Got some controversial news you’d like to take cover from? How about letting it slip on Hall of Fame induction day? That seems to be what is happening here:
As Lukas notes, visually, this is not a big deal. We’re still going to see Wahoo all over the place. But make no mistake: this is a big deal. It’s a significant move which comports pretty nicely with what I have long suspected: Indians management’s desire to slowly, slowly marginalize Chief Wahoo with an eye towards his eventual elimination.
I first floated this idea a couple of years ago when I noticed that, at the Indians’ spring training facility in Goodyear, Arizona, Chief Wahoo is hard to find. The buildings and signage all feature the block C logo and the block C cap is worn far more often during spring training than in the regular season. With the introduction of the Indians’ alternate uniforms in the past few years — alternates that are worn far more often than most teams wear their alternates — my suspicions along these lines have increased.
Of course, the Indians have denied that they are phasing out Wahoo. As I probably would too if I were in their position. They have a large and loyal fan base who has been wearing that odious red-faced mascot on their caps and shirts for decades now. The team doesn’t want to make an abrupt change, with an attendant announcement, which effectively says “hey, fans? You all are racists in our eyes now, ok?” They also don’t want to lose merchandise sales. And to be clear, Wahoo still exists even on the alternate jerseys in the form of a sleeve patch and apparently still will even now that the official logo has changed.
But this fall the Indians surveyed fans about Wahoo. And the heat being brought to bear on the Washington Redskins for their racist name and iconography is no doubt being noticed on Ontario Street up in Cleveland. And, even if they once again deny it today, it’s impossible to see this move as anything other than a further marginalization of Chief Wahoo. One that, in my view, will inevitably lead to his elimination at one point in the not-too-distant future, even if it’s done without a press release or official announcement.
And good for the Cleveland Indians for doing so.
MASN’s Roch Kubatko is reporting that the Orioles have “some level” of interest in free agent outfielder Denard Span. The Nationals did not make a $15.8 million qualifying offer to Span, which means he doesn’t come attached with draft pick compensation unlike other free agents such as Alex Gordon and Dexter Fowler.
Span, who turns 32 in February, hit a solid .301/.365/.431 with five home runs, 22 RBI, 38 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases, but took only 275 plate appearances due to back and hip injuries. He underwent season-ending hip surgery in September but is expected to be ready to participate in spring training.
The Mets and Royals have also reportedly shown interest in Span’s services.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Blue Jays are on the prowl for relievers with closing experience. Ryan Madson is one of the names on their list.
Madson, 35, had a career rebirth with the Royals in 2015. He signed a minor league deal with the club that paid him a salary of $850,000 if he made it back to the majors. Due to a plethora of arm injuries, Madson hadn’t pitched in the majors since Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals as a member of the Phillies. For the Royals, he wound up becoming a crucial member of the bullpen, finishing with a 2.13 ERA and a 58/14 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.
While Madson allowed five runs in 8 1/3 post-season innings, he pitched well when it mattered most, as he hurled three scoreless frames in three appearances in the World Series against the Mets.
Madson has closing experience, with 55 career saves. 32 of them came in 2011 when he took over the closer’s role from Brad Lidge.
After signing Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ, and trading for Jesse Chavez, the Jays have bolstered their rotation but it was reported on Saturday that interim GM Tony LaCava is still focused on upgrading the pitching staff.
ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that free agent pitcher Trevor Cahill is looking for a one-year, bounce-back deal. The Pirates are one of the potential teams he is considering.
It’s no surprise that the Pirates are on Cahill’s list. Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage has garnered a reputation as a miracle worker after turning around the careers of a handful of pitchers, including Edinson Volquez, Francisco Liriano, and J.A. Happ. Volquez parlayed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Pirates into a two-year, $20 million deal with the Royals last December. Liriano signed with the Pirates on a one-year, $1 million contract and turned that into a three-year, $39 million deal. Happ, dealt to the Pirates from the Mariners at the most recent trade deadline, just signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the Blue Jays.
Cahill, once a highly-regarded pitching prospect, has scuffled over parts of seven seasons in the majors. The 27-year-old owns a career 4.13 ERA with a 754/427 K/BB ratio in 1,083 2/3 innings. Cahill had some brief success after signing with the Cubs as a free agent in mid-August, compiling a 2.12 ERA in 11 appearances out of the bullpen.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Blue Jays have narrowed their search for a new general manager down to two candidates: current interim GM Tony LaCava, and Indians vice president of player personnel Ross Atkins. Former Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos resigned last month.
LaCava was promoted to interim GM on November 2 and has already made a handful of moves along with new president Mark Shapiro. The club acquired Jesse Chavez in a trade and signed pitchers Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ to multi-year deals.
Atkins worked under Shapiro in the Indians organization for 15 seasons, so it is no surprise that he is a finalist for the open GM position.