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.

Drew Smyly brings youth and experience to Mariners rotation

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PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) Trades don’t surprise Drew Smyly anymore.

At age 27, the Seattle Mariners left-hander has been dealt twice. The first swap sent him from the team that drafted and developed Smyly, the Detroit Tigers, to the Tampa Bay Rays in midseason 2014. That trade landed star pitcher David Price in Detroit.

“I was surprised by that one,” Smyly said.

The most recent trade involving him came in January, when the Rays shipped Smyly to Seattle for three prospects in one of many moves by Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto. Smyly immediately joined the Mariners’ projected starting rotation, and is having fun getting to know his new teammates at spring training by way of manager Scott Servais’ clubhouse icebreakers.

Servais thinks Smyly is a solid fit as a still young yet experienced pitcher.

“One, being where he’s at in his career age-wise and service time, he’s kind of at the point where, put him in the right environment … very good defensive outfield, he’s a fly ball guy, maybe he does step up and take the next step,” Servais said. “Getting out of the American League East certainly should help him, but there’s no guarantees. Our division’s pretty tough.”

Servais suggested that another Arkansas native, ex-big leaguer Cliff Lee, might have helped sell Seattle on Smyly. Lee is a former Mariner and the two share an agent.

Smyly went 7-12 in a career-high 30 starts last season in Tampa, but won five games from July 30 to the end of the season after starting out 2-11. From May 21 to July 18, he lost seven straight starts.

“Pitching’s tough, you know,” Smyly said. “To manipulate the ball, to make it do different things, to put it in the strike zone with hitters that know what they’re doing. … I just had a rough stretch but I show up at the field every day, play catch and work on my craft and you know, that’s going to turn around one day.”

The 32 home runs Smyly surrendered in 2016 figure to be reduced in Seattle’s pitcher-friendly Safeco Field.

“It can only help,” he said. “But it’s still going to be up to me to execute pitches and pitch well.”

Smyly is set to join the U.S. World Baseball Classic team shortly. Before that, he’ll make his first spring training start in the middle of next week.

“It’s an honor to be able to put your country on your chest and play with some of the guys on that team,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it big time.”

NOTES: Servais plans to roll out what figures to be Seattle’s opening day lineup in the spring training opener Saturday against San Diego. It’s OF Jarrod Dyson, SS Jean Segura, 2B Robinson Cano, DH Nelson Cruz, 3B Kyle Seager, OF Mitch Haniger, 1B Dan Vogelbach, C Mike Zunino and OF Leonys Martin. … Servais said Cano and Cruz will play a little more than is typical for early spring games, as the two will depart for the World Baseball Classic in early March. … LHP Ariel Miranda will start Saturday, then RHP Chris Heston Sunday, RHP Yovani Gallardo on Monday and ace Felix Hernandez on Tuesday.

Mitt Romney’s sons are trying to buy a stake in the Yankees

TAMPA, FL - AUGUST 30:  Tagg Romney son of Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney gives an interview during the final day of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 30, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was nominated as the Republican presidential candidate during the RNC which will conclude today.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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Mitt Romney built his professional life in Massachusetts and was once the governor of the state. As such, it is not surprising that he has long identified as a Red Sox fan. So this has to be troubling to him from a fan’s perspective. From Jon Heyman:

The Romney family is bidding to buy a small stake in the Yankees months after their try for the Marlins stalled. If the deal goes through, it is expected to be $25 million to $30 million per percentage point and thought to be interested in one or two percentage points. The Yankees are valued around $3 billion or more.

The effort is being led by Mitt’s son Tagg, one of his brothers and their business partners. Mitt’s spokesman tells Jon Heyman that he has nothing to do with it personally. Tagg Romney is reported to have been planning a bid for controlling interest in the Marlins, but that has fallen through.

I find this interesting insofar as the M.O. for the Steinbrenners has, for years, been to buy out minority shareholders in the Yankees, not seek more. Indeed, when George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees back in 1973 he held just a bare controlling interest and there were a ton of silent partners, most of which were back in Ohio and knew Steinbrenner from his shipping business. I’ve personally gotten to know some of them over the years as there are a handful of them in Columbus and I crossed paths with them in my legal career. They have almost all been bought out in the past couple of decades. They still get season tickets and World Series rings and stuff. You can tell them by their personalized Yankees plates and the fact that, within the first ten minutes of meeting them, they will tell you that they once owned a piece of the Yankees but got pushed out.

In light of all of that it’s interesting that the Steinbrenners are once again accepting bids for small stakes in the team. Especially from someone whose interest in controlling the Marlins suggests that they do not consider it to be a mere vanity investment. Makes me wonder what the Steinbrenners’ long term plans are.