Results tagged ‘ Francisco Lindor ’

The DiaTribe: Q&A with Mark Shapiro from Goodyear

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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.

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Photo gallery: Tribe moves to 9-1-1 with win over Milwaukee

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–Photos by Dan Mendlik

Indians Game Information: March 6 vs. Chicago-NL

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CLEVELAND INDIANS (6-1-0) vs. CHICAGO CUBS (2-4-0)
RHP Justin Masterson (0-0, 0.00) vs. LHP Travis Wood (0-0, —)
First Pitch: 3:05 p.m. (ET)
Radio: Indians.com webcast

TODAY’S BROADCAST: Jim Rosenhaus returns to the booth this afternoon and will a deliver a free broadcast to all registered users on Indians.com…all free webcasts can be accessed by simply registering a username and password at http://www.Indians.com/webcasts, Indians.com or MLB.com…those currently registered can enter their current usernames and passwords at any of the above links.

NEW KID ON THE BLOCK: Top prospect, SS FRANCISCO LINDOR, has made an immediate impact on the Tribe lineup in his first career Major League camp…the switch-hitting shortstop has gone 3-9 with a pair of game-winning hits, ironically both coming off Seattle righty Danny Farquhar – Lindor unlocked a 3-3 tie when he pinch-hit and doubled for Ryan Raburn in the top of the 9th yesterday, and connected for a game-winning 3-run homer off Farquhar on Sunday here in Goodyear.

Indians Game Information: March 5 at Seattle

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CLEVELAND INDIANS (5-1-0) at SEATTLE MARINERS (6-1-0)
RHP Travis Banwart (0-0, 0.00) vs. LHP James Paxton (0-0, 0.00)
First Pitch: 3:05 p.m. (ET)
Radio: Indians.com webcast

TODAY’S BROADCAST: This afternoon’s Cactus League tilt between the Indians & Mariners is available with an MLB audio subscription on Indians.com, but will feature Seattle’s broadcast tandem of Rick Rizzs and Aaron Goldsmith…Jim Rosehhaus will return tomorrow with a free webcast on Indians.com which can be accessed by simply registering a username and password at http://www.Indians.com/webcasts, Indians.com or MLB.com…those currently registered can enter their current usernames and passwords at any of the above links.

PACKED FOR PEORIA: The Indians head north to square off against Seattle for the second time in four days after defeating the M’s 6-3 on Sunday in Goodyear; Francisco Lindor blasted a game winning three-run homer to break a 3-3 deadlock in the bottom of the 7th…Cleveland is now 2-6-2 against Seattle in 10 meetings all-time since moving to the Cactus League in 2009…the two clubs split a pair of decisions last spring, as the Tribe finally notched their first ‘W’ in Peoria on March 23 (10-5) after going winless in the first 8 meetings…Cleveland held a 5-2 advantage over the M’s during the 2013 regular season, sweeping a 4-game set at Progressive Field in May before dropping 2 of 3 at Safeco Field in July.

BULLPEN DAY: Slated to pitch today for the Tribe today are relievers: RHP Travis Banwart, RHP Scott Atchison, RHP Bryan Shaw, RHP David Aardsma, LHP Nick Hagadone, LHP Colt Hynes, RHP Austin Adams and RHP Blake Wood.

Photo Gallery: March 4 win over the White Sox

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–Photos by Dan Mendlik

Photo Gallery: March 2, win over the Mariners

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–Photos by Dan Mendlik

Photo Gallery: Feb. 23 in Goodyear

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Photo Gallery: Pitchers and catchers report to Goodyear

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–Photos by Dan Mendlik

Transcript: Conference call with VP of Player Development Ross Atkins

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Indians Vice President Ross Atkins took time from his most recent trip to the Dominican Republic – where, he kindly informed those of us back in Northeast Ohio, it’s about 85 degrees – to answer fans questions via conference call on Friday afternoon.

He also mentioned that Carlos Santana and Danny Salazar were in the Dominican this week at the Tribe complex. Atkins, who oversees all Minor League operations – the Indians just named Joe Wendle and Cody Anderson as the organization’s Minor League Players of the Year — opened with this primer on the offseason:

“This is an exciting time for us. The (Minor League Player of the Year) process is one that, of course, performance is going to have a large part. But we look at performance in many ways: In the minors, one thing that we often will put a little more time stock in is how they did it. Did they go about it the right way? Does he embody what we’re looking for in a future Indian player?

“There are no better examples than Joey Wendle and Cody Anderson. They understand the fundamentals and mechanics. We vote among player development staff and front office on those awards, and it was abundantly clear that these two represent the Indians very well, among a very good group of players.

“That (Wendle) beat out (shortstop prospect Francisco) Lindor suggests how good Wendle is. He’s already an incredible story; he does not have a huge pedigree. Cody, too, came from Feather River Community College. Similarly, he wasn’t a pitcher in college, or in high school; he’d pitched very little. They’re very confident players, and their confidence comes from work.”

