Ever since Chris Antonetti came to Cleveland to eventually replace Mark Shapiro as head of
baseball operations for the Cleveland Indians, we have heard just about every team would want him to run their franchise. It is believed at one time he came close to being named to run the
St. Louis Cardinals, one of the greatest franchises, with a phenomenal fan base. But, he is still here.
I would like to see if he can execute the rebuild of this team, along with Manager Terry Francona. On the other hand, I would like to see what he could do with a team that could compete financially. He has never had the luxury of spending to buy assets. There is nobody who can put together a team with mid-level players, but he has done it several times. When he has had money to spend, such as the case of Edwin Encarnacion, he has not been able to finish off the contract in full. This year’s truncated season was a perfect example of what he can do to mix and match a roster.
By the time you read this, pitcher Shane Beiber, who was acquired in a minor transaction, probably will have won this year’s Cy Young Award. If not, he will be in the top three selections. That added to last year’s most valuable player honor in the All-Star game selection eventually cost the Indians a great deal of money.
Catcher Roberto Perez was a backup to Yan Gomes, but has been awarded the Gold Glove for the American League for the second year in a row. He can’t hit much, but he is a great defensive catcher. Antonetti dipped his toes in the free agent market to pick off second baseman Cesar Hernandez, who won the Gold Glove award for American League second basemen for the first time in 2020. Third baseman Jose Ramirez won his award for the Silver Slugger Award for American League third basemen for the second year in a row. That’s a pretty good roster Antonetti was able to construct without spending big money.
Antonetti made space to move two-time Cy Young award winner Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer and Mike Clevinger and still has one of the best starting rotations in MLB.
I fear he will mostly be remembered in Cleveland for not being able to re-sign Francisco Lindor. It’s interesting for some time the majority of Indians’ fans were upset with owner Paul Dolan and Antonetti for not including Lindor in their plans for this year despite their knowledge of the economic structure. That has changed a little, but not much, because of Lindor’s poor performance – by his standards and the perceived lack of clutch hitting throughout this past season.
Many fans don’t understand how tough it is to switch positions in the batting order from day to day. Wherever he lands, he should be put in as a leadoff man, or second, third or fourth hitter and he should be left alone for the season. Cleveland fans sometimes react as if we are the only team that loses key players for budgetary reasons. The reality is over the past 10 seasons or so it has happened to every team.
FUMBLES: In the Oct. 30 column, I erroneously stated that OSU’s Justin Fields and Bengals star Joe Burrow were Buckeyes at the same time. That was incorrect. Fields transferred to OSU one year after Burrow moved to LSU.