Cleveland Indians team president Mark Shapiro sat down for a lengthy interview with Fox Sports Ohio's Pat McManamon this week, and the topics discussed ranged from attendance and payroll issues, all the way to the perception of the team and the city to people on the outside. It's very much worth a read, but here are some of the more relevant quotes from the interview.
On attendance at Progressive Field, and the impact that it has on the team's free agent budget:
I think more people will come. But the challenge is 2.2 million instead of 1.6 million doesn't change the way we operate. Even that extra 500,000, 600,000 people, even if that's $10-to-15 more million in revenue a year . . . one win in free agency is $9 million. So you're not going to change the context. Again, I don't think people want to intellectualize baseball, and I don't believe you should have to intellectualize baseball . . . and we've made a conscious decision in most of our interviews not to get into these topics and just stay positive and talk about what our aspirations are.
On the Indians, as an organization, being realistic regarding resigning free agents:
We're not going to be able to sign these guys to extensions. We're not trying to hide from that. That creates circumstances where we have to make decisions about when the right juncture is to either let them walk away or to trade them. It doesn't mean we won't continue to try to sign guys. Periodically it doesn't mean that occasionally we won't be able to do it. It's going to take always some sharing of the risk and some desire for a guy to want to be here and placing a premium on that. If a guy places a premium on wanting to be here and we feel it's the right kind of guy, it's still a possibility. But as a general premise when guys reach free agent years it's going to be a challenge. We're not running from that. We're going to have him for six years at a minimum, maybe longer, and we have to have more talent coming up.
On the negative perception of Cleveland as a city, and the Indians as franchise:
I understand and appreciate some of the negative thoughts. I feel like we need to be better. All I can tell you is that we are driven to do that. There are a bunch of people in here who are sleeping five hours a night who are working 80 hours a week who care, who want the same thing the fans want, who are working tirelessly to make sure that happens. Who take accountability for our mistakes but also ensure that we are learning from them and that we'll get better as we go forward. I really feel its better than it felt at the end of the year right now. And starting pitching is key to us getting back to us a championship type team.
Shapiro served as the Indians general manager from 2001 to 2010, before becoming the team president. He was named the MLB Executive of the Year by the Sporting News in 2005 and 2007. He has been with the Indians organization in a variety of capacities since 1991.