Offseason Mode

With the regular season completed, and free agency and related player movement a month or so away, I’d like to take this time to explore a couple issues that have been floating inside my head.

First of all, I’d like to explore the fiscal efficiency of putting together a roster. Or in other words, how much bang teams get for their bucks. In today’s game, paying a replacement-level player more than replacement-level money will quickly lead to an inefficient use of money, which, especially in medium-to-smaller markets, will lead to losing seasons.

Let me back up a second with some definitions. When I use the words replacement-level, I refer to a ficticious player who has exactly league-average statistics for his position. Baseball Prospectus rates players in reference to a replacement-level statisctics through something called VORP, or Value Over Replacement Player. If a player has positive VORP, then he is more valuable than at least half the players at his particular position. If he has a negative VORP, then he is less valuable than the average player at his position.

Now how can you relate this measurement to a team’s fiscal efficiency? By comparing his on-the-field value to his monetary value. In this instance, I’ll use my own concocted statistic called SORP, or Salary over Replacement Player. The median salary in baseball in 2003 was $2,555, 476, so I’ll use that as what a totally average player at his position should be paid. In no way am I attempting a scientific statistical analysis, but it should give us fans a realistic picture of whether a player was overpaid or underpaid.

VORP measures hitting production in runs, and is pretty difficult to use comparatively, so I’m going to use EQA instead. EQA’s baseline for average players at each position is set at .260, so it will be a lot easier to compare (and the scale is such that good EQAs and bad EQAs are fairly recognizable with the baseline being .260)

I’ll start with an analysis of the Indians’ 2003 season, and then, I’ll move onto other teams and see where the Indians rank.

Also, I’m compiling an Excel sheet with the entire organizational roster of hitters, complete with statistics. I’m trying to formulate my own grading system (on a scale of 100) for the prospects, so please bear with me.

I’ll post updates as the numbers are crunched

Part I: Pitching Attrition

With the announcement that Billy Traber is going to have elbow ligament replacement surgery (or Tommy John surgery), the number of healthy young arms that were in contention for the 2003 rotation dwindled to exactly 3 (Jason Davis, Cliff Lee, and Jake Westbrook). For my purposes, Jeremy Guthrie was not going to be in the picture in 2003 (and he wasn’t), and Jason Stanford wasn’t on the radar. Brian Tallet and Billy Traber both will probably be out the entire 2004 season (Tommy John surgery), and Ricardo Rodriguez was traded in to the Rangers for Ryan Ludwick.

Thankfully, the Indians have enough pitching prospects that they can afford some attrition, which almost always happens with young pitchers. They will have another wave of starting pitching on the way, which includes Kyle Denney, Jeremy Guthrie, and Francisco Cruceta, among others. Those three will probably start the season in Buffalo, and will see Cleveland before the 2004 season is over.

What does this teach us? Nothing new, really. The need for pitching (and lots of it) has always been a staple of baseball wisdom, and it’s still painfully relevant today. Pitchers (and baseball players in general) are not sure things, so diversification is a necessity if you want to be sure of having a continuous supply of pitching.

Back to Traber, for a moment. Looking over his innings and pitch counts, there’s nothing the Indians did that really stands out. He threw 111 innings this season, hardly a sign of being overworked. Talking to the media after the surgery announcement, Traber made mention to the fact that the elbow had always been an issue, and I think his delivery also may have been a contributing factor as well. Regardless, losing Traber for 1 season at the least is a blow to the staff, but at this juncture the Indians won’t be mortally wounded thanks to their pitching depth.

Part II: The PD Series on Shapiro

If you haven’t read the first two articles on Mark Shapiro and the Indians’ front office, I suggest you do so now. The series homepage is here. I’m not going to review the series, but I’m going to take the opportunity to review Shapiro’s strengths and weaknesses.

Major-League Free Agents

This is probably his weakest area, as the majority of his signings have turned out badly. I can safely say that Ricky Gutierrez, Brady Anderson, and Jason Bere were probably his worst signings. Matt Lawton has thus far been a bad investment, and is probably untradable right now. Re-signing Bob Wickman was unecessary given hindsight. The only real good signing two years into his tenure as GM has been Brian Anderson. Shane Spencer wasn’t really a bad signing, given his intended use and contract.

Has Shapiro learned from his 2002 gaffes? We probably won’t really know until the Indians start signing free agents with a mindset for contention, which probably won’t happen until after the 2004 season. He might sign a player or two this offseason, but I seriously doubt they’ll be anything but stopgaps or bench players.

Minor-league free agents

This year especially, Shapiro’s minor-league signings were pretty good. Casey Blake is the first guy you think about, and he’s provided a replacement-level third baseman for the league minimum. Rafael Betancourt was also a very good find as a back end bullpen arm. Kaz Tadano was probably Shapiro’s best signing, though, as the Indians acquired the best college arm in Japan for a standard minor-league contract. Yes, there were some other forces at work with the Tadano signing (which you can read here), but he was available to every other club for the same price. Other notable minor-league free agents: Jason Boyd, Chad Durbin, and Paul Rigdon. Durbin is probably has the biggest upside, as he’s been injured.


The trades made in 2002 have provided the backbone of the rebuilding effort. Brandon Phillips, Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore, Ryan Ludwick (via Ricardo Rodriguez), Francisco Cruceta, Travis Hafner, Coco Crisp, and Derrick Van Dusen (via Marshall McDougall) have all been brought into the system through veteren-for-prospect trades in 2002. While it’s not practical to judge trades so soon after they’ve made, at the very least Shapiro has rebuilt the Indians’ minor-league system into the best in the majors by making these trades. With today’s trade climate, the fact that he was still able to get this amount of talent has to be commended.

Waiver Claims

Shapiro has only made two waiver claims of any substance; Jack Cressend from Minnesota, and Nick Bierbrodt from Tampa Bay. Cressend has provided some depth in the bullpen when it was desperately needed, and Bierbrodt has yet to contribute in Cleveland, although he’s capable of contributing next year.

The only player Shapiro has lost through waivers was Earl Snyder, who hit .255/.299/.454 for Pawtucket of the International League this year.

Player Development

Shapiro’s strong suit, as that’s where his experience is. The Indians, along with their talent, run a very good player development system. The drafting in the past couple years has looked good on the surface (as with trades, it’s virually impossible to judge a draft until at least 5 years down the road). This year the Indians organization lead the majors in minor-league winning percentage.

So, in summary, Shapiro’s weaknesses seem to be evaluating major-league talent (as in free agents). This year’s crop of free agents (Anderson (the pitcher), Spencer, Bere) fared better than last year’s (Lawton, Gutierrez, Anderson (the outfielder)), but he still needs to improve in this area. Other than that, he’s done a very good job as GM, considering the situation he entered into.

