Mark Shapiro's greatest hits and misses

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With Mark Shapiro being bumped upstairs by the Indians, here’s a look at his best and worst moves in his nine seasons at the helm in Cleveland:
Hits
June 27, 2002 – Indians acquired SS Brandon Phillips, LHP Cliff Lee, OF Grady Sizemore and 1B Lee Stevens from the Expos for RHP Bartolo Colon and RHP Tim Drew.

The greatest haul of the decade. Expos GM Omar Minaya had nothing to lose at the time and gave up arguably his three best prospects in an effort to take his team to the playoffs. As it turned out, all three of youngsters went on to reach their ceilings, though the Indians did give up on one of them too early.
Dec. 6, 2002 – Indians acquired 1B Travis Hafner and RHP Aaron Myette from the Rangers for RHP Ryan Drese and C Einar Diaz.
I still remember seeing this materializing as a rumor and thinking some reporter was dreaming. Hafner was behind Mark Teixeira in Texas, but the team would have had room for both. Instead, new Rangers GM John Hart did a big favor for the youngster who had just replaced him in Cleveland.
June 30, 2006 – Indians acquired INF Asdrubal Cabrera from the Mariners for 1B Eduardo Perez.
July 26, 2006 – Indians acquired OF Shin-Soo Choo and LHP Shawn Nottingham from the Mariners for 1B Ben Broussard and cash.

In the span of a month, Shapiro turned a mediocre first-base platoon into two building blocks. If things look rather bleak for the Indians now, think of how bad it’d be if Bill Bavasi never got the Mariners GM job.
July 26, 2008 – Indians acquired C Carlos Santana and RHP Jonathan Meloan from the Dodgers for 3B Casey Blake and cash.
This one hasn’t paid off yet, but it will, even though Meloan proved to be a bust. Santana is one of the game’s top three prospects, and he could well be a new Victor Martinez for the Indians. It was an awesome return for a decent regular who was two months away from free agency.
March 15, 2006 – Indians signed OF Grady Sizemore to a six-year, $23.45 million contract extension with a club option for 2012.
I’ll give this the fifth spot over the similar Martinez extension (five years, $15.5 million) and the Coco Crisp acquisition (Crisp and 1B Luis Garcia from the Cardinals for a half-season of a soon-to-retire Chuck Finley).


Misses
July 11, 2007 – Indians signed DH Travis Hafner to a four-year, $57 million contract extension through 2012.

Hafner had just concluded a three-year run in which he finished second, second and first in the AL in OPS, but the Indians simply didn’t need to make this move, as the designated hitter was already under control for 2008 at the bargain price of $4.75 million. Because of his dramatic decline, the contract was a franchise killer before it even kicked in with the start of the 2009 season.
April 7, 2006 – Indians acquired RHP Jeff Stevens from the Reds for 2B/SS Brandon Phillips.
Phillips was brutal as a regular for the Indians as a 22-year-old in 2003, and he received just 33 major league at-bats over the following two seasons. Out of options in 2006, the team gave him away, and he’s hit .276/.324/.452 in the four seasons since.
Jan. 5, 2004 – Indians acquired LHP Scott Stewart from the Expos for OF Ryan Church and INF Maicer Izturis.
The Indians had a wealth of young position players at the time, and they didn’t see either Church or Izturis turning into regulars for the team. However, both went on to become quality role players. Stewart, on the other hand, lasted less than two months in the Cleveland bullpen and never pitched in the majors after 2004.
June 7, 2004 – Indians selected LHP Jeremy Sowers with the sixth pick in the 2004 draft.
Shapiro had just one top-10 draft pick during his Indians tenure, and he opted to go conservative and use it on the polished Sowers, a Vanderbilt product considered a future No. 3 starter by most.
In truth, not one of Shapiro’s 13 first- and supplemental first-round picks has done much of anything to help the Indians. The last two — Lonnie Chisenhall and Alex White — still offer plenty of promise and David Huff is currently in the rotation, but Michael Aubrey, Trevor Crowe and Beau Mills have all been big disappointments and Jeremy Guthrie didn’t experience any success until leaving the organization.
April 5, 2007 – Indians signed RHP Jake Westbrook to a three-year, $33 million contract extension through 2010.
It was a fair price to retain a very reliable starter, but Westbrook, who looked like a fine bet to stay healthy, was limited to five starts in the first two years of the deal. Obviously, in hindsight, the Indians would have far better off holding back the money and putting it into an offer to retain either CC Sabathia or Lee.

