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Toronto front office being shaken up under Mark Shapiro; Indians winter ball updates

By Ryan Lewis Published: October 29, 2015
Shapiro

The Mark Shapiro era in Toronto hasn’t yet officially begun, but it’s already included one major shakeup.

In a move that’s been called “stunning” by multiple analysts and outlets around baseball, Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos is reportedly turning down a multiyear contract extension and leaving the club.

Anthopoulos was the architect behind the Blue Jays’ resurgence, acquiring MVP candidate Josh Donaldson and catcher Russell Martin in the offseason and stars Troy Tulowitzki and David Price at the trade deadline. The Blue Jays ended a 22-year playoff drought and came two wins away from the World Series, eventually losing to Kansas City in the American League Championship Series.

Just a few short months after Anthopoulos finally led the turnaround of the Blue Jays and assembled one of the best teams in the American League, he is now available for hire.

Shapiro announced on Aug. 31 that he was leaving his post as Indians president to become president and CEO of the Blue Jays. With Anthopoulos gone, it’s unclear if Shapiro will resume control of baseball operations or if he’ll hire a new general manager. Shapiro served as general manager of the Indians for nine seasons before becoming president.

According to one report, there may have been a rift between ideals of how to build a team which led to Anthopoulos’ departure. Per The Sport Network’s Rick Westhead, Shaprio wasn’t pleased with how the Blue Jays’ farm system was left dry following the acquisitions of Donaldson, Price and Tulowitzki, though it did lead to the team’s first playoff run since 1993.
 

Source: In their 1st & only meeting, new Jays prez Mark Shapiro scolded Alex Anthopolous & staff for trading so many top prospects this yr

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Indians SS Francisco Lindor taking over MLB Twitter account to answer fans' questions

By Ryan Lewis Published: October 14, 2015

Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor is currently answering questions on Major League Baseball’s official Twitter account (@MLB) in an #AskLindor segment.

Here are some of his answers so far. You can go to MLB's officiall Twitter account to see all of them.

It is not a sandwich - @Lindor12BC #AskLindor https://t.co/2yQMVfxQ9y

 

The Wahoo. I got a smile like him. - @Lindor12BC #AskLindor https://t.co/vSjciJUWuh

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Indians begin second phase of Progressive Field renovations

By Ryan Lewis Published: October 13, 2015

The Indians on Tuesday announced that construction has begun on the second phase of renovations to Progressive Field.

Last year, one of the major focuses of improvement at the ballpark was the insertion of five local establishments to the Right Field District area, which added several new food choices within the stadium and The Corner bar. Improvements will continue to be made in that area, and the team is looking to add additional local restaurants to join Melt, Barrio, Sweet Moses, Great Lakes Brewing Co. and Dynamite Burgers.

A second focus this winter is the construction of a new club behind home plate on the main level of the concourse. This will provide season ticket holders with access—which includes season ticket holders in the "Diamond Box" and "Field Box Front" sections—an area with a full bar, new concessions options, a customer service center and a glass front to view the game. It will also stay open after games to allow for traffic to clear. A secondary goal for this club is to improve views of the field for all fans walking along the main concourse.

It was for this club’s completion that the Indians took out several sections of seats. Fans who would be affected were contacted during the 2015 season about new seating options.

“We’re very excited to continue these impactful renovations, the second phase of which will continue to dramatically enhance the fan experience at Progressive Field,” said Tribe Senior VP of Public Relations Bob DiBiasio in a statement. “The first phase significantly improved the Right Field District, and the next phase will similarly impact the Infield and Left Field districts.”

The Indians this winter are also looking to update signage and incorporate more team history throughout the park, including the renovation of certain suites.

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Indians owner Paul Dolan nearing deal with minority investor, per AP

By Ryan Lewis Published: October 8, 2015

Indians owner Paul Dolan is nearing a deal to complete his search for a minority investor, per a story by the Associated Press.

