RSS Twitter Facebook YouTube
Expand Menu

Myers signing is latest evidence of new approach

Myers signing is latest evidence of new approach
January 3, 2013
Share via: Share: Facebook Share: Twitter Share: Google Share: Pinterest Share: Print Share: Email

With 2013 now upon us, it’s refreshing that the Cleveland Indians began the new year the same way the team ended 2012: being active.

As everyone already knows, the Indians signed right-handed pitcher Brett Myers to a one-year, $7 million deal on Tuesday with a club option for a second season. Myers, who most recently pitched out of the bullpen with the Chicago White Sox, projects as a starter in Cleveland, and it seems as if he could be the final pitching piece that the Indians acquire this offseason (though even that’s not for sure).

As with almost any signing, there are sure to be supporters and detractors of the move. The supporters of the move will point to Myers’ previous ability to eat up innings (has pitched at least 190 innings six times in his career), while the detractors will argue that the Indians overpaid, especially for a guy who has not pitched as a starter since 2011.

Personally, I am a fan of the move. While a guy like Kyle Lohse would have been awfully nice, would it have made sense to give the 34-year-old Lohse a three-year deal? At 32-years-old, Myers is two whole years younger, and while I do agree that the Indians overpaid to acquire the Jacksonville, FL native, it is still only one season, so it’s hard to fault them too much there. If Myers fails, then the Indians can just cut their losses and let him go next season.

Beyond that, however, the most positive aspect of the Myers signing is that it provides even more evidence of the new, aggressive approach and identity that the Indians continue to establish. Even though the Indians overpaid, Myers was apparently their guy, and they did what was necessary to get him into the fold for 2013.

Consider this point. The Indians’ needs following the 2012 season essentially mirrored the team’s needs following the 2011 season. We know that the team’s needs have been (in no particular order): right-handed hitting, starting pitching, first base and outfield.

It could be argued that the Indians at least tried to address some of those needs last season, but when compared to this offseason, the team’s 2011 efforts look futile.

So, with that being said, let’s take an in-depth look at the moves the Indians made during last year’s offseason compared to this offseason. For reference, each acquisition that the Indians made in each offseason will be referenced provided it was a move that immediately impacted the Major League team (that is why the trade for Russ Canzler is omitted). Additionally, the Major League statistics for each player’s previous three seasons will be included to reflect the player’s market value when the Indians acquired him.

Right-handed hitting

2011: Nothing. Nada. Zilch. While right-handed hitting was arguably the Indians greatest need, it sadly went ignored following the 2011 season. Of the offensive players that the Indians acquired or resigned (Casey Kotchman, Grady Sizemore), none were right-handed hitters. The team seemed confident that its lefty-heavy lineup would be able to come through. We all know how that turned out…

2012: So far, the Indians have signed first baseman Mark Reynolds, acquired outfielder Drew Stubbs, acquired shortstop Mikes Aviles and signed Nick Swisher. As hard as it may be to believe, the team’s heavy left-handed lineup is a thing of the past.

Player

Pos

GP (2010-12)

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

HR

RBI

BB

K

Mike Aviles

SS

337

.270

.302

.399

0.701

28

131

56

170

Nick Swisher

OF

448

.274

.366

.478

0.844

76

267

230

405

Drew Stubbs

OF

444

.238

.311

.380

0.691

51

161

160

539

Mark Reynolds

1B

435

.213

.326

.450

0.775

92

240

231

566

Verdict: The team certainly upgraded its strikeout totals with its particular right-handed hitting acquisitions, but it’s hard to knock the Indians here. One year removed from doing absolutely nothing, the Indians aggressively addressed the need this offseason. One would suspect that the team will certainly have more success against left-handed hitting this coming season.

Starting pitching

2011: The Indians did address this need last offseason after they acquired Derek Lowe from the Atlanta Braves. Lowe, who was owed $15 million by the Braves, came at a reasonable price as Atlanta picked up $10 million of his salary. Lowe was coming off a horrendous season with the Braves, so the move was somewhat of a head-scratcher. However, Lowe had proven himself to be a durable starter throughout his career, which is what the Indians coveted most. 

Player

G (2009-11)

GS

ERA

IP

BB

K

Derek Lowe

101

101

4.57

575.1

194

384

2012: Even before the signing of Myers, the Indians made noise earlier this offseason when they acquired Trevor Bauer as part of the Shin-Soo Choo trade. The right-handed Bauer gives the Indians a legitimate front-of-the-rotation type prospect that the team has not had since the days of C.C. Sabathia. With both Bauer and Myers in the fold, the Indians have clearly addressed the need for starting pitching.

