Debating the Indians Leadership and Front Office

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Feb 18, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Cleveland Indians general manager Chris Antonetti speaks to the media during MLB media day at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Is Leadership and the Front Office to Blame for Team’s Shortcomings?

Wanna talk about the Indians? Sure you do. Why else would you be here?

Well, here’s the thing. Whenever a discussion starts about the Indians, the focus of the conversation, no matter where it starts, inevitably shifts from the players to the leadership. And why wouldn’t it? After all, Terry Francona can only do so much with what he is provided. It wasn’t his decision to dish out a big money extension to Ryan Raburn and make David Murphy the team’s key signing last winter.

Case in point, this past week I had a Twitter conversations with one of my friends and the discussion, like most I take part in, shifted to the front office, the job they’ve done, and the obstacles standing in their way. The main question that brought about the conversation and led to me publishing this article…

“What do you think of the front office?”

Admittedly, it’s a tricky question, one that makes it easy to shift the blame from the individuals on the field who are primarily responsible for the day-to-day outcomes. But is that something that we should be doing? Is it the front office’s fault the Indians fell short. Personally, I feel as if the blame can be spread across the organization for a number of reasons. My ultimate conclusion, though? The front office has done a great job. Possibly a better job than could be expected given the circumstances.

Here’s how it all played out. My portion of the conversation is in bold.

“Tito…4 more years!”

“Yes!”

“I really didn’t see that coming. I thought he was holding the job and rebuilding the team and teaching Alomar. then leave after 4 years.”

“Yeah. I hadn’t thought about that. I thought he was going to bolt & leave us settling for some doofus. That’s a much better scenario. But I’m glad we don’t have to worry now.”

“Yeah… It’s great that it happened. It’s also nice bc we won’t go to rebuild mode while he’s here.”

“Disaster Averted.”

“What do you think of the front office?”

“They’re definitely one of the better ones. They’ve made a few questionable decisions i.e. Raburn, but for the most part they’re solid. They’re obviously limited by what they can do but more often than not they tend to be successful. And the Indians have been the best of the Cleveland teams on a more consistent basis in a less competitively balanced sport. What’s your opinion?”

Feb 18, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Cleveland Indians general manager Chris Antonetti speaks to the media during MLB media day at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

“I agree with all of your points…especially them being the most competitive. But I really think Dan Gilbert is the better owner in the city. He’ll spend money and wants to win. I dunno about Haslam… Too early. The browns still have Lerner stink on ’em. The issue with Dolan is that I don’t think he minds if they stink. He’s never visible or vocal. Never holds the front office accountable.”

“I agree with you on that. I don’t feel like they ante up financially to put the team over the top. Instead the attendance issue is pushed.”

“Like when’s the last time that he made a baseball move? I don’t think he knows about it. He just hung onto what the Jacobs/Hart left.”

“And Gilbert goes beyond just being an owner. like you said, he’s put back into the city and is visible. I honestly couldn’t tell you what any of the Dolans actually look like. I think the Dolan’s do a good job of letting the baseball guys make the baseball moves, BUT I don’t think he has ever said “let’s go for it” I think EVERYTHING they do is hampered by this idea of being fiscally responsible in the end.”

“That’s so true. Like what did we do after 2007? Nothing. 2013?? Nothing. We probably won’t do shit this winter. I’m sure if the front office had another $10 mil to spend we’d be in the playoffs.”

“Exactly. Like after 2007 an all in move should have been made. Same after 2013. David Murphy… that was our move. and Santana at third base. Woo… The one thing that I think confirms what we’re saying is all of their recent “smart moves” they all involved not paying guys. We didn’t pay Ubaldo…smart. We didn’t pay Masterson… smart. Were they smart, or being cheap and it worked out?”

“We also didn’t pay Kazmir …smh.”

“Exactly!… but if he had sucked for Oakland we would have looked like geniuses.”

“Lol…that’s unbelievable. And not keeping that fat ass that pitched well for the braves in the spring. Harang? Dumb move.”

“He fell apart towards the midway point. I feel like Harang would have been Lowe 2.0. The problem this season is that the free agent market is lacking. Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval and that’s like it. If they want to do something they’d have to make a trade. they’ve spent so much time rebuilding the minors I don’t think they’d want to cash in those chips. and from the major league roster what can we really afford to give up? It’s going to be interesting what they do.”

“Pitching is deep.”

“Nobody we can afford. Honestly, I think I’d be willing to make a cheap offer on Masterson. He’s a workhorse and an innings eater. if they could straighten him out, which I think Callaway could… Could be intriguing.”

“Naw man…he’s such a project. We need Callaway on Salazar and Carrasco. Plus…I like TJ.”

“Yeah. Kluber, Carrasco, Bauer, Salazar, House seems like a solid five.”

“And you Masterson log jamming that?”

“That’s a good point. I like T.J. House, but I’m skeptical if he’s legit. very small sample size. I’d say bring him on to close, but there’s no way Allen can go back into a setup role now, which sucks. They blew their Allen load too soon. Saves artificially inflate arbitration value. He becomes instantly unaffordable in our situation of not spending.”

“Dude… You know how much we’ll have to pay him… To close. The one thing about this team is that we’ve had a great bullpen without paying for it.”

“I know. I’m just weighing options here, but Allen becoming close before arbitration years is going to hurt them in the end.”

“Good point. But what else could we do?”

“No clue. I think they sign some veteran/minor league depth pitching options and focus on improving defense somehow. Unless you get a Shields or Lester our rotation is set. Unless they get someone they like better than House for the 5 spot.”

“Ugh…sign him now then…give him the Kipnis/Brantley/Gomes treatment.”

“McAllister’s rotting corpse is also an available option.”

“Lololol. That’s funny.”

“And a little bit sad.”

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