The Cleveland Indians sign Michael Bourn

Indians continue reshaping outfield with Bourn signing

2/12/13 in MLB   |   Dan_B   |   1067 respect

September 3, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves center fielder Michael Bourn (24) dives into home to score a run before the tag by Colorado Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario (20) in the third inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY SportsMichael Bourn finally found a job, and it is center fielder for the Cleveland Indians.

Perhaps seeing their division as weak and vulnerable -- or the American League as a whole -- the Indians have splurged this offseason, signing Bourn for four years and $48 million to join Nick Swisher (four years, $56 million), starter Brett Myers, corner infielder Mark Reynolds and manager Terry Francona as new additions.

Bourn is a two-time All-Star and Gold Glove winner and leads the Major Leagues in steals over the past four seasons. Last year he hit .274 with nine home runs, 57 RBI and 42 steals. 

The Indians now sport one of baseball's most athletic outfields with Bourn, Michael Brantley and Swisher. The team also has flexibility with the speedy Drew Stubbs, acquired in an offseason three-team trade with the Reds and Diamondbacks. 

Cleveland is also especially talented up the middle of the field with young catcher Carlos Santana, shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and Bourn.

In order to sign Bourn, the Indians will need to surrender a draft pick, likely a compensatory pick. Apparently the New York Mets wanted to sign Bourn, and Bourn wanted to go to New York, but the Mets were unwilling to give up their No. 11 overall pick to complete the signing.

Sep 11, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez (30) throws during the first inning against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark.  Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY SportsNow the question is, can Cleveland compete in the AL Central? The Detroit Tigers have to remain the favorites with the likes of Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Prince Fielder in their lineup and a rotation led by Justin Verlander. 

But after Detroit, it is slim pickings in the AL Central. If the Tigers falter, Cleveland could be competing with perpetual Central doormat, Kansas City and its young lineup and revamped rotation for the division. 

Cleveland's Achilles' heel could prove to be its pitching staff. Their rotation will not be one of the best in baseball. To compete the Indians will likely need a bounceback year from Ubaldo Jimenez and for newly-acquired Trevor Bauer to reach the potential that made him the No. 3 pick in the MLB Draft. 

Now that there are two Wild Card spots in each league, Cleveland doesn't need to focus on winning it's division. Instead, thanks to the easier schedule it gets from playing in the Central, the Indians can hope to sneak into the playoffs next to the second place finisher in the highly-competitive AL East or AL West.

Or maybe Cleveland will continue to muddle in the middle of the Central. At worst, the Indians should expect better attendance with the increased spending.
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2/22/13   |   Dan_B   |   1067 respect

Eric_ wrote:
A few things to clarify:

The pick the Indians are giving up is their 3rd rounder. Their first rounder is top 10 protected, and their 2nd rounder was given up when they signed Swisher. The Mets were appealing to MLB to keep their pick if they signed Bourn, arguing that their pick would've been 10th and thus protected had the Pirates signed Mark Appel and not received a compensatory pick.

The Indians probably aren't there yet, but none of their moves seem particularly egregious, especially this one (Bourn at $12 million a year until age 34 is a decent deal) and picking up Bauer. The pitching is the weak spot, but this isn't a strong division, and if Detroit falters (which they almost did last year), it's not out of the realm of possibility. A reasonable expectation would be Cleveland positioning themselves well for 2014.

However, it probably wouldn't result in an attendance increase until 2014. Attendance heavily correlates with winning most of the time, but there's usually a time lag. A good example will be Baltimore. I'm guessing they'll be an attendance bump this year, which didn't really happen last year.

I like the moves Cleveland has made -- especially the Bauer deal. A D-Backs front office guy told me that they soured on Bauer's attitude, but it is tough to give up on that talent. With a full season of Victor Martinez, I see it as less likely that Detroit falters this season like they almost did last though. 

As far as attendance/spending money goes -- Larry Dolan was able to sell the tv rights at the end of 2012 for an absurd amount of money, hence his sudden willingness to spend all of a sudden. And as you point out, attendance is hard to predict -- so many mitigating factors (i.e. the economy) -- but for Cleveland it is hard to go anywhere but up.

Oh, and thanks for the clarification on the draft picks  -- that's what I get for writing quickly and sloppily. All things I've heard indicate the Mets would have lost that appeal.  

2/12/13   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

A few things to clarify:

The pick the Indians are giving up is their 3rd rounder. Their first rounder is top 10 protected, and their 2nd rounder was given up when they signed Swisher. The Mets were appealing to MLB to keep their pick if they signed Bourn, arguing that their pick would've been 10th and thus protected had the Pirates signed Mark Appel and not received a compensatory pick.

The Indians probably aren't there yet, but none of their moves seem particularly egregious, especially this one (Bourn at $12 million a year until age 34 is a decent deal) and picking up Bauer. The pitching is the weak spot, but this isn't a strong division, and if Detroit falters (which they almost did last year), it's not out of the realm of possibility. A reasonable expectation would be Cleveland positioning themselves well for 2014.

However, it probably wouldn't result in an attendance increase until 2014. Attendance heavily correlates with winning most of the time, but there's usually a time lag. A good example will be Baltimore. I'm guessing they'll be an attendance bump this year, which didn't really happen last year.