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Indians GM happy with deal, but still seeks more

Indians GM happy with deal, but still seeks more

CLEVELAND (AP) General manager Chris Antonetti knows it is going to take more than a new manager and a few added players to get Indians fans fired up.

If nothing else, though, the franchise is taking the proper steps.

``We still have work to do,'' Antonetti said Wednesday, less than 24 hours after completing a three-team trade that involved nine players.

Antonetti acknowledged the addition of outfielder Drew Stubbs from Cincinnati and three pitchers, including promising Trevor Bauer, from Arizona doesn't quite get the fans' pulse beating. But the Indians are getting there.

``This is another step forward in our offseason,'' said Antonetti, vowing to try and complete more moves to enhance what he hopes will be a quick makeover for a team that lost 94 games in 2012. ``We still would like to improve our starting pitching and add a corner outfielder.''

Dealing Shin-Soo Choo only added to the void in left field, where several players failed to provide enough run production as the Indians flopped miserably in the second half. Michael Brantley or Stubbs, both considered top-notch center fielders, could move to left. Antonetti has had discussions with free agent Nick Swisher, as well, who could fill Choo's old spot in right.

``We have at-bats available,'' Antonetti noted, adding that the Indians still don't have a designated hitter after buying out the final year of oft-injured Travis Hafner's contract.

Mark Reynolds, signed to a one-year, $6 million deal, is expected to be new manager Terry Francona's first baseman. Both Reynolds and Stubbs are high risk-reward players. In 2011, Stubbs led the NL in strikeouts with 205, nine more than Reynolds' AL-leading total for Baltimore. In the three previous years with Arizona, Reynolds averaged 213 strikeouts.

``The best way to improve your team,'' Antonetti said, succinctly, ``is to score more runs and allow fewer runs.''

He pointed out that Cleveland cut the strikeout total in 2012, but ranked low in run production. A few seasons ago, the Indians led the AL in strikeouts, but were in the top three in scoring.

``I'm not as concerned at how we do it,'' he said. ``But our focus is to score more and allow fewer.''

Antonetti also is not worried about Bauer's devotion to a sometimes controversial long-toss program or the 21-year-old's insistence on hitting the weight room hard.

``Trevor works exceptionally hard and is very committed to being the best pitcher he can be,'' Antonetti said. ``He's spent a lot of time studying how to do that. We're not looking to change him. We're looking to work with him.''

The Indians scouted Bauer in high school and again during his career at UCLA. Antonetti said he personally spent two hours with the pitcher before the 2011 draft, when the Diamondbacks made Bauer the No. 3 pick overall. He has gone 13-4 with 200 strikeouts in 156 minor-league innings.

``Trevor has the potential to be a top-of-the-rotation starter,'' Antonetti said.

Whether or not Bauer begins 2013 in Cleveland's rotation will be decided in spring training.

Right-handers Matt Albers and Bryan Shaw, also acquired from Arizona, will be given the chance to be part of Cleveland's revamped bullpen. Lefties Tony Sipp and Rafael Perez - along with right-hander Esmil Rogers - are gone from a unit that was the strongest part of the Indians in 2012.

``We feel we have some young pitchers ready to contribute and we may add a couple more,'' Antonetti said. ``I don't think we're done making changes quite yet.''

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Baseball Hall of Fame results 2019: Oriole great Mike Mussina gets long overdue call to the Hall

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USA TODAY Sports

Baseball Hall of Fame results 2019: Oriole great Mike Mussina gets long overdue call to the Hall

Mike Mussina was already recognized as one of the greatest pitchers in Orioles history. Now, he’s been enshrined as one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history.

In his sixth year of eligibility, Mussina received 76.7% of the vote, barely surpassing the necessary 75% mark by just seven votes. He’ll be inducted this summer along with Mariano Rivera, Edgar Martinez, Lee Smith, Harold Baines, and the late Roy Halladay.

Over the course of his 18-year career, Mussina compiled 270 wins to go against just 153 losses. He had a 3.68 ERA and struck out 2,813 hitters, the 20th most in baseball history. He also was an American League All-Star five times and won seven Gold Gloves.

Mussina’s career in many ways can be described as “close, but no cigar.” He threw multiple one-hit, no-walk shutouts with the Orioles, including against the Indians when he threw 8⅓ perfect innings before allowing a single. He also was one pitch away with the Yankees against the Red Sox before Carl Everett singled with two outs and two strikes in the ninth inning.

He reached two World Series, both in New York, but lost both times. He finished 2nd in Cy Young voting in 1999, and would have been deserving if Pedro Martinez hadn’t had an all-time historically great season. He finished just 30 wins shy of 300 for his career, and it took him nearly two decades to reach 20 wins in a season, finally hitting the milestone in 2008.

Finally, with only four years remaining on the ballot, he made the Hall of Fame. This time, he didn’t fall short.

Mussina’s Hall of Fame case has been boosted by the rise of sabermetrics, By WAR, he was an obvious selection.

His numbers likely would have looked even better with more favorable circumstances. Mussina spent his entire career in the vaunted American League East, a division full of big bats and hitter-friendly ballparks.

