Tag Archives: Grady Sizemore

The Tribe is Alive!

The Tribe is alive. I can’t believe it either.

The Cleveland Indians are just 4 games back of the second wildcard spot entering the final month of the season.

A month ago, I, and many others, were counting the Tribe as out. The bats were dead, the starting pitching wasn’t keeping the game in check and the bullpen was suspect. Add to that the lack of moves by the front office at the deadline and our suspicions weren’t unfounded.

This season was over, in every sense of the word.

And then, slowly but surely the Tribe won a few games.

Then the won a few series and then, they got a sweep.

The bats have been working lately, the starting pitching has been keeping opposing hitters at bay, and the bullpen, when they’ve been needed, have delivered.

The defensive play has been the hidden lynch pin to the Indians streak of success as of late. Who would have known that the addition of Abraham Almonte (seriously?) in centerfield and the return of Lonnie Chisenhall in RF along with the play of Francisco Lindor and Giovanny Urshela on the left side of the infield.

After the current series with the Blue Jays, the Indians have games within and only within the AL Central. Those games include 6 against the Tigers (3/3 Home/Away), 6 against the White Sox (3/3 Home/Away), 7 against the Royals (4/3 Home/Away), and 6 against the Twins (3/3 Home/Away). They are going to need to win approximately 80% (20) games to cement themselves in the wildcard playoff for the American League. There is no chance anyone in the American League Central will catch the Royals. Currently, they are 13 games ahead of the second place team, the Minnesota Twins and 16 games ahead of the Indians.

The next month of baseball could be very interesting. Undoubtedly, memories of 2013 have begun to whimsically drift into the back of my head as I reminisce about one of the greatest months of baseball in recent memory.

While the next month will be interesting, the big Indians-related news of the week occurred late Sunday night

Shapiro back, back, back and gone to Toronto

Reports surfaced last week of an impending offer of the Presidency/CEO duties of the Toronto Blue Jays to current Indians President Mark Shapiro. The collective interwebs and social media were aflame with ifs, ands, and buts about the whole thing before it went quiet for a few days.

Then on Sunday, the hammer was dropped. Multiple well-known and respect sports journalists reported that Mark Shapiro would accept the offer from the Blue Jays effective at the end of the 2015 season. Soon after, the team confirmed it and a press conference was scheduled for Monday afternoon.

At the presser, Mark said he was excited about the opportunity for growth in Toronto and addressed (barely) issues he faced here in Cleveland. When asked about attendance, he side-stepped the issue and moved on to other topics of interest.

Direct reports to Shapiro will now report to Paul Dolan and Dolan also stated he will not look outside the organization for a successor for Mark. It would appear that the next era of the Cleveland Indians Presidency will take effect from within the organization and speculation has begun about who that individual will be.

When looking back over Shapiro’s impressive 24 year career in Cleveland, one can’t help but feel bad for the guy.

When John Hart left the organization in 2001 and Shapiro ascended the GM throne, he was left with a very bad situation: a fan base used to winning and winning a lot, a minor league system devoid of any serviceable talent ready for the majors, and owners who didn’t want to spend much money on talent.

With that, Mark began the process of shaping the Indians from the ground up into the team he envisioned. Unfortunately for him, his drafts were awful. In the early to mid-portions of the first decade of the 2000s, you would be hard-pressed to name one decent major leaguer that came up through the Indians farm system (and no, Matt LaPorta isn’t decent. At all). Where Mark really shined was in his ability to leverage current team assets towards futures of other teams’ farm assets.

Case and point: the Bartolo Colòn trade of 2002:

In 2002, the Cleveland Indians were out of contention and Shapiro pulled the trigger on a deal that sent staff ace Bartolo Colòn to the Montreal Expos for Grady Sizemore, Cliff Lee, and Brandon Phillips.

I don’t need to tell you about the contributions and accolades that group of players have garnered over the course of their MLB careers to prove to you how fantastic that trade was.

