Cleveland's franchise design remains flawed
Going Long with Geisler
Published: Thursday, September 20, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 20, 2012 22:09
Sometimes I wonder why in the world the Dolan family even wants to own a baseball team.
Especially when these nitwits who have run the Cleveland Indians into the ground say things like this: “There is no expectation the payroll for next year will be substantially different from prior years,” CEO Paul Dolan preened to Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer last month.
In essence, what Dolan really said is this: “Sorry fans, but we’re going to lose about 90 games again next year, and there’s no telling when the pathetic slide will cease.”
Back in the 1990s and even in 2007 (when they made the American League Championship) the Indians were an impressive and competitive team.
They had guys like Omar Vizquel, Jim Thome and Kenny Lofton. They were often willing to pay the price to keep them. Owner Dick Jacobs kept the payroll around $73 million in 1999, his final year as owner.
Now 13 years later, that number has fallen to $66 million and a fire sale mentality continues to permeate the front office in Cleveland.
Victor Martinez, Cliff Lee, CC Sabathia, Ryan Ludwick and Brandon Phillips all came up with the Indians, and now they’re all productive pros — with other teams.
For years Indians fans could at least feel good about the future. We always had players in the coffers ready to step in and produce. Then a litany of left-handed pitchers never panned out; Brian Tallet ring a bell for anyone? And expected stars like Grady Sizemore, Carlos Santana and Travis Hafner all ended up being complete and total busts in the end.
Of course these are the players the Indians choose to invest in, not the first group.
Smart baseball people always say if the team fired Indians President Mark Shapiro, he would have a job the next day. I think it’s time to test this hypothesis.
Though he’s left many of the day-to-day decisions to General Manager Chris Antonetti, the buck stops with Shapiro in Cleveland, and the team’s failure ultimately must be attributed to his flawed strategy on the construction of a team.
Shapiro is a numbers guy — he’s famous for having some lofty computer program that spits out the meaning of life and the perfect nine gentlemen to win 100 games. Jokes aside, I too am a numbers guy to some degree, but Shapiro, like Billy Beane and other followers of the “Moneyball” strategy have it somewhat wrong. Sports cannot be about cold calculations. Ignoring the human element is utterly naïve.
It seems like a full on “Moneyball” approach is nothing more than a sad excuse for a team’s owners to continue to be cheapskates.
The full “Moneyball” approach is Shapiro’s great mistake. Yes, a ridiculously low payroll hamstrings him, but it’s time for the Indians to move on.
Unfortunately, it’s unlikely the complacent Dolan family will make any changes.
I can see it now: Paul and Larry Dolan are sharing a healthy portion of some raspberry sorbet out on their deck overlooking the decrepit city of Cleveland. The eager son tells his father, “Let’s fire Shaprio, put some skin in the game and go for the World Series this year, pops!”
Larry laughs maniacally at his naïve son and retorts, “Don’t you know the people of Cleveland love being miserable?”
Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. It just may be in the curious case of Paul and Larry Dolan’s occupation of Cleveland’s beloved Indians.