Question: One of the players that stick out is (outfielder) Bryson Myles. Where will he start?

Answer: Bryson Myles is one of our best surprises. He will all but be in Akron. He’s a really interesting story: He was a football player who didn’t play a bunch of baseball and slipped a little in the draft. We were really excited about his athleticism. He worked at the right things, and that’s hard to learn: Not everyone enjoys learning what it takes to become a great base runner, and other things like that. Learning how to put all the information together and prioritize it is vital. For Bryson, it clicked midway through the season. He lost some playing time, and that was part of what made it click for him. His focus took up a notch. Then came confidence and then came results. He’s a very promising story.

Question: I think other intriguing guys are (pitchers) Ryan Merritt and Louis Head.

Answer: Merritt is interesting; there’s not many MLB players that are 6-feet, 165 pounds. We have no signs of him not being durable or not holding up; the strikeouts are there and the walks aren’t. He keeps the ball in the ballpark, and commands the ball better than anyone in our system.

Louis will be a reliever, and he’s had some success. He will have to outwork people and continue to get outs; that’s the nature of the beast with relief pitchers. (Editor’s note: Head played at all three levels in 2013, while Merritt finished the season with the fourth-best ERA in the Indians Player Development System.)

Question: When will Minor Leaguers report to Spring Training?

Answer: With us having a facility in Goodyear, a lot of guys come in very early, in January. We incentivize them for that. A lot of it depends on what position they’re in, where they are in their careers. We’ll have everyone there by March 9. Half of them will be there by Feb. 20. The reason for (some of the later arrivals) is that the MLB season is much longer than the minor league seasons in many cases, so some guys report later.

Question: What players with current MLB team do you model the minor league system after, in terms of work ethic, preparation and workout routine?

Answer: There are a few players that have evolved and that’s changed. (Former Indians outfielder) Grady Sizemore was at the pinnacle .(Former Indians outfielder Shin-Soo) Choo was a model. (Outfielder Michael) Brantley is a current incredible model for our young players to look to. (Second baseman) Jason Kipnis is an exceptional model. (Starting pitchers) Corey Kluber and Zach McAllister are off the charts from a work ethic standpoint.

Right now, Danny Salazar is a good model. He’s experienced a lot, being 24. He’s had Tommy John surgery, was signed out of the Dominican at 16. He didn’t come onto the scene as quickly as he would have hoped, but now he has and made a splash. He has all the intangibles. It starts with the player’s vision. He understands that and then follows through with the plan.

Question: What’s the plan for (2013 top pick) Clint Frazier?

Answer: He played half the season in Arizona. In his first at-bat, he hit a home run. He finished the year with an above-average OPS, was getting on base, hitting for power. He really took to center field, too; playing center as a pro is a little more demanding, with the pace of the game. He has it all, has all of the skills to do exceptional things. All of those other things, work ethic, will determine his route. It’s extremely difficult for a high school player to become a MLB player, because of expectations and demands. Sounds easy, but it’s very challenging. We have little doubt he’ll have a solid big-league career.

Question: What are our strengths at each level and what are our weaknesses?

Answer: Our system is balanced, especially with middle infield prospects and lower-level bats and position players. That’s where we’re strong. There are areas where we want guys to make strides forward. We feel very good about (Trevor) Bauer. Remember, he’s a year younger than Danny Salazar. He didn’t have the year he hoped for, but at 22, we’re still very encouraged.

We feel very good about some of the starters we have working their way up. They all have the intangibles. We have to have guys make positive strides each year; that’s what we had this year.

Question: What is the organization pushing (Lake County shortstop) Dorssys Paulino on?

Answer: We had him in Arizona this fall, and he’s been working on strength, conditioning and agility. His mobility and agility don’t match the strength he has, and that’s somewhat common in Dominican athletes. We’ve been working on his speed and agility. He’s going through a very rigorous offseason, and likely will start in Lake County again. He turned 18 last year; it was an adjustment to cold temperatures, 13-hour bus rides, and very little BP outdoors due to weather. That’s atypical, so it was an interesting spring for him. For a young Dominican player trying to find his groove, that’s not easy.

Question: Do you have an update on (2012 first-rounder) Tyler Naquin?

Answer: Tyler was among the group that was special to watch, with Joe Wendle and others. They were the leaders of the Arizona Fall League. He was at the forefront. One of the most encouraging things about him: He’s made an incredible adjustment and he did it in season; he’s spread out his lower half. There were some questions and he’s silenced them.

Photo gallery: BP/pregame, Detroit series opener

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Check out the scenes from Batting Practice as the Indians and Tigers prepared to open their four-game set at Progressive Field.

–Photos by Kyle Emery

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