The Chicago Cubs dramatically jack up ticket prices

Wrigley Field
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The Cubs won the World Series. Now Cubs fans are going to pay through the nose for the privilege of going to games at Wrigley Field: The club has raised season ticket prices for 2017, on average, 19.5%. The rate increases range from 6% for upper deck seats to 31% for infield club seats.

As a result of the increase, the Chicago Tribune reports, a single infield box seat on the dugout for 81 games will cost $29,089.76, or $359 per game. The cheapest season ticket, for upper-deck outfield seats, is $2,139.20, or $26 per game. Those figures include tax, so it’s practically a bargain.

The Cubs cite “unprecedented demand” for tickets as the reason for the increase. That’s likely true. Cubs tickets are expensive even when they aren’t playing well due to the draw that is Wrigley Field. Indeed, for years, when the product on the field suffered, there was a sense that people would go to the ballpark just for the fun of it in ways that fans rarely if ever do for other teams. The Cubs attendance increased dramatically in 2016 and tickets often experienced an equally dramatic increase on the secondary ticket market. The Cubs would be wise to try to capture as much of that profit as they can rather than see it go to others.

Still, that’s gonna smart for people who can’t afford season tickets and who just want to go to a one-off game with the kids and exacerbates the longstanding trend of baseball tickets becoming luxury items for the well-off.

Minor League Baseball established a political action committee to fight paying players more

DURHAM, NC - JULY 28:  The Chicago White Sox play the Most Valuable Prospects during the championship game of the 2011 Breakthrough Series at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park on July 28, 2011 in Durham, North Carolina.  Most Valuable Prospects won 17-2 over the Chicago White Sox. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)
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Josh Norris of Baseball America reports that Minor League Baseball has established a political action committee to continue fighting against a lawsuit brought by a group of former minor league players seeking increased wages and back pay.

You may recall that, earlier this year, two members of Congress — Republican Brett Guthrie of Kentucky and Democrat Cheri Bustos of Illinois — introduced H.R. 5580 in the House of Representatives. Also known as the “Save America’s Pastime Act,” H.R. 5580 sought to change language in Section 13 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. In doing so, minor leaguers wouldn’t have been covered under a law that protects workers who are paid hourly. Minor League Baseball publicly endorsed the bill. Bustos withdrew her support after receiving widespread criticism.

The whole thing started when Sergio Miranda filed a lawsuit in 2014, accusing Major League Baseball teams of colluding to eliminate competition. The lawsuit challenged the reserve clause, which binds minor leaguers into contracts with their teams for seven years. That suit was dismissed in September 2015. However, another lawsuit was filed in October last year — known as Senne vs. the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball — alleging that minor leaguers were victims of violations of state and federal minimum wage laws. Senne et. al. suffered a setback this summer when U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco dismissed class certification. That essentially meant that the players could not file a class-action lawsuit. As a result, the players’ legal team led by Garrett Broshuis amended their case to only include players who play in one league for an entire season. As Norris notes, that means that the included players’ experiences are uniform enough for inclusion in a class-action lawsuit.

So that’s why Minor League Baseball established a political action committee (PAC). A PAC, for the unfamiliar, is an organization created with the intent of raising money to defeat a particular candidate, legislation, or ballot initiative. In other words, they’re getting serious and want Capitol Hill’s help.

Minor League Baseball president Stan Brand said, “Because of procedurally what has happened in the Congress and the difficulties in getting legislation, we’ve got to adjust to that. We were lucky. We had the ability because of the depth of the relationships and involvement in the communities to not have to worry about that. And now we do, I think. The PAC . . . gives us another tool to re-enforce who we are and why we’re important.”

Norris mentions in his column that Phillies minor league outfielder Dylan Cozens received the Joe Baumann Award for leading the minors with 40 home runs. That came with an $8,000 prize. Cozens said that the prize was more than he made all season. The minor league regular season spanned from April 7 to September 5, about six months. Athletes aren’t paid in the other six months which includes offseason training and spring training. They are also not paid for participating in instructional leagues and the Arizona Fall League. Minor leaguers lack union representation, which is why their fight for fair pay has been such an uphill battle.