In defense of the Cleveland Indians front office

I don’t know why I keep doing this. I’m not even that big of a Dolan/Shapiro/Antonetti guy. There have definitely been times where I’ve sworn out loud at the Dolans just like everybody else. Yeah, they don’t make it rain like the Yankees. Or the Dodgers. Or even the White Sox, Rockies or Padres. They’re not great at drafting. I wouldn’t argue otherwise. But over the past 5 years, Baseball Prospectus has ranked the Tribe farm system as about the 15th best in the big leagues on average. Directly in the middle of the pack. It was even as high as 3rd and 7th in 2010 and 2011, respectively. I obviously understand that it’s just one site’s opinion but I think it’s pretty much a similar story most anywhere you look. There are other good things about our farm other than Francisco Lindor.

In light of how the Cavs season and Browns off-season is going, it (should) makes you appreciate what you have as an Indians fan. What’s the most important thing for a front office (besides winning, which neither the Browns nor Cavs have done nearly as much as the Indians in the past couple years)? Continuity. That word is LOL-worthy over at Browns camp in Berea. 8 head coaches, 12 offensive and 10 defensive coordinators (feel free to check me on that) in the 15 years they’ve been back. The Cavs have had four head coaches, er 3 since they hired the same one again three years after firing him, and 3 GMs in the past 5 years.


The Indians? Mark Shapiro held the General Manager position for ten years (named Executive of the Year by The Sporting News in 2005 and 2007) before handing it off to Chris Antonetti after the 2010 season (Antonetti himself has been with the Indians since 1999). The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Dolans have owned the team since 2000.

But…but….we hired a new manager two years ago! That’s not continuity!


You’re right. It isn’t. But the hiring of Terry Francona is ARGUMENT NUMBER ONE that the Indians most certainly do not have the worst front office in Cleveland. And if you’re trying to measure the immeasurable “desire to win” of each respective front office? How about hiring a coach who has won a championship in his sport before like the Indians did with Tito? Let’s take a look at the last 5 NBA and NFL Champions:


…so I definitely thought there would be way more returning champion coaches before I took a half hour to put that thing together. But it supports my point nonetheless. Every single coach in both sports over the past 5 years has had some amount of success before winning a championship. Wouldn’t a front office that “wants to win” hire a coach who has proven he knows what it takes to get the job done?

Pettine: zero head coach experience. Chud: zero head coach experience. Shurmur: zero head coach experience. Mangini: three years HC experience, one Wild Card appearance (lost), followed by a 4-12 year and one of the most epic collapses in recent memory (8-3 start, 9-7 final record in 2008). Combined record with the Browns? 25-55. But that front office wants to win.

Mike Brown: at the time of hire, zero head coach experience. Byron Scott: OK fine he was a pretty good coach. Mike Brown again: lol. David Blatt: zero NBA head coach experience. Their combined records with the Cavs (starting in 2010 with Brown)? 116-232. But that front office wants to win.


It’s not accidental I’m just looking at the past 5 years. Honestly it really doesn’t matter how far you go back with the Browns, it just gets worse. The Cavs were the closest thing we’ve seen to a championship team during LeBron’s first tenure here. But that was all about him, not about some genius maneuvering by the front office or Mike Brown out coaching people. We won 17 games in 2002 and lucked into the first overall pick the year the greatest basketball player of our (possibly any) generation was available. If anything, the Cavaliers front office dropped the fucking ball big time by not being able to surround him with enough talent TO win a championship.

So quite simply, if you agree with the top of this list:

Or with this:

…I respect your opinion but you seriously could not be more wrong.

The only real knock that keeps coming back from Indians haters/fans is that the Dolans don’t spend money. The original ClevelandSC guy and I had a financial back and forth a couple months ago, so I’m not going to re-hash that here, but I will say this: like the hiring of Francona, the fact that the Dolans don’t spend money how people want them to actually reinforces my argument (to a point).

The people who clamor for the Scherzers, Sandovals and Shields don’t realize how things need to be done in a small market. There are no years where you “go for it”. There’s no real “re-building” years. It’s a constant battle to draft and acquire young, controllable talent that can produce at the major league level for a little bit, maybe even lock some of them up at a reasonable price (see: Kipnis, Brantley, Gomes). But if you don’t, you need to shop that talent before they hit the open market in order to acquire more young, controllable guys.

People were already bitching about the Swisher and Bourn signings like two weeks after they happened. Those were two big contracts for the Indians to give out. Now this winter people are already talking about getting them off the books because they’re making too much. Can you imagine what would happen if those were some of your “big name” guys making 80, 90, 100 mil? We wouldn’t be locking up some of our young talent, that’s for sure. Teams like the Yankees can afford to take those chances since they can just go right back to the well and get another guy. They can afford to swim as fast as they can because if they get tired and pass out or get attacked by a shark, they can pay the coast guard to come save them. We can’t do that. We have to constantly tread water and hope to god we hit land.




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