Here's the indians.com/cleveland.com recaps from yesterday's game, as well as my quick observations.
Also, in yesterday's game, Matt Carson took a header into the outfield wall while trying to run down a ball hit over his head.
Carson suffered some lacerations, as well as a strained neck. So far there's been no timetable as to when Carson will be cleared to play again.
Terry Pluto is in Arizona this week, so today's "Talkin'" column leads with some thoughts on the Indians.
I wasn't surprised when Tribe manager Terry Francona insisted that Asdrubal Cabrera is "a very good [defensive] shortstop."
When I mentioned Cabrera led all American League shortstop in errors (19), and that various metric-rating systems rated him with below-average range, Francona countered that metrics are "a work in progress."
Although I think that, yes, defensive statistics are not nearly as ironclad as offensive numbers, when a player consistently is dinged by many different defensive statistics, you can't just ignore the conclusions. Part of that is that the defensive competition in today's American League at shortstop is a lot steeper, so some of those poor statistical showings are a result of being compared to very excellent defenders. There aren't very many offense-first shortstops in baseball right now, which is a sea change compared to the late 90s/early 00s, when clubs were getting fantastic offensive production from the position, so weren't worrying as much about defense. I think we're in a cycle in baseball where runs aren't as plentiful (fill in your reason), which means a greater emphasis being placed on defense.
Al from the Diatribe is also in Arizona this week, and he scored an interview with team President Mark Shapiro. Although the whole interview is interesting, and you should read it all, I'd like to concentrate on a couple of key questions/answers that hit at things that have been discussed here many times in the past:
Al: Talking about the signings of Swisher and Bourn, you look at last offseason and at a guy like Josh Willingham. He was a 32-year old outfielder coming off of a very similar offensive season to Nick Swisher this year. Why Swisher this year and not Willingham last year?Mark: Well, we offered within the parameters that we were expected to operate, and we actually offered Willingham more money on an annual basis than he signed for. We just didn’t feel comfortable with the risk when it was spread over that many years. A lot of what we do is risk based, we’re managing risk. We understand a little too well what a long-term contract can do to us when it’s not performing, and we get nervous about age and defense and what those things mean for a player. Obviously he had a career year in the first year of that contract, so hindsight is 20-20. But Swisher has defensive value at outfield and first base, two areas where we need help....
The Indians didn't just decide last winter that they needed to go after free agents, or even free agent outfielders. They offered both Carlos Beltran and Josh Willingham very competitive contracts in the 2011-2012 offseason. They were a bit gunshy about offering Willingham a longer deal, having the Hafner contract still on their minds (and on the payroll) because Willingham's value is tied up mostly in his bat. B-Ref rated him as a 2.9 win player, less than both Nick Swisher (3.5) and Michael Bourn (6.0) because his defense and base runner dragged his overall value down. Taken together, both signings greatly improved the defense on this club in addition to the offense. The Bourn signing in particular was a huge defensive upgrade, and not just in center field. Moving Swisher to first base and taking Mark Reynolds off the diamond could be a worth a win or two alone.
Al: Looking at the new collective bargaining agreement, there are caps on draft spending, caps on international spending. Does that sort of thing help or hurt a team like the Indians?Mark: That’s a very good question, and a very difficult question. I would think this; clearly it benefits us from a standpoint of stopping the largest market teams from exploiting their extreme resources and just go crazy. While we really feel like there should be some market considerations within amateur player acquisition, anything that limits our intellectual creativity, anything that limits our freedom of choice is probably a bad thing for us. So we need to be able to feel that year to year we can deploy more resources there and less in free agency. The bottom line is this; we’re always going to lose in major league free agency. Our chances to compete are going to be in a rare opportunity like with Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn where the biggest market clubs for some reason are not playing. Because they can always go an extra year, they can always go an extra $5 million. In amateur acquisition that discrepancy isn’t as great. So if we decided that we wanted to go heavy there, deploy more resources there, the freedom to do that would probably be better for us. But I still think the changes that were made are an incremental step in the right direction. It’s going to take more than one CBA to get it further. I accept the fact that there’s not a whole lot more revenue sharing coming, but I’d like to see more market consideration mixed in to the amateur talent selection process.
The new CBA places essentially a hard cap on draft pick bonuses, as well as international signings. So while that in theory should be good for a team in acquiring talent, it hinders a small-market club from spending their money on amateur players rather than free agents. As Shapiro mentioned above, normally a large-market club is going to win 90% of the time if they go up against a smaller market club for a free agent, but in international and drafting, often times it was a small-market club that spent more than the Yankees and Angels of the world. If we go to an international draft, as has been rumored, any competitive advantages by a small market club there go completely away.
Anyway, that just scratches the surface of what's there - go read the entire thing.
As the title of the blog suggest, England Tribe is an Indians blog by an Englishman. It's always great to have a new voice out there talking about the Indians; that helps both the readers (more original Indians content to read!) and the bloggers (more ideas, more conversations to have!). So if you have a new Indians blog, please let me know, and I'll try to spread the word.
AL Central News
There's been lots of speculation that Rick Porcello would be traded, as there's a good possibility that he won't make Detroit's Opening Day rotation, including a rumored deal with San Diego. But Kurt thinks that there's no way the Tigers are going to deal Porcello now.
Can't really improve on the title, so I'll let it speak for itself.
Today's Classic Clip
This is from the 1935 comedy Ruggles of Red Gap. Charles Laughton plays a British valet who is lost in a poker game to an eccentric millionaire from Washington state. The whole movie is a hoot, but there's this famous scene in the middle of the movie: