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Winter Meetings


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Not that we're supposed to be much of a player at all this year, but they're scheduled to begin next week in Indianapolis (12/7 -12/10). Maury Brown has a terrific primer on the meetings at his site http://bizofbaseball.com/


Here's a bit of his article but be sure to check out the link for just a ton more stuff. And check his site for way in-depth daily updates during the meetings:


If you follow baseball closely, chances are, you’ve heard of the baseball winter meetings. But, if you’ve never attended, you might be asking, “What’s it all about, and should I go?” The latter first: If you have the means, and you want to make baseball part of your profession, or it is already part of your world, then do yourself a favor, and go. As the business of baseball goes, it’s an annual investment worth doing.


This year, the meetings will be in Indianapolis at the Indiana Convention Center from Monday, Dec. 7th to Thurs. the 10th. Here’s a breakdown of the event.


Can Anyone Attend?


The answer is yes, and no. That means, you could simply show up in Indianapolis, and hang out in the hallways of the major hotels where GMs, agents, baseball luminaries, and media converge in-between the organized activities. Call it being a baseball groupie – what have you – networking at the winter meetings is a rite of passage and in many ways, the best part of the event. For many in the media, it’s the one opportunity each year to see others that cover baseball face-to-face.


Beyond that, you need to fall into these six categories:


* An approved member of a Minor League Baseball organization;

* An approved member of a Major League Baseball organization;

* An approved non-member;

* Credentialed members of the media;

* A Baseball Trade Show Exhibitor, or;

* A Job Fair attendee


What’s Going On?


The biggest attention around meetings centers on trades and signings by the MLB general managers, but there is also a lot of MLB related activity by supporting elements of MLB. A good example would be MLB Network, which had a heavy presence at last year’s winter meetings in Las Vegas. There was also a report released to the media on the on-going look into whether maple bats are any more prone to breaking and being a hazard than ash bats, and a steady stream of notifications by the clubs, not only on player transactions, but the business side.


For MLB and MiLB, league meetings for clubs and executives occur non-stop behind closed doors.


Organizations that are affiliated with MLB and MiLB also hold major meetings at the event. The BBWAA holds its meetings to determine which applicants may or may not gain inclusion into the Association. This year, the voting members of the veterans committee for the Hall of Fame will be holding meetings and casting ballots for managers, umpires, pioneers, and executives.


These events activities are covered extensively by the media that has a space dedicated to them for reporting. MLB.com and MLB Network will most assuredly be reporting from the winter meetings. As mentioned, you can cruise the halls and get this info firsthand while networking. But, what about the organized events surrounding the industry?


Select Read More to see what the organized events are, details on costs, whether it's worth attending, and suggestions for that do plan to go, but have never been


So, What Other Organized Activities Are There?


* Baseball Trade Show


If you’re someone that already works in MLB or MiLB, a place where the likes of Rawlings, or New Era, stadium developers such as Populous (formerly HOK Sport), HKS Architecture, and 360 Architecture and a large number of other businesses converge is at the massive Baseball Trade Show. Here, the industry takes in what’s new, what’s hot, and tries to get those looking to upgrade to commit to making purchases. All in all upwards of 300 companies exhibit each year at the Baseball Trade Show (Click Here for a current list of the 2009 Exhibitors - PDF). When you consider that more than 200 Major League and Minor League Baseball clubs, leagues and organizations attend the Baseball Trade Show during their annual meetings, it’s designed as a method to help spur business.


The show runs from Monday to Wednesday. Monday night is the ‘Opening Night’, a reception on the trade show floor where you’ll share cocktails, and food. Once again, it’s a great networking platform, especially for those attending the…


* PBEO Job Fair


If you’re one that really has their heart set on working in baseball, this is really the key place each year that it happens. While there are some MLB jobs that get posted, it is mostly Minor League openings, which, as a word of advice, is where many that are looking to break in should get their start.


PEBO (Professional Baseball Employment Opportunities) has been holding the Job Fair for going on 16 years. Each and every year, 400-500 job seekers descend on the Job Fair hoping to live the dream of working in baseball. If you want to go, you better register fast. For added details, see here.


There are a couple of other events to consider:


* Bob Freitas Business Seminar

* Awards Luncheon

* Gala

* Banquet


Here’s extra details on those extra value events that are at the winter meetings.


All of this costs, and here’s how much…


What’s it Cost?