When Shapiro stepped aside for Chris Antonetti to assume the role of GM, he took over as team president and was able to turn his attention things outside of personnel and baseball operations. His role in the new construction at the ballpark which debuted this season and his work in making Progressive field more fan and family friendly have been enormous. I love what has been done to Progressive field and I feel way more connected to the team and the game when I’m at the stadium than when I was younger.

Mark Shapiro has been around the Indians organization for longer than I’ve been alive. He has been there with us during the highs (1994-2001), the lows (2002-2006), and the playoff runs and appearances (1995-1999; 2001; 2007, and 2013). He has felt the heartache we’ve all experienced at one point or another. He’s felt the exhilarating highs of Tom Hamilton’s walk off calls in the lazy summer evenings and the lows of a Matt Underwood curse before an opposing player does something great.

Sure he’s a part of the organization, but he is also one of us. He did the very best he could with the resources he had, and I for one, can’t blame him for anything. He’s going to a great organization north of the border with deep pockets and a handful of great hitters. I wish him nothing but the best, and hopefully, he’ll come back around Cleveland from time to time to check in on us.

Cleveland Indians Thanksgiving

 

First off, I want to wish all of you readers out there a Happy Thanksgiving!

For the first time in several years, Cleveland sports fans can actually be thankful for their teams. That got us thinking at MTAF: Cleveland — What would different members of the professional organizations be thankful for as they sat around the table sharing Thanksgiving dinner?

As a fan of the Cleveland Indians, I attempted to delve into the mindsets of several different members of the organization, trying to ascertain what they would be giving thanks for.

Chris Antonetti & Mark Shapiro

My first thought with regard to what Chris and Mark would be thankful for would be getting Terry Francona to come on board and coach the Tribe. But then I sat back and looked at the larger picture. If I was Chris or Mark, I would be thankful for how well the trades they’ve made over the past ten years have worked out. Just look at how a handful of the following trades worked out (in terms of production) for the Indians:

Year CLE Sends CLE Receives
2002 Ryan Drese & Einar Diaz Travis Hafner
2008 Casey Blake Carlos Santana
2009 Victor Martinez Justin Masterson & Nick Hagadone
2006 Ben Broussard Shin-Soo Choo
2006 Eduardo Perez Asdrubal Cabrera
2002 Bartolo Colon Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips & Cliff Lee

And those are just a few of the trades that have been made. Think about this: In a three team deal involving the Cardinals and the Padres, we gave up veteran pitcher Jake Westbrook and received 2014 AL Cy Young Winner Corey Kluber. Had Matt LaPorta worked out better, the Sabathia deal (which included 2014 MVP finalist and Silver Slugger award winner Michael Brantley) would have been seen as more genius than the Colon deal.

As Mark and Chris pass the gravy boat, they’re going to be giving thanks that so many of their trades worked out so well.

Terry Francona

As Terry Francona rides his scooter to the store to pick up cranberry sauce, I imagine he too will think about what he’s thankful for. I would venture a guess that he’s thankful for several things:

1. His health

2. Mickey Callaway

Tito has probably never worried about his health (see: Urban Meyer). I’m not old by any stretch (I’m 23). I’ve found out that older men are thankful for their health, regardless of how healthy they actually are. Next, Tito should be counting his lucky starts that he has Mickey Callaway sitting on his bench coaching up his pitchers. Think about 2013. Mickey Callaway turned around a struggling Ubaldo Jimenez into quite possibly the best pitcher of the second half in the American League. I feel that if Tito had started Ubaldo in the place of rookie Danny Salazar, the Indians may have gone on to be World Series champions. Then we look back at 2014 and (channeling my innermost LeBron here) not one, not two, but THREE examples of what Mickey Callaway can do. First, Corey Kluber. Mickey has said that he really didn’t have to do much with Klubes this past season. As much as I’d like to believe that, there’s a reason he’s the pitching coach. Mickey worked with Corey to develop his secondary pitches and propel him into the upper echelons of pitching talent in the MLB. Next, there is Trevor Bauer. Bauer’s problem in 2013 was consistency and immaturity. Unfortunately for Trevor, he is young and often impatient. He need time to develop under more mature, accomplished pitchers. He got that with Justin Masterson and Corey Kluber. This year, while he had his troubles, Bauer was much more consistent and flashed some of the greatness that made the front office go out and get him. Finally, we have Carlos Carrasco. Known affectionately as “Cookie” among die-hard Tribe fans, Cookie experienced many of the same issues that Bauer faced — inconsistency and maturity. Remember his ejection and subsequent suspension in 2011 against Kansas City? How about his ejection for plunking Kevin Youkilis in 2013? That wasn’t a wild arm. Tito and Mickey worked with Carrasco and put him in the bullpen in 2014 and boy, did he deliver. Carrasco was electric out of the pen and proved to be the long-reliever we needed, especially when one of our starters couldn’t make it out of the 4th or 5th inning. How many times can you remember Carrasco putting in three to four quality innings, saving our bullpen arms for the home stretch?