I’ll start to get into more player profiles after the season ends this week. Look for another column on Monday.

Next week, I’ll be back with an original column, concentrating on some players that have surfaced since this review was written, along with comments on minor-league vets and Rule 5 candidates.

(Originally posted on July 15 and July 22, 2003 at this address)

Reviewing the 40-Man Roster: The Half-Way Point

In addition to adding stats to practically all the players in the organization, I’m also adding some commentary on each individual player. I’m starting with the players currently on the 40-man roster (and the disabled list), and I’ll do this twice a season to give future readers some sort of baseline on which to judge that particular player. Next week, I’ll start on the 2003 Rule 5 class (players eligible for the Rule 5 draft), and then work my way down towards the short-season players.

The Pitchers

(Stats through July 7, 2003)

Brian Anderson (Age 31) Starter

CLE 99.2 IP, 4.15 ERA, 36 SO, 20 BB, .292 BAA

2003 Salary: $1.5M

Signed through: 2003 (Free Agent)

Doing exactly what the Indians wanted of him, and even more. He’s scattered several good to great starts throughout the first couple months, and has made himself a commodity this July. While the temptation to trade him is justified, the Indians have the luxury of waiting until the right deal comes along. Anderson is a local guy, and would even accept a bullpen role with Indians in the future, although I find that hard to believe. However, just about every contender needs a pitcher, and come the end of July, some prospects may be available that wouldn’t normally be.

Danys Baez (Age 25) Closer

CLE 42.0 IP, 3.43 ERA, 34 SO, 13 BB, .203 BAA

2003 Salary: $5.125M

Signed through: 2003 (Arbitration Eligible)

He’s had his blowups, including a total meltdown against the Mariners early in the year, but for the most part has been an effective albeit overpaid closer. His contract is up at the end of the year, and may or may not be eligible for arbitration, so his salary will continue to go up from now on. With at least $12M (1/4 of the team salary) invested in Baez and Wickman next year, Baez might be shopped after the season.

Update (9-15-03): Baez is no longer the closer, and I’m beginning to doubt whether he’ll be with the team next year.

Jason Bere (Age 32) Starter

2003 Salary: $1M

Signed through: 2003 (Free Agent)

Pitched only two games before his season was ended with an arm injury. The Indians only owe him $1M, but it’s still wasted money.

Rafael Betancourt (Age 28) Long Relief

BUF 6.2 IP, 4.05 ERA, 6 SO, 3 BB

AKR 45.1 IP, 1.39 ERA, 75 SO, 13 BB

2003 Salary: $300,000

Signed through: 2003 (Renewable Contract)

Another flyer that has paid dividends, Betancourt can be a useful spare part in what’s becoming a pretty good bullpen. Like Casey Blake, he’ll be very affordable for the next couple years, as he’s just made his MLB debut and has at least two more seasons making the minimum. Whether he’ll be around is another story, however, and it looks like the Indians are using the rest of the season to find out. Along with Jason Boyd and Jack Cressend, Betancourt has shown that you don’t have to spend millions or trade prospects in order to have an effective bullpen.

Jason Boyd (Age 30) 7th/8th Innings Specialist

CLE 30.1 IP, 3.86 ERA, 22 SO, 13 BB, .182 BAA

2003 Salary: $300,000

Signed through: 2003 (Arbitration Eligible)

One of the bigger surprises of the season, Boyd solidified the bullpen after its horrendous April. He’s made himself into a part of the bullpen’s future, and a big reason why Dan Miceli was traded away.

Fernando Cabrera (Age 21) AA Closer

AA 84.0 IP, 2.57 ERA, 88 SO, 31 BB, .231 BAA

2003 Salary: $300,000

Signed through: 2003 (Renewable Contract)

Just moved to closer in Akron after a pretty good stint as a starter. I’m not a fan of making good starters into closers, but with all of the starters in the high minors, Cabrera will get to Cleveland much faster as a bullpen arm. He certainly has the prerequisites of the perfect closer: outstanding K/BB ratio, a blazing fastball with a very good curve. How far he progresses as a closer will determine how long Baez sticks around. As it is, he probably needs an entire season as a closer, and that means he probably won’t be ready until sometime during the 2004 season.

Jack Cressend (Age 28) Long Relief

CLE 2.2 IP, 3.38 ERA, 2 SO, 0 BB, .222 BAA

2003 Salary: $300,000

Signed through: 2003 (Renewable Contract)

Technically he’s still rehabbing his arm from last season’s surgery, but his recovery is almost complete. When completely healthy, his fastball will gain a mph or two. The Indians claimed him off waivers last winter when the Twins tried to sneak him off their 40-man roster, another “free talent” pickup that’s contributing in the bullpen.

Francisco Cruceta (Age 21) AA Starter

AA 90.0 IP, 3.20 ERA, 75 SO, 37 BB, .234 BAA

2003 Salary: $300,000

Signed through: 2003 (Renewable Contract)

A high-ceiling arm, Cruceta is a very raw talent right now, and is working on some mechanical issues. There’s no real reason to rush him to Cleveland, so his ETA will be 2004 or later. If he develops, he could become a front-of-the-rotation starter. The other player in the Paul Shuey trade, but in the future we may refer to that trade as the Cruceta trade.

Jason Davis (Age 23) Starter

CLE 99.2 IP, 4.79 ERA, 53 SO, 28 BB, .276 BAA

2003 Salary: $301,100

Signed through: 2003 (Renewable Contract)

The most consistent of the rookie arms thus far, and the owner of an impressive fastball and a very good sinker. The mediocre numbers you see are a product of a downright horrible first couple of starts; since then, he’s pitched on par with C.C. Sabathia. The scary thing is that he’s still projectable, only one year removed from Kinston. The Indians should err on the side of caution and shut him down in late August or early September, for he’s on pace to throw over 200 innings, bad pizza for a rookie starter.

Dave Elder (Age 26) Long Relief

CLE 2.1 IP, 19.29 ERA, 3 SO, 4 BB, .417 BAA

2003 Salary: $300,000

Signed through: 2003 (Renewable Contract)

Sidelined with rotator cuff tendonitis, Elder is done for the 2003 season. During his 2002 stint with the Indians, he was pretty impressive, and he should be back next year to fight for a spot in the bullpen. Any production the Indians get from him will be gravy, since he was what Cleveland got for the infamous John Rocker in 2002.