Player

G (2010-12)

GS

ERA

IP

BB

K

Brett Myers

137

66

3.72

505

138

381

Trevor Bauer

4

4

6.06

16.1

13

17

Verdict: This is a no-brainer. Even though some may argue that Lowe was destined to rebound, most would probably agree that Myers is a better move and impacts the rotation more positively than the Lowe move. While Lowe had a strong month of April, he was basically a disappointment the rest of the season. No one knows for sure how Myers will perform, but you have to believe that he cannot possibly be any worse than Lowe. Of course, when you then factor in the Bauer move, it becomes even more evident that the Indians really did an outstanding job of addressing this need this offseason. No point may illustrate the evidence of the Indians new approach than the team’s persistence when it came to acquiring starting pitching, especially in the case of Bauer.

First base

2011: First base was a massive need for the Indians following the 2011 season as Matt LaPorta had drastically underperformed. To help solve the problem, the Indians signed the slick glove of Casey Kotchman, who was coming off a strong season with the Tampa Bay Rays. The only problem was that Kotchman hit left-handed and his strong 2011 season seemed to be somewhat of an anomaly.

Player

Pos

GP (2009-11)

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

HR

RBI

BB

K

Casey Kotchman

1B

397

.266

.336

.383

.719

26

147

122

165

2012: Indications this offseason were that the Indians wanted Kevin Youkilis as their guy, but after talks seemed to stall, the team moved quickly and signed Mark Reynolds to be their new first baseman. Reynolds comes with plenty of strikeouts, but his right-handed power is a skill that plenty of Major League teams covet.

Player

Pos

GP (2010-12)

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

HR

RBI

BB

K

Mark Reynolds

1B

435

0.213

0.326

0.450

0.775

92

240

231

566 

Verdict: This is also a simple one. Even with all his warts, Reynolds is a much superior player than Kotchman. He will, do doubt, be frustrating to watch at times, but can he be anymore frustrating than Kotchman was? At least Reynolds will hit his fair share of home runs to help mitigate the frustration.

Outfield

2011: To try to remedy the outfield situation, the Indians resigned Grady Sizemore. Sizemore had played in just a total of 210 games over the past three seasons, but the Indians obviously had faith that he might rebound somehow. Fast forward 12 months later, and Sizemore sadly did not play one game in what was likely his last season ever as an Indian.

Player

Pos

GP (2009-11)

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

HR

RBI

BB

K

Grady Sizemore

OF

210

0.234

0.314

0.413

0.728

28

109

87

212

2012: Two new starting outfielders will be joining the Indians in 2012 as the team acquired centerfielder Drew Stubbs as part of the deal that also netted the club Bauer. The Indians also signed Nick Swisher to a four-year, $56 million deal. The Indians also lost Shin-Soo Choo as the longtime outfielder was the centerpiece of the deal that netted Bauer and Stubbs.

Player

Pos

GP (2010-12)

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

HR

RBI

BB

K

Nick Swisher

OF

448

0.274

0.366

0.478

0.844

76

267

230

405

Drew Stubbs

OF

444

0.238

0.311

0.380

0.691

51

161

160

539

Verdict: Even with the loss of Choo, it is arguable that the opening day outfield of Swisher, Stubbs and Michael Brantley is better than last year’s opening day group of Choo, Brantley and Shelley Duncan, who inherited a starting role because of Sizemore’s injuries. Indians fans will certainly miss Choo’s rocket of an arm at times, but I think everyone will be pleased that players like Duncan and Canzler will no longer be starting options for the Indians. Not that those players are bad by any means, but unfortunately their flaws are often exposed in starting roles.

The 2013 Indians are still far from a perfect team as most of us would agree. However, what is evident is that this team is much better equipped for the upcoming season than last year’s squad. They say that unless we learn from our history, we are doomed to repeat it. Thankfully, this phrase seems to hold true for the Tribe as the team’s front office has addressed essentially every need this season.

We likely won’t know how all these new acquisitions have worked out until midway through next season, but all the moves do seem to represent organizational change and a new direction. And so far, this change looks good.

Steve can be reached via email at orbaneks@gmail.com.

User Comments

clohse
January 4, 2013 - 12:01 PM EST
My goodness! I stand corrected! Where I thought the point of fielding a team was to compete to win a championship, I was clearly wrong. So very, very wrong. The point of fielding a team is obviously to not lose 95 games. Go Tribe!

I might be persuaded that Francona knows what a winning team looks like, and that he's making changes in the way that the front office makes changes to the club. It's pretty clear that what they were doing wasn't working. Francona seems like a reasonable guy when he's standing at a podium at a press conference. What i'm wondering about is whether this front office, the same front office that fielded last year's dreadful team, has suddenly become competent with the introduction of a "proven winner." My confidence has not shot through the roof the way the rest of the 14-person fan base's has.

