SBD/February 13, 2013/Franchises

Indians' Addition Of Bourn Caps Busy Offseason That Has Put Buzz Back Into Team

The Indians are no longer a "boring, hapless and hopeless team," but rather one "worthy of attention from the fans” after several big offseason moves, including the additions of CF Michael Bourn, RF Nick Swisher and 3B Mark Reynolds, according to Terry Pluto of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. That is in addition to new "big-time manager" Terry Francona. Indians Owner Larry Dolan and his front office "knew they had to be bold this winter, that they could not return with the same old Indians." The team has "decided it’s time to spend, and they are spending.” Club execs likely "overpaid for Bourn, just as they did with Swisher." However, the Indians "would not have signed either without the extra year -- and without committing a guaranteed $104 million for these two guys over the next four seasons." The payroll entering Spring Training is around $80-85M, up from $65M last year. The team got $240M by selling SportsTime Ohio to Fox, but it is not "pocketing all the cash from this and the new national TV deal." The front office is instead "investing it in players and, yes, a manager" (CLEVELAND.com, 2/12). ESPN’s Pablo Torre said the Indians are a team “that didn’t have to spend a ton of money, and they did.” The $117M they spent on free agents this offseason is “14 times what they spend in 2011." Torre: "They hadn’t broken double-digits in the previous three seasons.” ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan said the Indians “didn’t overpay for guys, so I figure anytime you try to improve your team without overpaying, that’s a step in the right direction” ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 2/12). MLB Network's Kevin Millar said, "They're the fourth team to spend over $100M behind the Dodgers and the Angels and … the Tigers. You got to be excited about this” (“Intentional Talk,” MLB Network, 2/12). A Cleveland PLAIN DEALER editorial stated it "may be time to drop the charge" that Indians Chair & CEO Paul Dolan and his family are "too tight with a buck” (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 2/13).

SNOWBALL EFFECT: ESPN’s Pedro Gomez noted the signing of Bourn is “all a big part of the big winter makeover for the Indians.” Francona said of the direction of the team, “Whatever the plan was, I was going to buy into [it]. If they wanted to go young or whatever, I told them, ‘I’ll try to do the best I can with whatever you ask me to do.’” But Francona added the “winter has kind of snowballed a little bit, and we’ve gained some momentum and some good things have happened” (“Baseball Tonight,” ESPN2, 2/12).
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