Finally, The Indians are thankful for YOU, the fans.

When you go to a game or buy a jersey, you help finance the continued journey toward that elusive World Series title. When you get on Twitter or Facebook and talk about the Indians, you help them make a branding impact on new fans or fans who just don’t know it yet. When you write odes to Tom Hamilton or romanticize what the Tribe means to you on a t-shirt, you help the Indians build an regional identity. In a city like Cleveland, our professional sports teams need their fans as much as we need our teams. In some ways, we define one another. The Indians wouldn’t have much meaning without us and we wouldn’t have much meaning without them. So when the front office, the coaching staff and the players sit around their respective tables to share food and make memories, they will probably reflect, even if it’s only for a moment, on what it means to put on the Tribe uniform day in and day out for the best fans in the major leagues.

As for me, I’m thankful for football, a lot of food and a day off to enjoy it all with my family and friends.

Happy Thanksgiving fans. Enjoy your turkey.

Pitchers and Catchers Report

There will be those that disagree, but there are no sweeter words in the English language for me than “Pitchers and Catchers Report”.  Locally, Mother Nature saw fit to cover the landscape with copious falling snowflakes, but with baseball returning, I didn’t mind the hours that were spent clearing snow from the walk and driveway.  I knew that come today, grown men would be playing catch, and yet another MLB season would begin.

Continue reading Pitchers and Catchers Report

A Look Back at 2012 Through Ryan's Eyes (and Columns)

by Ryan Isley

I can’t believe that another year has come and gone. This was my first full year at More Than A Fan and I figured what better way to send it out than to look back at some of the things I wrote for the site in 2012.

I went through every column (damn, I wrote a lot) and picked out 10 of my favorites to share. If you haven’t had a chance to read them before, take a look. If you have read them, I hope you look at them once more.

Terry Bowden Already Winning at Akron (January 4th)

This was the first column I wrote for the site this year. After being named the new football coach at the University of Akron, Terry Bowden addressed the crowd at a basketball game and then mingled with fans throughout. It was a 180 degree difference from the previous regime.

As he spoke, the crowd screamed and roared. The louder they cheered, the louder he screamed and the more animated he became. By the end, he was sweating like Frank Caliendo doing his impression of Chris Farley as Batman. But he had gotten his point across – this was going to be a different University of Akron football program than has been seen in the past two seasons.

Still a Racial Divide in Evaluating Quarterbacks (January 18th)

After watching hour upon hour of college football games and pre-draft coverage, I started picking up on the nuances of how broadcasters and “experts” differentiate between a white quarterback and a black quarterback. This was one of the more interesting pieces I wrote all year in my opinion.

Sometimes it can be difficult to read the analysis of quarterbacks in an upcoming NFL Draft and not think that some of the criticisms of black quarterbacks are racially motivated. Of course, nobody is going to come out and say that they think the player will not make a good NFL quarterback because of the color of their skin, but they find ways to word it so that it looks like a legitimate critique, only it is masking a hint of racism.

