Tag Archives: Mark Shapiro

A Jumble of Thoughts On the Tribe

Year-of-the-Tribe

Today is the day we’ve all been waiting a long time for. Today, the Indians suit up against the Cincinnati Reds in the first Spring Training game and real-ish baseball game of the 2013 season. The Indians have had the best offseason in at least twelve seasons and have thrown fans, including myself, into a Tribe frenzy. Currently sporting my authentic Nick Swisher threads, I am so excited about the 2013 Tribe I can hardly stand it.

I just kind’ve wanted to jumble a bunch of thoughts about the Tribe into a post, so here goes nothing:

“LINEUP”

I did a post a while back on the Tribe’s lineup and what it would look like come Opening Day. I was very wrong, but it wasn’t my fault. With the additions of Jason Giambi and Michael Bourn, the Indians lineup will look very different than I originally thought it would. Here’s what the lineup is projected to look like (in a somewhat organized manner in terms of batting order):

CF Michael Bourn

SS Asdrubal Cabrera

2B Jason Kipnis

1B Nick Swisher

C Carlos Santana

DH Mark Reynolds

LF Michael Brantley

3B Lonnie Chisenhall

RF Drew Stubbs

That seems to be a very solid group of hitters. As for what I said about Santana playing 1B, that clearly will no longer be the case. Santana is going to be the every day catcher, and will force Lou Marson into many less plate appearances. While I said Santana needed to move over to 1B, he now needs to focus on becoming a more defensive catcher. I am just hoping his bat will not be affected by the every day catching duties.

I also have a pretty revolutionary idea that is, in fact, not very revolutionary at all. I love the idea of Mark Reynolds playing third base and putting Giambi at the DH hole. This is obviously contingent upon whether or not Chisenhall puts up solid offensive numbers and whether or not Giambi sticks to the wall he’s being thrown upon. I like Chisenhall, but I don’t think he’s going to be all that productive with his low spot in the lineup.

Then there’s the issue of the order in the lineup. The Indians have a good problem on their hands: they have a lot of good hitters. This causes a problem as to where to put all of the offensive power the Indians hold. There are a few options, and I am sure Terry Francona will be mixing it up for quite a long time. There is no reason to fret about the lineup until maybe a quarter of the way through the regular season. Until that point, it will simply be a guessing game.

“TRIBE TOWN”

The Indians announced this morning that their new campaign would be “Cleveland Is A Tribe Town”. After the whole “What If?” debacle, the Indians and their PR firm have certainly come up with a great slogan. The Indians are the talk of the town right now, or at least they should be (that’s for you crazy Browns people), and the Indians have taken advantage of their great offseason through a new marketing direction.

I feel as if the magic of the 1990’s could be well on it’s way back, and it all starts with this new mantra. To me, Cleveland has always been a Tribe town. I wasn’t alive when the Browns were good, and the Cavaliers are the newest of the bunch, so the Indians always seemed like the team that was meant to represent Cleveland; its fans, its tradition, and its loyalty.

Since the new regime took over the team, however, the Indians haven’t generated as much buzz as they should. Shapiro, up until this point, hadn’t done much of anything for the Indians and the Dolans weren’t willing to give up any cash. Well, now that both of these habitual happenings have been overthrown, the Indians are very much relevant again, and the new slogan is well worth it’s salt.

“The Rotation”

The biggest question mark for the Tribe is their rotation. I think that three spots are pretty much taken, but the final two are up for grabs. Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Brett Myers are going to have to pitch well for the Indians to win. It’s a fact. No matter how good the offense is, the three “for sure” starters are going to have to get it done. When it comes to the other two, I’m hoping that the Indians caught lightning in a bottle.

Scott Kazmir, Carlos Carrasco, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Zach McCallister, and Trevor Bauer could all be viable options for the 4th and 5th spots in the rotation. That is what Spring Training is going to be for, to see whether or not a few of these guys will take the reigns on a potential rotation spot. I, personally, am hoping to see Kazmir and Matsuzaka return to form while Carrasco, McCallister, and Bauer continue to develop. Eventually, I think Bauer is going to be a potentially All Star caliber starter, but until them, I think it’s best that his head and his arm get to the same place.

As for my prediction for the rotation, it goes as follows:

  1. Justin Masterson
  2. Ubaldo Jimenez
  3. Brett Myers
  4. Daisuke Matsuzaka
  5. Zach McCallister

I wish that both Daisuke and Kazmir could make a spot on this rotation, but I just don’t see it happening. When you’re trying to “revamp” a players career, it often turns out for the worst rather than for the better. I think they’ll be able to do it with Daisuke, but I think that Kazmir might be too far gone to bring back in at this point. It would be absolutely amazing to see both Kazmir and Matsuzaka pitching well in this rotation though. If that’s the case, I believe we could be looking at a potential World Series contender.

