Chris Antonetti Rumors
The Yankees made some last minute moves this week when they traded for Vernon Wells and picked up the recently-released Lyle Overbay. Both Wells and Overbay have made the club along with Ben Francisco and Brennan Boesch, leaving Juan Rivera as the odd man out. Tbe first baseman/outfielder was cut loose, though he did cash in on a $100K retention bonus for staying on the roster beyond Tuesday's Article XX(B) deadline. Here's more from the Junior Circuit..
- It's time for the Yankees to start looking for a replacement for Derek Jeter, Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com writes. Eduardo Nunez, who is manning shortstop in Jeter's absence, is not a good solution for the long haul, Matthews argues, and Jeter's age and injury status are both worrisome. Matthews also suggests that the Yankees should have acquired Jose Reyes or Yunel Escobar in the offseason.
- Having gone in just days from being ticketed for Triple-A to being in the big-league rotation with a new contract extension, Blue Jays pitcher J.A. Happ is thrilled with his recent streak of good fortune, reports MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm. "It certainly has been a great few days," says Happ. "There was a long time before that where it wasn't quite as easy, but this kind of makes it all worth it."
- After his team's signings of Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn, GM Chris Antonetti hopes the Indians will snag a playoff spot, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. The organization felt it needed a splashy offseason to maintain the attention of its fanbase, Pluto writes. "There is risk whenever you make substantial investment," says Antonetti. "But for us, there was even more risk if we didn't."
Indians CEO Paul Dolan explains his team's thought process following a 68-94 season in 2012 and says that a total rebuild was not an option, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. "None of us wanted to think about tearing it down. Our goal is to put together a team to win a World Series. Another goal is to avoid 20 years of losing, which some smaller-market teams have endured." The Indians did trade outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, but rather than also dealing veterans like Asdrubal Cabrera, Chris Perez and Justin Masterson, the team spent heavily on free agents like Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher. Here are more notes from Pluto's interview with Dolan.
- Dolan expresses "a high degree of confidence" in team president Mark Shapiro and GM Chris Antonetti, even though the Indians haven't had a winning season since 2007.
- Dolan also confirms that the Indians offered a four-year, $43MM deal to outfielder Shane Victorino, who ended up going to the Red Sox for three years and $39MM.
- Dolan says he didn't want to worry much about the possibility of Bourn's four-year, $48MM deal turning out badly, but the Indians' history with long-term contracts gives him pause. "We've not had good luck with some of our longer deals," he says. That includes pacts with Travis Hafner, Jake Westbrook and Kerry Wood.
- Pluto notes that season-ticket sales are up since the signings of Bourn and Swisher, but Dolan says that the Indians "will lose money" in 2013. Dolan views the team's offseason spending splurge as an investment in its future.
The signing of Felix Hernandez marks a major move in the history of the Mariners organization but will only matter if the deal is the first of many to come, writes Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times. “This signing, given the size and length of the contract, is the best evidence that the ownership group is committed to winning and doing what it takes to win,” Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln said. Here's the latest news and stories making headlines from around the American League.
- Yunel Escobar made his first comments about his trade to the Rays, reports the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin. Escobar, with teammate Jose Molina acting as his interpreter, said he "felt really happy" about coming to Tampa Bay adding manager Joe Maddon made him feel very welcome and having former teammates like Molina and Kelly Johnson on the team makes him feel like he's "in the family already."
- GM Chris Antonetti discussed the Indians' starting rotation with Jim Duquette and Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio (audio link).
- White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko reiterated he will not make any decision on his future until after the 2013 season, reports Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com.
- The 2013 Blue Jays offer a lot to like and dislike as CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler breaks down what he's seen so far this Spring Training.
Daniel Seco contributed to this post.
The Indians have been very busy during the first days of 2013 officially announcing the free agent signings of Nick Swisher and Brett Myers. MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports the team will open the season with a payroll hovering around $66-68MM (not including the $2.75MM buyout of Travis Hafner's 2013 club option and the $3.5MM sent to the Reds in the Shin-Soo Choo trade). As a result, GM Chris Antonetti has said the team's financial resources have been exhausted. The lone remaining hole in the lineup is designated hitter. Bastian says the Tribe could rely on internal options like Mike Aviles, Yan Gomes, Ezequiel Carrera, Tim Fedroff, and Rule 5 selection Chris McGuiness. Even bringing back Hafner is a possibility according to Antonetti, "I think some of that is going to depend upon other opportunities for Travis and his thoughts on returning, as well as what opportunities we may have for him compared to other guys." Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer has more news and notes concerning the Indians:
- Hoynes adds Matt LaPorta to the list of in-house DH options, but says Antonetti could still sign a hitter or bring one in on a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training.
- Hoynes thinks Delmon Young would look good as the Tribe's DH, but doesn't see it happening at this time because of his asking price and character issues.
- The Indians will still consider trading Asdrubal Cabrera or Chris Perez, but only if the return is comparable to what they received in the Choo deal.
- The starting rotation looks like Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Myers, and Zach McAllister. Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco are the leading candidates for the fifth spot.