Jeremy Guthrie (Age 24) AAA Starter

BUF 50.1 IP, 6.79 ERA, 31 SO, 12 BB, .325 BAA

AKR 62.2 IP, 1.44 ERA, 35 SO, 14 BB, .196 BAA

2003 Salary: NA

Signed through: 2006

A tale of two affiliates. Jeremy blew through the Eastern League, and has been hit hard by AAA. Jeremy is in his first year of professional baseball, so he’ll be treated with kid gloves, and probably won’t see Cleveland this year, not even as a September call-up. Assuming he figures out AAA hitters, he’s a possibility to break camp next year with the big club.

Alex Herrera (Age 26) LOOGY

CLE 6.1 IP, 2.84 ERA, 5 SO, 5 BB, .174 BAA

BUF 37.0 IP, 5.35 ERA, 33 SO, 31 BB, .221 BAA

2003 Salary: $300,000

Signed through: 2003 (Renewable Contract)

Once considered a top prospect, Alex aged three years before the 2002 season. Now those microscopic numbers he put up in the low minors indicated domination by an older player rather than lights-out stuff. However, his stuff is still good, judging by his BAA; it’s his walks that have killed him thus far. The Indians have brought him up to be the token match up guy, and also to find out once and for all if he can get major league hitters out. If not, he may be headed off the 40-man roster, for the Indians once again have a lot of minor-leaguers to protect for the Rule 5 Draft.

Cliff Lee (Age 24) AAA Starter

CLE 6.0 IP, 0.00 ERA, 5 SO, 3 BB, .150 BAA

BUF 29.2 IP, 2.12 ERA, 29 SO, 14 BB, .243 BAA

AKR 12.0 IP, 1.50 ERA, 13 SO, 4 BB, .167 BAA

2003 Salary: $300,000

Signed through: 2003 (Renewable Contract)

Would have started the year with Cleveland, but an oblique muscle sidelined him for two months. Now he has a hernia problem, and the Indians are trying to let him finish the year without aggravating the injury. Lee is probably the best of this year’s crop of starting pitchers. He has four quality pitches, but sometimes has issues locating them. Along with Billy Traber and C.C. Sabathia, Lee could give the Indians three southpaws with three totally different pitching styles.

Terry Mulholland (Age 40) Innings Eater Extraordinaire

CLE 52.2 IP, 4.44 ERA, 20 SO, 24 BB, .292 BAA

2003 Salary:

Signed through: 2003 (Free Agent)

Has been extremely valuable to the Indians, in that he’s eaten the innings that the Indians don’t want their younger players to. He’s even put up a respectable ERA. Look for him to snag a start or two in September, when some young arms are shut down. A much better “salary dump” than Lee Stevens.

David Riske (Age 26) 8th Inning Specialist

CLE 42.0 IP, 2.88 IP, 43 SO, 11 BB, .215 BAA

2003 Salary: $314,000

Signed through: 2003 (Renewable Contract)

Finally healthy, Riske is delivering on the promise he showed a couple of years ago. For now, he’s one of the best set-up men in the league, and he’s going to be affordable for another couple of years. A big contributor to his success this year has been the development of a splitter, and has made his fastball that much tougher to get on top of.

C.C. Sabathia (Age 22) Starter

CLE 110.0 IP, 3.27 ERA, 72 SO, 36 BB, .248 BAA

2003 Salary: $1.1M

Signed through: 2005 (TO for 2006)

Built off last year’s second-half success, and has put it all together. Even though the Indians had to be represented in the All-Star game, Sabathia certainly was worthy of the selection. Now the biggest issue with Sabathia is keeping his innings and weight down. He’s on pace to throw 220 innings this year, and he’s only 22, still the youngest member of the pitching staff. While he’s in his third season, the statistics tell us that any pitcher under 25 has an elevated chance of arm injury, especially when combined with high pitch counts and high inning totals.

Carl Sadler (Age 26) AAA Reliever

BUF 23.1 IP, 7.71 ERA, 11 SO, 12 BB, .323 BAA

2003 Salary: $303,200

Signed through: 2003 (Renewable Contract)

Yes, those numbers are ugly. Sadler has been probably the biggest pitching disappointment of the season. If Herrera (or someone else) works out, expect him to be Outrighted after the season, if not sooner. At his age, being smacked around by AAA hitting is not a good sign.

Jason Stanford (Age 26) AAA Starter

BUF 99.0 IP, 3.18 ERA, 82 SO, 21 BB, .257 BAA

2003 Salary: $300,000

Signed through: 2003 (Renewable Contract)

One of the nicer stories around, Jason was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Indians, and has worked his way up the ladder, defying the odds at each rung. His upside is probably as a 5th starter, but with the Indians, he may not get much of a shot at the rotation. He’d be a nice fit as a long-man/spot starter. However, I’m not going to bet against him if he’s got this far already.

Brian Tallet (Age 25) AAA Starter

BUF 70.0 IP, 4.76 ERA, 59 SO, 31 BB, .260 BAA

2003 Salary: $300,000

Signed through: 2003 (Renewable Contract)

A bit of a disappointment thus far. He’s really picked a bad time to have a below-average season, as Billy Traber has solidified a rotation spot in Cleveland, and Jason Stanford is probably ahead of him on the depth chart now. With more pitching coming from below, Tallet needs to come back with a good July and August in order to keep himself in the rotation hunt, or he may find himself shipped off to another organization or tossed into the bullpen.

Billy Traber (Age 23) Starter

CLE 57.0 IP, 4.89 ERA, 49 SO, 29 BB, .291 BAA

2003 Salary: $300,000

Signed through: 2003 (Renewable Contract)

He’s finally been added to the rotation, and has responded pretty well. He was put into the bullpen as a long-man to begin the season, and was adequate, but has shown that he’s much more valuable pitching every fifth day. Last week, he mystified the Yankees in a one-hit gem, but has scattered in a shelling or two. At age 23, he’s a polished pitcher, and the Moyer comparisons only get stronger the more quality outings he puts together.

Jake Westbrook (Age 25) Starter/Long-man

CLE 61.1 IP, 4.55 ERA, 24 SO, 22 BB, .298 BAA

2003 Salary: $305,500

Signed through: 2003 (Renewable Contract)

For now, he’s back in the rotation after an exile to the bullpen. He’s one year removed from an arm injury, and the Indians don’t want him to pile up that many innings. Westbrook is a ground ball pitcher, and when he’s on, he’s something to watch. If he can build back his arm strength, he could be a useful back-of-rotation or bullpen arm.