Your responses, Tony and Rich, are nearly as disheartening as the team's actions, and the team's actions are pretty thoroughly disheartening. I would rather my team did what it could to win in the long term than sign Brett Myers as the ugliest band-aid of all time. I certainly can't claim that I know for a fact that there is a right way to build a small market baseball team to slay giants, but I do know that if Myers were the one doing the slaying in a Tribe uniform, it'd be hard not to root for Goliath.
Tony
January 4, 2013 - 11:02 AM EST
What Rich just said....100% agree.
Rich
January 4, 2013 - 8:58 AM EST
"...the philosphy behind those trades or, more specifically, the lack of unifying philosophy behind those trades, is what concerns me. They appear to be shots in the dark rather than smart deals that push the team towards contention."

clohse, didn't you read the column? The "unifying philosophy" behind each trade and free agent signing was to address a specific weakness that was exposed last year, i.e., starting pitching, right-handed power hitting, overuse of Cabrera and Kipnis, etc.

Whether these moves "push the team towards contention" remains to be seen, but the author makes a solid case that these moves have improved the weakest areas of the team.

I agree with Tony that the Indians' 5-24 record in August was an organizational wake-up call. They thought they could get away with largely standing pat last year with a few minor signings - Lowe, Damon, Kotchman, Sizemore. August was a rude and painful smack upside the head.

This year they brought in a proven winner to manage the team and spent some decent money on free agents plus made an aggressive trade. Every move was geared to shore up a glaring problem. On paper the team is improved; how many more wins this will translate to is the question.

A lot depends on young, unproven players like Chisenhall, Bauer, Carrasco, McAllister, and possibly Barnes, Hagadone, and Kluber taking the next step in their development.

The Indians aren't in a financial position to do everything necessary to win 95 games this year (e.g. no Josh Hamilton or Greinke), but they did what they could, which is more than they did in 2011, which was virtually nothing.
clohse
January 3, 2013 - 4:46 PM EST
Being more aggressive is fine and assuming more risk is fine, but those are two very different things than being smart. We have seen how the Ubaldo trade has worked out (not well). The Choo trade appears to have been the opposite of the Ubaldo trade (expiring contract traded for a controllable interest with high upside who was seemingly undervalued plus spare parts).

Regardless of how those trades shake out (and Ubaldo could still pitch well, though I wouldn't bet on it, and Bauer could go the way of Jason Knapp), the philosphy behind those trades or, more specifically, the lack of unifying philosophy behind those trades, is what concerns me. They appear to be shots in the dark rather than smart deals that push the team towards contention. The same goes for the signing of Swisher, who's a fine player but is not a guy that's going to push any team into the playoffs. I understand that the price of free agents is part of the cost of doing business, but when the business is being mediocre, I might suggest that the Tribe try and find a different method.

This is why the new restrictions on the amateur draft are truly disconcerting to me as a fan. If the draft represented the meat of the "cycle of contention" for small market teams, then that bone is picked clean. Unless the Tribe's scouting staff can be significantly smarter than the rest of the league, the farm system is going to produce a couple of excellent players every five years who will, subsequently, leave town for a contender in any of a half dozen cities who will be competing for the World Series crown on a consistent basis. Well, unless they get injured first. It is not a sustainable prospect for Cleveland to pay 10 Nick Swishers a year to supplement each Vinne Pestano the scouting staff lucks into.

New Approach or not, things for the Indians has never been so bleak, in my view. The Cycle of Contention should be reserved for the Tribe's minor league affiliates because we're unlikely to see the big little club playing meaningful games any time soon, and certainly not for more than the time it takes you to say "Peter Angelos can suck it."

Sorry to be a Debbie Downer, but I could care less about whether Swisher balances the lineup or catches 10 more balls in the outfield if each one of them costs an average of half a million dollars that the Tribe can't even spend on international signings they weren't going to make anyway.
Andy
January 3, 2013 - 4:28 PM EST
Even if some of these moves are for just slightly above average ML performances, I am really encouraged that the additions were made to the weakest points on the roster. I agree that the real test will be how underperforming players are handled in-season.
Tony
January 3, 2013 - 4:01 PM EST
Good question Matt. I think it took a monumental fail like last August for the front office to make fundamental changes to their philosophy. For the longest time they took a risk averse approach to everything and I think they finally realized a change was needed. Francona came in and preached that they should not be so worried about taking risks.....and viola look what has happened. It is a pretty significant shift in their approach, and one that is good to see. It may not work and the team may fail, but at least they have some fight/aggression in their moves.

