So. Michael Bourn. Didn’t see that coming. But honestly, I wasn’t paying close attention.
I noticed Francona, noticed Swisher. ‘Nice name brands,’ I thought, ‘but window dressing.’ Mark Reynolds, Brett Myers, Drew Stubbs, Mike Aviles… these seem second tier acquisitions to me, but don’t go by me: I still value the batting average and RBI stats. I think batters’ strikeout rates matter. I know. I’m a dinosaur.
Still, Bourn seems like a good get. There’s definitely a lot of fired-up Indians fans on my twitter timeline. But before we wet ourselves, let’s take a step back and review this stellar off-season.
- Stubbs, 28 — .213 w/166 Ks in 2012.
- Aviles, 31 — .250, .282 OBP in 2012, backup only.
- Reynolds, 28 — dude averages 200 Ks/yr in return for his .220 BA and maybe 30 HRs. 2011: 37 HRs yielded 86 RBIs.
- Swisher, 31 — .272/24/93 in 2012; that’s ok I guess. Layer on 141 Ks and it’s less ok. Still the best of the bunch so far.
- Bourn, 30 — .274 BA, .348 OBP, 96 runs, 42 SB + 13 CS.
- Myers, 32 — in 2011 when he was last a starter, 2.8 K/BB ratio (good), 1.31 WHIP (ok), 200+ IP. He plugs a middle rotation hole.
- Matsuzaka? — any production is bonus; he’s been a disaster for the Redsox for some time.
- Kazmir? — currently the only lefty starting pitcher at AAA level or higher, so it’d be really nice if it works.
Our best player has been and still is Michael Brantley.
But the fact of the Indians’ investment in large free-agent contracts indicates that they intend to compete for the playoffs this year. Tack on Bourn’s $12MM to this spreadsheet and the Indians are well over $81MM (and this list seems incomplete) in 2013, up from an opening day number of $66MM last year.
The exact numbers don’t matter: Larry Dolan is spending.
If I’m Dolan, the last thing I want for this playoff contender is the inevitable tangential shitstorm created by my jackass closer.
If I’m the Dolans, I instruct Shapiro/Antonetti to move Chris Perez.
Because a Perez shitstorm is coming. It’s just a question of when.
There have been several articles written evaluating Perez’ performance as well as the general over-valuing of the closer role. My favorite baseball writer (in my opinion, the best baseball writer anywhere), Jon Steiner made the case for trading Perez last year. He focused on several factors but I found the most salient to be: Pestano is better and Perez seems a jerk.
Let’s explore ‘Perez seems a jerk.’ Jon is too kind. Perez is demonstrably a jerk. From engaging in twitter fights with fans and reporters to ragging on Indians fans to breaking player sportsmanship codes to thinking his song of the day is important wrapped up with a breathtaking lack of self-awareness: Chris Perez embodies the most loathsome traits of the entitled, overpaid professional athlete.
Fortunately our friends at Frowns have a catalog that we can consult to jog memories on this issue. Below are some of the jerk-ish incidents just in 2012. When one couples the inevitable Perez outburst with the accompanying fan-on-fan crime created by this uniquely polarizing figure, it raises a real question to ask of the front office:
In our first serious bid for the playoffs in five years, do we knowingly sign on for the inevitable Chris Perez nonsense?
To expect that nothing of the kind will happen this year is simply foolish. So. Is it worth it?
Okie doke, these aren’t in chronological order. Here we go.
You don’t care that he taunts other pro-players? Lol. Fine. I know we’re well past a basic discussion on ‘the innate goodness of sportsmanship and the outfall of its lack on society at large’ if were debating Chris Perez. I think it’s relevant and important. Perez supporters, by definition, don’t.
Here’s the clip of Perez rising to the bait of some standard heckling, and walking about 50 yards in order to show his ass (and with knowledge that he is being recorded):
Fan: “Blow some more saves, bro. Blow some more saves. Both of you. You and guy … blow some more saves.”
Perez: “I got more saves than your whole fucking team does, so why don’t you go look at those stats, you fucker.”
Fan: “Oh, what’s the standings? Oh, we’re ahead of you.”
Perez: “I don’t give a fuck. I don’t give a fuck.”