Bob Wickman (Age 34) Closer

DNP (Injured)

2003 Salary: $6.0M

Signed through: 2004 (TO for 2005)

With Baez being the closer of the present, and Cabrera being the closer of the future, Wickman may find himself playing out his contract as a set-up man. He had Tommy John Surgery after the 2002 season, and looks to be on pace to contribute next year. If the Indians find a buyer for him (and his contract), they won’t hesitate to send him on his way.

Mark Wohlers (Age 33) 8th Inning Specialist

DNP (Injured)

2003 Salary: $2.6M

Signed through: 2003 (TO for 2004)

The easiest decision Mark Shapiro will make this off-season will be to turn down Wohlers’ 2004 option with a $1.0M buyout instead of paying an exorbitant $8.0M to retain his services for 2004. He wasn’t really needed last year, and Shapiro seems to have learned his lesson on giving role players multi-year contracts. After he is exorcised from the team, only Wickman, Gutierrez, and Lawton remain on the salary dump to-do list.

The Hitters

(Stats through July 7)

Josh Bard (Age 25) AAA Catcher

CLE 206 AB, .228/.280/.316, 9 2B, 3 HR

2003 Salary: $302,100

Signed through: 2003 (Renewable Contract)

Recently optioned to Buffalo, for two reasons. One, he still has some offensive deficiencies, and two, the Indians wanted to see what Victor Martinez can do. At this point, Bard projects as a very capable backup catcher, unless he suddenly ups his OPS 100 points or so. He is a very accomplished defensive catcher, so the Indians may experiment in the future with spotting Martinez at DH once or twice a week.

Casey Blake (Age 29)

CLE 268 AB, .269/.331/.451, 19 2B, 10 HR

2003 Salary: $330,000

Signed through: 2003 (Renewable Contract)

Blake, after a bad start, has really done a good job at third, providing decent defense with some power, exactly what the Indians needed from him. If he can put these numbers up consistently for the next couple of years, the Indians can afford to be patient with Peralta/Smith/Whitney or whoever is the current “Third Baseman of the Future”. A minor-league free agent from the Twins system, Blake will be a bargain for the next two years.

Milton Bradley (Age 25) Center Fielder

CLE 266 AB, .346/.451/.534, 27 2B, 7 HR

2003 Salary: $314,300

Signed through: 2003 (Arbitration Eligible or Renewable Contract)

Easily the best player on the Indians, and should have been an All-Star based on his numbers. Milton has finally delivered on the 5-tool promise he showed during his Montreal days, and has become the leader of the new Indians. As always, his baggage continues to follow him, and may have been a big reason why he was left off the All-Star team. That’s unfortunate, because it takes away from people seeing how talented he is. One of the more intense players in baseball, I don’t see any regression from him, especially since the All-Star snub.

Ben Broussard (Age 26) First Baseman

CLE 157 AB, .255/.330/.414, 8 2B, 5 HR

2003 Salary: $303,000

Signed through: 2003 (Renewable Contract)

I’m not entirely sold on him yet, but he has shown some signs of breaking out. When Travis Hafner, his main competition, went down with a foot injury, Broussard has given the Indians occasional power along with a decent average. He’s kept the strikeouts in check, although his walks are down a little from his minor-league averages. With Matt Lawton gone for a month, the Indians have an opportunity to place Broussard and Hafner in the lineup together and make a real comparison.

Ellis Burks (Age 38) Designated Hitter

CLE 198 AB, .258/.355/.414, 11 2B, 6 HR

2003 Salary: $7.167M

Signed through: 2003 (TO for 2004)

May have played his last game as an Indian. Although his presence in the clubhouse has been very much needed, and he’s expressed an interest in returning, Burks’ contract is really unnecessary, especially as a DH. With Travis Hafner and a slew of outfielders (including Matt Lawton), the Indians won’t have a problem in finding someone to DH. Having said that, Burks is one of those guys you want to make an exception for; he’s one of the good guys in baseball. Deciding whether or not to pick up Burks’ 2004 option will be one of Shapiro’s toughest decisions after the season.

Ryan Church (Age 24) AA Outfielder

AKR 247 AB, .259/.337/.462, 13 2B, 11 HR

2003 Salary: $300,000

Signed through: 2003 (Renewable Contract)

This season has been tough for Ryan, as he’s had to struggle through injuries from the start. Currently on the DL for a couple weeks because of a hand injury. A converted pitcher, Ryan as a very good outfield arm, and is looked at as major-league right fielder. With Jody Gerut’s emergence, and all of the other outfield prospects in AAA and AA, his path to the Indians is full of hurdles, but he’s made it onto the 40-man roster, and will certainly get a look in September.

Covelli Crisp (Age 23) Left Fielder

CLE 102 AB, .225/.286/.314, 3 2B, 0 HR

BUF 225 AB, .360/.434/.511, 19 2B, 1 HR

2003 Salary: $300,000

Signed through: 2003 (Renewable Contract)

He isn’t going to be a center fielder if the Indians can help it, so he’s going to have to cause enough havoc on the bases to justify him playing a corner outfield position. The way things look, he has the rest of the year to prove his worth. If he does stick, he’ll give the Indians an outfield with exceptional range. Left field is probably the best place for Crisp considering his lack of arm strength. With Escobar, Church, and Sizemore close, Coco may eventually lose his starting job if his on-base numbers don’t improve quickly.

Alex Escobar (Age 24) AAA Outfielder

BUF 313 AB, .243/.291/.438, 15 2B, 14 HR

2003 Salary: $300,000

Signed through: 2003 (Renewable Contract)

Tons of potential, and tons of strikeouts. Escobar is basically on a one-year rehab assignment after various problems kept him from taking a single at-bat in 2002, including political unrest in his native Venezuela. After a horrendous start to the season, Escobar has slowly began to put up respectable and even promising numbers. This is his last option year, and the Indians have to carry him on their roster in 2004, which is why the Indians want to accumulate as many at-bats in Buffalo as possible. A center fielder with Alex’s power is very rare, and the Indians are going to give him every opportunity to succeed.

Luis Garcia (Age 24) AAA First Baseman

BUF 276 AB, .236/.277/.399, 22 2B, 7 HR

2003 Salary: $300,000

Signed through: 2003 (Renewable Contract)

Unless Garcia comes back with a monster second-half in Buffalo, he may be stuck there for a while. With Broussard and Hafner in Cleveland, as well as others such as Matt Knox and Michael Aubrey below him, Luis didn’t have much of an opportunity to make the club, and the window is closing rapidly. His plate discipline has been Escobar-like (67 SO, 14 BB) without the home runs or the knee injury excuse.

Update (9-15-03): Luis Garcia has been outrighted off the 40-man roster, so he’ll stay with the organization for the time being.

