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Indians sign Nick Swisher

From my perspective, the Indians have been a mess since they traded Cliff Lee for a bag of beans. Last year was a mess with the idiotic re-signing of Grady Sizemore and the miserly approach of the Dolans.

But since they added Terry Francona as the new manager, I have to say I’m impressed with the approach of the front office. The signing of Nick Swisher is excellent news, as he rounds out a lineup that has a legitimate bat at every spot in the order. Yes, a couple of them are strikeout machines, but now they can be parked later in the batting order where their power will be a plus.

I’m still hoping the Tribe moves Chris Perez, not because I have anything against him, but just because closers are overvalued, and they should be able to get real value in return while handing the closer job to Vinnie Pestano.

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Cleveland Indians decline option on Grady Sizemore

Cleveland Indians Grady Sizemore fails to make a diving catch on a hit by Alex Rodriguez during the ninth inning of the Indians MLB American League baseball game in Cleveland, Ohio July 6, 2011. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

Grady Sizemore is now a free agent. The Cleveland Indians declined to pick up Sizemore’s $9 million option for 2012. Meanwhile, they picked up the option for Fausto Carmona for $7 million.

It’s sad to see Sizemore go, as the kid had so much promise and was a 5-tool player before he got hurt. But he’s a shadow of his former self after all the injuries. He doesn’t steal bases and he still has issues with strikeouts and walks. He might be able to rekindle his career with another team, but the Indians just couldn’t afford to take the chance with that much salary.

The Indians need offense, and they can use this money to get some reliable bats and beef up the lineup. The pitching is very solid. They can use some depth with the rotation, but the pitching is the strength of this team. If they can add some consistency to the offense, they can contend in the central division.

Indians trade for Kosuke Fukudome

Chicago Cubs Kosuke Fukudome of Japan flips his bat after hitting a three-run homer scoring Geovany Soto and Tony Campana during the sixth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field on June 16, 2011 in Chicago. Brian Kersey/UPI

It’s better than nothing, and it’s certainly better than the platoon we have out in right field while Shin-Soo Choo is hurt.

Kosuke Fukudome was signed by the Cubs for years ago for a massive amount of money, and he has underperformed. That said, he’s an excellent outfielder and he has a very good on-base percentage. He gives the Tribe a quality outfielder to help them through this rough spot with the injuries to Sizemore and Choo. Not a bad move, and given the Tribe’s track record of spotting talent on other teams, we might be pleasantly surprised.

Tribe was built through trades

Cleveland Indians Grady Sizemore fails to make a diving catch on a hit by Alex Rodriguez during the ninth inning of the Indians MLB American League baseball game in Cleveland, Ohio July 6, 2011. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

Grantland, the new website from ESPN and Bill Simmons, has an article from Rany Jazayerli about how the current Tribe team was built with great trades. This isn’t news to any of us in Cleveland, but it’s still an interesting read.

In June 2006, the Seattle Mariners were looking for some veteran talent and Indians GM Mark Shapiro was happy to provide it. Shapiro shipped Eduardo Perez to the Emerald City, and the platoon first basemen wound up hitting .195 with one homer for the Mariners before retiring. In exchange, the Indians received a minor league shortstop who was hitting .236/.323/.360. That shortstop was just 20 years old and already in Triple-A. Asdrubal Cabrera debuted with Cleveland the following year, and this season he emerged as perhaps the best-hitting shortstop in the American League and made his first All-Star team.

Shapiro wasn’t done toying with the Mariners and their general manager, Bill Bavasi. Seattle’s thirst for platoon first basemen was apparently unquenchable; a month after acquiring Perez they would ask for Ben Broussard, who hit .238 with 8 homers for the Mariners. At least Broussard managed to hang around another season before hanging up his spikes. In return, Cleveland obtained Shin-Soo Choo, a former top prospect who couldn’t crack the Mariners’ lineup despite hitting .323/.394/.499 in Triple-A. Choo became the Indians’ starting right fielder in 2008 and has been one of the best all-around players in baseball ever since.

Seattle finished 78-84 that year, good for last place in the AL West. Bavasi no longer works for the Mariners, and he never did find the droids he was looking for.

Two years later, the Los Angeles Dodgers needed a third baseman at the trade deadline, and once again Shapiro was ready to deal. The Dodgers received Casey Blake, a competent everyday player in the last year of his contract. Competent players with expiring contracts rarely fetch premium talent, but the Indians offered to pick up the remaining salary on Blake’s contract3, which helped them land Carlos Santana. At the time, Santana was already considered one of the game’s best catching prospects; now, he is considered one of the best young catchers, period. While Santana’s career batting average is just .236, this season he has already drawn 102 walks and hit 21 homers, and most scouts think the best is yet to come.

Cabrera, Choo, and Santana — a third of the Indians’ lineup — were all acquired for pocket lint, in deals so lopsided they would have been vetoed by your fantasy league commissioner. Yet all three trades pale in comparison to the great heist of 2002, when the Montreal Expos found themselves five games back in the wild card race at the end of June. Montreal GM Omar Minaya quite sensibly reasoned that since the Expos might not exist for much longer, he might as well sell his farm before the franchise bought the farm. The Indians sent Bartolo Colon to Montreal for Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips, and a toolsy teenage outfielder named Grady Sizemore.

The last one was brilliant, but it also hurts, as Shapiro was dumb enough to listen to Eric Wedge and let Brandon Phillips go for nothing. That move alone may have cost them a championship.

Hilarious Grady Sizemore photos


Photo from fOTOGLIF

It’s been a crazy weekend in sports with the Tiger Woods fiasco. Now Grady Sizemore is in the news and he can’t be very happy about it.

Some very funny and very revealing photos of Sizemore have been leaked onto the web. It looks like he took the photos of himself, and one of them has him nude with his johnson covered by a coffee mug. Grady is dating Playboy Playmate Brittany Binger and one report claims that she leaked the photos on the web. According to Cleveland.com, Sizemore has started legal action to have the photos removed. Good luck. If he took them and sent them to his girlfriend, I don’t think he can prevent her from releasing them. Now, if they were stolen . . .

“These pictures were stolen illegally from my girlfriend’s email,” Sizemore told The Plain Dealer on Sunday night. “It’s now a legal matter that is under investigation. I can’t say anything more.”

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. As one of the articles noted, celebrities need to understand that they shouldn’t be taking crazy pics like this. The stuff always gets out.

It’s hard to feel too sorry for Grady considering he was stupid enough to take the pics and he gets to hang out with the beautiful Brittany.

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