Well, the biggest Indians story of the offseason is over—Cleveland agreed to a four-year, $56 million deal with Nick Swisher Sunday morning. But let’s not let that overshadow the rest of this week’s highlights from Wahoo’s on First as we bore down for the apocalypse!
Brian offered an incredibly thorough primer on what the Dolans’ selling SportsTime Ohio means both for STO’s business model and for how the team can use the contract negotiations to its advantage:
In its seven years of existence STO has done a great job with the Indians, its weekly coverage of the Browns is top notch, and its presentation of high school sporting events (most notably high school football) has been phenomenal. The problem is that STO never fully developed into the cash cow the Dolans had envisioned when they created it despite the fact it doubled the annual rights fees to broadcast Indians and provided a financial cushion to fall back on.
At the risk of grossly oversimplifying one of the most dramatic pitching collapses of the last few years, the story of Ubaldo’s decline is like the children’s book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. If you lose velocity on your fastball, batters will have an easier time hitting it. If batters are hitting your fastball, you’ll have to rely more on your secondary pitches. If your fastball isn’t as lively as it once was, your secondary pitches will be easier to hit too. If all your pitches suddenly become less effective, you’ll have to completely change your approach and pitch defensively rather than just going after opposing hitters. And when a pitcher who had never been known for his command starts trying to throw like a finesse guy, he goes from “effectively wild” to just plain wild.
Jeff came up with a new idea for restoring competitive balance to baseball:
What I propose rather than revenue sharing is cost sharing. The thrust of the idea is that teams are compensated for doing the right things—developing good players, creating fan loyalties, and creating an atmosphere where those players want to stay. In general terms, it would work like this: If a player who has been on a team’s roster for four consecutive years becomes eligible for free agency and is offered a contract by a team with a higher payroll, and the player declares that he would go back to his original team if it matched the offer, a percentage of the contract would be subsidized by a general fund that is paid into by each team according to its payroll.
Could Cleveland and Los Angeles line up in a trade? I think so. According to Knobbler the Halos are looking for a pitcher, but we don’t know exactly what that means in terms of personnel. Contrary to popular belief Cleveland actually has quite a bit of pitching depth, both in the rotation and the bullpen. The Angels clearly don’t think too highly of Bourjos since they benched him last year and are paying Josh Hamilton $125 million to replace him now. Perhaps someone like Corey Kluber could interest Los Angeles. Or maybe the Indians could trade Chris Perez for Bourjos—as I suggested they do months ago.
Evan wondered who the Indians’ 2013 designated hitter will be:
With Canzler gone, the 40-man roster has an interesting list to choose from for the designated hitter spot: Lou Marson, Yan Gomes, Mike Aviles, Juan Diaz, Mike McDade, Chris McGuiness, Cord Phelps, Ezequiel Carrera, Tim Fedroff, and Thomas Neal. Assuming that the Indians don’t sign Nick Swisher, who left Cleveland on Tuesday without signing a contract, then right field will be filled by Carrera, Fedroff, or Neal.
Even though Masterson may have taken a step back with his 2012 performance he is still a dynamic young pitcher (he’ll be 28 on Opening Day) who has produced close to 12 wins above replacement since 2009. But there is no guarantee that he will return to his 2011 performance nor is there any certainty that he will remain the pitcher he was in 2012. So the risk of any long term contract extension with Masterson and the Indians has to be completed with shared risk.
Jeff called for Cleveland to bring back the true “long reliever”:
On April 19, 2004, Jake Westbrook took over in the first inning of a game against the Tigers and pitched seven innings of perfect baseball. There is a reason that has not happened since, other than the fact that retiring 21 batters in a row is difficult. The main reason is that somewhere in the past eight years the position of long reliever has vanished from the Indians’ roster. I am not sure why this is the case, but I think it is an enormous mistake.
Finally, in this week’s Wroundtable, we asked our panelists what was atop their Christmas lists for the Tribe:
Craig Lyndall (WaitingForNextYear): It’s silly because it’s something the Indians are working on, and I know it would be much more “baseball” to say another starting pitcher, but I’m going to say Nick Swisher. I know he might not end up being the best investment, but if he can stay healthy and moderately productive, I’d just love to have a “solution” in the outfield for a known period of time. We haven’t been able to watch a left fielder consistently in a long time, and right field has been a waiting game because of Choo’s agent. It would be nice to just have the answer to that question for a bit. I’m sure I will end up eating my words now. Such is life.