Jody Gerut (Age 25) Right Fielder

CLE 194 AB, .278/.329/.515, 17 2B, 9 HR

BUF 65 AB, .277/.377/.585, 5 2B, 5 HR

2003 Salary: $300,000

Signed through: 2003 (Renewable Contract)

Probably the biggest surprise of the year. The one thing Gerut lacked as an outfielder was power, and he came in Spring Training with it. Although he was sent to Buffalo to start the season, he was the first outfielder recalled (over Crisp), and has responded by putting up numbers that makes him a Rookie of the Year candidate. Along with his very nice slugging percentage, Gerut is an outstanding all-around fielder, and is a very polished baseball player. The Indians may have found themselves a core player.

Ricky Gutierrez (Age 33) Infielder

CLE 33 AB, .242/.316/.333, 3 2B, 0 HR

2003 Salary: $3.916M

Signed through: 2004 (TO for 2005)

Coming back from the spinal injury last year is very commendable, but it remains to be seen if he’ll be a useful infielder, much less worth the money he’s getting this year and next year. He no longer has the range to play short, and doesn’t have enough power to play third on a regular basis, so he’ll probably be an expensive utility player until his contract is up.

Travis Hafner (Age 26) Designated Hitter/First Baseman

CLE 104 AB, .221/.289/.423, 9 2B, 4 HR

BUF 85 AB, .294/.459/.412, 4 2B, 0 HR

2003 Salary: $302,200

Signed through: 2003 (Renewable Contract)

Hafner started slow, got injured, and then lost his job to Ben Broussard. With the Lawton injury, Hafner’s going to get a chance to DH for at least a month. In his short rehab stint at Buffalo, he took 25! walks along with 23 SO. In a perfect world, the Indians would like Hafner to DH, as his first base skills are marginal at best. But with Lawton presumably returning next year, he may have to beat out Broussard in order to get playing time

Tim Laker (Age 33) Backup Catcher

CLE 93 AB, .247/.278/.387, 7 2B, 2 HR

2003 Salary: $400,000

Signed through: 2003 (Arbitration Eligible)

A pretty serviceable backup, especially considering all he’s went through in the past year. Whether he’ll be back next year will depend on what role the Indians see Josh Bard playing, which is hopefully the backup to Victor Martinez.

Matt Lawton (Age 31) Designated Hitter/Stationary Object

CLE 311 AB, .248/.342/.434, 16 2B, 14 HR

2003 Salary: $6.75M

Signed through: 2005

Matt was on his way to having a career year, and thoughts began flying around that Shapiro could trade him if he ate his Wheaties. But, alas; Lawton dislocated a finger while swinging a bat, and is out until the middle to end of August. So it looks like the long-awaited trade may have to wait until 2004. While Lawton is a nice bat to have in the lineup, his being here really doesn’t mesh with what the Indians are doing.

Update (9-15-03): Lawton is done for the season, as his finger still hasn’t healed. Meh.

Ryan Ludwick (Age 25) Corner Outfielder/DH

PCL (OKL) 317 AB, .303/.372/.558, 24 2B, 17 HR

2003 Salary: $300,000

Signed through: 2003 (Renewable Contract)

Picked up from the Rangers for Shane Spencer and Ricardo Rodriguez, Ludwick is a much needed right-handed power bat. Rodriguez is a steep price to pay, but he’s displayed legitimate power numbers through every stop in the minors, and gives the Indians something they really didn’t have before. He isn’t the on-base machine that Hafner can be, but probably projects as having a bit more power. For now, he’ll alternate between the outfield and DH, one more piece of Shapiro’s master plan to acquire every masher the Rangers have.

Victor Martinez (Age 24) Catcher

CLE 26 AB, .231/.259/.308, 2 2B, 0 HR

BUF 274 AB, .328/.395/.474, 19 2B, 7 HR

2003 Salary: $300,000

Signed through: 2003 (Renewable Contract)

Victor had absolutely nothing to prove offensively in Buffalo, so now he’s in the majors. Thus far, Victor has seen a lot of off-speed pitches, as his reputation has preceded him to Cleveland. When (not if) he adjusts, he’ll be one of the best offensive catchers in the league. His defensive game is not as good as Bard’s is, but he’s closed the gap a little, which should be enough to make him the permanent catcher.

John McDonald (Age 28) Utility Infielder

CLE 123 AB, .252/.288/.341, 6 2B, 1 HR

2003 Salary: $314,400

Signed through: 2003 (Arbitration Eligible)

The same rules apply to John as has been his entire career:

1) He’s an outstanding defensive player

2) He can’t hit for average or for power

So he’ll remain a weekend warrior with Cleveland until he gets too expensive, which may start happening soon, if he does in fact qualify for arbitration. With Vizquel’s recent knee problems and Phillips’ recent demotion, this may be John’s last chance to play everyday in an Indians uniform.

Jhonny Peralta (Age 21) Shortstop/Third Baseman

CLE 34 AB, .176/.222/.176, 0 2B, 0 2B

BUF 237 AB, .257/.310/.329, 12 2B, 1 HR

2003 Salary: $300,000

Signed through: 2003 (Renewable Contract)

Peralta is probably the most underrated prospect in the system, partly because he came from the DSL, and partly because no one really knows at what position he’s going to end up. Right now, he’s the youngest position player in the American League, and he really isn’t ready yet. He has the range and arm to play third or short, but he may grow out of shortstop and develop enough power to play the hot corner. While Vizquel is rehabbing his knee, Peralta will suffice defensively at short, and won’t hit. Don’t write him off, though; in a couple years, you might not recognize the finished product.

Brandon Phillips (Age 22) Second Baseman

CLE 280 AB, .211/.242/.307, 13 2B, 4 HR

2003 Salary: $300,900

Signed through: 2003 (Renewable Contract)

Brandon Phillips was not demoted to Buffalo because of his defense (which was stellar) or his attitude (which was great). He was demoted because he had huge holes in his swing, and they needed to be fixed in a low-pressure environment. Too many times we expect plug-and-play pieces to the puzzle direct from the minors, but in most cases, prospects take a while (and sometimes a demotion) to become what we think they’ll be. In retrospect, the Indians got a little greedy with Phillips, and should have let him spend a couple months in Buffalo perfecting his swing before calling him up to Cleveland. They did this with Victor Martinez, although for a different reason. True, seeing John McDonald at second everyday may frustrate fans (me included), but it will pay off in the long run, when games will actually mean something more beyond player development opportunities.

