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The IBI Awards: Best New Addition

Francona, Gomes headline the voting

The IBI Awards: Best New Addition
October 20, 2013
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The 2013 season proved quite successful for Cleveland as the team completed a 24-win turnaround and made the playoffs with a 92-70 record.

As a part of recapping the year that was, IBI is once again giving out some year-end awards. Unlike last year, we will be focusing only on Cleveland-centric awards. Today we unveil IBI's Best New Addition:

Rank

Name

Points

1

Yan Gomes

39

2

Terry Francona

30

3

Nick Swisher

28

4

Scott Kazmir

23

5

Ryan Raburn

15

6

Danny Salazar

11

7

Mickey Callaway

9

T-8

Michael Bourn

7

T-8

Jason Giambi

7

10

Bryan Shaw

5

11

Mike Aviles

3

T-12

Drew Stubbs

1

T-12

Marc Rzepczynski

1

T-12

Trevor Bauer

1

 

When I sent the ballots out, I did not specify if coaches were eligible for this category (because I had not really thought about it). If I had specified, I think Francona would have ran away with this award.

As it is, even unclear rules could not keep him from making his presence felt. Much like how Francona made his presence felt throughout the 2013 season.

There is no way to measure everything a manager does for a team and quantify it. Most managers are competent in one way or another (typically they are either a good manager of players behind the scenes and bad at in-game decisions, or vice versa). The ones that are good both at the people skills and at making decisions on the field are rare and special. Despite some shortcomings in decision-making that we all second-guessed this year, I believe Francona is great at both.

Things changed when Francona signed on last offseason (and again when he hired Callaway as his pitching coach). For that reason, he got my top vote.

Gomes, Callaway, Swisher, and Raburn rounded out my ballot.

Here's what the rest of IBI thinks:

Tony Lastoria:

1. Scott Kazmir

2. Yan Gomes

3. Ryan Raburn

4. Nick Swisher

5. Jason Giambi 

Yan Gomes helped stabilize the catching position and lineup for the Indians and might be their starter there for at least the next half decade. Ryan Raburn was used beautifully as a role player off the bench and filled a much needed role that the team lacked as a run producer. Nick Swisher had a season that was off just a little bit as far as his numbers go, but the energy and leadership he brought were contagious and he was worth every penny the Indians signed him for. Jason Giambi did not have the best overall numbers nor did he play a lot, but he had several big hits and his biggest contribution was as the unquestioned leader of the clubhouse. 

That said, the best new addition was clearly Scott Kazmir. His overall numbers don’t do him justice as he had a second half that was as good or better than Ubaldo Jimenez but has not nearly been talked about as much. He really helped solidify the staff and give the Indians that much needed very good third starter. It is too bad the Indians were never able to go into a playoff series with Masterson, Jimenez, Kazmir and Salazar to see what they could have done. He really seems like his time away helped him focus on being more of a pitcher than a thrower, although he still has a pretty dominant fastball from the left-side. He’s a guy I would love to see the Indians re-sign this offseason and remain a key piece to the rotation.

Jim Pete:

1. Terry Francona

2. Danny Salazar

3. Yan Gomes

4. Scott Kazmir

5. Nick Swisher

I love Swisher and the extra pieces of the puzzle that he added in the clubhouse and with regards to his PR presence. He really turned the tide in many ways. Yan Gomes gave the Indians offense where they least expected it and is clearly a plus defender. Danny Salazar is an ace. Period. Scott Kazmir was more like the good Scott Kazmir than the injury enigma. With all of that said, the 2013 season would have never happened in quite the manner that it did without Terry Francona. Francona was the final piece of a unique puzzle that brought in two major free agents, brought in a fantastic coaching staff, and built trust with the players, front office and fans. Without Francona, this quick turnaround would have never happened.

Steve Orbanek:

1. Danny Salazar      

2. Yan Gomes

3. Nick Swisher

4. Michael Bourn

5. Marc Rzepczynski

Gomes will be the popular selection and it’s easy to see why after the right-handed hitting catcher displayed his defensive prowess all season and hit .294/.345/.481 in 88 games. However, I give the nod to Salazar simply because I believe he has the chance to be the first homegrown ace that the Indians have had since CC Sabathia. Salazar was electric since he made his Major League debut as the right-hander posted a 3.12 ERA in 10 starts and 52 innings of work and he also struck out an incredible 11.3 batters per nine innings. Salazar has the potential to be something special for the Indians in the future and it will be a treat to watch him develop in the years to come.

