Tribe Happenings: Masteron talks tie in many things
Some news, notes and thoughts from my Indians notebook…
Masterson negotiations begin, Ubaldo still in purgatory
Spring training keeps inching closer and closer, yet several interesting free agents remain unsigned. The longer players go unsigned, the greater the possibility that a player’s price may fall into the budget which may allow the Indians to make one more strike in free agency before the first full squad workout on February 17th.
There are some reports that the Indians may still have a little money to spend this season, though it is important to note it has to be at the right price and more importantly the deal has to be at the right length. If they could sign any of the remaining top free agents to a one year deal they would probably be very interested, but those players are all still requesting multi-year deals for three or more years. Also, several have draft pick compensation tied to them which all but takes the Indians out of the running for them.
In a perfect world, Ubaldo Jimenez would return on a one year deal. This is something that would benefit the Indians because it brings little risk outside of a large sum of money for one year and at the same time allow him to more firmly establish his market. If he continues his stellar second half from the 2013 season over the course of a consistent and strong 2014 season, then he will get his big multi-year deal next offseason. If he struggles, then the Indians are only tied to him for one season.
Still, Jimenez probably prefers a multi-year deal now because a one year deal potentially puts him back in the same spot next offseason. That is the predicament Kyle Lohse found himself in last offseason, so why he still preferred a multi-year deal even though it was for less money. Jimenez knows that if he has another similar season to 2013 that the Indians can extend him the qualifying offer again and once again. A good year might get more teams to bite and pay the compensation cost, but it would still be something he would have to contend with next offseason in some shape or form.
The Indians have been careful this offseason not to tie up too much extra money in their payroll beyond this season. If they have any thought of resigning Justin Masterson, they really can't add much if any more payroll. That's why any deal they may make for a remaining free agent probably would have to be for one year. Yes, Asdrubal Cabrera’s $10 million will come off the books next offseason, but keep in mind that Carlos Santana and some others like Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley and others are also getting more expensive, so Cabrera's money would probably go to the increases for those others and not toward a Masterson signing.
With every dollar they add to payroll and commit to beyond this season, it lessens the chance the Indians can fit a new contract for someone like Masterson into their budget. This is a big reason why the Indians need to get a strong idea one way or another this month whether they can sign Masterson long term. He is up for his final year or arbitration and he and the Indians are already talking about a one year figure to avoid arbitration, but at the same time they have also opened up talks on a multi-year extension.
If the Indians are able to sign Masterson now to a long term deal it would give them a much clearer idea of their needs beyond this coming season as well as their payroll commitments. If they feel they can’t resign him then they just play out the season with him at the one year figure, extend a qualifying offer to him at the end of the season, and let him leave via free agency all while picking up a first round draft pick. Considering how a lot of players have really been affected by qualifying offers, it might be enough to strike fear into Masterson and his camp and give incentive to get a deal done now.
In the meantime, if the Indians find they can’t resign Masterson, then it gives them a much clearer idea of what to do about possibly bringing Jimenez back or signing any of the other free agent pitchers still available. Who knows, maybe they can do both and extend Masterson and bring Jimenez back on a team friendly deal. I wouldn’t discount anything at this point.
No third catcher needed
I have seen some comments in other articles on the site as well as personal emails and tweets asking whether or not the Indians will add a third catcher to the roster. The question is in response to Nick Swisher slated as the regular first baseman and Yan Gomes the regular catcher, which means Carlos Santana is expected to be the primary designated hitter.
There appears to be a concern that with Santana regularly in the game as a designated hitter that with the lack of a backup catcher on the bench it puts the Indians at risk if Gomes were to get hurt during a game. The same can be said if Santana is catching and Gomes is the designated hitter – a setup which may happen a few times as well this season.
While the issue has some merit, in the grand scheme of things a catcher injury during a game and losing the designated hitter in such a scenario has little significance. Sure, if Gomes is the catcher and Santana is the DH and then Gomes has to come out in the second inning for an injury it would certainly put the Indians into a little bit of a tough spot as they would lose the DH for the rest of the game because they would have to insert Santana in at catcher.
But it is important to note it would only have an effect on one game. If Gomes is unable to play the next day the Indians can simply bring up a catcher from Triple-A Columbus to serve in a backup capacity to Santana until Gomes is ready. Also, as for the effect on that one game, manager Terry Francona would just have to manage it like a National League game and it may only mean the pitcher gets one at bat or not even at all the entire game. Remember, there would still be as many as three to four players on the bench to pinch hit for the pitcher depending on when the injury occurred in the game.
