“There’s always next year.”
And now, it finally is next year. With 2014 comes a wave of resolutions, hope for the year to come, and, if all goes well, another play-off contending Cleveland Indians team.
At this time last year, the Indians were building a roster full of big names and high hopes. They were surpassing fans with the likes of Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, and names with potential like Trevor Bauer. Even if those attempts didn’t always play out on the field, the possibilities were still there for he 2013 Cleveland Indians.
It was not business as usual for one of the three professional sports franchises in Cleveland in 2013.
What a year it was for the Cleveland Indians and their fans, at least those who still supported the Dolans and their franchise. Say what you will about the final results, the team took a gigantic step forward in 2013, improving their record on the field by 24 wins with an exciting new-look team and a brand new brain trust in the dugout.
Did The Tribe Win Last Night was there every step of the way and covered all of the highs and the lows throughout the season, with a few fun projects along the way.
This past week marked the 94th anniversary of the sale of Babe Ruth from the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees, starting a period of Boston history known to sports fans as the “Curse of the Bambino”.
The Yankees would appear in seven World Series contests in Ruth’s 15 years in the Big Apple, winning four. The Red Sox would not win another championship until the Terry Francona-led Sox swept the St. Louis Cardinals in 2004. It was their first since the Ruth-led Sox won three titles in four years, culminating in their 1918 victory in six games over the Chicago Cubs.
The city of Cleveland has been marred in a slump of its own for the last 49 years. With the Cleveland Browns and Cleveland Cavaliers performing at a level further away from the playoffs than their respective fans may have desired, all hopes may be falling upon the Cleveland Indians.
Ever since the Major League Baseball offseason began, and perhaps even before it did, the Tampa Bay Rays have been dangling superstar pitcher David Price as possible trade bait. So, too, have the Chicago Cubs with excellent starter Jeff Samardzija.
The Indians, reportedly, spoke to the Rays about what it would take to land Price. There has been little connection for the Tribe to Samardzija.
A good number of Cleveland fans, naturally, would love to see their favorite team land either one of these starting pitchers. With the loss of Scott Kazmir and expected departure of Ubaldo Jimenez, the Indians need starting pitching. Price and Samardzija are better than any arm on the free agent market.
All we, as Cleveland fans, really wanted for Christmas was a winning team. Scratch that, that’s all we ever want as Cleveland fans. And now, we have even less time to wait for that next – hopefully – winning season.
Christmas is one of the last major events that stands between the end of baseball season and spring training. As of today, there are only 46 days left until Cleveland’s pitchers and catchers report on February 11. 2014 will soon roll around and we will be talking about prospects and who has potential and who is going to carry the team through the season. We will be looking at other teams and deciding who we need to beat – but before that, we need to solidify the team that we are running with for next season, whether that is through trades, adjustments to the existing roster, or off-season signings.
Although off-seasons are always filled with controversy and differing opinions, and trades are always subject to both criticism and excitement, none this season have come as close as the upset occurring from the attempted 1947 trade of Lou Boudreau.
It’s still not probable, but it’s possible.
Over six weeks ago Ubaldo Jimenez turned down the Indians’ qualifying offer, leaving a one year deal worth $14 million on the table and opted for free agency. At the time it seemed Jimenez was destined to turn his rebound 2013 season into a big payday. It would be a payday the Indians likely would not be a part of. When free agency began, Jimenez was rumored to be looking for a 4-year deal, worth between $54-60 million.
It’s good money if you can get it. So far, it looks like Jimenez can’t get it.
There has not been substantial audible conversation about Cleveland Indians free agent starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez, despite being frequently listed amongst the top free agents available entering this offseason.
Cleveland tendered Jimenez a $14.1 million qualifying offer in early November, securing the Indians a draft pick if the resurgent pitcher opted to leave town for a longer and more financially enticing offer.
Like each of the other twelve players around Major League Baseball to be offered such a deal, Jimenez declined and hit the open market. Since then, mum has been the word on Jimenez as the pitching market remains unresolved. With draft pick compensation looming in addition to his contract, the lost portion of draft bonus pool money, and the uncertain status of Japanese starter Masahiro Tanaka grinding the market to a halt, Jimenez remains out of a job for the time being.
The off-season is one of my favorite times of year. Teams are abuzz with trades, free agent acquisitions, arbitration herrings, and many other roster moves that build the franchise for not just the upcoming season, but for many seasons to come. The Cleveland Indians made some big splashes in the free agent pool in baseball’s second season following 2012 by acquiring a couple of MLB’s top free agents in Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher. In this off-season, however, things seem less exciting. Both of the previously mentioned free agent signings came after the New Year, but this winter just doesn’t have the same feel.
The Cleveland Indians have not been the most talked about team this offseason. They have not made a major splash in free agency, a la a year ago. Everything the Indians have done, to this point, has been on a small scale. While small, the Tribe’s offseason additions and subtractions have been wise and improved a club that won 92 games, earning a Wild Card spot, in 2013.
When Did The Tribe Win Last Night covered our attendance feature a few weeks ago, one thing that was mentioned in the change in the approach to attending baseball games was the demanding schedule that kids are facing with their own sports schedules. Between travel teams and summer leagues, kids don’t have a time to pause to attend a game in which they are not playing.
The same can be said for baseball players during the off-season. Though many players are pursuing alternate ventures and simply training on their own terms, a number of other players are playing in winter leagues and continuing their baseball careers on the diamond long past the end of the regular season.
The Cleveland Indians were amidst many potential trade rumors last week during the Winter Meetings. One of the most surprising and startling rumors was the whisper that the Indians were listening to offers on starting pitcher Justin Masterson.
Masterson was 14-10 with a 3.45 ERA in 34 games and 29 starts last season. Were it not for an injury in September that forced him out of the rotation, it’s safe to assume his numbers could be slightly better. Masterson rebounded nicely from a poor 2012, just like former teammate Ubaldo Jimenez. Masterson is due to make Masterson is projected to make $9.7 million in salary arbitration this winter and he will be a free agent after the 2014 season.
Criticism of the Cleveland Indians’ lack of activity this offseason has not just come from fans of the ball club. It has also come from the national media, where some have gone so far as to call the Indians losers of the annual Winter Meetings while others have opined that the team’s lack of aggressiveness and free spending could end the upcoming season before it even begins due to other upgrades within both their division and league.
The Indians, who finished just one game in back of the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central and exited the postseason after a one-game AL Wild Card loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, have been an almost non-existent and irrelevant player in the free agent and trade markets so far this offseason.
For many fans, this is a significant problem.