Michael Hattery:

1. Scott Kazmir

2. Yan Gomes

3. Ryan Raburn

4. Nick Swisher

5. Michael Bourn

I must confess that Yan Gomes should probably be selected as the winner of this category as well as the one prior. Unfortunately, I seek variation. I further decided that best new addition would be based on cost per win above replacement. A category in which Kazmir and Raburn basically tied. Kazmir had a FIP of 3.51, showed major strides in terms of control and boasted an impressive strikeout to walk ratio. His second-half FIP was obscene and the risk/reward scenario could not have played out better for the Indians. Hopefully the Tribe retains Kazmir as his strong second-half hints at things to come.

Stephanie Metzger:

1. Yan Gomes

2. Bryan Shaw

3. Scott Kazmir

4. Ryan Raburn

5. Mike Aviles

When I found out the Indians had traded Esmil Rogers, I was not happy about it. I took a glance at Yan Gomes numbers, scoffed, and deemed the trade with Toronto as silly. Of course, I liked Mike Aviles but Gomes wasn’t a name I thought I needed to pay attention to. Now, I’m leading the “If Gomes doesn’t catch at 70% of the games in 2014, I’m going to become violent” crusade.

Jeff Ellis:

1. Terry Francona

2. Yan Gomes

3. Nick Swisher

4. Mickey Callaway

5. Bryan Shaw

Shaw helped keep the pen from going on complete tilt and down the stretch no pitcher was better outside of Ubaldo. Callaway was able to get the starters to a new level; every starter improved under his guidance. I would not be shocked to see a veteran on a down year sign with the Indians, hoping Callaway can help.  Swisher got the fans excited and then, contrary to most reports, had a solid year for the Indians, including the eighth best WAR of any first baseman in all of baseball. Gomes looked like a plus-defender with a plus-arm, who can give above average production at the plate. He would start for a majority of teams in baseball, including Toronto next year. Still nothing beats Francona, who was a major reason free agents were willing to come here. He gave a team coming off a horrible season a degree of legitimacy.  He changed the approach of the front office and brought in a great staff.  For all the great additions far and away none meant more to the team and had a greater impact on what turned into a playoff team than Francona.

Jake Dungan:

1. Terry Francona

2. Mickey Callaway

3. Yan Gomes

4. Jason Giambi

5. Nick Swisher

While these awards are usually meant for players, there is just no way I could give this one to anyone but Tito. His presence made Cleveland a more attractive destination for top free agents such as Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn. His calming, consistent influence even at the worst times this season was what helped this team dig in their heels and keep moving forward, unlike the last two seasons. Through him and his coaching staff’s guidance, the Tribe saw a 24-game improvement over 2012 and their first playoff berth in six years. Manager of the year? I don’t see why not.

Nathan Kemp:

1. Nick Swisher

2. Michael Bourn

3. Yan Gomes

4. Mike Aviles

5. Drew Stubbs

With Nick Swisher's offensive output during the American League wild-card chase, he reaffirmed his value as a professional hitter in a young Indians lineup. He helped change the culture in the clubhouse and is the face of the franchise Cleveland has been looking for since the demise of Grady Sizemore.

Arthur Kinney:

1. Terry Francona

2. Nick Swisher

3. Jason Giambi

4. Yan Gomes

5. Trevor Bauer

Terry Francona is the reason all the stuff that follows his hiring happens.  Before the Francona hire, we have guys forgoing Cleveland to play somewhere else for less money.  After the Francona hire, we have Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn signing free agent contracts to play at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario.  While many might question my choice of Swisher at #2, keep in mind that he produced reasonably well to get us to the playoffs (more than can be said of his former team, many of whose fans are ticked off that the Yanks didn't lock him up in an extension prior to the start of free agency). His attitude in the clubhouse, not just the crazy stuff, but also the "not exactly thrilled with anything less than winning" part cannot be overlooked as an important factor in this year's playoff run.  Giambi was another player whose clubhouse presence did much to turn the culture of the team around.  Oh, and there were also the clutch hits from the Giambino as well.  I covered Gomes' status as the heir apparent to Carlos Santana's starting catching position in the "Most Surprising Player" portion of my ballot.  Bauer may seem an odd choice as he didn't pitch much at the Major League level and was not exactly dominant when he did, but getting The Pitching Savant in exchange for Choo was an important move in strengthening the future of the Tribe's rotation.

