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.

Wanna see Yasiel Puig and Dallas Keuchel naked?

Associated Press
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On the one hand, the ESPN Magazine “Body Issue” is a transparent attempt by ESPN to sell magazines via the objectification of the human form in a time of the year when only one major team sport — the one ESPN seems to care about the least, baseball — is active and people are generally not buying a ton of magazines.

On the other hand, unlike “Sports Illustrated’s” swimsuit issue, ESPN objectifies men as well as women, at least making things putatively fair. Oh, and they also, on occasion, put people like Prince Fielder in the thing so as to not exclusively promote unrealistic body standards.

So, on balance: not great and still cynical, but it’s better than its antecedent, and I suppose that’s not nothing.

If you can make your way through the moral and ethical implications of all of this unscathed, feel free to gawk at Yasiel Puig and Dallas Keuchel naked. Here is the link to Puig’s spread, here is the link to Keuchel’s. For what it’s worth, Puig looks like he’s having more fun. Shocker.

A taste, from Puig’s Twitter feed:

Keuchel didn’t tweet out pics of himself in the all together. Like I said: he didn’t seem to have quite as much fun with it.