Clohse....I agree there are still some same signings a la Reynolds and Myers. But the difference really is their approach in trades and free agency overall. In years past, they were never this aggressive seeking deals in trades. And they have never, ever been this aggressive in free agency. They have been in on almost every player available this offseason, and finally nailed down Swisher. It is something they have failed to do in the past, and is a byproduct of the new "see it through" and be aggressive approach. Like I said before, we will see if it works.....but it is MUCH better than the past approach of being passive and risk averse.
Joe
January 3, 2013 - 1:53 PM EST
I think a couple of things have to take place before a lot of us are convinced this is an approach they will work from going forward.
Firstly, what will happen between now and spring training. They have to know the team they have assembled thus far will not be a contender. There are still holes in the pitching staff, though there are a lot of warm bodies, and there is still a need of a good right handed stick at either 1B , the outfield, or at DH. And no, Hafner is not the answer. Therefore I can see another deal involving Cabrera/Perez to fill these holes.
The second thing is how they will react to injuries/poor performance once the season starts. They definitely have to shorten the leash on some of these guys, and if they are not performing, make a change, whether from the system, or from outside. If they follow thru on the first, but not the second, how quickly will the support they have gained this off season disappear. I believe having Francona as manager, and having the ear of the front office tells me that necessary changes would be sooner rather than later. Soooooo, I'm still a believer that much better things are coming.
Peter
January 3, 2013 - 1:27 PM EST
To me, a big part of new approach will be what they do in season. Do they continue to give underperforming players a long leash? Will they refuse to use their minor league system to help the big league team (ie. not promote a guy tearing it up below and see if they can catch lightning in bottle for a week or two in the bigs)? One of the most frustrating things of 2012 was seeing them continue to run Damon/Lillibridge/Duncan out there and not even try a guy like Federoff/Neal/Canzler until September... at some point I would have rather watched those guys get an in season promotion and struggle versus seeing the crap we kept putting on the field in 2012 that were not a part of the future.
clohse
January 3, 2013 - 12:28 PM EST
So, hold on just a second... remind me what the new approach is again? Is it to spend what used to comprise a large portion of the player budget on average-to-slightly-above-average Major League free agents and then hope that fans in an economically devastated portion of the country will show up to cheer them as they blaze a fiery trail to third place in the American League Central? Is that the new approach we're all psyched on?
Joey
January 3, 2013 - 12:04 PM EST
That still scares me how they evaluate talent based on last off season, and all the in-season questionable moves. I do applaud they vastly improved this off season, but based on this front office's track record one off season should not redeem them before the season starts. Yes it has been a great off season but they need to continue this through the season to prove to the fans they truly have changed philosophy. They are the ones who have to prove themselves and remove the doubt most fans have.
Jake
January 3, 2013 - 11:26 AM EST
Sorry it sent my message to soon. To go on. with the young prospects kipnis, Brantley, and Whitehall they would be a contender. injuries and underperforming didn't make those dreams come true. Now that carmona, hafner, Sizemore, and Lowe are off the books they have space to make moves and improve the roster. Also the sto sale has to be part of how they are spending this season. Its no coincident that they are going to spend 15-20 million this from last year and the team regressed from 2011 to 2012. The Indians front office has a perfect storm to make moves this season. hopefully it works out because the money will go dry soon if the Indians still lose and no fans show to the games or watch them on tv.
Jake
January 3, 2013 - 11:19 AM EST
I think a few factors went into the difference between this year and last in the Indians front office moves. Last season the Indians thought masters and Jimenez were top of the line starters and tomlin was a solid 3. Plus they thought with a healthy hafner and Sizemore to go along with santana, choo, and Cabrera
matt underwood
January 3, 2013 - 9:41 AM EST
It would be interesting to know the thought process going into last year. I think anyone with a brain in their head knew the team was destined to fail - weak pitching, no RH bats, resigning of sizemore, etc... Was this b/c of a stubborn Antonetti/Shapiro over valuing their team? Dolan not spending dick for money? Can any sort of deviation from the previous model be attributed to Francona? Why did this change in thinking take so long?

I love what they have been able to pull off thus far this off season, but I still question the past. Without knowing I am still gun shy regarding this front office.

Your Name:
Leave a Comment:
Security Code:

IBI Videos

Available IBI Books

The 2014 Cleveland Indians Baseball Insider book featuring the Indians' Top 100 Prospects and more is now available. Also, previous editions from 2008-2012 are also available at a discounted rate. Just click on the book image for more information. Thanks again for all the support!

 

RSS Twitter Facebook YouTube
News   |   Teams   |   Players   |   Reference   |   Rankings   |   Depth Chart   |   Payroll   |   Boards   |   Privacy
Admin Login
All Rights Reserved 2014, Indians Baseball Insider   |   Affordable web design by Ohio Connect