With all of the excitement, this is the chance for the Indians to take hold as the team of this town. Cleveland hasn’t had a winner since LeBron left town, and this is seemingly the first chance to reverse that trend. The Cavs are going to take a while to develop, the Browns are on the right track, but the Indians have an opportunity to win as we speak. Let’s hope they make the most of it and make Cleveland a “Tribe Town” once again.

Go Tribe!

Follow Hayden on Twitter @H_Grove

Scott Raab's Truths Shouldn't Mar Cleveland's Future

I once read a book. It was a beautiful book, some would call it heinous. Some would call it childish, bitter. I would call it well-crafted. The author of this book has been there. He was at the 1964 NFL Championship game. He holds the ticket stub between his fingers and often lends it out to others to hold. He was there, that ticket stub serves as a reminder for those who weren’t.

Yesterday marked the 48th Anniversary of the last championship Cleveland has seen. The Browns won a remarkable game against the Baltimore Colts, 27-0. Since that point in 1964, Cleveland teams have been a disgrace to a once proud city, and once proud fans. Many, including Scott and I, believe that Cleveland has reached it’s lowest point ever.

The rant went like this:

“Watching ‘The Band That Wouldn’t Die’ to mark the 48th anniversary of Cleveland’s last title. I doubt that any living fan will see another. Two generations of loss have produced a fanbase that thinks Heckert and Jauron are savants, not utter mediocrities. Open your eyes. Think Weeden & Tristan will ever be more than ciphers, or that Kyrie isn’t already gone, or that Byron Scott gives a shit? Open your eyes. Why would Kyrie Irving, already beloved around the NBA, stay with a franchise that thinks losing will be its path to glory? He won’t. As for MLB, its economics don’t excuse the Dolans or Shapiro for their failure. ‘What If?’ What if you shoved your Thome statue up your ass? 17 unfollows so far. Good riddance. Better you should read about how Weeden & Tristan just need time to grow & CLE fans should be patient. How have ‘stability’ & ‘continuity’ worked for the Tribe? Front offices that judge & develop young talent deserve respect. These guys? Feh. I’d also like younger CLE fans to think harder about what they see, hear, & read. A rocket-armed QB is a must in the AFC North? Bullshit. The Tribe couldn’t locate cheap replacement-level talent at 1B, or RH bats, due to MLB economics? Bullshit. Nowhere else but Cleveland would fans hear a team president tell them NOT to come to the ballpark if they’re too focused on winning. Nowhere but Cleveland would towel-snappers like Chris Perez and Josh Cribbs publicly piss on the people who pay to see them play. I’ll end my 48th Anniversary party thus: The 3 Cleveland teams are an ongoing disgrace to their fans. The won-loss record speaks for itself.”

As sadistic and cynical as it sounds, Scott Raab is spot on.

Cleveland sports are at their low point. The Browns haven’t been competitive since 1999, the Cavaliers were royally screwed, and the Indians are run by a family that isn’t willing to open the checkbook. Things are bad in Cleveland right now. Where I disagree with Scott is that I believe things are turning around, and not in the short term. These changes are for the long term.

Consider this: the Browns have a rookie rusher who broke records held by Jim Brown, arguably the greatest football player ever. He broke these records while being held back by one of the dumbest coaches to roam an NFL sideline. The Cavaliers have the league’s “NEXT” player according to ESPN the Magazine, and the most recent NBA Rookie of the Year. The Indians just made their biggest free agent acquisition in team history in signing Nick Swisher.

The Browns were just sold to a man with a lot of money and a seemingly true and genuine interest in winning football games, unlike his aloof predecessor. The Cavaliers are owned by a man with as much passion as Cleveland has ever seen in terms of winning championships. The Indians have a manager who has won World Series championships, and broken curses in the process.

For once, I truly believe the pieces are in place for Cleveland sports teams to legitimately compete in the near future. The right people are leading the way.

As for Scott, his words ring true.

Kyrie, amidst the misery that is the 2012 Cleveland Cavaliers, at this point is a complete absence in his first shot at free agency. It’s almost as LeBron’s situation in Cleveland. LeBron’s departure, however, was much less justified than Kyrie’s will be. LeBron was competing for championships. Kyrie is competing with the dismal abilities of his teammates. Of course, no one expected the Cavaliers to be playoff-bound, but the atrocities exhibited on the boundless floors of the NBA this season from the Cavaliers are completely unacceptable.

