Big-ticket signings fail to lift Indians in loss

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When the Indians added Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn in free agency, it was supposed to energize the fans and signal the start of a new era. And it probably did help with the latter, if not the former.

However, while neither Swisher nor Bourn went bust in year one in Cleveland, the performances of both left something to be desired. That continued on Wednesday, as both veterans went 0-for-4 in the 3-0 loss to the Rays that resulted in a quick postseason exit for the Indians.

The postseason struggles were nothing new for Swisher, who was routinely attacked for it in New York. Tonight’s 0-for left him with a .165 average and just eight RBI in 158 postseason at-bats. Bourn was playing in his first career postseason game.

Of course, it’s hardly fair to say Swisher and Bourn were signed to carry the Indians, even if their average salaries of $14 million and $12 million, respectively, dwarf those of anyone else on the team (after those $56 million and $48 million deals, the next biggest contract on the Indians is Asdrubal Cabrera’s two-year, $16.5 million pact). They were signed to supplement Cabrera, Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis, not overshadow them. And they did that in the regular season, even if they were modest disappointments. Swisher hit a respectable .246/.341/.423 with 22 homers, but his total of 63 RBI was troubling for someone who spent half of the year batting cleanup. Bourn went from hitting .274/.348/.391 with 42 steals for the Braves in 2012 to batting .263/.316/.360 with 23 steals this year.

As the Indians head into 2014, Swisher will probably remain the best interview, but the team will be built around Santana and Kipnis. Cabrera could well be traded, even though top prospect Francisco Lindor probably isn’t ready to take over at shortstop quite yet. Closer Chris Perez, the fourth highest-paid player, seems sure to exit as well. The Tribe won’t necessarily need Swisher and Bourn to star to remain contenders, but they do have to hope any continued decline is a slow process.

Michael Fulmer likely headed for Tommy John surgery

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Michael Fulmer was the 2016 AL Rookie of the Year Award winner. Last year he had his worst season as a major leaguer, finishing 3-12 with a 4.69 ERA and a 110/46 K/BB ratio in 132 1/3 innings. This spring he has been utterly lost in eight innings of work, getting hit hard and exhibiting diminished velocity. A few days ago, the Tigers shut him down and said they’d work on his mechanics.

Now comes the news that no one wanted to hear: the Tigers have announced that Dr. James Andrews has recommended that he get Tommy John surgery.

Fulmer is said to be seeking a third opinion — before Andrews he had an MRI and team doctors feared the worst — but let’s be real about what’s gonna happen here: Fulmer is going to miss the entire 2019 season and, in all likelihood, a good chunk of 2020 as well.

Tough break for Fulmer, one of the few good pitchers the Tigers had developed in some time.