I am pissed off. Let me explain, I am pissed off to the nth degree at the stupidity of the Indians front office. Chris Antonetti couldn’t exactly be as great as Mark Shapiro was as a General Manager, but he’s been a disappointment through an over-zealous willingness to pull the trigger at all costs along with poor choices in calling up and sending down players.
We cannot accurately judge the Ubaldo Jimenez trade yet, but the GM of the Rockies, Dan O’Dowd thinks he got a steal. He even said, only a few days ago, that he wouldn’t trade Michael Cuddyer because unless “someone’s going to come along and make an offer like Cleveland did with (Ubaldo) Jimenez, I’m not stupid.” Yeah, he thinks the Rockies won that trade easily. The jury may still be out, but O’Dowd has a much better chance of winning the trade than Antonetti does. That is a telling sign of the Antonetti regime in Cleveland’s front office.
On top of being too eager to pull the trigger, Antonetti has made very poor decisions involving call-ups. I understand Manny Acta also has a say, but at the end of the day, the players than make up the 25-man and 40-man rosters are picked by the GM, not the manager. Therefore, the GM has final say and the manager just takes those players and plays them. Antonetti has done stupid things, from calling up Juan Diaz and Jose Lopez (twice!), and failing to call up LaPorta and others from the minors instead. Let me explain these moves (or lack of) in detail.
Juan Diaz Called Up
Diaz was hitting .232 in AA at the time of a call up, supposedly not going to see a single inning of action, but once Asdrubal Cabrera got injured, he was our only shortstop. I understand it was only a temporary cup of coffee for a AA player just so he gets a taste of major league action for a few days, but he needs to be a third option if that’s the case, and he wasn’t. He was our backup shortstop and ended up starting 4 games in place of Cabrera. This is a player who couldn’t hit that well in AA and now he’s playing shortstop in the Majors! The Indians would have been wiser calling up Jason Donald instead because he has some major league experience and so that we would have had a viable backup in a worst-case scenario like the one that happened.
Failure to Call Up Matt LaPorta (For Real, not Just for 3 Games)
I am probably the biggest Matt LaPorta fan in the Greater Cleveland area. I have been voicing for him to get called up since the day he went down through the twitter hastag #CallUpLaPorta, albeit to no avail. LaPorta has hit .307 for the Clippers in 63 games through July 3rd, splitting time at first base, in left field, and, most recently, DHing. LaPorta also has an on-base percentage around .400 as he has walked 30 times this season. Lappy also has 30 extra-base hits, including 17 Homers. Naysayers believe the power hitter can only hit at Columbus’s hitter-friendly Huntington Park. This accusation holds a little water: as LaPorta is hitting almost as well on the road as he is at home. Even take his awful .247 batting average in 2011, along with his .299 OBP, and he’s better than 5 or 6 of the Indians current hitters. Let’s see if that accusation holds true.
Batting Average/On-Base Percentage/Slugging Percentage Slash Lines for Certain Indians Players in 2012 (Through July 2), Compared to LaPorta in 2011:
Johnny Damon: .201/.279/.329
Casey Kotchman: .221/.279/.332
Jason Donald: .191/.231/.213 (Not a typo)
Jose Lopez: .257/.282/.405
Shelley Duncan: .217/.316/.388 (Surprised? He’s walked a TON this season)
Aaron Cunningham: .174/.244/.232 (Also not a typo)
Matt LaPorta 2011: .247/.299/.412
Out of the players named above, LaPorta is better than every single one of them, minus Shelley Duncan. The Indians are supposedly a team that uses the “Moneyball ideal” of statistics, so why haven’t they used the numbers to their advantage and called up LaPorta already? And for more than just three games! Just because he wasn’t the amazing power hitter we all expected doesn’t mean he can’t be an effective Major Leaguer. In comparison to the players we have now, he will be a godsend playing either left field or first base.
Keeping Tony Sipp in our Bullpen
Mitchell and I have never been fans of Sipp because his fastball has always been flat, and we felt he had been getting lucky in 2010 and 2011. 2012 has made both of us look like total geniuses. Sipp hasn’t walked anymore hitters that in the past, but he has been missing fewer bats. Sipp is giving up about a hit per inning pitched and that has led to a 6.39 ERA for the reliever. On top of that, his BAbip is .292 and he’s given up 14 extra-base hits in 25 1/3 innings pitched. With relievers like Chris Ray and Frank Herrmann pitching well in Columbus, Sipp shouldn’t even be in the Show right now. Tony Sipp still has all of his options and can be sent down without going through waivers, so there is no reason he shouldn’t be working on his mechanics in Columbus.
Wasting $5 Million on Grady Sizemore
Grady Sizemore is making a lot of money to rehabilitate this season. Yes, he was once a top outfielder, but the last time he had a good season, this country was still in the Bush presidency. This was a 30-30 player who, if he plays in 2012, will be playing after surgeries on both knees, his back, two sports hernias, along with enough DL stints to put him into the category of “fragile” alongside Rich Harden, Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, and plenty other Cubs. Sizemore has yet to play this season and when he does, he won’t be the gold glove winning, power hitting, base stealing player we all loved (and the women wanted to marry). Instead, we have a mediocre center fielder with little speed, good power, and way too many strikeouts. As a small market team, there are risks you can take, but Grady Sizemore is too risky, even with his history in Cleveland, and even for just $5 million.
I understand Mark Shapiro, the two-time winner of Executive of the year, is practically irreplaceable as a General Manager. Antonetti had some big shoes to fill, and though I think ambition is needed at times, I feel that the basis for some of his trades reflect the opinions of fans rather than common sense. For example, the fans wanted the Indians to trade for an ace last season in an effort to make a push for the playoffs, so we traded our top two pitching prospects, along with other prospects, for Ubaldo Jimenez. We should have been patient and continued to develop White and Pomeranz into two rotation guys so we didn’t have to worry about the headache of Jeanmar Gomez in 2012. Manny Acta, in my opinion, was the one who wanted Jose Lopez back up here, and Antonetti obliged. The fans (other than me), hated LaPorta with a fiery, burning passion going into this season, and that seems to have prevented his call-up for more than three games in 2012. The fans also loved Grady Sizemore, so he becomes a safe risk, even though he is clearly not the player he once was.
I am not calling for the firing of Chris Antonetti; I am just bringing to light the multitude of mistakes he has made in the past few months. Antonetti has the potential to be a good GM, but he needs to really think for himself, he needs to be less trigger-happy on trades, and he needs to make smart decisions from a business perspective.
With the trade deadline coming up, I hope Antonetti has learned from his mistakes and makes smart moves to help this team that don’t involve overpaying in any way.