The Browns are a complete an utter mess, a mess that Jimmy Haslam and Joe Banner fully intend to clean up. Shurmur is a disgrace, Childress is literally useless (thanks to Shurmur), Jauron let Kirk Cousins look better than RGIII, and Josh Cribbs does nothing for the team, but continually runs his mouth as if he does. Trent Richardson, a feature back who should control the offense, is nothing but an after thought, averaging 16 carries per game. Brandon Weeden throws for a lot of yards, but continually gets his balls tipped and intercepted. Their best and most beloved player is a kicker.

The Indians have been a product of their owners, the Dolans. As transparent as Randy Lerner, the Dolan family has hid the checkbook from Chris Antonetti until they were finally threatened this offseason. While Antonetti has proved his worth as capable General Manager, the Dolans have to go if the Indians want to compete. Antonetti has, somehow, gotten a manager with a pedigree and a big time, Buckeye right fielder. If it were up to the Dolans, the Indians would change their name to the Cleveland Mediocrity.

As frustrating as it is, it’s all true. The Cleveland sports situation was unbelievably, as bad as it has been in the past, at it’s lowest point. Unfortunately, it takes a rant like Scott Raab’s to make people notice. I’ve been saying this for a while, that it has recently been the worst it’s ever been, but I haven’t the following to gain traction. Scott Raab does, and he’s exactly right.

Fortunately for you, the reader, I am more hopeful and optimistic than Mr. Raab. The night is the darkest before the sun comes up. You can see the outer linings of the sun beginning to rise up over the Cleveland horizon. Things are horrible right now. Every team sucks, and no one is close to competing. The media is fluffy, protecting the players and coaches rather than looking at their production, and the fans are more ornery than ever. The pieces are in place, however. The faces of the future of Cleveland are set. Trent Richardson, Kyrie Irving, Nick Swisher. Jimmy Haslam, Dan Gilbert, Terry Francona. These are going to be the guys leading Cleveland back into business. Mediocrity is no longer acceptable.

Growing pains will happen. It sucks to watch, it sucks to feel, it sucks to listen to. That’s what’s happening with the Cavs, and eventually it will happen with the Browns, and maybe even the Tribe.

Scott says repeatedly, open your eyes. Clearly the context in which he used it referred to the haze of mediocrity that Cleveland fans are engulfed in. I’m going to say it in a different way.

Open your eyes Cleveland, the storm is clearing up. It’s still raining, but the winds have stopped and we can see the clear skies ahead. Sure it may take a while to get there, but we have strong ships leading us towards promising land. We will get there. While more patience is not an option, we can’t dwell on the negative. The negativity is simply making everything worse. We have to have optimism. Not a blind optimism, as we have been accustomed to, but a warranted optimism that comes along with having good owners and good coaches. While we’re not fully there on that front, with Black Monday approaching, we will certainly be closer than we’ve been in a while.

I fully expect that next season will be a much better one on the banks of Lake Erie. No, the playoffs may not be on the slate for any of the 2013 teams, but an improvement will certainly be made. The Browns will have a capable head coach, the Cavs will have another lottery pick, the Indians Front Office will be holding the Dolans hostage, demanding more cash. Things will be looking up for Cleveland, and as the dark hole that was Cleveland’s sports picture was certainly real, the bright sky will be certainly evident.

Scott Raab made a lot of Cleveland sports fans angry with his rant. His bitterness may have “hurt” many Brownies, Wahoos, and Cavs alike. But he spoke the truth, as tough as it may have been to hear. Don’t be hurt by his words. Instead imagine “next year” on both of its levels. Cleveland will no longer be the butt of the jokes, the laughing stock of the leagues, the doormats of the divisions. Finally, Cleveland is going to be where it deserves, right on top of the sporting world.

Follow Scott Raab on Twitter @ScottRaab64

Follow Hayden on Twitter @H_Grove 


I Was Wrong About the Indians Front Office

I would like to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, first and foremost! I hope you spend some quality time with your loved ones during this most special time of year!

I would also like to wish you a Merry Swishmas as we all know what happened yesterday!

I have yet to tweet about the Nick Swisher addition because I have no words to describe my elation at his arrival. I actually jumped around my house and hollered like a small child receiving a new bike or a creepy crawlers bug set. It truly was the best Christmas present I could have received, outside of spending time with loved ones. It was one of the more exciting moments of my Indians fanhood. (By the way, do you know how sad that sounds? The fact that signing Nick Swisher is one of the best moments of my sports fandom is absolutely pathetic.) Nevertheless, it was a Merry Swishmas indeed.