The winter meetings are not cheap. Remember, the costs below do not cover travel and lodging and, remember, you have to fall into one of the catagories of who is allowed to attend. The prices below cover the Trade Show and Job Fair. Other events (listed below) are extra.


This year, the costs breakdown as follows:


* MLB Clubs and Leagues - Advance Purchase - $275.00

* MLB Clubs and Leagues - On-Site Purchase - $425.00

* Approved Non-Members - Advance Purchase - $475.00

* Approved Non-Members - On-Site Purchase - $625.00


And, that’s for the general activities. Additional events come with additional costs:


* Awards Luncheon - $75.00

* Gala - $125.00

* Banquet - $125.00

* Name Badge - $200.00


Got kids and considering taking them along for the ride? If they’re young (4 and under), they’re welcome for free. If they are 5 and up, consider them adults; the cost is the same as the grown-ups.


Yes, it’s not cheap. You do, however, get a cool gift bag along with the ability to take it in and advance your career. So…


Is It Worth It?


Those that wish to report on all manner of baseball in the off-season, the winter meetings are flat out, mandatory. There is nowhere else where so many important figures in MLB and MiLB are in one place. It can be chaotic. As Ken Rosenthal said, “I don't know that any reporter ‘enjoys’ the winter meetings; they're pretty intense!” In the media room, press conferences can run one right on top of the other for hours. Impromptu gatherings with the media are happening all the time, such as was the case with Nolan Ryan last year in Vegas.


For those looking to advance their career, the Job Fair is the one place to really get a feel for where there are openings. Bring a resume, and you never know what could happen.


Going? Here’s Some Suggestions


Plan your day – There is so much going on with the winter meetings that planning out each day with some buffer time is a must. Pace yourself. There’s so much going on that burnout by Day 2 is possible. Got a smartphone? Use the calendar.


Bring Business Cards, Resumes, etc. – Simple thing. Makes sense. You’re there to do business. Be prepared for it.


Prepare to Walk – This year will be better than last. For the Indy event, everybody is in the Indianapolis Convention Center… sort of. The GMs make deals in their hotel rooms, so if you plan on chasing a story, or hooking up with others interested in a story, you’re going to be zipping back and forth between locations. Be Peter Gammons for a couple of days and wear tennis shoes with dress casual. Or, take advantage of your tub in your room at night and soak your puppies. They’re going to get used.


Carry a Snack – You’re going to be wanting to save your money for dinners, and socializing at the watering holes at night when networking can be at its best. During the day, you never know how near or far you’ll be from food, so a snack helps you keep pace.


You Don’t Drink? - Go to the Bars Anyway – Networking is at its best when you can sit down with someone. Meals are good, but at night, the hotel bars are where it’s at. Even if you don’t drink, make a point to hang out in the best bars.


Enjoy Yourself – Take it all in. Meet some people, and grow your resume.


NOTE: The Biz of Baseball will be reporting extensively from Sunday the 6th to Weds. the 9th from the Baseball Winter Meetings.







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I'll just tack on a few things to this thread while trying not to lose my soul over the possibility of Halladay joining the Yankees:


Yahoo does a nice job of breaking down the needs of every team entering the Winter Meetings. Here's their take on the Tribe:


Holes to fill: Presumably over the depressing sight of former Indians pitchers CC Sabathia(notes) and Cliff Lee(notes) dominating the World Series, Cleveland will attempt to become competitive again, although 2010 appears to be little more than a rebuilding year. Wildly overestimating the abilities of relief pitchers in particular has hurt the Indians, and an overhaul of nearly the entire staff is in order.


Trade winds: Jake Westbrook(notes) could be next season’s Sabathia or Lee, dumped at the trading deadline to a contender.


Cash considerations: The $37.5 million the Indians must pay DH Travis Hafner(notes) the next three years is an albatross. The only other players making $10 million or more are Westbrook and Kerry Wood(notes), and both contracts expire after next season. Otherwise, payroll is reasonably under control and could drop by as much as 20 percent from last season’s $82 million. This is no time to splurge on a veteran free agent because the next time the Indians can contend is 2011, when some of the prospects they acquired via trades develop into major leaguers.


By spring training … manager Manny Acta will be happy to see that his new team isn’t nearly as bad as the one he left in Washington.






Over at BA, John Manuel ranks the farm systems and we're number 5!