He all spent the bulk of his career pitching in what has since become known as the Steroid Era, an obvious detriment to his overall pitching stats.

Former players have congratulated Mussina and praised both his raw stuff and his off-the-charts baseball IQ. Stuff, plus smarts, plus durability meant he was the total package.

Mussina was always destined to be an Oriole as Baltimore drafted him twice. In 1987, they took him in the eleventh round before the pitcher elected to go to college. In 1990, after his junior season, they took him in the first round.

The starting pitcher affectionately referred to as “Moose” spent a decade in Baltimore before playing the final eight seasons of his career in New York. Because of this, a debate has raged on for years about which cap he would wear should he ever be elected into the Hall of Fame.

Previously, the player himself was able to choose. Nowadays, the Hall makes the call. For some, however, the answer is obvious.

Mussina finally became a 20-game winner with the Yankees, and was obviously much more visible playing for the biggest franchise in the sport. That said, he made a much larger impact in Baltimore, both in statistics, and in stature.

When Orioles fans point to the team’s miserable track record trying to develop homegrown starting pitchers, they often point to Mussina as the last success story. The fact that their most recent win in pitcher development is now in the Hall of Fame is a tough look for a franchise that once started four 20-game winners in the same rotation.

If he does go in as an Oriole, Mussina will become the seventh member to wear the Baltimore cap, joining Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray, Cal Ripken, Jr. and manager Earl Weaver.

Mussina is in a unique spot in Orioles history, as many of the Hall of Famers from Baltimore are thought of as Orioles through and through. None of Brooks Robinson, Cal Ripken, Jr., Jim Palmer and Earl Weaver ever wore another uniform.

“Moose” famously spurned the Orioles to join their bitter rivals when he signed with the Yankees, though it’s hard to blame him for taking the most money offered. When asked on MLB Network after the election announcement, Mussina was very appreciative towards both ballclubs and credits both organizations for getting him to this point.

It’s a slightly complicated history, but one that has largely been forgiven with time. When the announcement was made, the consensus reaction on Twitter in Birdland was that of joy for Mussina.

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Orioles finally hire Brandon Hyde as new manager

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Orioles finally hire Brandon Hyde as new manager

The Orioles have finally found their man.

After entering the Winter Meetings without having yet hired their new manager, a rarity in this era of baseball, the Orioles announced Friday that they had hired Brandon Hyde to fill the role.

Hyde joins the organization after spending half a decade in Chicago under Joe Maddon, and many years prior with the Marlins. He has a long background in player development, something that was important to new Orioles GM Mike Elias, which makes sense considering the state of the organization and their upcoming rebuilding process.

Hyde is 45, so he’ll have the opportunity to stick in Baltimore for a long time if he finds success, however, Elias defines it, in the next few seasons. Many times, the manager leading a team as it embarks on an organizational rebuild is not the same one who leads them back into contention, but the Orioles front office will certainly hope Hyde is up to both tasks.
 
“After conducting an intensive search, I believe that we have found the ideal leader for the next era of Orioles baseball,” said Mike Elias, Orioles Executive Vice President and General Manager, in a statement released Friday.

“Brandon’s deep background in player development and Major League coaching, most recently helping to shape the Cubs into a World Champion, has thoroughly prepared him for this job and distinguished him throughout our interview process. I look forward to introducing him to our fans next week and to working together with him to build the next great Orioles team.”

Elias was thought to have preferred someone with Major League experience, so as to avoid saddling an up-and-coming manager with multiple 90-plus loss seasons inevitably on the horizon in Baltimore. Hyde technically has experience coaching in the big leagues, though it comes in the form of a single game. The Marlins lost his one game as acting manager 2-1 to the Rays, and Jack McKeon was named interim manager the next day.

Maddon has developed a reputation as a stellar communicator and somebody open to analytics, and it stands to reason that Hyde would follow a similar style of leadership, especially considering how critical those traits are in the eyes of Elias.

Hyde replaces Buck Showalter, a beloved figure in Baltimore after his 8 ½ seasons at the helm brought winning baseball back to a city desperate for relevancy. Showalter’s contract was not renewed at the end of this past season, an understandable decision given his age and how long it will be until the franchise is ready to compete again.

Reports swirled about Hyde being named the 20th manager in franchise history as early as Tuesday at the Winter Meetings, though Elias and the front office were quick to emphasize that nothing was official at the time. In the end, Hyde does end up accepting the job, and he’ll be introduced at a press conference Monday.

Nationals bench coach Chip Hale was, along with Hyde, one of six finalists who interviewed for the position, so the Nats won’t be losing a valuable piece of their staff.

The Orioles are in the honeymoon phase of the rebuild, where hope springs eternal and the losses to come haven’t set in yet. Hyde checks all the boxes for what Elias was looking for, and despite his relative inexperience, he’s someone who should excite, if not necessarily inspire, the fanbase in Charm City.

Orioles fans won’t have many exciting acquisitions to cheer on in the near future, but they may have just made one of their most impactful. The O’s finally have their GM-Manager combination set for the foreseeable future, and they’ll hope to experience as much success and more as the previous regime.