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Big-ticket signings fail to lift Indians in loss

Oct 3, 2013, 12:09 AM EDT

Nick Swisher AP

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.

  1. yankeepunk3000 - Oct 3, 2013 at 12:44 AM

    the Indians still have a team to contend with so it’s not the end of the world. though one question is why didn’t bourn steal more? I know Tito isn’t big on base stealers but it still is a pretty low number?

  2. drewzducks - Oct 3, 2013 at 1:35 AM

  3. steelhammer92 - Oct 3, 2013 at 1:36 AM

    Asdrubal Cabrera is the poster boy for anti-clutch. The guy absolutely never comes through when you need him most.

    • largebill - Oct 3, 2013 at 8:50 AM

      Most frustrating thing about Cabrera is he often looks like has no plan at all when he goes to the plate. More than a few times he has gone up after pitcher walked the previous batter (or multiple batters) on four straight pitches and swings at the first pitch. Might be an exaggeration, but it often seems like he couldn’t care if bases are empty or loaded, no outs or two outs, same swing & approach regardless.

      • bh192012 - Oct 3, 2013 at 12:41 PM

        Sounds like he had the same plan as Swisher then.

    • dan1111 - Oct 3, 2013 at 10:00 AM

      For his career, Cabrera has hit much better with runners on and runners in scoring position than with bases empty.

  4. smoothaswilkes - Oct 3, 2013 at 1:57 AM

    “Swisher hit a respectable .246/.341/.423 with 22 homers”

    Does respectable mean overpaid? That is not a line one would expect for $14 mil, right?

  5. kachlucca - Oct 3, 2013 at 2:17 AM

    I had the same reaction as you did, Smooth, when I read the article. When did .246/63 RBI become respectable for the highest paid player on the team batting cleanup? I’m a Tigers fan but I still say hats off to Francona for taking this bunch as far as he did.

    • largebill - Oct 3, 2013 at 8:53 AM

      Fact that he was playing with an injured shoulder most of the season makes it more understandable. You don’t swing your wallet at the ball. Also, he wasn’t the clean-up hitter. He batted second most of the year.

    • dan1111 - Oct 3, 2013 at 9:54 AM

      It is hard to make a mental adjustment to the new era of reduced offense. .246/.341/.423 was a poor line just a few years ago, but in 2013 it is well above average. WAR, which adjusts for position, gives him 3.8, which is certainly solid.

      As for RBI, Swisher hit about the same with men on and RISP as he did when the bases were empty. Which is the most you can expect from anyone, because it has never been demonstrated that the ability to drive in runners is a skill.

  6. vincentbojackson - Oct 3, 2013 at 5:51 AM

    The Indians had a nice run at the end of the season to slide into the wild card game. However, you’re probably not a legit contender when Swisher was your marquee addition.

  7. ckhoss29 - Oct 3, 2013 at 6:19 AM

    How weren’t they legit, they won 92 games, please stop with the weak schedule bull

    • pastabelly - Oct 3, 2013 at 8:14 AM

      It’s not so much the weak schedule as it is their record against good teams that makes them a fraud. They were even more fortunate to play bad teams after those teams culled their rosters of salary.

  8. ckhoss29 - Oct 3, 2013 at 6:21 AM

    Yeah I guess winning 92 games doesn’t make you legit vincent. Bull—-

    • pastabelly - Oct 3, 2013 at 8:12 AM

      The Indians record against good teams was awful this year. They were pretty much a fraud team with an easy schedule that feasted on bad teams. To their credit, they took advantage of the schedule presented to them and won those games, but they are not a 92 win team if they play an AL East schedule. While I am not a fan of one game series to decide who moves on, the better team won.

  9. moe0594 - Oct 3, 2013 at 7:28 AM

    as a Yankee fan I’m not surprise to see Swisher go 0 for 4 with 2 k’s…

  10. Chip Caray's Eyebrows - Oct 3, 2013 at 7:37 AM

    That wasn’t Bourn’s first postseason game:

    He started for the Braves in last year’s wild card play-in and also had a couple NLDS appearances for Philadelphia a few years back.

  11. takemytalentstosoutheuclid - Oct 3, 2013 at 7:43 AM

    Any team that wins 90 plus games is doing a few things right. FWIW, Swisher does not bat clean up, and his postseason issues aside, was a positive influence in the clubhouse and in the community. There are a lot of players who make / made significantly more than Swisher who sucked in the postseason. A-Rod comes to mind first.. That being said, the Tribe has a number of things to address this offseason. First and foremost is resigning Jimenez and Kazmir. Priority 1a and 1b. Then tryo to trade Cabrera and cut Perez. Aviles can play short until Lindor is ready. Next, find a 3B, preferably with some pop. Say what you will about this team, but they finished one game back of Detroit, with the same schedule, and half the payroll. Thanks for the great season, Tribe!!

    • Kevin S. - Oct 3, 2013 at 7:53 AM

      Alex Rodriguez for his career in the postseason: .263/.369/.464. And that’s mostly dragged down by poorer showings in the division series – he’s been fantastic in the LCS and WS. I don’t know why Swisher’s played poorly in the playoffs, but comparing him to A-Rod is simply incorrect.

  12. tc4306 - Oct 3, 2013 at 9:03 AM

    Two reasons Cleveland will remain contenders for the post season:
    White Sox and Twins.

  13. jm91rs - Oct 3, 2013 at 9:17 AM

    I wonder how this team would have looked with Choo leading off and Stubbs still playing center for the Reds. I bet the Indians would still be playing and the Reds wouldn’t have even gotten the wild card game.

  14. jbriggs81 - Oct 3, 2013 at 10:24 AM

    bro for 4, man!

  15. El Bravo - Oct 3, 2013 at 11:47 AM

    This is because Nick Swisher sucks. He is not and never will be a “big ticket” signing.

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