According to the report, Dolan has his search down to a “small group” of investors and that a deal could be finished by the end of the year. That is coming from Steve Greenberg, managing director of Allen & Company.

Dolan is looking to add a minority investor in an effort to ease the financial burden of operating the franchise and possibly to help increase payroll.

No details as to what groups are being considered or what percentage of the franchise is being offered have been released.

Per the AP and an earlier report this season, Dolan has no interest in selling his majority stake in the franchise.

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Indians beat Boston Red Sox 3-1, finish the season with 81-80 record

By Ryan Lewis Published: October 4, 2015

The Indians finished the 2015 season short of their postseason goals but with a winning record after they beat the Boston Red Sox 3-1 Sunday afternoon at Progressive Field.

Indians starting pitcher Danny Salazar (14-10) finished the year on a high note, allowing one run on four hits to go with six strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings pitched. Red Sox (78-84) shortstop Xander Bogaerts—another standout rookie shortstop in the American League to join Francisco Lindor and Houston’s Carlos Correa—doubled to right field in the first inning. David Ortiz then smacked a double off the wall in left-center, giving the Red Sox an early 1-0 lead.

The Indians (81-80) responded in the second and their innings, and Salazar cruised from there.

Roberto Perez doubled to left field off of Red Sox starting pitcher Rick Porcello (9-15) in the second inning and was followed by Giovanny Urshela, who singled up the middle to tie it 1-1.

In the third, Michael Martinez led off with a double to left field and Lonnie Chisenhall singled, putting runners at the corners. Parcel then gave the Indians a 2-1 lead with an error on a pick-off attempt and Jesus Aguilar later added an RBI-single to left, making it 3-1.

Cody Allen earned his 34th save of the season and recorded his 99th strikeout.

The final regular season attendance came to 1,388,905 fans, the lowest amount in Progressive/Jacobs Field history. That number, though, does include a couple of make-up doubleheaders and the loss of one home game, a rainout against Detroit that wasn’t rescheduled.

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Indians 2, Red Sox 0: Saturday night’s One Last Thing on Corey Kluber still being Corey Kluber

By Ryan Lewis Published: October 3, 2015

The Indians beat the Boston Red Sox 2-0 Saturday night behind a gem of an outing by Corey Kluber.

Kluber allowed just three hits and struck out nine in eight scoreless innings.

Saturday’s One Last Thing: Corey Kluber wasn’t too far from his Cy Young form despite a horrible win/loss record.

Here is Kluber’s line in 2014, his Cy Young year: 2.44 ERA, 2.35 FIP, 269 strikeouts, 235 2/3 innings, .233 BAA, 1.09 WHIP.

And his 2015 line: 3.49 ERA, 2.98 FIP, 245 strikeouts, 222 innings pitched, .231 BAA, 1.05 WHIP.

Many of Kluber's peripherals were right in line with what he did in 2014. To look at his 9-16 record is a gross indictment of an offense that never seemed to show up when he took the mound and an unfair analysis of his season. This season also included a hamstring injury that robbed him of a few starts and affected him in a few others.

“Everybody’s going to look at his record and immediately go to, ‘OK, it was an off year,’ or however you want to put it,” said Indians manager Terry Francona. “But he’s so good, and I would venture to guess that if he had similar ERA and strikeouts [in 2016], you’ll look up next year and the record will be flip-flopped. Again, pretty good. From knowing him now, he needs to get on a roll, and when he does, he’s pretty good. The hamstring interrupted it a little bit, but I guess the best way I could say it is, we’d take five of him and be happy as hell. Tonight showed you his professionalism. There’s nothing more on the line, except playing to compete because you care.”

More: Indians are built for the future, but 2015 was a disappointment.

Case in point: Saturday’s game never seemed to be in question and yet the Indians only scored two runs.

Kluber said he didn’t feel any differently this year as opposed to 2014, either.

