good and bad right off the bat: I’m not a 7-foot purple mascot – Editor’s Note: Slider takes exception to that stereotype! — so it took a while for people to realize who I was and what I was trying to do. I look like the average dude in the stands. So Friday, between the team being down for six innings, no hitting, cold, wet, late, everything, it was hard to get people into it at first.

Once I got the flag, people started realizing that “He’s the Governor!” and it started making sense to them. They started warming up to the idea. Before both games, I get there early and talk to EVERYONE in the stands. … People really enjoyed that, (and took) tons of pictures right away. They LOVE taking pictures with me and the flag. I mean people of all ages.

Saturday, when the fans got Brohio signs, they got into the idea! They were standing up when Swisher was up to bat, holding the signs, and were chanting with me! Even with a losing score and an afternoon game time, people were still getting into it. The biggest hit is the shirts! They LOVE the shirts.

Once the weather gets warmer, everyone is in matching shirts, with Brohio signs, and my presence is more known, without a doubt, the section will be UNREAL! Other sections on Saturday were paying attention. I think the little things like letting fans take pictures with me and the flag, talking before the game to them, their Brohio signs and (other) small stuff will have a big impact on the section. I will have a fun and comfortable crowd to work with. Series after series, we’ll get the crowd we want! The opening series, majority of fans was pleasantly surprised to find out where they were and their benefits.

TribeVibe: How did you get the section fired up? Were your fellow Brohio residents eager to participate?

AG: Awareness is key, it’s huge. So, to help myself and the Tribe, I have been very active on Twitter. I want to build it as much as possible in between each Brohio series. In the last 10 days, I’ve gained 1,021 followers. That’s an average of 100 a day. I retweet those who’ve sat in Brohio, I ask them fun questions, I comment back, I’m very hands on. In a weird way, I’m trying to sell myself to the fans. If they like me and I’m entertaining, knowing that I’ll 100% be in 117 on Fridays and Saturdays, they might buy just to be around that. They’ll get the chance to ask me stuff in person, take a pic with the flag, get the shirt, everything.

TribeVibe: What else do you have up your sleeve?

AG: I will be doing Twitter contests — tickets, shirts perhaps.

We’re going to get a hashtag going. I started #whatswishsays, where fans will create their own Swish like phrase, then tweet it out with that hashtag.

Once again, me being active with them on twitter in general is huge. If I’m active, they’ll buy. When they buy, we get the crowd that wants to be a part of the atmosphere. We get the crowd, we get the fan energy that we want. We get the energy, we get known in Major League Baseball.

Remember, Tribe fans: Right now, tickets are only $31 for Friday and Saturday, April 18-19; Buy Early and Save as those prices could go up! Tickets come with the new design of a Brohio shirt.

–TribeVibe contributor Joel Hammond

In year marking 20 years at Progressive Field, Cleveland Indians to welcome 50 millionth fan

Both teams are lined up for the pre game ceremonies.

Ballpark has generated more than $221 million in average annual sales, $15 million in state and local tax impact

Progressive Field will welcome its 50 millionth paid customer this year and enter its third decade of service. The Tribe began another season of baseball on April 4 — 20 years exactly to the day in 1994 when the first regular season game was played at Progressive Field (then known as Jacobs Field).

And what a ride it has been: Since its opening in 1994, consider the significant economic impact Progressive Field has had on the City of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County:

  • Average annualized job creation of 2,500 jobs
  • Average sales impact of $221 million per year
  • State and local tax revenues of nearly $15 million per year

For the City of Cleveland, had it not been for the Cleveland Indians playing on the corner of Carnegie and Ontario, the following results would not have been realized*:

  • $4.2 billion in sales
  • $1.75 billion in earnings (employee wages, employer contributions to pensions, self-employed earnings)
  • $279 million in state and local taxes

The return of baseball in Cleveland also is significant for the businesses surrounding Progressive Field, as noted by the significant economic impact created by the direct spending of the Indians organization in conducting their business operations, as well as the direct spending of all the visitors that come downtown to watch the Indians play.

“Businesses that benefit from the direct spending of the Indians and the fans then increase their spending at other local businesses,” said Ken Stefanov, Indians Chief Financial Officer, who’s been with the club since 1990.

“The direct and indirect spending powered by the Indians business activities lead to increased personal income, inducing greater household spending locally. Ultimately, this domino effect has resulted in the $4.2 billion sales figure generated over the past 20 years.”

“We are very proud of the role we play in our community — from both an economic impact as well as our charitable community impact,” said Indians President Mark Shapiro. “We are driven to make the fans the center of our focus, in a safe, clean and modern Progressive Field.”