Charlie Adams:

0. Terry Francona

1. Ryan Raburn

2. Scott Kazmir

3. Danny Salazar

4. Nick Swisher

5. Michael Bourn

Francona is cheating, but he has been a legitimate difference in performance and perception. Swisher and Bourn aren't in Cleveland, or on this list if not for Tito. Raburn is the best player addition as he was essentially free and has turned out to be an ideal role player.

Michael Goodman:

1. Scott Kazmir

2. Nick Swisher

3. Yan Gomes

4. Ryan Raburn

5. Jason Giambi 

Note that this list includes only players, or else Francona would be at the top. It’s hard not to give Swisher the nod here, not just for his bat but for the culture change he helped create. Still, getting Kazmir off the scrap heap takes the cake. Stealing Yan Gomes from Toronto has set the Indians up as well as anyone else in the league at catcher. Ryan Raburn is another scrap heap player that gave the Indians something they’d been lacking for a while, a right-handed power bat. He’s a part-time player but his value far surpassed several of the Indians' starters. Giambi is on this list for his clutch hits and his presence in the Indians' clubhouse.

If you want to follow Jim on Twitter, he’s @JimPiascik. If you want to e-mail him, you can do so at jpiasci1@gmail.com. If you want to read his Master's thesis on college athletes and Twitter, you can do so here.

User Comments

Hermie13
October 22, 2013 - 12:23 PM EDT
1. Francona
2. Gomes
3. Kazmir
4. Swisher
5. Calloway

Francona was huge in this teams turnaround. Think everyone would agree. Helped changed the culture of the team. Nothing happens this year without him being added.

Gomes had one of the best seasons of any player on the team when his defense and offense are both considered. Great add that will be around beyond this season.

Kazmir may end up being a one and done but what a great add. Ubaldo got so much credit for September but Kazmir was stellar down the stretch as well. Could argue the 2nd best pitcher in the AL in the month (behind Ubaldo of course). Lots of deadline talk of the Tribe trying to add a starter and some worries of Kaz tiring...maybe it pissed him off, but whatever the case, only got better.

Swisher gave the club a true clubhouse leader. I know Giambi was one as well (maybe more of one) but Swisher added much more on the field too. Even in a "bad" year he still put up solid numbers leading the team in HRs and playing a solid 1B. Also bounced out to RF when needed, despite the bad shoulder.

Calloway probably should be higher but fear maybe I'm giving too much credit to a pitching coach. He worked wonders with Ubaldo though and with how this staff turned things around...going from the worst pitching staff in the AL to one of the better ones was nothing short of a amazing.
Seth
October 20, 2013 - 4:25 PM EDT
Kazmir was a good addition, but would go with Gomes on this by a mile. Kazmir's good second half was nice, but it was balanced by the fact that he only pitched really well against teams with horrible offense. He drew the Twins 3 times, Miami, Seattle, the Mets and Houston and dominated those teams. Pitched badly against KC twice, Detroit, Oakland, the Angels, and didn't do so hot against the offensively-challenged White Sox either. Performance-wise, he was well below average in terms of ERA on the season, and even in the second half got beat up by teams with better-than-awful offense (Astros, Mets, Marlins the bottom 3 in wOBA, and the Twins once Mauer and Morneau were gone were probably just as bad) Liked Kazmir and his peripherals point to possibly bright things ahead, but overall he wasn't better than an okay 5th starter this year.
Walter
October 20, 2013 - 11:43 AM EDT
Best new addition is the philosophy change by the FO that brought Francona as manager, being aggressive on the trade and FA market this past of season which led to the 24 game turn around this year. With this success will bring high expectations this up coming season. As Tony has mentioned this offseason could be just interesting as last.

Here my list best player additions this year.

1. Yan Gomes
2. Scott Kazmir
3. Nick Swisher
4 Jason Giambi
5 Ryan Raburn
6. Danny Salazar
Canadian Joe
October 20, 2013 - 10:06 AM EDT
I have to agree Tony, Francona and Callaway have to be the best additions for what they brought to the team. Also, any word on the re-signing of Callaway, or is he on an extended contract ? I think bringing him back is pivotal for the pitching staff and its youngsters.
Tony
October 20, 2013 - 9:26 AM EDT
I will admit, I only considered players for the best new addition award. Had I knew coaches would be considered.....I'd probably have voted for Francona 1 and Callaway 2 and then Kazmir 3. Just goes to show how we all interpret these things.

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