Angel Santos (Age 23) Middle Infielder

PAW 228 AB, .237/.340/.355, 9 2B, 6 HR

2003 Salary: $300,000

Signed through: 2003 (Renewable Contract)

The PTBNL from the Jamie Brown trade to Boston, Santos is a very interesting prospect. He’ll take a walk, will hit for power, and is young enough to allow for some improvement. Added to the 40-man Roster in the wake of Ricky Gutierrez having more problems with his spinal cord, he should provide what Gutierrez did for a fraction of the cost, and could eventually make John McDonald expendable. And he’s 10 times better than…

Zach Sorensen (Age 26) Utility Player/Placeholder

CLE 22 AB, .182/.280/.316, 0 2B, 1 HR

2003 Salary: $300,000

Signed through: 2003 (Renewable Contract)

He can’t hit, and he isn’t known for his glove, so why is he up here? Well, mainly because the Indians don’t want to bring a real prospect up only to have him sit on the bench, and because he can easily be outrighted at a moments’ notice. Or maybe Shapiro wanted to validate the 1998 Draft by bringing up the 2nd Round pick up. Well, CC Sabathia was the 1st Round pick in 1998, so it can’t be that. Maybe it’s because he can play a zillion positions and isn’t really good at any of them. In other words, Bill Selby’s successor. Ugh.

Omar Vizquel (Age 36) Shortstop

CLE 231 AB, .255/.332/.351, 12 2B, 2 HR

2003 Salary: $5.75M

Signed through: 2004 (Mutual Option for 2005)

Vizquel is out at least a month with a knee problem, the latest victim of the contagious Veteran Disease that’s ravished this team. In all probability, Vizquel will be back for the 2004 season, but it’s doubtful he’ll stick around beyond that. He’s still a magician at short, but he’s lost a step or two, and the average will probably continue to decline. It would be nice to have at least one of the main cogs of the mid-90s teams to retire as an Indian, though I have a feeling Omar wants to stick around as long as he can play. Regardless, it’s still a pleasure to watch Vizquel play the game. If he played 10 years ago, he’d have a ticket to the Hall of Fame, but with today’s slugger shortstops, he’s a marginal candidate at best.

(Originally posted on June 27, 2003 at this address)

Part I: Cleaning Out Shapiro’s Closet

In one of the more bizarre trades in recent memory, Mark Shapiro moved Karim Garcia and Dan Miceli for apparently nothing more than a small sum of cash or an insignificant player. According to most accounts, Garcia was the player Shapiro was interested in trading, and Miceli was added to get the deal done. (For our purposes, I’ll ignore Miceli as the basis for this trade, as he’s pretty much proven over the course of his career that he’s your garden-variety reliever.) It’s pretty obvious that the deal was done to clear space on the 25-man roster, rather than a salary dump. Coco Crisp was going to be squeezed off the 25-man roster, so Shapiro had a couple of questions to answer:

1) Was Karim Garcia a long-term solution for the Indians?

2) If not, is any increased trade value accrued by playing Garcia worth Coco spending that time in Buffalo?

Obviously, Shapiro answered “no” to the first question. Garcia would have been arbitration-eligible at the end of the year, and eligible for free agency after the 2004 season. It obviously wasn’t worth playing Garcia for two years, taking playing time away from Sizemore, Crisp, Church, and Escobar and seeing Garcia walk just before the team was ready to contend again. This also was an evaluative question as well; Even with Garcia’s monster second-half last year, his career On-Base Percentage is horrendous. The track record for impatient sluggers is not a good one. Note that I’m not equating impatience with strikeouts; rather with the lack of walks. When pitchers figure out that Garcia will swing at just about anything near the strike zone, what’s stopping them from avoiding throwing one close?

Question 2 was tough to answer. If Shapiro had played Garcia for a month, and Karim hit 8 or 9 home runs, the trade value for him would have been much higher, no doubt about it. But was it worth keeping Coco Crisp in Buffalo for a month on the off chance that Karim became a valuable commodity? If Karim was already not in the future plans, why keep him if there’s a possibility of cutting him loose? So the trade happened, and Karim joined a cast of thousands in the Yankee outfield.

And so Coco Crisp will get to play everyday, whether that be in left field or as the designated hitter. If he takes this opportunity to assert himself as a major weapon at the top of the order, the trade will have been a success. Only time will tell, and the Indians have the luxury of taking it.

Part II: A Short Introduction to the Minors

I’ve received a couple suggestions that I include statistics with the player profile, and I’ve started to do so. For some examples, visit the profiles of Milton Bradley, Alex Escobar, and Danys Baez. I’m just not capable of typing out everything about the player, so I stuck to the basics: AB, BA/OBP/SLG, HR, 2B, and SB for the hitters, and IP, ERA, SO, and BB for the pitchers (I may add opponents’ BA in the future for the pitchers). I’ve also included their age (very important for evaluating prospects), as well as an abbreviation of the league they’re in. Some may recognize the abbreviations, but the vast majority of you probably don’t. So here’s a quick introduction to the minor league system, starting at AAA.


International League (IL)

Pacific Coast League (PCL)

The Indians’ AAA affiliate is the Buffalo Bisons, and they play in the International League. For the most part, AAA is made up of older players that have been in professional baseball for a while. While the Indians were in contention in the late 1990s, Buffalo was stocked with older pitchers and hitters (Jeff Manto, Jason Jacome, Dave Burba, etc) that management could call up and plug in if needed. Recently however, Buffalo’s roster has been almost entirely made up of players 25 years old or younger (Victor Martinez, Coco Crisp, Jhonny Peralta, Cliff Lee, etc). The average age in AAA is around 23 to 25.


Eastern League (EAST)

Southern League (SOU)

Texas League (TEX)

The Indians’ AA affiliate is the Akron Aeros, and they play in the Eastern League. In recent years, a lot of clubs kept their top prospects here and then sent them to the majors, avoiding AAA. The Indians haven’t necessarily followed this model, although they have made exceptions (Jason Davis, CC Sabathia). The average age is usually 22-23. Grady Sizemore is 20, and he’s more than holding his own; this is why he’s considered a very good prospect, and why other older players putting up similar numbers aren’t.

A+ (Advanced A)

Carolina League (CAR)

California League (CAL)

Florida State League (FSL)

The Indians’ A+ affiliate is the Kinston Indians of the Carolina League. These players could have come directly from the short-season leagues, or from the full season Low A leagues. Usually players are 21-22 years old, although you’ll see some older college players here. The jump from here to AA is probably the most difficult jump in professional baseball, so this is where you separate the real prospects from the pretenders.

A- (Low A)

South Atlantic League (SAL)

Midwest League (MID)

The Indians’ A- affiliate is the Lake County Captains of the South Atlantic League (although they may move to the Midwest League next year). This is the lowest full-season league in professional baseball. Many of these players come from the short-season leagues, and are experiencing a full season for the first time. Players are usually 19-21 years old, although again you’ll see older college players.