5. Indians: Cleveland has traded many of the key players from its 2007 playoff team. That’s cold comfort to Tribe fans, but many of the prospects acquired in those trades now give the Indians one of the game’s top farm systems. The organization’s top arms, right-hander Jason Knapp and left-hander Nick Hagadone, both were trade pickups, with Knapp coming from the Phillies in the Cliff Lee deal and Hagadone from Boston as the key piece in the Victor Martinez trade. Catcher Carlos Santana, acquired from the Dodgers for Casey Blake, is a switch-hitting offensive force who was the MVP of the Eastern League in 2009, and 2008 first-round pick Lonnie Chisenhall reached Double-A in his first full pro season.






Jason Beck at mlb.com takes a good look at a few of our top-tier prospects:


Moves will keep Tribe's future in mind

Dividends from major trades will get to play soon


By Jason Beck / MLB.com

The Indians have spent the past couple years rebuilding their prospect ranks in trades of their veteran players. The next year or two are going to be about giving Cleveland's young talent a chance to blossom.


Whatever moves the Indians make this offseason will not involve anything that blocks the path for the future, only to complement or fill a gap for the talent that's about to arrive. If anything, their moves so far have tried to clear some paths.


A farm system that had been sapped a bit, especially on the pitching side, was restocked with the Cliff Lee, Victor Martinez and CC Sabathia trades, not to mention numerous smaller deals beyond that. Those three players were part of the core group on which the Indians built around for several years. It's now up to a new group of both the young players who have arrived and those yet to come.


Add it up, and around a dozen prospects and young players came over in the trades in 2009 alone, giving Cleveland a major investment in the future.


"We're not heavy at just the upper levels or just position players like it was a year ago," player development director Ross Atkins told MLB.com last month. "It's more balanced throughout now."


At the top of the system and in Cleveland, that youth will be the focus of the staff. As such, the Indians aren't expected to be very active at next week's Winter Meetings.


"We don't have a defined need," general manager Mark Shapiro said recently. "We want to get better. But the reason you don't feel pressure for us [to make a move] is we don't have a defined hole. We want to get better and improve and offset the volatility that goes with young players, but we don't have the pressure of having to complete a trade or sign a free agent."


Here are a few prospects who impact Cleveland's decision progress:


Lou Marson, C: The Indians traded veteran catcher Kelly Shoppach for a player to be named this week not simply to avoid arbitration, but to clear up playing time for their selection of young catchers. Marson and Carlos Santana are foremost among them.


"This is most about our young players," Shapiro told reporters on a conference call. "We are excited about giving them an opportunity to play. It's an area of strength for us."


Marson, acquired in the Lee trade this past summer, figures to get the first shot at the starting catching job when the season opens, Shapiro told reporters. The 23-year-old was the third-best prospect in the Phillies' organization and the 66th-best prospect overall heading into the year, according to Baseball America, and he did little to diminish that.


Much of his strength is behind the plate, where his athleticism and his ability to work with pitchers give him the ability to command a game. He hits more for average, not really for power, but his ability to make contact and find ways to get on base make him a nice piece to a lineup.


"He's a catcher, first and foremost," former Indians manager Eric Wedge said late last season. "He knows how to run a game and he's still developing in all areas of his game. He has a chance to be pretty good."


The Indians could end up acquiring a veteran catcher to back up Marson, but Shapiro didn't characterize it as a necessity. That's how highly they regard Marson.


Carlos Santana: If there's one reason Marson might have a problem sticking with the Tribe long term, it's Santana. While Marson will get his shot in Cleveland with Shoppach gone, Santana will get a bump to Triple-A Columbus, one call away from the big leagues. Most likely, Shapiro indicated, he'll get a call up to the Indians at some point next season.


Santana, who will turn 24 next April, is almost universally regarded as the Indians' top prospect and one of the top prospects in baseball after coming over from the Dodgers a year and a half ago in the Casey Blake trade. In contrast to Marson, Santana's strength is his offense, a switch-hitting bat that boasts power from both sides of the plate.


Santana has pounded 44 homers over the past two seasons combined to go with 214 RBIs, including a .290 average, 23 homers and 97 RBIs this year at Double-A Akron that earned him Eastern League Player of the Year honors. His strong arm threw out 24 of 80 would-be basestealers.


His arrival is seen as a matter of time and experience, especially behind the plate commanding a game. The Indians sent him to winter ball in the Dominican League with the idea of getting him more catching work, but a bout with a flu bug limited him to just one game.


Still, any setback should be minor, if at all.


