Maybe “press box” is the wrong term, but SportsBusiness Daily’s Eric Fisher reports on what sounds like a cool little initiative:
The Indians have created the Tribe Social Deck at Progressive Field, one
of the first major efforts under a new social media strategy being
pursued by the club. The 10-seat section in the ballpark bleachers is
being occupied each game by bloggers and other social media users and
influencers with the aim of furthering the Indians’ roots within social
The section has a wireless hookup and a TV monitor. It likely also has beer-availability and no rule against cheering, so I’m struggling to think why I’d rather be in the real press box instead of what sounds like a nice little setup out in the bleachers (which in Cleveland are pretty good seats as far as bleachers go).
According to the article it’s an invitation-only kind of thing, which is probably the only way such a beast can be handled given that there is almost zero barrier-to-entry in becoming a “blogger and other social media user and
influencer.” This creates a tension, of course, in that the folks who sit in this section may feel pressure to spin the team and its efforts in a positive light lest they not be invited back again.
This, however, can be handled. The onus is on the team to make it clear to everyone that they don’t expect pro-team propaganda from the chosen bloggers or tweeters or whatnot. The first time someone comes in and rips the Tribe — fairly, and with at least some sense of decorum of course — and gets invited back again such fears will be put to rest.
Basically, as long as the Indians’ press people are not seen as trying to use the limited access to control the message they will find that letting the bloggers in will work to the team’s advantage, even if the bloggers are critical. Maybe even especially so, as it will send a signal that the team is not oblivious or hyper-sensitive to criticism. Fans will tolerate tons of losing baseball because they’re fans. They won’t tolerate it, however, if their team seems more preoccupied with p.r. than winning.
So. Progressive Field is exactly 137 miles from my house. They’re letting blogger-types into the bleachers, giving them wireless internet and everything. I’m not sure how one gets on the invite list, but I’m thinking road trip.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.
Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.
Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.
Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.
The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.
Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.
Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.
The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.
Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.
Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.
Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.