- With the flush of spending of this season, does this put extra pressure on the front office to win now? Hoynes doesn't sense any panic in the hallways of power, especially since new manager Terry Francona can opt-out of his deal if certain members of management lose their jobs.
Blockbuster trades motivated by one team's desire for financial flexibility (AKA a salary dump) like the Marlins-Blue Jays deal or the Red Sox-Dodger swap are nothing new in baseball history. On this date in 1947, the St. Louis Browns and the Boston Red Sox began a two-day trading frenzy involving 13 players (four Browns and nine Red Sox) and the Browns receiving $375K (worth nearly $3.1MM in today's dollars). Here's the latest news, notes, and comments from the present-day American League:
- The Yankees continue to have conversations with free agent outfielder Scott Hairston, writes the New York Post's Dan Martin. Hairston would bring a right-handed power bat to the outfield mix and could fit into a platoon, as the Yankees have already had preliminary discussions to bring back Raul Ibanez.
- The Yankees still want to trim payroll to $189MM by 2014 for luxury tax and revenue sharing refund purposes, but Joel Sherman of the New York Post wonders if Hal Steinbrenner isn't risking a brand worth billions for the millions the team would earn by doing so.
- If the Tigers fail to re-sign Anibal Sanchez, the signing of Torii Hunter will still make the offseason a success, team president and GM Dave Dombrowski told George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press. "We'll see where other things take us," Dombrowski said. "If we end up with this major move (Hunter) being our major move of the winter, I would be very happy."
- The Indians have yet to set their 2013 budget, but it is expected to be in the neighborhood of this past season's $65MM, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Paul Hoynes. As a result of this "fluid" situation, GM Chris Antonetti must take any intriguing proposals to ownership.
- Also in that article, Hoynes lists the five best and five worst free agent signings by the Tribe.
- The Red Sox will interview Craig Counsell and Greg Colbrunn for their hitting coach opening, reports Alex Speier of WEEI.com. Counsell, a special assistant to Brewers GM Doug Melvin, will interview tomorrow while Colbrunn, the hitting instructor for the Yankees' Single-A affiliate in Charleston, is in the process of being scheduled for another time during the week. The Red Sox have already interviewed their minor league hitting coordinator Victor Rodriguez, former Diamondbacks hitting coach Rick Schu, and Braves assistant hitting coach Scott Fletcher.
4:16pm: Francona has already had preliminary contact with the Indians, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. However, Rosenthal writes that the Tribe may not be able to pay the former Red Sox skipper enough to make him walk from his job as an analyst for ESPN. Francona earned an average annual salary of $4MM in his final contract with Boston.
3:22pm: Indians interim manager Sandy Alomar Jr. is the favorite to obtain the permanent managerial position, according to multiple reports. Alomar is the “heavy favorite” to obtain the permanent job, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer calls Alomar the "leading candidate" and notes that former Red Sox manager Terry Francona is another possibility for the position, which opened up this afternoon when the Indians dismissed Manny Acta (Twitter link).
Francona told Heyman he loves working for ESPN, but would “have to think about it” if the right opportunity emerged. However, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe suggests Francona would want to go somewhere he could win right away (Twitter link). Before managing in Boston, Francona spent the 2001 season in Cleveland’s front office.
Meanwhile, general manager Chris Antonetti still has the support of team president Mark Shapiro and CEO Paul Dolan, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports (Twitter link).
Marlins right-hander Heath Bell told Jim Duquette and Mike Ferrin on MLB Network Radio that he made a poor choice of words yesterday when he implied he doesn't respect Miami manager Ozzie Guillen. Bell said he does respect Guillen, but repeated that he doesn't like hearing things through the media. Here are some more notes on managers and managerial openings from around MLB...
- The Rockies and Jim Tracy could agree to a role change for Tracy within the organization, leaving the team free to hire a new manager, opines Troy Renck of the Denver Post. Tracy's "handshake deal" with Colorado only guarantees him the manager's job through 2013, Renck notes.
- The White Sox and Cardinals' decisions to hire inexperienced managers Mike Matheny and Robin Ventura has thus far paid off for both teams, writes Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
- Astros owner Jim Crane says his team has narrowed its search for a manager down to three or four candidates and they hope to have their new field boss in place within a week, reports MLB.com's Brian McTaggart. An announcement could come later than that if the new manager is currently working for a team going to the playoffs. Tony DeFrancesco, Tim Bogar, Dave Martinez and Bo Porter appear to be the final field of candidates.
- While Brad Ausmus is open to interviewing for managerial positions this offseason, he has withdrawn his name from consideration for the Astros’ position, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter). Ausmus, now a special assistant with the Padres, had interviewed for Houston’s managerial opening.
- Nothing has been decided regarding the future of Indians manager Manny Acta because the organization must first decide on the future of general manager Chris Antonetti, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. CEO Paul Dolan and President Mark Shapiro are expected to decide on the future of Antonetti, Hoynes writes.