I have ripped apart the Indians front office since the trade deadline last season. I have called Mark Shapiro and Chris Antonetti cowardly, directionless, and gutless. I have called them heartless, stupid, and lacking. I have called them names that I don’t wish to repeat in this piece. I have ripped them apart time after time, and I had sworn to never have faith in this front office again. They lost my faith and lost my trust a long while ago.

Well, I have to admit, I may be the gutless, heartless, directionless, and cowardly one. I wrote off this front office long ago, and it was something I should not have done.

For Shapiro and Antonetti, it was time to put up or shut up. It was time to get things done or get out of town. Believe me, I was chasing them with a pitchfork and a torch. I wanted them gone faster than they could leave. It’s times like these when I feel like the true idiot of this town.

Mark Shapiro and Chris Antonetti now deserve our support more than ever. The phone was ringing off of the hook and they answered each and every call. First, they made an amazing move getting rid of Choo and adding the pitching talent the Indians so desperately need. Of course, with Boras at the helm, Choo was not coming back to Cleveland. The Tribe definitely got the right price for Shin-Soo and then some. While Drew Stubbs is definitely not a hitter, he’s a good outielder, far better than Shelley Duncan or Ezequiel Carrera for that matter. They then picked up Trevor Bauer, who will certainly be a project but can also be a very high risk, high reward pick up. In all of this they got rid of Jason Donald, who could seemingly never stay in the big leagues, and kept Asdrubal Cabrera and Chris Perez, who are both very valuable whether in a Tribe uniform or as a part of a trade.

They then nabbed Mark Reynolds to fill the giant hole at first base. Last season, Shapiro and Antonetti made an incredibly dumb move bringing Casey Kotchman to the Indians. While they were running out of options, they brought in a guy who was coming off of a flukey season and provided nothing offensively. Honestly, I would’ve rather seen Matt LaPorta try to finally reach his potential rather than see a middle-aged, over the hump Kotchman man first base each and every game. While Reynolds does strike out a ton, that’s what sluggers do. When Reynolds connects, the ball travels, something you can’t say for Kotchman and/or LaPorta. He’s a much better “experiment” than Kotchman ever was.

The Front Office then impressed me with a low risk, high reward signing in Scott Kazmir. I remember the days when Kazmir was a Cy Young candidate, and he was absolutely dominant. While he has fallen off of the wagon, Kazmir, at 28 years old, can still put it together. This has happened before, where a pitcher goes through an incredibly tough stretch but then puts it all back together. While it may not happen, the signing is well worth the risk.

Finally, Shapiro and Antonetti got their man and they guy I wanted all along in Nick Swisher. Undoubtedly the biggest free agent signing in Cleveland Indians history, Shapiro and Antonetti won back a lot of hearts by signing Swisher, including mine. Swisher is literally everything you can ask for. He has the nostalgic pull as he was born in Columbus, he is a graduate of Ohio State, and is in some ways a “home town” player. He puts up numbers on the baseball field, averaging 28 home runs, 90 RBI, and an .828 ops throughout his career. He will put fans in the seats and will be the face of the franchise, both things that the Indians were lacking. Finally, he fits a need. The Indians needed a power-hitting, right-handed outfielder desperately, and Swisher, (although he is a switch hitter), fits the bill.

Shapiro and Antonetti knew that if they wanted to keep their jobs and turn this ship around, they needed Nick Swisher to join the Tribe. They pulled out all the stops, including the checkbook, and, for once, did everything they could and sealed the deal. It took a while, and put Indians fans through a great deal of anxious moments, but in the end the agony of waiting was well worth it. Nick Swisher is now a Cleveland Indian, and the Indians are finally going to have an exciting team, regardless of win total, to watch every night.

I would like to formally apologize for my statements regarding Mark Shapiro and Chris Antonetti. I am sorry for my ill-will towards the both of them. They have shown me and the rest of the Cleveland Indians fan base that they are ready to put a winning product on the field, regardless of the cost. They have shown me that they are capable of doing such, and they have shown me that the past is in the past, but the present is at hand. If the Indians are competing for a World Series soon, as they did in the 1990’s, we can say it is all thanks to the front office. They decided that enough was enough. They put their noses to the grindstone and finally worked hard to get the Indians in a good place, both for now and the future. I’m sure this isn’t the end of their endeavors either. I’m sure we’ll see a move or two before Spring Training starts. That’s something I never would have said before this offseason.