SSA (Short-season A)

New York-Penn League (NYPL)

Northwest League (NWL)

The Indians’ SSA affiliate is the Mahoning Valley Scrappers of the New York-Penn League. The season starts in mid-June, just after the draft. The vast majority of players in SSA come from college programs, most of them 20-21 years old.

R+ (Advanced Rookie)

Appalachian League (APP)

Pioneer League (PIO)

The Indians’ Advanced Rookie affiliate is the Burlington Indians of the Appalachian League. The season stats in mid-June, just after the draft. Most of the players at Burlington are high school picks, graduates of the Dominican and Venezuelan academies, as well as a few JUCO draft picks. Because the Indians do not have a “Low Rookie” team, a lot of high school picks and DSL/VSL products are playing against players 1-2 years older.

R- (Low Rookie)

Gulf Coast League (GCL)

Arizona League (AZL)

The Indians do not have a Low Rookie team. Most players in the GCL and AZL are very raw high school or DSL/VSL players 18-19 years old.

Foreign Academies

Dominican Summer League (DSL)

Venezuelan Summer League (VSL)

The Indians have two DSL teams and one VSL team. These players are usually 16-18 years old, and can only spend a maximum 3 years in the academies.

(Originally posted on July 18, 2003 at this address)


In creating the Cleveland Indians Compendium, I strived to give Indians fans a resource that had been sorely lacking – a clear, concise record of the Cleveland Indians organization. Nothing more, and nothing less. To that end, there is very little editorial influence at work in this site; mundane transactions and rosters don’t show any bias at all. However, I still wanted to create some sort of way of communicating to the readers of this site, some sort of “owner’s manual” to the Compendium, as I realize that not everybody who comes upon this site understands all the arcane symbols and procedures of professional baseball. To that end, I’ve decided to add a weekly column to supplement the “hard content.” It’s going to be a fairly eclectic effort; included will be commentary on current Indians issues, transaction guides, baseball philosophy, as well as news that I can’t communicate through the site itself. If you’re hungry for daily Tribe news, I heartily suggest perusing the outstanding Cleveland Indians Report.

Part I: Baseball Objectivity

I started following the Cleveland Indians when they were probably at their worst point – the middle to late 1980s. The Hank Peters/John Hart plan hadn’t yet started to take shape, and the talk about the Indians moving elsewhere was getting louder. But I was 6 years old, so none of it mattered to me. All I cared about were wins and losses. If they somehow won, I was elated, and if they lost… When Joe Carter, my favorite Indian, was traded, I felt betrayed. Little did I know that two of the players the Indians received from the Padres, Carlos Baerga and Sandy Alomar, would help lead the Indians to the World Series.

Short-term thinking plagues us all from time to time, and especially in sports. We want our teams to win now, no matter what the long-term effects. But in order to truly understand what’s best for a team, you have to consider the long-term ramifications of an action. When John Hart traded Brian Giles to the Pittsburgh Pirates to get LOOGY Ricardo Rincon, few questioned the move. The Indians were still in the midst of winning division titles, fans were hungry to get back to the World Series, and getting a left-handed reliever was a step towards that goal. Instant gratification won out over long-term success. Today most lament that fateful trade, and some compare it to the infamous Rocky Colavito deal. Last June, when Mark Shapiro effectively ended the Indians’ 9-year contending run by trading ace Bartolo Colon to the Montreal Expos, the media and fan backlash was stinging. Yet one year later, most in Tribe Nation consider the Colon trade one of Shapiro’s better moves. Time blurs opinions and perceptions, so how can you separate the competing short-term and long-term goals?

This is where what I term “Baseball Objectivity” comes in. Whenever the Indians make a move, I ask two questions: How does this help (or hurt) the Indians this season? and How does this help (or hurt) the Indians in three to five years? However, these two questions will not carry the same weight. In the mid-‘90s, the short-term help would outweigh any long-term hurt inflicted on the organization. Likewise, any move made this year is almost exclusively applied to a long-term standard. Now let’s apply the Bartolo Colon trade to this test. First, some background:

Contract Particulars: Colon was signed through the 2003 season. The salary was not an issue. Re-signing him was doubtful

Trade Value: Montreal was willing to give up three of their top prospects, two of which were within a year of the majors

Team Outlook (Short-term): Out of contention in 2002

Team Outlook (Long-term): Poor farm system. High payroll for their market size. Much of the core past its prime.

How does this affect the Indians in the short-term? Cleveland loses a 20-game winner, so of course it hurt the Indians.

How does this affect the Indians in the long-term? The Indians infuse three blue-chip prospects into their system, and have two of them contribute right away. The full impact of the trade won’t be felt until a 2004 or 2005, when all three are in Cleveland and beginning to reach their potential.

If you make the assumption that Colon would not have signed with the Indians after the 2003 season, Cleveland received 6 years of Brandon Phillips, Cliff Lee, and Grady Sizemore for 1.5 years of Bartolo Colon. Now of course the big question will be how productive those 18 combined years will be, but from all accounts, the players in question haven’t given me any reason to doubt that they will be major contributors to the next good Indians team.

Had the Indians had a decent farm system, or had their payroll been significantly lower, I don’t think Shapiro would have made the trade. But something had to have been done, or else the Indians would have resembled a frame-by-frame train wreck, with pieces slowly coming off until nothing remained but spare parts and a rusted-out chasis. The Detroit Tigers and Baltimore Orioles are good examples of teams that tried to keep it together too long.

By balancing the short-term and long-term goals, and keeping in mind what’s the most important at that particular time, you can get a better feel of what the Front Office of the Indians are thinking, because they have to do the use the same criteria when make financial and personnel decisions. This column will reflect this when examining player decisions the Indians have made and will make, so hopefully this can give you some understanding of where I’m coming from in future analyses.

Part II: A Beginner’s Guide to the Rule 5 Draft, Options, Arbitration, and Free Agency

Why those four aspects of baseball language? Because they represent the main reason why 40-man rosters exist, why 25-man rosters exist, and why Scott Boras is a very rich man. The easiest way to explain all of these is to create a fictitious ballplayer.