"Most likely for Carlos, some time at Triple-A, continuing to develop his game-calling, his leadership skills and honing his defensive game will be beneficial," Shapiro told reporters on his conference call announcing the Shoppach trade. "I would expect at some point, between April and September, we will see him in Cleveland."


Hector Rondon, RHP: He'll turn 21 in February, but the Venezuelan right-hander has already cracked the rotation at Columbus, where a jump in ERA still didn't diminish his arsenal. Rondon struck out 137 batters over 146 1/3 innings combined between the Clippers and Akron, and while he isn't likely to make it to Cleveland quite yet, the righty could have a chance to break into the Indians' rotation at some point next year.


Unlike some power pitchers, Rondon and his mid-90s fastball also show an ability to work the strike zone and limit walks while mixing in his slider and changeup.


Rondon is an example of the newfound pitching depth the Indians now have. He doesn't garner the same high regard as, say, Jason Knapp and recent first-round pick Alex White, among others, but Rondon could be the first of the young hurlers to crack the big leagues and start to remake a rotation that struggled to fill holes until the Tribe's recent flurry of trades.






Doug Guth from Cleveland Jewish News takes a look at the team and Shapiro in particular:


Cleveland Indians general manager Mark Shapiro remembers the mid-’90s as a “perfect storm” for his professional baseball team.


The city was strong economically, and fans were using their disposable income to pack the recently opened Jacobs Field (now Progressive Field), home to a team that had become a league powerhouse for the first time in a generation. The Tribe’s popularity soared further with the exodus of the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore and the Cavaliers stuck in a pre-LeBron cycle of mediocrity.


Shapiro knows the halcyon days of 455 straight sellouts are long gone.


The Indians, now tagged with the label “small market,” must deal with the current economy, even if the means to that end rankle fans, says Shapiro. The Indians GM, along with Browns president Michael Keenan and Cavaliers executive Len Komoroski, discussed working within an ever-changing financial landscape during a forum at Quicken Loans Arena on Nov. 18.


Tribe troubles


Shapiro, a member of the organization since 1992, believes the health of the economy has a greater effect on the Indians than it does on the Browns or Cavs.


Unlike the NFL, in which the majority of revenue is generated at the national level, baseball franchises traditionally garner a majority of their revenue locally, Shapiro points out. Also, unlike the NBA or NFL, baseball has no salary cap.


The lack of a cap means teams like the New York Yankees, which earn millions from hefty television contracts, can easily outspend the Tribe and other small- to mid-market clubs for top talent. The Indians, lacking those outside resources, rely heavily on ticket and merchandise sales when deciding to sign their own players or spend money on free agents, notes Shapiro.


Indians president Paul Dolan said last summer that the team was set to lose $16 million in 2009, even with the aid of MLB’s revenue sharing plan, where all 30 teams contribute 31% of their local revenues, with the pot evenly split among all league franchises. The Tribe’s financial losses would have been even greater if the organization hadn’t traded six players, including Cy Young winner Cliff Lee and All-Star catcher Victor Martinez, Dolan maintained.


“We don’t expect sympathy from our fans when dealing with market constraints,” Shapiro told the lunchtime crowd at The Q’s third-floor practice court. “It’s hard for people to separate their emotions with the business side of the sport.”


Of course, attracting people to the ballpark is tough when the team is losing, Shapiro understands. That means adding value to the organization’s 81 home games, be it through lowering ticket prices or special promotions like fireworks and bobblehead doll nights.


The ’90s Tribe teams lifted an entire city’s spirit and brought fans and their expendable dollars downtown, recalls the baseball executive. The more frugal version must “exploit opportunities when they exist,” growing talent in the minors and gunning for short windows of success while those players are still affordable.


Ultimately, the Indians will have to play competitive baseball to draw the cash-spending fans whose dollars would give the organization more leverage in player-personnel decisions, concludes Shapiro.


Browns town


As national television rights make up over 60% of the Browns’ (and the rest of the NFL’s) revenue, the state of the local economy does not have quite the bearing it does on other sports, says team president Michael Keenan.


The Browns are most affected locally by ticket sales. Although deemed a mid-market franchise, the Browns are second only to the Buffalo Bills in terms of the league’s lowest average ticket prices, notes the official.


“We want to give families an affordable, fun day out,” adds Keenan. “This is our way of giving back to the community.”