Believe It or Not, LeBron Would be Welcomed Back in Cleveland (February 17th)

While Cleveland fans spent all season hating LeBron James, I started to turn a corner when it came to the former Cavs star. By the time the playoffs came around, I had no problem with the Akron native winning his ring. Anyway, I decided halfway through the season that if LeBron ever returned to Cleveland, people would once again embrace him.

If LeBron returns to team up with Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson and whoever the Cavs will have on the roster by then, it will be the best chance the Cavs have ever had at hoisting the trophy come June. That alone will make Cleveland fans get behind the guy who was once one of the most loved players in the history of Cleveland sports.

My Mom, Her Support and the Real Decision (February 22nd)

One of the most difficult pieces I wrote all year. Who am I kidding? This was definitely the most difficult thing to write. It was one year to the date that I had written my mom’s eulogy. In this column, I explain why my mom deserves credit for my writing and how a decision I had to make changed my life forever.

You see, if it wasn’t for my mom and her support, I would not be writing for this site and you would have never read anything I have written for this site or others for which I have written. When I was growing up, the only thing I cared about was sports. School would come and go and I would give an effort, but as my mom always told me – if I spent half as much time on schoolwork as I did on learning sports statistics and history, I would have been a straight-A student.

Browns Fans Need to Get a Grip on Reality (March 21st)

The Washington Redskins made a trade with the St. Louis Rams for the right to draft Robert Griffin III and Cleveland fans lost their minds that the Browns didn’t jump in and make the deal instead. I explain why it wouldn’t have mattered what the Browns offered because Daniel Snyder is a crazy son of a bitch.

Snyder would have tried throwing in things he didn’t even own to get this deal done. Want the Washington Monument? It’s yours. The statue of Abraham Lincoln? Yeah, he would look good in St. Louis – take him. You get the picture.

What were the Browns going to offer? A guitar from U2 and the “FREE” stamp?

Cribbs Takes to Twitter, Now Needs to Perform (May 2nd)

Josh Cribbs has proven this year that he doesn’t make the best decisions on the field or off. In this instance, he spouted off about how teams can “Come Get Some” this season when playing the Browns. I guess we all know how that has worked out for him and the team. He then backed the front office for not drafting a wide receiver.

Of course Browns fans won’t call out Cribbs for his tweeting or his lack of performance if he isn’t able to back up his words. They are more worried about getting a retweet from the Browns wide receiver or trying to get him to show up for their tailgate parties.

As long as Cribbs continues to be accessible to Browns fans, he is untouchable with criticism – they will just blame it on someone else. Cribbs realizes this, so he will continue to take to Twitter.

LeBron, Tiger and Tebow – The Perfect Athletes in a Twitter World (June 6th)

In this day in sports, it seems that the most important thing besides winning is how much an athlete is talked about in sports radio and on social media, especially Twitter. If there are three athletes that were built perfectly for Twitter debates, they are LeBron James, Tiger Woods and Tim Tebow.

The difference between LeBron, Tiger and Tebow and all of the other athletes is that almost everyone has a strong opinion on those three. People either love them or hate them, and there is very little indifference. With other athletes, there might be love and hate but not to the extent of those three.

Contract the NBA and Create More Superteams – It’s What the Players Want (July 4th)

With players jumping from team to teams and making the NBA just one huge AAU leagues, I decided to contract some teams and make the NBA just a league of 16 superteams. If the players are going to run the league anyway, we might as well give them what they want.

The last time I checked, the NBA had a lockout at the beginning of this past season because owners were worried about player salaries getting out of control and also about the players having too much power within the league.

Don’t we still have this problem?

There is a simple answer to fix what ails this player-first league. If they want superteams, give them their superteams. But to do that, we need to whittle down the number of teams in the league so that ALL of the teams have the chance to be superteams.

Andy Roddick Was a Disappointment For American Men’s Tennis (September 12th)

In an opinion that didn’t win me any popularity contests (imagine that), I wrote that Andy Roddick was not nearly as successful as he should have been and that the downfall of American men’s tennis began with him.