MLBTR's Mark Polishuk also contributed to this post
Speaking at a charity event on Thursday, Indians CEO Paul Dolan told reporters (including Dennis Manoloff of the Cleveland Plain Dealer) that he had no plans to relieve manager Manny Acta, general manager Chris Antonetti or team president Mark Shapiro of their duties.
"We all have a lot of work to do, but their jobs aren't at stake in this,'' Dolan said. "As I sit here today, I have no intent to make any changes. I have to understand what's happened. I'm not going to have that understanding today. Hopefully, sometime in this offseason, we'll be able to assess and move from there.''
"We had a team threatening to make the playoffs that has collapsed. We have to understand what happened, and I'm not going to make judgments on that right now. It's going to take more time to assess what we have, what we need, and what we're capable of doing.''
The comments echo statements made by Dolan on August 9, though the Indians' slide has gotten worse since, with 10 losses in their last 12 games. The Indians are 7-26 since July 18, a stretch that included an 11-game losing streak and an ongoing eight-game losing streak. The Tribe were close to contending in the AL Central and wild card races and didn't make any major acquisitions before the trade deadline, though Dolan didn't think that was the season for the collapse.
"I doubt it was demoralizing to the team,'' Dolan said. "Most teams I know are glad when they're kept together like that. We were very aggressive in looking for something that could help the team. I'm not convinced, given what's happened, that anything we might have done would have made a material difference.''
Shapiro and Acta are both under contract through the 2013 season and Antonetti already said that Acta will return as manager next year. Antonetti's contract reportedly runs through at least the 2014 season, according to the Plain Dealer's Terry Pluto. Since all of these deals are relatively close to completion already, it stands to reason that Dolan would give his staff another year to right the ship, especially since the Tribe weren't expected to be much more than borderline contenders this season anyway.
The Indians announced a significant change to their coaching staff today following an 11-game losing streak that all but eliminated the team from playoff contention. They have replaced pitching coach Scott Radinsky with Ruben Niebla on an interim basis. Niebla had been the pitching coach at Triple-A Columbus since 2011 and has worked in the Cleveland organization for 12 years. Here are more notes on the Indians from Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer...
- Indians CEO Paul Dolan told Pluto that the team’s recent losing streak was “so dismal” and "the most disappointing stretch of baseball" since the Dolans bought the team before the 2000 season.
- The Indians rank last in MLB in attendance (they average 20,321 fans per game) and their finances are “not particularly good” this season, Dolan acknowledged. The Indians are open to minority investors, but the franchise is “not for sale,” Dolan said.
- Indians president Mark Shapiro and general manager Chris Antonetti never brought up the subject of firing manager Manny Acta, Dolan said. However, the CEO declined to comment on the future of Acta or others beyond 2012. "We assess everyone at the end of every season," Dolan told Pluto. "As painful as this has been, I don't want to get into some knee-jerk reactions.”
- Antonetti recently told reporters Acta would return in 2013, but there’s no guarantee of that right now. Dolan wants to see how the team performs between now and the end of the season.
- Shapiro has a contract through 2013 and it’d be a shock if he were replaced, Pluto writes.
- Antonetti’s contract isn’t up at the end of this season, Dolan said. Pluto has heard it runs at least through 2014.
- In case you missed it, the Indians will release Johnny Damon and Jeremy Accardo today.
Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster, who MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith profiled as a trade candidate last month, did nothing to hurt his market value by extending his scoreless streak to 27 innings in a 7-0 shutout of the Mets. The streak is the longest by a Cub since Ken Holtzman also tossed 27 scoreless innings in 1971 and is six innings away from tying Holtzman's club record set in 1969. Dempster meanwhile lowered his ERA to 1.99 during his five-inning stint where he struck out four and did not walk a batter.
- Dempster isn't paying attention to all the trade talk telling reporters, including the Chicago Tribune's Paul Sullivan (via Twitter), that the only television he watches is "Swamp People."
- Indians outfielder Shelley Duncan doesn't think the team needs to be active at the trade deadline. "We have the talent," Duncan told reporters including MLB.com's Justin Albers. "A lot of people out there always talk about bringing in new people, getting a bat and all that stuff. But the guys we have on this team, we honestly feel from the bottom of our hearts, we don't need that. We don't need that at all."
- In the same piece, Indians GM Chris Antonetti says finances will not affect his approach at the trade deadline. "I have not limited our focus on potential acquisitions by their contract status." Antonetti added, "There's always a sense of urgency. Every game that passes is a missed opportunity."
- With the Pirates in first place in the NL Central and looking to be buyers at the trade deadline, pitcher Jameson Taillon's name has been mentioned as a possible trade chip. The second overall pick in the 2010 draft told Michael Sanserino of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he tries to avoid the trade talk but it's unavoidable. "There are some people that will bring it up to you and say, 'Hey did you see this? Did you see that rumor?' To be honest, I love the Pirates. You can’t pay too much attention to it. I’m just really glad to be a Pirate." (Twitter links) Taillon will pitch for the United States during the annual All-Star Futures Game being played today in Kansas City.