However, the team’s well-publicized struggles this season coupled with the recovering economy have changed the playing field somewhat, he admits. Slow ticket sales mean several home games may not be televised locally for the first time since 1995. (The NFL’s “blackout” policy states that a contest cannot be televised within a 75-mile radius of the home stadium if it is not sold out within 72 hours prior to kickoff.)


Poor play means “fans want even cheaper tickets,” remarks Keenan, currently in his second season as Browns president.


While decreasing ticket prices further may not be in the mix, the Browns still have several advantages over their local major league counterparts, he notes. The franchise’s loyal fanbase is deep-rooted and generational; “Browns Backers” groups worldwide come to Cleveland for games.


“Bringing in outside guests is not only good for the team, but for the city as well,” Keenan says.

‘Cavalier’ attitude


Even with LeBron James, the world’s most marketable basketball superstar in tow, the Cavaliers’ success is “linked to the success of Cleveland,” contends team president Len Komoroski.


Having a globally popular superstar certainly helps, he admits. The Cavs have 33 games on national television this year; those contests are broadcast to over 200 countries. There’s also the pending deal with a group of Chinese investors to buy a minority stake in the Cavs, a move that could expand James’s already prolific brand to China, a potential billion-dollar market the NBA would love to crack.


“This is a historic time for the city,” Komoroski remarks. The organization “wants to be engaged on a local level” and not just through the draw of James and the team’s current winning ways. Last month, voters cleared the way for Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert to build two casinos within the next three years, including one across the street from the arena he controls.


A future that includes tens of thousands of tourists coming for a game and staying for the casinos is within reach, predicts Komoroski. “Sports are a portal to the rest of the world.”






And finally, Bill Simmons picks up the torch of the tortured fan and asks what we did to deserve this. God I can't wait for this to go away. The only fandom-related thing worse than not being offered the chance to tip over cars is listening to other fans talk about our shitty luck:


First, the Cavs choke in the 2009 playoffs. Second, the best two starters on the 2008 Indians start Game 1 of the 2009 World Series for two teams not named "Cleveland." Third, the Browns clean house and hire Eric Mangini, who takes that same house and sets it on fire with a flame thrower. Fourth, what could end up being LeBron's final Cavs season is distinguished early by Shaq looking like a bald Aretha Franklin and LeBron's body language occasionally lapsing into "I can't wait to find a new team; I am tired of playing with crap teammates" mode. And fifth, there are two nights of star-studded concerts to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame -- located in Cleveland, as you know -- and those concerts happen at Madison Square Garden.





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And finally, Bill Simmons picks up the torch of the tortured fan and asks what we did to deserve this. God I can't wait for this to go away. The only fandom-related thing worse than not being offered the chance to tip over cars is listening to other fans talk about our shitty luck:


First, the Cavs choke in the 2009 playoffs. Second, the best two starters on the 2008 Indians start Game 1 of the 2009 World Series for two teams not named "Cleveland." Third, the Browns clean house and hire Eric Mangini, who takes that same house and sets it on fire with a flame thrower. Fourth, what could end up being LeBron's final Cavs season is distinguished early by Shaq looking like a bald Aretha Franklin and LeBron's body language occasionally lapsing into "I can't wait to find a new team; I am tired of playing with crap teammates" mode. And fifth, there are two nights of star-studded concerts to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame -- located in Cleveland, as you know -- and those concerts happen at Madison Square Garden.






Kinda nitpicky, and I like Simmons, but I really doubt he's ever watched the Cavs. Unless LeBron takes a minimum contract and goes somewhere with Wade or Bosh....he won't be going to a better team. Mo and Andy are better than anyone on the Knicks. The Nets are the worst team of all time. He obviously loves Z. And every time I watch the Cavs this year it's LeBron trying to set everyone up the first 3 quarters then taking over in the 4th.


But besides that.


The story of next year for me is probably going to be Knapp and Hagadone. I kept getting excited whenever I saw one of them starting last year...then they pitched their 3 innings, struck out a few, and took a seat. I can't wait to see some real outings from them. I'll have to get back up there for a Columbus-Akron-Cleveland tour.

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Hey CIMO, have you seen this before?




I don't know how to do the embed thing with anything that's not from youtube, but check it out. It's lengthy, not to be watched with kids in the room and absolutely awesome. The entire site (blitzcorner.com) is pretty cool. They have a zillion MLB videos.


BTW, I agree with you about the Knapp/Hagadone love.



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