For me, it is easy to feel that Roddick never lived up to the hype. Between 1992 and 2001, American men won 22 of 40 grand slam events, with Jim Courier winning three, Agassi winning seven and Sampras winning 12. While Roddick is the last American male to win a grand slam when he triumphed in that 2003 US Open, he was supposed to be the face of American tennis for years to come.

A Dear John Letter to Grady Sizemore (November 9th)

After 10 years, I have decided that I am done with Grady Sizemore. Despite the great times during the early part of his career, the fall off the last few years has just been too much and it is time to move on for Sizemore and the Indians.

We both knew this day was going to come. We may not have thought it would be this soon, but we knew it would happen eventually. After spending hours and days thinking about this, I think it is better if we go our separate ways.

It isn’t you, Grady. Actually, yes it is.

We had so many fun times and made countless memories over the past 10 years. But unfortunately, those times are too far in the rear view mirror for us to go any further.

I hope you enjoyed this look back as much as I enjoyed compiling it. Thank you to all of the fans of More Than A Fan who have made 2012 the best year yet and we look forward to an even better 2013.

Comments? Questions? You can leave them here or email Ryan at ryan@morethanafan.net

A Dear John Letter to Grady Sizemore

by Ryan Isley

Dear Grady Sizemore,

I just can’t do this anymore. I am done.

We both knew this day was going to come. We may not have thought it would be this soon, but we knew it would happen eventually. After spending hours and days thinking about this, I think it is better if we go our separate ways.

It isn’t you, Grady. Actually, yes it is.

We had so many fun times and made countless memories over the past 10 years. But unfortunately, those times are too far in the rear view mirror for us to go any further.

I will never forget when you were introduced to everyone. You owned that 2003 MLB Futures Game in Chicago when you went 2-for-3 with a home run and two RBIs in your first game in front of a national baseball audience. You then flashed that smile on ESPN SportsCenter the next day and Indians fans everywhere became entangled in your web.

Oh yes, your web. It reminds me of the days when you were a staple on ESPN Baseball Tonight’s web gems, making diving catches and robbing home runs like it was routine. You patrolled center field to the tune of two gold gloves, and maybe should have won more.

When you weren’t making plays in the field, you were showing off your skills at the plate and on the base paths. For a four-year stretch from 2005-2008, you hit .281 and averaged 180 hits, 26.8 home runs, 116 runs scored and 28.8 stolen bases per season.

The high point of that run was your 2008 season, when you became just the second player in Indians history to go 30-30 when you hit 33 home runs and stole 38 bases. You rode those numbers to a 10th-place finish in American League MVP voting – the highest finish of your career – and made your third consecutive All-Star team.

Unfortunately, 2008 was also the last season in which you played more than 110 games.

In 2009, you missed the first three weeks of June and then were shut down for the season on September 9th after playing in just 106 games. It was the first time you played less than 157 games in a season since 2004 – when you were called up to the Major Leagues after the All-Star break. After being shut down, you had two surgeries – one on your elbow and one to repair a hernia.

Despite the injuries, I kept the faith. I still believed that you would return to All-Star form once you were healthy. The problem is that you just have not been able to stay off the disabled list.

You played in 33 games in 2010, hitting just .211. You failed to hit any home runs, scored only 15 runs and stole just four bases. Yet I still held out hope. I thought 2011 would be better. And it was – well sort of. You took the field in 71 games that season but hit just .224 with 10 home runs. For the first time in your career, you didn’t have a stolen base.

In those two seasons combined, you played in 104 games and hit only .220 with 10 home runs and four stolen bases. It was becoming more and more clear that your best years were behind you.

I was ready to give up. But you came back for another year. And I decided that I would give you one last chance.

We both know how that turned out, Grady. You made $5 million in 2012 without ever stepping on the field – it was highway robbery. In fact, you have not played in a Major League game in 414 days.

And with that, it is time we parted ways. I am leaving what we had behind without any regrets.

I will try to remember those 10 years for the good times and I will attempt to put the bad memories in the back of my mind. But please just let me walk away now before the bad memories overshadow all of the good ones.

