The Cleveland Indians have won just four of their past 25 games heading into a weekend series against the New York Yankees.
It’s a second-half downfall similar to last season’s as the Indians go from one-time division leader to possible wild-card contenders to also-rans. Indians CEO Paul Dolan responded to fan grumblings Thursday by giving the dreaded vote of confidence to manager Manny Acta, general manager Chris Antonetti and team president Mark Shapiro.
Here’s what Dolan had to say:
“We all have a lot of work to do, but their jobs aren’t at stake. It’s been extraordinarily difficult. In our entire tenure of ownership (since 2000), we have not seen a contending team deep into the season collapse like this.”
Now, what Dolan says and how he responds if losses continue to pile up could be two different things. It’s true the Dolans have not opened up their wallets to try to tempt every viable free agent to come to Cleveland, but low-budget teams can and do contend in the majors. The Pittsburgh Pirates, Oakland A’s and Tampa Bay Rays are showing that this season.
I’m inclined to agree with the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Terry Pluto and lay the largest portion of the blame on the front office. It’s true the starting rotation has been inconsistent, at best, and own the AL’s worst ERA at 4.82. The offense is mediocre, lacking balance and often failing to produce with runners on base. But the biggest problem is the front office’s failure to evaluate players within the constraints of their budget.
Resigning Grady Sizemore (even if it was for $5 million) didn’t help because the oft-injured center fielder hasn’t played a game this season. The Travis Hafner contract hasn’t panned out, although a $13 million-a-year deal for a healthy and productive Hafner seemed fair when the deal was signed.
Antonetti and Shapiro, assuming they both still are employed after this season, are going to have to dig deep and reconsider their current approach to player acquisitions and scouting if Cleveland is to stay a consistent contender from April through September.