“No, I don’t think so,” he said. “Obviously I missed a few starts with the hamstring but aside from that I don’t feel like I was in any different shape physically this year than last year.”

And Kluber is aware of what his advanced numbers say about his season.

“Obviously, the win-loss record isn’t what we’d like it to be,” he said. “I think aside from that, for the most part, I would imagine—I don’t know specific stuff—but I would imagine that most of the peripheral things, that sort of stuff, was pretty similar to what it was last year. Obviously, I would have liked for the team to win more games when I pitched, but I don’t feel like it was drastically different from the way I pitched last year.”

If Kluber is able to stay in line with these numbers and loses more than 10 games again next year, he might spend the entire winter convincing the Indians’ offseason to spend $20 million on a few new bats.

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Corey Kluber throws gem to led Indians to 2-0 win against Boston Red Sox

By Ryan Lewis Published: October 3, 2015

Corey Kluber has had an up-and-down season, but he saved one of his best outings of the season for his last as the Indians beat the Boston Red Sox 2-0 Saturday night at a cold, rainy Progressive Field.

Following a 30-minute rain delay and with temperatures in the 50s, Kluber shut down the Red Sox to the tune of three hits and nine strikeouts in eight scoreless innings.
Kluber started the game by striking out seven batters in the first three innings. No Red Sox (78-83) hitter reached second base after the first inning, when Mookie Betts led off the game with a single and stole second.

Kluber will finish the season with a 9-16 record, becoming the pitcher to lose at least 16 games while striking out at least 200 batters since Nolan Ryan went 8-16 for the Houston Astros in 1987. And despite an ERA of 3.49 and a FIP of 2.98 after Saturday’s outing, Kluber this year became the first Indians pitcher to lose at least 16 games since Greg Swindell went 9-16 in 1991.

Cody Allen entered the game in the ninth inning and picked up his 33rd save of the season.

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Josh Tomlin strong again as Indians down Boston Red Sox 8-2

By Ryan Lewis Published: October 2, 2015

The Indians offense peppered the center-field wall in a 8-2 win against the Boston Red Sox Friday night at Progressive Field.

Despite a stiff wind blowing in from center field, the Indians had no trouble finding the sweet spot against Red Sox starting pitcher Henry Owens (4-4).

In the third inning of a scoreless game, a Mike Aviles single, Jose Ramirez walk and Ryan Raburn single loaded the bases for Carlos Santana, who cleared the bases with a double off the center-field wall, giving the Indians (79-80) a 3-0 lead. Two batters later, Chris Johnson added an RBI single to right field to extend it to 4-0.

It was yet another timely hit for Santana, who earlier this season was hitting around .200 with runners in scoring position. He’s been torrid in those situations lately and one of the best in the game, raising that average to .263 with a .394 on-base percentage despite the poor start.

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Indians blow late lead in 4-2 loss to Minnesota Twins

By Ryan Lewis Published: October 1, 2015

A strong start by Trevor Bauer was spoiled by a lame-duck offense and an untrustworthy bullpen, as the Indians threw away a late lead and lost 4-2 to the Minnesota Twins Thursday night at Progressive Field.

The Indians were quietly eliminated from the postseason picture on Wednesday. A day later, they fell to the Twins (83-76) almost as quietly, as they still fight for their own postseason lives.

Still, they entered the ninth inning tied 2-2. Jose Ramirez, who irked the Twins on Wednesday with a bat-flip after a three-run home run, committed the throwing error that opened the door for the Twins’ offense with only one out in the inning. Facing Cody Allen, Eddie Rosario followed it with a single to right field, and he advanced to second base when Lonnie Chisenhall’s throw hit Eduardo Nunez, who slid into third safely.

With Torii Hunter at the plate, Allen let go of a curveball that landed well short in the dirt and got away from catcher Roberto Perez, allowing the Twins to take a 3-2 lead. Hunter then added a sacrifice fly to right field to make it 4-2.

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