Also, Gomes and Santana make a pretty good one-two punch at catcher for the Indians as two starting quality options for them behind the plate. Say what you will about Santana’s defense, but as the second catching option on the team he is just fine in that role. With two starting quality catchers on the roster, when would you ever play that third catcher? You would never have that third catcher start for either Gomes or Santana, and you would never pinch hit and replace the other two for the third catcher.
That would mean the third catcher would be around simply as an emergency option to fill a need if the catcher gets hurt and the other catcher is already in the game as the DH. Considering the likelihood of such a scenario even occurring in the first place is very remote, that is not a good way to optimize the 25-man roster as you would essentially have a player on it that plays maybe once a month.
Yes, the Indians carried Jason Giambi last year as the 25th man on the roster, but he had a specific role as a late inning pinch hitter and got some starts at DH where he ended up playing in 71 games and piling up 216 plate appearances. That is something that no third catcher would ever come close to getting, something we saw last September when Kelly Shoppach was in fact added to the roster as the third catcher when rosters expanded and played in one game and got two at bats the entire month.
The Indians did carry an eighth bullpen pitcher that was in flux all year and often times was not used, but that to me makes more sense to have the extra arm on hand than a third catcher. I’d rather use that 25th spot as a revolving door to continually add arms or extra position players as needed.
Francoeur brings some intrigue
The Indians made a small signing last week when they inked outfielder Jeff Francoeur to a minor league deal with an invite to major league spring training camp. If he makes the Indians 25-man roster he will make $1 million in 2014 and has a chance to make an additional $1.5 million based on bonuses tied to plate appearances.
Francoeur, who just turned 30, had a miserable year last season hitting .204 with 3 HR, 17 RBI and .536 OPS in 81 combined games with the Royals and Giants. His last good year was in 2011 when he hit .285 with 20 HR, 87 RBI and .805 OPS with the Royals – a season many will recall I pined for the Indians to trade for him - but his last two seasons show a player who is in rapid decline both offensively and defensively. He still has the gifted rocket arm in the outfield but he has become a liability defensively, and offensively he just is no longer the same powerful bat that made him so interesting when he was younger.
That said, I see no problem taking a look at Francoeur this spring and seeing what he can do. There is no such thing as a bad minor league deal as they are not guaranteed and the Indians can walk away at any time, so there is no risk to see if he may still have something left in the tank. Remember, last year the Indians signed the likes ofRyan Raburn, Scott Kazmir, Jason Giambi and Rich Hill to minor league deals and all four impressed during the spring and lasted with the team all season.
Maybe it is wishful thinking on my part, but I see some similarities between Francoeur going into spring training this year and Raburn going into spring training last year. At this time last year everyone felt that Raburn’s best days were behind him after he suffered through an awful 2012 campaign where he hit .171 with 1 HR, 12 RBI and .480 OPS in 66 games with the Tigers, only to bounce back and hit .272 with 16 HR, 55 RBI and .901 OPS in 87 games with the Indians last year.
No one is expecting Francoeur to rebound to that degree, but Raburn was 32 years old last season while Francoeur will play at 30 years old all season. He is younger and has been a proven, solid complementary player in the past, so if he comes to camp this spring and surprises he might yet still have some value as a major league player. If not, and he proves to be nothing more than a Jeremy Hermida-like signing last year, then he will go to Triple-A as a depth option or request his release and look for an opportunity elsewhere.
It’s a no lose situation for the Indians, but an intriguing one – at least to me.
There has been a lot of talk over the past week or so about the Indians logo status change where the Indians have made the block “C” their primary logo and Chief Wahoo is now a secondary logo. A lot of people feel this is the first step or the next step in one of many where Chief Wahoo will eventually be phased out by the Indians and no longer a logo for the team.
That may eventually happen, but I still don’t see it happening. These logo changes are nothing new. Since 2002, the Indians have changed the logos around every few years starting with the script “I” that year (which they thankfully got rid of recently) and then the block “Indians” and things like that, but the mainstays with all of those changes and tweaks has been Chief Wahoo, block “C” and script “Indians” have remained a part of the logo family as the three primary logos they use.
Has Chief Wahoo taken a backseat some since the mid-90s? Sure. But I think it is important to note that Chief Wahoo has never really been the only logo for the team as it has always been one used in conjunction with a few others. It was the symbol often used by media because if was recognizable to even casual fans, but that shouldn’t be misconstrued as it being THE logo for the team.
When it was first designed in 1947 and then redesigned in 1951 to the logo we know today, Chief Wahoo did not appear on the front of any of the Indians’ home or road jerseys until 1963 when they introduced it as part of the home uniform and in 1969 the road uniform was updated to include it on the front. But in 1972 the road uniform was updated and in 1973 the home uniform was updated and it has since not been on the front of a uniform since. It has regularly been on the sleeve as a secondary logo throughout the past five decades.
