For the past few years, the Indians’ roster has gone through a lot of changes. The outfield in particular has been a revolving door, Casey Blake has played every position practically except for pitcher and catcher, we’ve seen 3B go from Boone to Marte to Blake, we’ve seen 2B go from Belliard to Barfield to Cabrera, we’ve seen first base go from Broussard to Perez to Blake to Garko. The one constant behind all the shuffling has been the steadfast resolution of the Tribe’s trinity of minds, Manager Eric Wedge, Assistant General Manager Chris Antonetti, and General Manager Mark Shapiro. Despite my many moments of doubt, these guys have simply delivered on a product that is fun to watch, works hard, and plays right. The success that is only deserving to follow that formula finally started coming through this season, after a couple years of promise and unmet potential. And all throughout the past couple seasons, I have had a nagging worry.
You see, the Indians under Shapiro and Antonetti have built the franchise into one of the best top to bottom systems in all of the majors. They have kept the minor leagues stocked, brought in some cost efficient veteran help when needed, and leaned on home grown players to lead the way on the field. Organizations like Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America have consistently ranked the Indians organization in the top 10 over the past 5 years. So what has had me worried, you ask? I have been worried that another team was going to pluck away our secret weapon, Chris Antonetti.
I remember back in 2003 reading about our young 28 year old assistant GM…the guy they called a computer guy and a stats geek. I remember him talking about the business plan behind letting Jim Thome go, and how he had a computer filled with stats and models and plans and graphs showing the ways it made little business sense to sign Thome to a long term deal for the dollars he was asking. It’s been that kind of brilliant foresight, analysis, and emotionally vacant managing that has shrewdly led the Indians to where they are today.
This week, the rumors were louder than ever. The St. Louis Cardinals were going to offer their GM job to Chris Antonetti. But then something bizarre went down. Antonetti suddenly withdrew his name from consideration for the job. What happened? Well, according to Peter Gammons in his blog this week,
“It appeared Antonetti was leaning toward moving to St. Louis until Indians owner Paul Dolan stepped up, defined the succession process under which Mark Shapiro will eventually be the club president and Antonetti the GM and made other promises.”
I can honestly think of no better news than this. I am absolutely thrilled at the prospect of being to able to keep Shapiro and Antonetti both in the Indians’ family for a very long time to come. Just earlier this year, the Indians signed Antonetti to an extension through 2011, so who knows what was all promised to keep him in town, but I’m happy it went down this way. Evidently, so is Antonetti, saying,
“I am very fortunate to be in a great personal and professional situation in Cleveland. After conversations with Mark and Paul Dolan, I am very comfortable with my current position and future with the Indians. I feel privileged to have been considered for the opportunity in St. Louis.”
As a fan, I feel comfortable with Antonetti’s position and future within the organization as well. As long as these 2 (Shapiro and Antonetti) are the major forces behind deciding the shape and direction of this franchise, I expect nothing but further successes.