Mr. Shapiro, Mr. Antonetti, you may have surpassed Kyrie Irving and the Cavaliers as the most exciting team in Cleveland. This offseason you have proven yourselves to be the two bright, diligent, and capable young men that you truly are, not those half-assing cowards of the past. I, on behalf of the fans of the Cleveland Indians, cannot thank you enough for giving this team, and this city, some real hope. Finally, thanks to the both of you, the Indians will be back again! Merry Swishmas!

Follow Hayden on Twitter @H_Grove

 

It's a Big Week for the Tribe, So Don't Hold Your Breath

I have often made my feelings about the Indians front office very visible on this website.

Here: (http://www.morethanafan.net/2012/08/06/indians-a-reflection-of-a-failed-front-office/), and here: (http://www.morethanafan.net/2012/09/28/an-eventful-thursday-tribe-and-browns-heading-in-new-directions/).

If you don’t read those, and I would encourage you to, I’ll give you a summary of what I said. Shapiro stinks. Antonetti stinks. Neither are accountable. Neither have a direction for this ball club. Both have failed this organization miserably. This week should be no different for the Tribe.

With a new manager and a new season ahead of us, the production of the Indians front office should be the same: abysmal. The Indians have clear and glaring holes that need to be filled. A first baseman, a power hitting, right-handed outfielder (Swisher, cough, COUGH!), and starting pitching. The team right now is young, and messy, but not a complete failure. They have strong pieces, but the glaring holes are not going to allow those strengths to truly float this ball club along.

With this front office, although they should, the Indians will most likely not get anything done this weekend. They could make a few minor deals just to appease the fans while insulting their intelligence, but overall the Indians will be a very similar ball club to the one they were last week.

I would like, more than anything from this organization, to see Shapiro and Antonetti pull the trigger on an aggressive trade to make this baseball team better. That, however, wouldn’t be “financially responsible” or “in the best interest of this ballclub”. The excuses will seemingly mount as the Tribe continues to get nothing done. The first base hole will still be wide open, the right-handed outfielder will still be in New York, and the Indians will have, yet again, failed, thanks to the front office.

I’ve had people telling me to be patient. I’ve had people telling me to believe that things will change. I’m sorry, I’ve believed. I’ve had faith in this front office. I gave the FO one final ultimatum: “Get a trade done at the deadline or lose my vote of faith and confidence.” Of course, nothing was done, and my belief in the FO was gone.

These guys are simply not accountable and their interests lie in areas outside of winning baseball games. (Reference Shapiro’s “just don’t come” comments.) I’m all for the ballpark experience and the club seats, but this town needs winning more than they need luxury at the ball park. The Indians plan, at this point, seems to be to allow the fans to watch the miserable organization in the most amazing way. It’s all fine and good, but it’s not what is most important.

How many times have we heard that the Indians expect to be “very active” and how many times have we heard the excuses and the crying of “small market”? How many times will we believe these imbeciles in the suites behind home plate? It doesn’t make any sense, or does it? It makes a ton of sense. These guys want to win, but simply don’t have the fortitude or the interest in doing so. To win, one must take risks. One must go out and make moves. The Indians haven’t taken a risk since Ubaldo, and unfortunately it hasn’t turned out as planned. Maybe that’s why the Indians won’t take risks anymore. Maybe Ubaldo ruined their appetite for risk-taking. One bad move, however, can’t determine your course in later moves. That’s not how an organization works. And honestly, the Ubaldo move wasn’t even all that bad. No, he’s not great by any stretch of the imagination, but he’s certainly not as bad as Pomeranz and White have been.

I’ve had enough of the failed prospects. I’ve had enough of being the sellers. The Indians need to be buyers, and with Baseball’s Winter Meetings having arrived, what a perfect time to make some moves. With this FO, there will be no moves. There will be no exciting and necessary additions to this ballclub. And it’s not because they can’t, it’s because they won’t. They are far too cheap, far too focused on other things, and far to incapable of building a winning team. Let’s face it, in 2007, they got lucky. They locked all of these players up for the long term, and they immediately started their decline because they had a flukey year. It had nothing to do with building a winning baseball team. It was a bunch of young guys, and Travis Hafner on the juice, who somehow won baseball games, but still couldn’t manage to finish.

So what should you, as a Tribe fan, realistically expect this weekend? My expectations would be as follows: they trade Asdrubal Cabrera for prospects, they trade Shin-Soo Choo for prospects, they trade Ubaldo Jimenez for prospects, and/or they trade Chris Perez for prospects. I really wouldn’t understand the logic of most of these moves, but for the Indians I guess that is completely to be expected. This baseball team will be set back another 3-5 years and the losing will continue, regardless of the manager at the helm.