Chief Wahoo has mostly been a part of the ball caps players wear, which is a big reason identify with it so much since just about any Indians fan has bought or been given an Indians ball cap at some point. Starting in 1954, Chief Wahoo was added to their road caps, but in 1972 was removed for the block “C”. Chief Wahoo was not a part of the main uniform or caps until 1986 when the Indians added Chief Wahoo to their home caps and then in 1994 Chief Wahoo became very prominent as it was added as the only logo used on all caps until the scrip “I” was added at home in 2002.
Obviously, Chief Wahoo has been more than just a logo on the uniform and caps over the years. People that remember going to old Cleveland Municipal Stadium remember the 28-foot tall neon sign of Chief Wahoo that stood on the top of Gate D from 1962-1994. Or the cartoon-like animations of Chief Wahoo used on the old scoreboard at the old stadium. But I think a lot of people have misinterpreted Chief Wahoo as the main logo for the team because of its heavy exposure during the mid-90s when the team was at the height of its popularity.
In reality, the block “C”, all caps “CLEVELAND” and script “Indians” logos are the three that have been a part of the franchise’s entire 113-year history. Chief Wahoo came later and was always a secondary logo. For me, I always identify Chief Wahoo with the Indians, but I have also identified those other logos with them almost as much. I believe Chief Wahoo is here to stay and will continue to be a part of the team, just it will used more or less in the coming years based on how the uniform is put together.
Remember, part of marketing your product is keeping your uniforms fresh and changing things up a little so as to get people to buy – and in a lot of cases – rebuy a lot of new Indians merchandise with the most current look. That’s my take at least.
Last week the Indians signed 37-year old right-handed reliever Scott Atchison to a minor league deal with an invite to major league spring training. He owns a career 3.64 ERA in 205 major league appearances and spent the 2013 season with the Mets (4.37 ERA). … The Indians have added Jason Kipnis and John Axford to their Tribe Fest lineup. Tribe Fest is set for January 25-26 at Progressive Field. … Cleveland Indians’ radio play-by-play announcerTom Hamilton won his sixth NSSA Sportscaster of the Year Award last week. … SportsTime Ohio has a new feature program called “Nick Swisher: Revealed” that profiles the life of the Cleveland Indians first baseman. It is set to premiere on Friday, January 24th at 7:00 PM. … The Indians have hired Brian Barren as their new Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing. He spent the last 24 years at Proctor & Gamble.
Follow Tony and the Indians Baseball Insider on Twitter @TonyIBI. Also, his new book the 2014 Cleveland Indians Baseball Insider which profiles the Indians' Top 100 Prospects and more is available for sale.
Potential FA for 15 if Kershaw is signed will be Scherzer, Shields, Lester, Bailey and Masterson.
What's a disgrace and offensive is that so many people seem to care more about a cartoon logo than about the poverty issues that most American Indians (the correct term) deal with. That's the real travesty and offensive issue at hand.
of an Indian or to be CORRECT a NATIVE AMERICAN... It needs to go.
It's not a matter of being used in a derogatory manner. Little Black Sambo dolls weren't, either. It's just a commentary on our society of what we deem as acceptable -- these things get so deeply ingrained into our culture that we don't notice them because they are everywhere. Comedians using black face used to be acceptable. Today, as its been removed from our culture, we look back at it and can't believe the racism that was tolerated by us. Today, groups of Americans dress up in "red face" and put on head-dresses to go to Indians/Seminoles/Braves/etc. sports events and I believe this is no different from the racism that used to be present when Americans accepted "black face" -- there was no ill intent, but advantaged whites mocking groups of people that have been exploited in America shouldn't be acceptable.
Slavery, the Trail of Tears -- we have some parts of our American history that are shameful. I laugh at white males that say Native Americans shouldn't be offended by team names -- what gives you the right to tell someone how they should feel?
There is no ill intent by the Cleveland Indians organization with their team name. However, we should be more aware of the racism involved toward groups of people in this country that have been clearly disadvantaged by the shameful past of our history.
Agree with what you're saying on the name.
As far as the logo...I think the same logic applies though. The logo wasn't made to present a negative image of Indians, nor is it used in a derogatory manner. Sure some people will take offense to it...but very few things (if any) in this country will you find 100% approval on. Not like the Tribe is dressing someone up as an Indian mascot and having them dance around....unlike the Padres who have a religious figure as their mascot.
