The Akron Beacon-Journal reports that the Cleveland Indians are on pace to draw around 1.16 million people this year. The problem: The Indians’ front office made a budget that assumed attendance of
Which was actually a conservative assumption, as the team drew 1.766 million last year. A year that was profoundly disappointing and saw the team sell off two if its marquee players — Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez — in mid-season. I’m no economic expert, but assuming a 250K drop in gate was probably pretty smart. But obviously it’s been way worse than that, and the Indians look poised to finish in the red for a second year in row. ”Even with revenue sharing, we won’t break even,” said the team’s V.P. of business operations.
Last year the Tribe dumped salary to try and minimize the losses. Such a move will be much harder this year as two of the biggest contracts — Travis Hafner and Kerry Wood — look to be all but untradeable right now. Grady Sizemore is hurt, but even then, he’s only owed a reasonable $5.6 million this year (though taking the $16.5 million total he’s owed for 2011 and 2012, buyout included, off the books could help). Jake Westbrook is owed $10 million or so. He might be moveable.
But that’s just working around the edges. No matter what happens, it appears that Cleveland is going to continue to hemorrhage money for the time being.
The Angels’ bench is looking woefully thin this winter — so thin, in fact, that manager Mike Scioscia says he’s considering utilizing starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani as a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner on the days he’s not scheduled to pitch.
I’ve never had a pitcher pinch-run,” Scioscia told reporters Saturday. “There’s more bad than good that can come out of it. But Shohei is not just a pitcher. He’s a guy that has the ability to do some of the things coming off the bench, whether it’s pinch-hit or pinch-run, and we’re definitely going to tap into that if it’s necessary, because we feel we’re not putting him at risk. It’s something he’s able to do.
Granted, spring training allows for a certain amount of experimentation before managers and players decide what works best for them, so this may not be the strategy the Angels employ for the entire season. In addition to coming off the bench between starts, Ohtani is also expected to see 2-3 days at DH every week, forcing Albert Pujols to shift over to first base to accommodate the new two-way star.
Ohtani’s hitting prowess has already been well-documented — he has a lifetime .286/.358/.500 batting line from NPB and crushed a batting practice home run during his initial workouts with the team this week — but his skills on the basepaths have received less attention so far. MLB Pipeline describes the 23-year-old phenom as a “well-above average runner” whose speed has yet to manifest stolen bases: he’s nabbed just 13 bases in 17 chances over the last five years. That’s a number Scioscia hopes to see increased this season, though he doesn’t want his ace pitcher making any head-first slides on the basepaths to do so.
To be sure, it’s an unorthodox role for any young player to step into, but if anyone can pull it off, Ohtani can.