*–Source: Cleveland Indians Economic and Fiscal Impact Analysis Topline Report, November 2013, for period 1994-2012

The DiaTribe: Q&A with Mark Shapiro from Goodyear

shapiro1

Editor’s note: This Q&A with Indians President Mark Shapiro, conducted in Spring Training, has been republished here with the permission of Al Ciammaichella and The DiaTribe.

For the second year in a row, Indians team president Mark Shapiro was kind enough to take an hour out of his very busy spring training schedule and sit down for an interview with me in beautiful Goodyear, Arizona. Here’s a link to last year’s interview in case you missed it. We covered a wide variety of topics, including the difference in the 2013 and 2014 free agent market, Yan Gomes, ticket pricing, promotions, Francisco Lindor and of course, Justin Masterson and the breakdown in his long-term contract negotiations. The following is a lightly edited transcript of our conversation this past Friday.

Al Ciammaichella: This offseason was much quieter/different than last offseason. Were the moves you made last year looking forward to this year’s free agent class where you signed guys like Swisher and Bourn knowing this offseason would be quieter?

Mark Shapiro: We always have to take an opportunistic lens when it comes to free agency. When we look at free agency, if we’re dependent upon it to build our team, then we’re in a very difficult, if not impossible, spot. The reality is that we’re either looking for where the value is in the market or looking to be opportunistic. Last offseason there happened to be two guys that fit multiple year, positional needs for us at values we thought we could afford and who have some other special attributes, especially in the case of Swish, but really Bourn too, as a leader as well. They filled gaps we had in our system, where we felt like we didn’t have anyone coming up at all. And we also knew that this offseason there was a lot national TV money coming into the system and a lot less guys, so there were going to be more resources available, greater demand and less supply. So while it’s already a tough market, that was going to make it nearly an impossible market. So I look at last year as our chance to make a bigger splash in free agency, and this year was going to be “are there little things we can do?” I think we studied David Murphy, who I think is a good pick up for us. He’s going to improve both the defense, and give us a really good platoon and depth in the outfield.

AC: We talked a lot about levers last year, which became one of my new favorite buzzwords. How did you decide what levers to pull this year, with Murphy, and how did you decide which not to pull, with not bringing back guys like Ubaldo and Kazmir?

MS: Those decisions are never as simple as “do you want the player or not?” I think that the fan tends to look at it as “you didn’t want the guy.” We loved what Kaz did for us, we wanted him, but the level of risk involved with multiple years and the level of risk involved with those dollars just didn’t fit our payroll parameters this year with the natural, built in escalation of contracts. I think with Ubaldo, same thing. It ended up being a good deal for us, particularly in light of what we gave up, but it wasn’t the right fit for us this year. When you talk about levers, I think the neat things to think about from last spring to this spring are the evolution of a guy like Yan Gomes. Where all of a sudden, you look at Gomes and there’s a guy who leverages his ability to impact a game at more than just his position because of what he means defensively, what he means for his passion for making pitchers better, for helping to call a game. So I always like to think about, “where are the guys that can impact a game beyond objective statistics? Beyond just their own performance?” And Gomes is a guy who when he started to catch last year, I think that was one of the keys to our team really taking off.

AC: So when you traded for Gomes, and I could sit here all day and talk to you about Gomes, but when you traded for him, did you have any idea he’d be that much of an impact defensively? I’ve talked to some Blue Jays guys, and they were of the opinion that he was maybe a 3rd catcher while he was with the Jays.

MS: Any GM or front office guy who tells you he knows exactly what he was getting when he traded for a guy is just pounding his own chest. What you do is you try and find something you like, a defined attribute that you like about a guy. Even when we traded for Asdrubal or Shin-Soo Choo, there were always questions. We never thought they’d both be as good as they were, never. So when we traded for Yan Gomes, we thought that maybe he could catch, but really what he was, was right handed power, and a guy who could play multiple positions. That’s what we thought. When we got him, I think we did a smart thing, similar to when we traded for Justin Masterson. We didn’t know Masterson could start, but we knew he could be a dominant bullpen guy. But in our situation it’s important to maximize the value because we can’t go out and buy those things. So we put Yan back there, and right away Tito and the staff said “this guy’s got pretty special hands, he’s got some strength behind the plate.” When you go back and look at his career, whether it’s in Tennessee (in college) or in the Toronto system, he played behind Arencibia both places, and they had D’Arnaud there as well. So he was behind two of the best young catchers in the game and he never got to catch much. He just took right to it. He got better and better. He’s a worker, he’s smart, he’s tough, he has a lot of the attributes you look for in a catcher.

(more…)

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