My hope for this weekend: although I have no hope for the Indians, they go get someone. I don’t care who, (Swisher, cough, COUGH), or how, but I need them to get better. They aren’t going to get better by simply adding more prospects. Their wallet will get fatter by doing so, but what good is a fat wallet if one is not going to use it? That seems to have been the Indians M.O. for quite a while now. Fatten the wallet, and keep it fat. Don’t spend it, don’t get better, just keep the money in the wallet and go from there.

So, as active as the Tribe will supposedly be this week, don’t expect any moves to make this team better, or any moves at all. Call me a cynic, but this front office has yet to do anything to make me think otherwise. The lack of accountability starts at the top and trickles all the way down to the bottom. The horrible part is, there seems to be no end to this lack of accountability in sight.

Follow Hayden on Twitter @H_Grove

Hiring Francona Would Just Give Shapiro and Antonetti Another Free Pass

by Ryan Isley

The good old boys network never seems to work in sports – which is why when the Cleveland Indians mentioned talking to Terry Francona for their vacancy at manager, I could only shake my head.

Last week when the Indians fired manager Manny Acta with six games remaining in the season, Francona’s was the hot name that instantly rose to the surface. It seemed that Indians fans were mostly in agreement that if the team could land Francona, they would be ecstatic.

I guess you can count me in the minority – I don’t want the Indians to hire Francona. There are a few reasons for this, but the biggest of them is his relationship with Indians president Mark Shapiro and general manager Chris Antonetti.

When Francona went on “Pardon the Interruption” on ESPN Tuesday, he was asked by Tony Kornheiser about his interest in the Indians job despite the fact that the team has had four managers since 2000.

“When I got fired from the Phillies back in 2000, I went to work for the Cleveland Indians and it was Mark Shapiro and Chris Antonetti. I spent a year as a special assistant to Mark. So my relationship with those guys is really the main reason I want to go in and interview. And I am excited and we will see where it goes from there. I don’t know.”  

Shapiro and Antonetti hiring someone whom with they have a relationship is the last thing this team needs. With the roster constructed as it is currently, the Indians will not be a contender and they need a manager who will come in and not be afraid to tell the front office what they need in order to win.

With Francona, I am just not sure that the front office will have that input from the manager as they seem to already be too buddy-buddy with the former Red Sox skipper. It is bad enough that Shapiro and Antonetti are not being held accountable by ownership but if they are not held accountable by the on-field leader, things will never get better.

Even as the team has fallen apart in each of the last two seasons with Antonetti as the general manager and Shapiro as the president, ownership has not held their feet to the fire. Instead, they have sat back as the front office has fired a hitting coach, a pitching coach and ultimately their manager.

Remember – this is a team whose ownership gave Shapiro a promotion from general manager to team president following the 2010 season – one in which the Indians were 69-93 a season after finishing 65-97. Most teams would have given Shapiro a pink slip, but the Indians showed him the penthouse. In his 12 years as either president or general manager, Mark Shapiro has overseen a team that has gone 913-1030 with just two playoff appearances and three winning seasons. Antonetti has overseen two seasons in which the Indians have combined to go 148-175 and finished below .500 both seasons.

The Indians are a team with multiple holes and ownership who doesn’t seem willing to spend the money to fill those holes properly. Even when ownership has greenlighted moves, the front office of Shapiro and Antonetti has continually screwed them up and then found other people to use as their scapegoat.

Handing this team over to Francona would not equal immediate success, especially if the front office sees him as more of a friend than they do as a manager. This is not the 2004 Red Sox team that Francona took over and led to a World Series title, either. That team was already on the verge of being a World Series contender when he took the reins from Grady Little between the 2003 and 2004 seasons.

The 2012-2013 Indians are more like the 1997 Philadelphia Phillies team that Francona took over from Jim Fregosi  – a team that was 67-95 in the season before Francona arrived. Francona failed to post a winning season in Philadelphia in four seasons, compiling an overall record of 285-363 with a best season of 77-85.

Bringing in someone who has a relationship with Shapiro and Antonetti isn’t the answer. The Indians need someone with a new voice and a new philosophy. Of course, I have no reason to believe they will actually do the right thing. Being comfortable seems more important than winning to this front office.

Comments? Questions? You can leave them here or email Ryan at ryan@morethanafan.net

 

Indians Just Trying to Cover Their Ass by Benching Ubaldo

by Ryan Isley

Accountability. It is defined by dictionary.com as “the state of being accountable, liable or answerable.”

