As you probably know by now, the Indians made Michael Brantley's extension official yesterday with a press conference featuring Brantley and GM Chris Anotonetti. At the bottom of the post, you can find my livestream of the events. To save you a bit of time, here is a brief summary of the presser.
From Brantley's side of the table, he says and does all the things you want to see from a player on your team, which probably plays a huge factor in wanting to keep him on board. The bottom line in signing a player is always performance, but hearing Brantley talk about his commitment to the team is a bonus. He is dedicated to the team's success day in and day out. Standard fare, really, but still good to hear. At the end of the day, "I just want to win baseball games," is music to my ears. The most interesting part, for me, was hearing him talk about the trade that brought him to Cleveland. He was the PTBNL in that trade, so not a lot of focus was initially put on him, though I know many early on thought he could be a contributor down the line. He knew there was the possibility that he could be part of the trade and not having confirmation until the season ended seemed to wear on him a bit. When he finally came over, he talked about how welcoming the entire staff and FO were in making the transition easy. You wouldn't expect him to say it was incredibly difficult, but his sentiments did seem genuine.
From Antonetti's side, there was a lot of GM-speak but a few interesting nuggets to gleam as well. From the Brantley angle, you can tell that the front office is very fond of him as a player and as a person. They love hearing the positive things come out of his mouth and don't hesitate to praise him. Antonetti also wasn't shy in saying that Brantley should have won a Gold Glove last year, after Michael politely denied being concerned about it. Beyond Brantley, Antonetti jumped around, talking about expectations for Salazar and thinking that the St. Louis version of John Axford is the real one.
He opened up a bit more about the arbitration process this year, as the team sends a group to Florida to negotiate with Tomlin's crew. He admitted that it was fair to say the team might have developed a reputation for not wanting to go to arbitration because, in fact, their preference is still to settle before that happens. He said things can sometimes get uncomfortable for both sides but made clear that the team still needs to settle on a deal that they find "equitable." Pestano and Tomlin seem to be evidence of that. I can't help but think that the distance between Tomlin's figures and the team's is more a reflection of how little stock the team places in his future going forward, but I could be reading too much into that.
- Dad’s help at the plate started when he was young, take one AB at a time. Have an approach
- Had great leadership last year. New guys plus young core. Played as one team.
- Continuity is important, we have a nice young core and want to keep them together.
- Lucky that people like Michael have placed importance on being here.
- Bringing Michael over the team had some sense of who he was, but didn’t fully understand just how driven he was at the time. Fun to see him grow and excel the way he has.
- Speculation of trade was tough, but he was welcomed with open arms when he became an Indians. Everyone took care of him and the transition was easy and comfortable.
- Last year was just a stepping stone and doesn’t think they’ve played their best baseball yet.
- "Dr. Smooth" he imbraces it and its fun and cool.
- Gold Gloves come from writers and whatever else, he just wants to play well for his team (Antonetti: "He should have won a gold glove.")
- His comments and articulation of his goals and feelings are a great blueprint for other minor leaguers.
- He is genuine and his drive and approach is team first. On and off the field. Some talk it, but Michael lives it.
- Still on course for arbitration with Tomlin Friday in Florida. "I’m not going. We have a number of representatives there. Including Mike [Chernoff]." Club counsel takes the lead primarily.
- Preference is still to negotiate a settlement but it has to be "an equitable settlement and it has to make sense."
- Tried to reach that with Tomlin and Pestano, but couldn’t get there.
- Question was if they developed a reputation for not wanting to go to arb. He says thats a fair question but they just weren’t able to do that fully this year because of the deals in place.
- "Our goal is always to try to negotiate a settlement."
- Club presents things that are "less favorable" to the player but it is very "atypical to how we operate"
- Still trying to negotiate a settlement with Masterson.
- Relieved to have Hagadone grievance in past. Wasn’t every really a distraction, but nice to have clarity.
- Question was if a Bourn type addition is still possible. Response: Always looking to improve, but feel good with current position.
- "We always have extraordinarily high internal expectations." Same goals as they had last year.
- So many responsibilities of the hitting coach led to adding a second hitting coach. "Hitting coach is with 12 or 13 players on their own. Though sometimes I think Tito might prefer to only have 9. Or maybe 8, let a reliever hit."
- Goal for Salazar is 30+ starts and see him continue to make adjustments to hitters at the MLB level. Made adjustments post Tommy John surgery to get more power and get to the right checkpoints. LOTS of work went into that, delivery is entirely different now because of that work.
- Danny had a "great deal of trust in the organization" and ran with the adjustments they suggested and embraced it.
- Always had a live arm, but throwing much harder because of his throwing program and his work with coaches.
- Axford was one of the most dominant relievers and is electric when in the strike zone. Confident his strong rebound in St. Louis will carry over.
- Question: Did you see they threw a parade for Danny? Answer: "I saw that, imagine what it will be when we win a World Series. Will you throw Hoynsie a parade… (feed cut out)."