Fan (to security): “He’s swearing. I’m not.”
Perez: “What’s my salary this year?”
Fan: “What’s your salary? Who gives a shit? How many blown saves you got?”
Perez: “Four. Was I an All-Star again? Was I an All-Star again?”
The only thing more embarrassing than Perez’ not giving a fuck about his team’s place in the standings while pointing out his individual data like save count and salary was the pathetic ‘Don’t change Chris’ talk from many Indians fans. This incident also prompted the most obsequious jock sniffing open letter in the history of Cleveland sports blogdom. That so many Clevelanders support an even more consequence-less environment for the anti-social behaviors of professional athletes is by far the most depressing aspect to having Chris Perez around.
Kudos to McManamon for standing alone in calling for Perez’ suspension.
3. Ragging on his customers for not showing up in the numbers he expects. Remarkable lack of perspective is on display as his complaints are two-fold:
- Lack of attendance is making his experience at the ballpark not fun and also that,
- The Browns enjoy better attendance than the Indians.
The Frowns post includes a Kanick comment that holds true today (except that Perez will be paid $7 million this year):
“… the larger and sadder part of this (to me) are the self-loathing clevelanders with their ‘perez is right’ narrative. it’s like half the city turned into pussies. it’s our fault chris, you’re right. we’ll try to do better. don’t leave us for philadelphia. please love us. it’s pathetic.
i dont think you can find a more egregious example of the entitled arrogant out-of-touch athlete. $4.5 million per year. i’m gonna go out on limb here: if any of us were fortunate to make that kind of salary, we would not deliberately alienate or insult our customers who –after all– make that absurd market for fat pitchers possible.
would it be possible for him to work a few years at jiffy lube and let us know if it’s fun enough for him. because life, not just baseball, is supposed to be fun. but it’s kinda up to you, chris perez, to make it fun. you dick.”
Yes, I’ll stand by that one.
5. Proof that the enabling consequence-free environment has no boundary is seen when he actually rags on Larry Dolan:
“Different owners,” Perez said frankly, in reference to Detroit’s Mike Ilitch and Cleveland’s Lawrence J. Dolan. “It comes down to that. They (the Tigers) are spending money. He (Ilitch) wants to win. Even when the economy was down (in Detroit), he spent money. He’s got a team to show for it. You get what you pay for in baseball. Sometimes you don’t. But most of the time you do.” (link.)
Antonetti’s cleaning up of this mess is linked here.
A Cardinal fan thanked me yesterday for taking him away because he was also a scout in the Atlantic territory and for the marlins and saw Perez and said “Perez never impressed. Velocity was decent, but he was acting like Mitch Williams, thinking he could hit triple digits and being erratic just to try to fit his role. Kid will be out of a job by the time he’s 33. —Random fan post
The Indians have had a fascinating offseason. They have traded away a key player in Shin-Soo Choo, added an enigmatic but talented youngster in Trevor Bauer, imported Bourn, Nick Swisher, Drew Stubbs and Mark Reynolds for their daily lineup, and signed minor league deals with former stars such as Jason Giambi , Daisuke Matsuzaka and Scott Kazmir.
It has left some intriguing possibilities.
Their lineup could be very interesting and pose some real late-game matchup problems since three switch-hitters – Asdrubal Cabrera, Nick Swisher and Carlos Santana – are likely to bat third-to-fifth in the lineup.
But also there is this: There were 31 players who struck out 140 or more times last year and the Indians are now the only teams in the majors with four of them (Bourn, Swisher, Reynolds and Stubbs). That quartet had a total of 621 whiffs. Only one other team has as many as three in the 140 club — the Braves with B.J. Upton, Dan Uggla and Jason Heyward.
Cleveland can now keep all its assets and, for example, put Swisher at first, play a three-center fielder out field with Bourn, Stubbs and Michael Brantley, and make Reynolds the DH.
Or the Indians could try to deal an outfielder, with Stubbs and, perhaps, Brantley being the most obvious chips. The Mets, of course, need an outfielder as much as ever. I think the strikeout penchant might scare the Yanks away, but Stubbs does have a career .821 OPS vs. lefties and, in theory, could provide the righty outfield bat they desire.