Antonetti key to Tribe’s success
Whenever anyone talks about the Indians' run of winning baseball over the last five years, the guy who invariably draws the most praise is skipper Terry (Tito) Francona. No question, it’s deservedly so, as the Indians manager has amassed an impressive resume in his 18 years managing in the big leagues.
Just the same, it would be foolish to downplay the impact Tribe President Chris Antonetti has had in shaping the roster of Francona’s Indians. Let’s take a look at the three biggest moves Antonetti has orchestrated which positively impacted Francona’s Indians as they experienced their half-decade of winning baseball:
1.) Antonetti's first may have been his worst, but it wasn’t all that bad in retrospect. He took a lot of heat when he traded prized prospects Drew Pomeranz, Alex White, Matt McBride and Joe Gardner to Colorado for Ubaldo Jimenez in June 2011. This showed a marked contrast between Antonetti and his boss, Mark Shapiro, as Shapiro never wanted to trade highly regarded prospects. And although Jimenez never did much for the Indians, he did have a good 2013 season when he went 13-9 and helped the Tribe make the postseason in Francona’s first year as Indians manager.
Based on his 2013 success, many fans criticized Antonetti heavily when he let Jimenez bolt via free agency after the season ended. However, Jimenez’s career never amounted to much after leaving the Indians, and the “prized prospects” the Indians gave up for Ubaldo never did much either. (When was the last time you heard any of those names mentioned in a baseball conversation?)
2.) Three years later, Antonetti shocked (and once again, angered) Tribe faithful when he acquired relief pitcher Andrew Miller for another quartet of highly-regarded prospects, including Clint Frasier, Justus Sheffield and a couple of others. Andrew Miller had simply one of the most incredible postseasons in relief pitching history when the Indians took the Cubs to Game 7 of the World Series, which for many fans justified the trade already. And while it is way too early to measure the long-term results of the trade, the Indians (Miller’s injury notwithstanding) have to still be the winners, as the other guys have done little at the big league level.
We should also mention that Antonetti had tried to swing another blockbuster deal for Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy, in which he would have sent four prospects to the Brewers, but Lucroy had the power to veto the trade and did so. As they say, sometimes the best trades are those which are not made, since Lucroy has bounced around with three different teams since that trade fell through; it’s hard to imagine him helping the Tribe enough to justify the deal. (Whew!)
3.) This season, with the Tribe’s relief pitching in major disarray, Antonetti went to the farm system once again, this time dealing another gem of the farm system, Francisco Mejía, to the San Diego Padres for closer Brad Hand and quality reliever Adam Cimber. Obviously, it’s impossible to get a read on the winner/loser of this deal for a period of time (unless Hand and Cimber lead the Tribe to a World Series championship this season), but you have to be impressed with Antonetti’s ability to get two quality relievers for an unknown (in major league experience, anyway.)
The way things have shaken out for Antonetti so far, you have to believe the guy knows what he’s doing. Let’s hope we’re still talking about the trade in late October.
Lifelong Westlake resident who dabbles in writing whenever the real world permits. My forte is humor and horror...What a combo!