Chris Antonetti: Indians Still Unsure of Offseason Approach

As the first month of the MLB offseason nears its end, it’s still not clear where the Cleveland Indians are headed. On the one hand, they’re a 94-loss team whose core players haven’t developed as well as we’d hoped they would, so a rebuild might be in order. On the other hand, this team isn’t as bad as it looks and might be a couple aggressive additions away from contention. As I’ve already written: “There’s no clear answer to what the Indians should do from here, just the necessity that they choose one and then commit to it…standing pat and hedging our bets won’t do the team any good.”

What’s driving the front office’s lack of direction? On Monday,’s Jordan Bastian reported the answer:

There is a lot that is still unknown about the Indians’ planned approach as this offseason’s Winter Meetings approach. Aside from some rumors rippling to the surface, Cleveland has remained relatively quiet.

That is because the Indians are still in the midst of assessing their direction. General manager Chris Antonetti has been working his phone, feeling out free agents and inquiring about possible trades. When baseball’s decision makers convene at the Gaylord Opryand Hotel in Nashville, Tenn., next week, the pace of such conversations will increase.

“It’s still developing,” Antonetti said. “I think we’re a lot further along in understanding the market for both free agents and trades than we were a few weeks ago. We’ve progressed talks on both fronts. This next week, and the week of the Winter Meetings, gives us an opportunity to hopefully bring some of those to conclusion.”

Why haven’t the Indians either commenced the fire sale or started stocking up for 2013? Because they haven’t figured out which way to go yet. It’s elegant in its simplicity.

To the average Tribe fan, this information might seem like a juicy hunk of red meat. It’s no secret that most Clevelanders have a negative image of the front office, and hearing Antonetti say he hasn’t decided where to go from here probably won’t help with that. But while hearing the GM express his own uncertainty admittedly isn’t very confidence-inspiring, there’s actually a positive way to spin this situation.

That the organization is currently lacking a direction isn’t news. We knew that already. What we learned from this interview is that this isn’t intentional. That the front office knows it has some big decisions to make. That Antonetti isn’t planning to stand pat in an offseason in which inaction could set the team back years. That just because the Indians haven’t made any big moves yet doesn’t mean they aren’t going to.

We don’t know exactly what Antonetti has in mind, nor is there a guarantee that whatever he’s planning will work out; I for one plan to continue prodding the team to act until it does so. But at least this shows that the stasis we’ve seen so far this winter isn’t the Indians’ end game.

What should the Indians do this winter?

  • Build up to compete in 2013 (55%, 82 Votes)
  • Trade veterans and build for the future (44%, 66 Votes)
  • Stand pat (1%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 149

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  • Gvl Steve

    You hit the nail right on the head with that article. They probably aren’t as bad as they looked and could contend if they add the right 2 or 3 guys to the lineup and rotation. It might come down to whether the team can sign the affordable free agents it’s targeting and/or acquire major-league ready players via trade. They have some money to spend and trade chips, but many holes to fill to realistically contend. Antonetti will probably use the winter meetings to explore that route before giving up on 2013 and starting a rebuild by trading guys for prospects.

  • Wuppin

    This is entirely anecdotal, but I can remember so many instances where the Indians had runners in scoring position but the wrong guy came up at the wrong time (notably the rotating inhabitors of left field). If they had picked up even just one right-handed impact player like Willingham he would have been up all those times Damon or Duncan was up killing rallies and scoring chances. As the article said, the line-up is good enough that two decent right-handers would eliminate the left-handed overload problem and score plenty of runs. As for the starters, we may as well just accept that it all comes down to Masterson and Jimenez realizing their supposed potential. We can’t replace 2-3 pitchers; we are all-in with them.

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