It is a word that is not known on the corner of Carnegie and Ontario in downtown Cleveland, where the Indians play. Or at least it is a word that is not known in their front office, as team president Mark Shapiro and general manager Chris Antonetti continue to be given a free pass by ownership.

The Cleveland Indians announced on Wednesday that they would be shutting down starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez with one start remaining due to a sore ankle. But don’t let that official reason for the Indians benching Jimenez fool you – the Indians are simply just trying to cover their ass.

While I have tried to defend Shapiro and Antonetti numerous times this season, I simply cannot defend this farce. The Indians are shutting down Jimenez to try to save some face as their big acquisition from last season’s trade deadline is having one of the worst seasons in team history.

Some may just say that it is no big deal because Saturday’s game – the one Jimenez was scheduled to start – is a meaningless game with the Indians nowhere near being in playoff contention. Sure, it is meaningless. But then again, the entire month of September has been pretty much meaningless and the Indians have yet to shut down Asdrubal Cabrera, who has been battling a sore wrist for most of the month. The difference between Jimenez and Cabrera is simple – the Indians didn’t sell the farm to obtain Cabrera.

It is easy to see why the Indians front office would want to shut down Jimenez and try to keep themselves from being more embarrassed than they are already.

With a record of 9-17, Jimenez has become the first pitcher to lose 17 games in Major League Baseball since Daniel Cabrera of the Baltimore Orioles lost 17 in 2007. He was also the first Indians pitcher to lose 17 or more games in 25 years, as Tom Candiotti was the last Indians pitcher to do so when he lost 18 games in 1987. As bad as Roberto Hernandez has been in some seasons for the Indians, the most he has even last was 15 in one season. By pulling Jimenez now, the Indians will keep him from being the ninth player in team history to lose 18 games.

It wasn’t just about the losses either – his ERA was another number that the Indians front office is looking at. In his 31 starts this season, Jimenez has an ERA of 5.55, the second-worst in team history. Jack Morris holds the record for worst ERA in Indians team history when he had a 5.60 ERA in 1994 while posting a record of 10-6.

If Jimenez would have taken the mound for his final start of the season and had a duplication of his last start – five earned runs in 4.1 innings – he would have eclipsed Morris’ mark by finishing with an ERA of 5.66. Even if Jimenez would have gone five innings and given up four earned runs, he would have tied Morris’ mark.

What makes this season even worse for Jimenez is that after the All-Star break, he was 1-10 with a 6.99 ERA. Not exactly the kind of numbers that the Indians were hoping for from a guy they obtained thinking he would be an ace for their pitching staff.

Beyond losses and ERA, Jimenez led the league in wild pitches, was second worst in the league in earned runs allowed, ERA and walks and was third worst in the league in strikeout-to-walk ratio at the time he was shut down. He also had just 13 quality starts in his 31 appearances. To be honest, Jimenez has looked more like a No.5 starter than he has a No.1 starter in his season and a half in an Indians uniform.

When it comes to Jimenez, it all comes down to accountability. Of course, the Indians would rather fire hitting coaches and pitching coaches than actually address the real problem in the front office. As a last ditch effort to try to cover their ass and deflect any blame from Shapiro and Antonetti, the Indians fired manager Manny Acta on Thursday with six games left in the season.

Count me as one who isn’t buying that the Indians shut down Jimenez because of his ankle. They shut him down because of Shapiro and Antonetti’s egos. And they need to be held accountable for that.

Comments? Questions? You can leave them here or email Ryan at ryan@morethanafan.net

Maybe Last Place Will Wake Up the Dolans

Now how in the wide world of sports did this happen?

And no, I’m not talking about Brandon Weeden and his dismal 5.1 quarterback rating.

In my continued effort to try and stay as far away form any Art Modell tributes as possible, I decided to forego watching the first Monday Night Football game when I remembered there’s also a baseball team in Cleveland that technically still has games until October 3rd.

Unfortunately, I think it’s unbearably apparent that this team mailed it in over a month ago.

I was never one who thought that the Indians would be serious contenders in 2012. At the beginning of the season, I thought they’d go 79-83 to finish third in the AL Central because the front office made no real improvements to the team over the offseason. But now as we sit here on September 11, the Indians are in last place at a stunning 59-82, and are tied with the Minnesota Twins for the worst record in the AL.

Who would have thought they’d make me look like such a fool?

And yet, in a strange way, I’m see a positive that can come out of this horrific and historic collapse. Maybe, just maybe, the Dolans will finally see that the system they’ve created is one of mediocrity and they’ll be willing to shake things up.

