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.

Pirates sign reliever Eric O’Flaherty

Eric O'Flaherty
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Left-hander Eric O'Flaherty has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Pirates that includes an invitation to spring training.

O’Flaherty was one of the best relievers in the league for the Braves from 2009-2013, posting a combined 1.99 ERA in 249 innings, but Tommy John elbow surgery derailed his career and he struggled for the A’s and Mets in 2015 while dealing with shoulder problems.

It’s tough to know if O’Flaherty is healthy at this point, but the 31-year-old southpaw certainly has a chance to be a nice reclamation project for the Pirates on a no-risk contract.

Mariano Rivera to get his plaque in Monument Park on August 14

Mariano Rivera
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The greatest closer in history is going to get the ultimate honor the New York Yankees bestow on August 14. That’s when Mariano Rivera will get his plaque in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium before a game against the Rays.

There was some chatter in the last year or two about whether the Yankees were somehow lowering their standards out there, what with guys like Tino Martinez getting honored. But if that’s something you care about it won’t matter in this instance. Rivera would’ve been worthy even if the old snobby ways had held and only inner-circle types got a plaque, what with him being a key member of five World Series-winning teams and his status as the all-time saves leader in the regular season and the postseason.

The Yankees retired Rivera’s No. 42 in 2013. He’ll get his plaque in August. Then, on the first ballot for which he is eligible, he’ll be voted into the Hall of Fame, likely with a percentage in the mid-to-high 90s.

Dodgers “trying to trade” Alex Guerrero

Alex Guerrero
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Alex Guerrero is a potentially good right-handed bat without a position to play in Los Angeles, so Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reporting that the Dodgers are “trying to trade” him makes sense.

Guerrero, who signed with the Dodgers out of Cuba for $28 million in October of 2013, spent last season in the majors hitting .233 with 11 homers and a .695 OPS in a part-time role that generated 230 plate appearances. He logged a total of just 355 innings defensively, mostly as a left fielder and third baseman.

Guerrero could be intriguing–particularly to an American League team for whom his defense isn’t much of an issue–because he hit .329 with 15 homers and a 1.113 OPS in 65 games at Triple-A in 2014 and was consistently a .300 hitter with an OPS around 1.000 in Cuba. He’s also 29 years old, so Guerrero is no doubt looking to play regularly.

The New Zealand World Baseball Classic team performs the Haka

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It’s World Baseball Classic time again. Just the qualifying rounds. The actual tournament happens in 2017. Qualifiers will happen in Sydney, Australia, Mexicali, Mexico, Panama City, Panama and Brooklyn, N.Y., periodically, between now and September.

The Sydney round just got underway yesterday, so yes, some actual baseball is going on. As I’ve written and ranted before, the WBC is not my favorite thing that happens in baseball and certainly not the most important thing, but it’s pretty fun. Especially when there are displays of enthusiasm and pageantry and the like.

Such as the Haka, which basically every New Zealand sports team does and which never gets old:

 

Down in Sydney, the Australia, New Zealand, Philippines and South Africa teams are competing in a six-game, modified double-elimination format. In the other three qualifying rounds, Mexico, Czech Republic, Germany, Nicaragua, Colombia, France, Panama, Spain, Brazil, Great Britain, Israel and Pakistan will compete. Each qualifying round puts one representative in the WBC.

Those four qualifiers will compete in the WBC itself against countries that performed well enough in the past that they need not submit to qualifying: Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, United States and Venezuela.

Someone make sure Jon Morosi is well-hyrdrated. It’s gonna be a long year.