Sincerely,

A Frustrated Indians Fan

Comments? Questions? You can leave them here or email Ryan at ryan@morethanafan.net

Do the Indians Need to Make a Splash at the Deadline?

Well, the Indians are the Indians.

One week they’ll look playoff quality, the next week they look like no quality.

It’s an enigma that no one has been able to answer. One minute we’re calling for everyone’s head, the next minute we just need that one more piece.

Last summer, the Indians made moves that were supposed to put them into the playoffs. Those moves involved a certain Ubaldo Jimenez and needless to say, they didn’t work out. They needed that right handed bat, and they never got it.

This summer, the same theme seems to be occuring. The Tribe just needs that extra push to be in the playoffs, and the trade seems to be one of the options to put them there.  Continue reading Do the Indians Need to Make a Splash at the Deadline?

Message to the Indians: Weather the Storm

The Cleveland Indians are very fortunate to be where they are. They’ve lost 14 of their last 21 games and are only out of first place by 1 and a half games.

In this stretch, the Indians have been swept by the Reds, lost a series to the Pirates, and a series to the Minnesota Twins. They’ve kept up their success against the Detroit Tigers, however, beating them in a series in Detroit.

Right now, the Indians are looking for answers. The Johnny Damon experiment has not gone as they would have hoped, (read Josh Flagner’s Yahoo Piece!). Josh Tomlin and Jeanmar Gomez have been subpar in their pitching. They have had injuries to major players including Travis Hafner, Grady Sizemore, Jack Hannahan, and Carlos Santana. Casey Kotchman, while a defensive mastermind at first base, has been just as most expected as a hitter. Matt LaPorta and Lonnie Chisenhall, among others, are stuck in Triple A and don’t seem to be yearning to come out. Continue reading Message to the Indians: Weather the Storm

Johnny Damon Signing is Typical Indians Move

by Ryan Isley

Leave it to the Cleveland Indians to make a move out of desperation and sign a player based more on name than on his actual playing ability at this point in his career.

The Indians have needed to get offense since early last season but continued to ignore the glaring hole in their lineup. At the trade deadline last year, the Indians sent their top two pitching prospects to Colorado for Ubaldo Jimenez and stood pat with what they had offensively.

Going into this season, they brought in first baseman Casey Kotchman, who hit .306 last season after hitting .218 and .217 in 2009 and 2010. While he had a better year offensively in 2011, Kotchman was brought in for his defense because Carlos Santana and Matt LaPota were such hacks at first base that they made Travis Hafner look like a gold glove first baseman.

They then relied on Grady Sizemore to stay healthy and hit at the top of the order. Insert your own joke here.

Continue reading Johnny Damon Signing is Typical Indians Move

Indians Make Quick Moves on Sizemore, Carmona and Lowe

It is only November 1st and, in just two moves yesterday, Indians GM Chris Antonetti has already set the 2012 starting Indians rotation and set the tone for the rest of the offseason.  In yesterday’s moves, the Indians exercised the $7 million team option on Fausto Carmona and acquired RHP Derek Lowe from the Atlanta Braves. The Indians also declined to exercise the $9 million option on Grady Sizemore, making the outfielder eligible for free agency. Antonetti, in his press conference yesterday, indicated that the Indians were not done yet, stating that they were  looking to upgrade both the outfield and first base during the offseason.

Continue reading Indians Make Quick Moves on Sizemore, Carmona and Lowe

MTAF Daily – Changes Needed at Ohio State and More Surgery for Sizemore

By Ryan Isley

Changes Needed at Ohio State:

Daniel “Boom” Herron and DeVier Posey are at it again. The two were supposed to return to the football field this weekend when Ohio State travels to Nebraska after serving a 5-game suspension from the tattoo shop fallout.

Now they are both suspended yet again for receiving improper benefits.

To me, there is a simple solution – both should be kicked off the team permanently. If they could not learn from the first incident, what makes you think they will learn from this one? These two players have put themselves ahead of the team on multiple occasions and now it is time for Ohio State to step in and say goodbye.

Continue reading MTAF Daily – Changes Needed at Ohio State and More Surgery for Sizemore