A few weeks ago, Indians CEO Paul Dolan said that before making any judgments about the fate of the front office and manager going forward, he has to understand what happened to the team this season. He needs to understand why his baseball team had this dismal collapse. He has to figure out how his team that he believes was contending all of a sudden had the worst month of any Indians team since 1914 with a mind boggling, and franchise record tying 24 losses in August.

Really, I don’t understand exactly what there is to figure out. The team played OK for a couple months, and then the bottom fell out. And if you’re really serious about it, there’s no way any rational person can say the Indians were in contention. Being in first place in April, May, and June isn’t contending. And even though the Tribe beat Justin Verlander to climb to just 3.5 games back in the Central on July 26, the team never really had a shot at the division title.

The numbers tell the whole story. The Indians run differential has been negative for pretty much the entire season. They have been battling it out with the Twins for the dead last ranking in AL ERA for the entire season. They haven’t gotten any kind of good, consistent production from LF, 1B, or 3B all season. Their top two starters in Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez have been inconsistent—at best—all year, but as of late have both been awful with Jimenez’s ERA well over 5.00 with Masterson’s creeping up to the Weeden-rating mark.

With all those chips stacked against a team, how were they supposed to compete with the likes of the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox?

Obviously one bat or one pitcher wasn’t going to solve all the Indians’ problems, but it certainly would have been nice to see the GM Chris Antonetti go after someone not named Brent Lillibridge or Lars Anderson. I didn’t want Kevin Youkilis because at the time of his trade to the White Sox Lonnie Chisenhall was still healthy. But someone, anyone to light a spark on that team might have helped.

Instead was as fans get futility. We get votes of confidence from a GM to a manager when both probably should be out of a job in less than 30 days. We get a closer who blasts the front office and ownership to the media after blasting fans for not coming out to the ballpark early in the season to support a bad team playing over its head.

I understand doing due diligence and not trying to make knee jerk reactions, but when will enough be enough? How many mediocre or just plain bad teams will it take before the Dolans realize that something in their organization must fundamentally change? Say what you want about Randy Lerner being an absentee owner, but at least he knew when to pull the plug on poor management.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to just assign blame so the Dolans can fire everybody and be done with it. There is plenty of blame to go around for the way this season has turned out—from the players, to the manager, to the coaches, to the front office, all the way on up to ownership.

But I sincerely believe the only way the Indians organization can cure what ails it is for the Dolans to stop tolerating mediocrity and start demanding excellence. Otherwise, we’ll continue to see the same losing product year after year.

Shapiro and Antonetti Not Running a Fantasy Team

by Ryan Isley

When does fantasy interfere with reality? When you are talking to Cleveland Indians fans after the Indians don’t make a big trade at the Major League Baseball trade deadline.

When I wrote on Wednesday that I was fine with the Indians not making a huge deal at the trade deadline, I knew I would get some interesting responses. Surprisingly, I received more positive feedback than I expected. But of course there were those who responded and made me just scratch my head and wonder just exactly what they think the Indians front office was doing for the past few weeks.

I have heard things from the Indians should have traded Chris Perez in April or May to they should have made a deal for Justin Upton or Alfonso Soriano to people who think the Indians front office just don’t want to win.

Apparently, some of these guys who spend all of their free time looking at their fantasy teams online and crunching stats to see where their fake team can get better think that it is just as easy to run an actual team in Major League Baseball.  Listen – I like fantasy sports as much as the next guy and I spend as much time as anyone preparing for my fantasy baseball and football drafts every season. But I also realize that it is not like running a real team.

Continue reading Shapiro and Antonetti Not Running a Fantasy Team

Indians Don't Make A Big Trade – and I Can Deal With That

by Ryan Isley

If you came to More Than A Fan expecting to see me rip on Indians President Mark Shapiro and General Manager Chris Antonetti for not making a big trade before Tuesday’s baseball trade deadline, you came to the wrong place.

Am I disappointed that the Indians weren’t able to find a deal that would bring them immediate help at the Major League level? Absolutely.  Was I a little bit upset when Shapiro tweeted two weeks ago that it might be a slow trade market, just to watch other teams make deals in those 14 days? Sure.

But at the same time, I would not have been happy with them if they overpaid for a player just to say that they made a deal as the deadline came and went.

This is not to say that I believe this Indians team will win the division as it is currently constructed, but more that I would rather them be cautious on making a deal rather than to throw caution to the wind just so that the fans are happy.

Continue reading Indians Don't Make A Big Trade – and I Can Deal With That