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.

What’s on Tap: Previewing Tuesday’s action

New York Mets starting pitcher Matt Harvey (33) delivers during the first inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds, Wednesday, April 27, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
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We’re back to a full slate of games on Tuesday night. The game to watch tonight, especially if you’re a fan of mismatches, is Braves-Mets. The Mets easily handled the Braves on Monday night, winning 4-1. The club blasted three home runs in the first inning off of Mike Foltynewicz, which is nearly as many homers as the Braves have hit all season (five). The Mets went on cruise control from there. Bartolo Colon finished with seven strikeouts over eight shutout innings. Jeurys Familia gave up a run but was able to reach the finish line.

The Braves are now 6-19, a game ahead of the Astros and Twins for the worst record in baseball. It’s not particularly shocking since the Braves have embraced tanking in their final year at Turner Field. How low can they go? The Atlanta record for losses in a season is 106 by the 1988 club. The 1935 Boston Braves went 38-115. The Braves’ current .240 winning percentage would rank as the worst in franchise history — including Atlanta, Boston, and Milwaukee — if the season were to end today.

Tuesday’s pitching match-up features Matt Wisler for the Braves and Matt Harvey for the Mets. The two will square off at 7:10 PM EDT at Citi Field tonight.

The rest of Tuesday’s action…

Detroit Tigers (Justin Verlander) @ Cleveland Indians (Josh Tomlin), 6:10 PM EDT

Chicago Cubs (Jake Arrieta) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Jon Niese), 7:05 PM EDT

New York Yankees (Luis Severino) @ Baltimore Orioles (Chris Tillman), 7:05 PM EDT

Texas Rangers (Martin Perez) @ Toronto Blue Jays (Marco Estrada), 7:07 PM EDT

Arizona Diamondbacks (Patrick Corbin) @ Miami Marlins (Justin Nicolino), 7:10 PM EDT

Los Angeles Dodgers (Scott Kazmir) @ Tampa Bay Rays (Matt Moore), 7:10 PM EDT

San Francisco Giants (Jeff Samardzija) @ Cincinnati Reds (Jon Moscot), 7:10 PM EDT

Boston Red Sox (Steven Wright) @ Chicago White Sox (Jose Quintana), 8:10 PM EDT

Los Angeles Angels (Nick Tropeano) @ Milwaukee Brewers (Junior Guerra), 8:10 PM EDT

Minnesota Twins (Alex Meyer) @ Houston Astros (Collin McHugh), 8:10 PM EDT

Philadelphia Phillies (Aaron Nola) @ St. Louis Cardinals (Michael Wacha), 8:15 PM EDT

Washington Nationals (Tanner Roark) @ Kansas City Royals (Chris Young), 8:15 PM EDT

Seattle Mariners (Hisashi Iwakuma) @ Oakland Athletics (Sonny Gray), 10:05 PM EDT

Colorado Rockies (Eddie Butler) @ San Diego Padres (Andrew Cashner), 10:10 PM EDT

Bryce Harper signs the largest endorsement deal in MLB history

Washington Nationals' Bryce Harper pumps his fist as he takes a curtain call after he hit a grand slam during the third  inning of an baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Thursday, April 14, 2016, in Washington. This was Harper's 100th home run of his career. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
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I figure it’s not that hard to sign the largest endorsement deal in baseball history. In the NBA? Sure. Those deals are insane. But in baseball? Man, we still have major leaguers doing quickie, video taped ads for local car dealerships and sandwich shops and stuff. It would mildly surprise me if I saw a third starter for a .500 team spinning and flipping one of those signs on a street corner near a new apartment complex some day, but I wouldn’t be utterly shocked. It’s just a different set of economics. You can’t really wear baseball shoes out around town. Cleats tend to scuff up the woodwork.

But Bryce Harper is different. He was barely in the league a year before I saw his giant underwear-clad butt in a big glossy ad while walking through the unmentionables department at Macy’s and his Under Armour ads are all over the place. Probably the closest thing we’ve seen to NBA-style shoe exposure in MLB, though it doesn’t quite compare.

It may one day, though: he has reportedly signed a 10-year extension with Under Armour that is believed to be the largest endorsement deal in history for a baseball player. Terms aren’t being disclosed, but they’re claiming that so it’s probably at least plausible.

Baseball players will still never be the kind of product-pushers other athletes are, but Harper is probably the closest thing it’ll get for a while. At the very least he can be the second or third banana in one of those commercials in which stars from various sports do things like shave, drink sports drinks and, I dunno, flex their quads while wearing compression gear. He can be Garfunkel to Steph Curry’s Simon. Or something.

Major League Baseball may cancel the upcoming Puerto Rico series due to Zika concerns

FILE - In this Jan. 27, 2016, file photo, Aedes aegypti mosquito larvae sit in a petri dish at the Fiocruz institute in Recife, Pernambuco state, Brazil. Even before the Zika virus reached crisis levels early this year, Brazil had trouble maintaining routine eradication efforts. An Associated Press investigation found that cities and states in Brazil’s northeast ran out of larvicide for several months last year. The Aedes aegypti mosquito are a vector for the spread of Zika virus. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
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Last month we wrote about how the Pirates and the Marlins are scheduled to play a series in Puerto Rico at the end of May. And how, due to an outbreak of Zika on the island, Pirates and Marlins players have voiced serious concerns. For, among other reasons, Zika precautions are such that those exposed should not engage in procreative sex for several months due to birth defects concerns and baseball players are at an age when doing stuff like having kids is a pretty important thing.

This afternoon Yahoo’s Jeff Passan reports that, while the official line is that the series will still be played, multiple sources with knowledge of the situation are telling him that it’s on “the brink of cancellation.”

It’s understandable though, as Passan notes, it makes politics — both baseball politics and regular politics — with Puerto Rico kind of uncomfortable. And then there’s the concern that Zika could spread to Florida and is already in other countries, which means that the Pirates-Marlins thing is something of a case of first impression which could set precedents beyond just baseball.

That’s understandable, but it’s also a set of concerns that are above the pay grade of baseball players. Personally, it’s hard to blame them for being wary. And this seems like some reasonable wariness, not hysteria.

 

Tigers activate James McCann

Detroit Tigers catcher James McCann blows a bubble while warming up during a spring training baseball workout, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016, in Lakeland, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
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The Tigers have activated catcher James McCann from the 15-day disabled list. He’s been out since April 11 with a sprained ankle.

Whether he has a position is an open question. In his absence Jarrod Saltalamacchia has put up a .947 OPS. That’s weighted somewhat heavily by slugging and some fluky power, but he’s done a good job. At the very least it will cause Brad Ausmus to ease McCann back into the lineup more slowly, possibly in a split role as opposed to a backup/starter relationship.