As the end of the day it's just white guilt. Some people scream "look what we did to the Indians", "Trail of Tears". Yes, what America did to the Indians was very, very, very bad. And not using the name "Indians" fixes that how exactly? You want to unburden some guilt, then donate some money or start of a charity to help underprivileged American Indian kids or something. Changing the Cleveland Indians to another name does NOTHING for American Indians.
Actually some of those groups of people have been discriminated against in this country....but o well.
Hey Hermie, regarding the Celtics, Vikings, Yankees, Texans...these groups of people HAVE NEVER BEEN ADVERSELY DISCRIMINATED AGAINST IN THIS COUNTRY! It's NOT the same!! Look up the Trail of Tears.
There was a time in this country when it was acceptable for white comedians to paint their faces black and mock African Americans. Look up sambo dolls -- those was deemed acceptable by society (like Chief Wahoo and other similar caricatures are today). Today, it's not OK and rightfully so. How is it any different from the Indians fans that painted their faces red back in September in the playoff game (Google search "Cleveland Indians red face"). That is the modern day equivalent of black face and considering our very poor historical relations with Native Americans, it shouldn't be accepted.
Native Americans were kicked off their land as a part of an "ethic cleansing" less than 200 years ago. Many of them were killed. Tell me something similar that happened to the white Yankees or Texans and perhaps I'll agree with you that it's no different. I won't hold my breath.
Change the team name. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it's a marketing opportunity.
I do think you're being way on the optimistic side though calling him " average to below average defensively"...
Better case could be made that he was the worst defensive (starting) catcher in baseball last year. There is nothing average about Santana's defense behind the plate. It's terrible and it's actually been regressing the last couple years (yet Alomar still has a job for some reason)...
I'm also against dropping the Chief Wahoo logo, though can at least see why that would bother some. Still don't think a CARTOON should bother people....should we make the Boston Celtics change their cartoon logo? Or the Notre Dame Fighting Irish?
I don't think Tribe fans understand just how lucky we got with Gomes. This guy is so good handling our young staff AND strikes fear into any opponent dreaming of taking that extra base. His defense is off the charts - and the ownership he takes - it's just poetry watching him.
Likewise, while Carlos has been regressing, I believe he deserves credit for working hard to be the best he could be. Clearly he can't take the beating the way Gomes seems to be able.
But folks look around in both leagues. Besides the Molina's, there just isn't many examples of outstanding catchers who last past a few years run.
The Tigers Avila is an excellent example. He had a breakout year in '11, then his offensive numbers have dived.
The same with Arencibia in Toronto, the reason the Jays let Gomes slip to us to begin with. Now after two dismal seasons he's gone - replaced by Donier Navarro - who in turn was a once highly prized prospect with the Dodgers and now is commanding 8 million as a everyday so so ok but just ok regular - having had what - a half dozen or so stops in the past 8 years?
At 27 Arencibia is considered a wash and is starting over. Wow.
It was good to hear Carlos volunteer to give a revisit this off season. It speaks volumes as to his character - and is smart - the more positions he can man the more he has value - to the Tribe and himself.
I also think Carlos was sending a clear message as well; He doesn't want pigeonholed into being a DH because the team is desperate for a clean up hitter.
As already mentioned, I also think he can't handle the beating behind the plate and he knows it as well.
It really is an embarrassment of riches - and I think the Team realizes it which informs why they are handling it so well.
Bringing in a 3rd wheel could really make a mash of things.
It would be a huge victory for CA to get Masterson to sign for 3-4 years, but I doubt this will happen. Justin would be stupid to do that.
Changing the team name could help create some revenues for this organization, or help spur some interest domestically, or even internationally (MLB wants to grow). It should be done with careful consideration, but changing the team name, uniforms, everything could be a good opportunity for this team. Like it or not, the team name is controversial and the uniforms are pretty boring and not marketable, to be honest. Let's move on!!!
I'm fine with the idea of maybe considering a third catcher in 2015 or 2016 after Gomes proves himself. But until then, Santana has to be in the mix at the position for 2014. He may be average to below average defensively, but his bat more than makes up for things and allow the team to better use another bat at another position. A traditional backup catcher is a waste of a roster spot since they play so little and often are awful offensively.
I hope he signs else where. Want the extra pick. Like to see some serious intrigue from the Indians in June draft by havin 3 pick within the top 50.
Santana isn't a catcher anymore, and I fully believe that by 2015, he won't be catching anymore. 2014...don't agree with him as a backup, but think there's some merit to it as you don't know if Gomes is legit and having Santana as an option protects you there some. But I still wouldn't mind seeing a guy like John Buck brought in to catch 40-50 games if you can get him to agree to be a backup. Make Santana the emergency 3rd catcher who only catches...well, in an emergency.
The main point you made still stands, just thought I'd straighten out the cap history.