Let us imagine a high school pitcher named Roy Sanders. He’s 18 years old on June 3rd of this year, the day he was drafted by the Cleveland Indians. Roy now has 4 seasons (including this one) to make it to the 40-man roster, or he’ll be exposed to the Rule 5 Draft. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s see what happened to Roy after he was drafted:

6-3-03: Drafted by the Cleveland Indians (3rd Round)

6-19-03: Signed a minor-league contract (not added to the 40-man roster. Jeremy Guthrie signed a major-league contract, and is currently on the 40-man roster)

6-19-03: Assigned to Burlington (R)

Started 2004 in Lake County (A-)

5-26-04: Placed on the Disabled List (elbow)

(uh-oh. Roy had surgery on that elbow and missed an entire year)

5-26-05: Reinstated from the Disabled List (Lake County)

8-1-05: Promoted to Kinston (A+)

7-31-06: Promoted to Akron (AA)

Now the Indians have a big decision to make. Roy is now eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, since he was younger than 19 when drafted. (players 19 and older have only three years to make the 40-man roster before they’re eligible.) Cleveland decides to risk leaving him off the 40-man roster, since the highest level he’d pitched at was AA, and that was only for a month. They transfer him to AAA Buffalo, making him ineligible for selection in the minor-league part of the Rule 5 Draft. If he’d have been selected in that part, he wouldn’t have to be kept on the major-league roster, and he’d probably be long gone from the Indians. They make this decision in November, when they finalize their 40-man roster. They cannot add any minor-league players to the roster until the Rule 5 Draft has taken place, usually in early December.

11-20-06: Transferred to Buffalo (AAA)

The Winter Meetings are held in Arizona in December, and the Rule 5 Draft is held on December 6th. The Texas Rangers, having a desperate need for pitching, select Sanders in the Rule 5 Draft. They add him to their 40-man roster, and invite him to Spring Training in Arizona. Message board posters go crazy.

12-6-06: Taken by the Texas Rangers in the Rule 5 Draft (1st Round)

12-6-06: Contract Purchased by the Texas (In other words, added to the 40-man Roster)

Sanders enters the Rangers’ camp in February 2007. The Rangers have to keep Sanders on their 25-man roster for the entire 2007 season, or they have to offer him back to the Indians for a nominal fee. With this being his first big-league camp, Sanders struggles, and even the Rangers have no choice but to offer him back to Cleveland. Or so they thought. Tampa Bay was interested in Sanders, and offered to trade a 35-year old AA catcher for him. The Rangers gladly accepted.

3-25-07: Designated for Assignment (Removed him from the 40-man roster. The Rangers have 10 days to trade him, pass him through waivers, or release him)

3-29-07: Traded to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for J.A. Mierzynski

The same rules apply: Tampa Bay still has to keep him on their 25-man roster for the entire season. But, Sanders caused Lou Piniella to lose his last hair during a shellacking, so the Rays finally gave up on him. This time, no one else wanted him, and he passed through waivers. The Indians, eager to get back a former prospect, accepted him back and sent him to Akron so that he could un-learn those crazy mechanics he acquired over the past couple months.

5-1-07: Designated for Assignment

5-11-07: Offered Back to the Cleveland Indians

5-11-07: Returned to the Cleveland Indians; Assigned to Akron (AA) (note: he is no longer on the 40-man roster)

After about a month, he started to dominate the Eastern League, so…

6-19-07: Promoted to Buffalo (AAA)

After the 2007 season, the Indians place Sanders on the 40-man roster, ending his eligibility for the Rule 5 Draft

11-20-07: Contract Purchased by Cleveland

Here’s what happened to Sanders over the next two seasons:

3-31-08: Optioned to Buffalo (AAA) – (Used up 1 of 3 option years)

5-9-08: Recalled by Cleveland

8-5-08: Optioned to Buffalo (AAA)

9-1-08: Recalled by Cleveland

3-30-09: Optioned to Buffalo (AAA) – (Used up 2 of 3 option years)

6-8-09: Recalled by Cleveland

Sanders stayed in Cleveland the remainder of the 2009 season, and the entire 2010 season, using up the third and final option year. So when he fell apart in Spring Training, the Indians couldn’t option him to the minors without passing him through waivers. So they kept him as their 12th pitcher and used him only in blowouts. He found his stuff in August, however, and became an integral part of the Indians’ 7th straight Central Division crown. His agent was happy too, for Roy had finally accumulated enough service time (three seasons) that he was eligible for arbitration. Scott Boras naturally rejected the Indians’ offer of a one-year, $900,000 contract to be the team’s second LOOGY. So they went to arbitration:

12-15-11: Offered Arbitration by Cleveland

1-5-12: Arbitrator set 2012 Contract at $1.1M

Now able to buy that Westlake house, Sanders pitched Orosco-like in 2012. After the season, the Indians offered him a two-year, $3.0M deal to take him through his final two arbitration-eligible years. Even Scott Boras couldn’t say no to that offer.

12-13-13: Signed to a two year, $3.0M extension

After two more seasons of mystifying lefties, Sanders was finally able to become a free agent. The Indians, having already found their next LOOGY, declined to keep him, so Sanders tested the free agent waters:

10-30-14: Declared Free Agency

11-29-14: Signed a 3-year, $9M contract with the Boston Red Sox

Red Sox Nation went crazy over the signing, declaring the now 100-year drought over. However, Sanders lost a couple miles off his fastball, got smacked around a couple times by the Yankees, began getting death threats, and quietly finished his career in Colorado after being traded in a salary dump:

12-7-15: Traded to the Colorado Rockies for Mike Neagle

10-31-17: Retired from baseball

And there you have it, the career of an average major-league player. Hopefully it’s beginning to make sense to you, but if it isn’t, give it some time: the game of baseball is a language unto itself, and learning the transaction lingo is like learning an exotic dialect. Try perusing some of the current profiles on this site, and eventually everything should start to come together.


Family Reunion Footage

These 16mm films were made by Jane Golding between 1949 and 1955. This first video contains the entire set, with background music added. Most of the footage is of Jane’s vacations in the Western US and Canada.

This second video is the section of the film (without background music) that contains the family reunion, with timestamps listed below.


9:19 Family Reunion footage begins

9:27 (possibly) Naomi Morgan in the red dress in the background.

9:30 Phil (boy in black shirt) and Thomas (man in blue shirt looking at camera)

10:00 Velma (Golding) Uhrig (in white hat) and Benton Uhrig (man in foreground look back towards camera)

10:04 Jean (Uhrig) Richards (girl in red, white and blue dress)

10:20 Jean by the lake

10:23 Mary (Uhrig) Bradbury carrying John Uhrig

10:31 On left: Mary, holding John Uhrig

           On right: Betty (Uhrig) Taylor, holding stick, Jean

           In center: unknown girl (in pigtails)

10:36 Mary walking John towards the camera, with Jean, Betty, and unknown girl in background

10:38 Betty, Jean, and unknown girl

10:42: Velma, Jean seated on lap of either John Golding or Bert Golding