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In Cleveland, hope dies last

Tribe Contracts & Knowing Your Audience

The Cleveland Indians bought an extra year with Carlos Santana on Tuesday, reaching a deal with the catcher on a five-year contract worth $21 million.

The deal avoids any salary arbitration issues in the coming years and guarantees the Tribe will have at least one extra year of Santana’s services, if they choose, as the contract includes a club option for 2017, which would have been the first year that Santana would have been eligible for free agency.

If he plays all the way through the deal, Santana will be approaching 32 years of age when he hits free agency and the Indians will have a better understanding of his value and maybe they will have the money to resign him if they so choose (hey, stranger things have happened).

“In a very short time, we’ve seen Carlos develop into one of the best offensive catchers in baseball,” Tribe general manager Chris Antonetti told The Plain Dealer. “What has us excited organizationally is not only the offense he provides, but how far he’s come defensively and the commitment he’s made to be the best catcher he can be. When you combine his offense, and what he provides behind the plate with his defense and leadership potential, it leaves us with a cornerstone player not only for the present, but for the teams to come.”

According to the team’s website, Santana’s 27 home runs in 2011 were the most in Cleveland history for a switch-hitter and his 97 walks ranked third in the American League. Santana joined Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera and Joey Votto as the only big league hitters to end the year with at least 25 homers, 35 doubles and 90 walks.

In team history, Santana became only the eighth batter — and first catcher — to achieve at last 25 homers, 30 doubles and 90 walks in a single season. Before Santana, the only Cleveland hitters to accomplish that feat were Grady Sizemore (2008), Travis Hafner (2006), Jim Thome (2000), Manny Ramirez (1999), Albert Belle (1996), Andre Thornton (1979) and Earl Averill (1934).

Not bad for a guy that the Tribe got for Casey Blake.

Being able to project the salaries of the team’s key players as far in advance as possible is a good thing for a team like the Tribe, which is going to be on a tight budget for the foreseeable future – if not longer. (Unless there is a LA Angels-like $150 million a year TV contract hiding out there).

Of course there is still risk on the team’s part as fans well know; Travis Hafner, Grady Sizemore, Jhonny Peralta and Robert Hernandez were all players the Tribe signed before they were arbitration eligible with mixed results.

But one success story was former catcher Victor Martinez, who as Paul Cousineau at DiaTribe points out, had similar numbers to Santana when the Indians inked Martinez to a deal in 2005.

“This is something we’ve always tried to do,” Paul Dolan, Indians chief 0perating officer, told The Plain Dealer. “If we can get them done, that’s great because it means the value is lined up for us and the player. If we don’t get that done, we function on more a year-to-year basis. Our desire is to find the right balance with our core players and provide some certainty for us over a longer period of time.”

***

The importance of knowing your audience: We’re not really sure what to make of the whole Ozzie Guillen situation in Miami, who was suspended for five games by the team on Tuesday for comments he made about Cuban dictator Fidel Castro to Time magazine.

It would seem in this day and age that people should know that saying anything about a dictator like Castro is something to avoid (same with references to Adolph Hitler). So when something likes this happens it surprises us more than offends.

Still, we understand why the comments wouldn’t go over well in Miami and South Florida, which is home to many Cubans and Cuban-Americans who had to flee the country to escape persecution from Castro.

But that raises the question of how much the location played a role in Guillen’s punishment. If he made those same comments while he was managing the White Sox in Chicago, would anyone have cared?

What’s most surprising is that Guillen has lived in Miami for a number of years; how could have not known that his comments would spark some kind of reaction?

***

The grass isn’t greener: Finally, like many people, former Kent State basketball coach Jim Christian learned that the grass isn’t always greener when you leave the state of Ohio.

(Photo by Getty Images)

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One thought on “Tribe Contracts & Knowing Your Audience

  1. Great explanation on “importance of knowing your audience”. Appreciated. Sample Contracts

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