Over the course of the past decade, the culture of winning that characterized the Cleveland Indians franchise during the 1990s has progressively devolved into an atmosphere of underachievement and disappointment. The fans and even, at times, the front office have seem resigned to the current prevailing reality of this once-dominant franchise.

With that being said, does the recent promotion of Chris Antonetti to the general manager position constitute a step towards restoring a winning attitude to Cleveland baseball? Antonetti knows the franchise as well as anybody, having been Mark Shapiro’s longtime assistant. He also appears loyal to the team, as evidenced by how he turned down outside offers to stay with Cleveland. Yet, this familiarity also gives rise to concerns.

Antonetti has been a key component of a regime that has overseen two straight 90-loss seasons. Further, it is reasonable to wonder if his loyalty to new team President Mark Shapiro will result in a situation of continued reliance on and deferral to Shapiro.

If it turns out that Antonetti simply acts as a proxy for Shapiro, can the Indians fan reasonably expect any significant change in the direction of the franchise? This remains to be seen. But if there is no change in philosophy in the front office, can a significant improvement in the on-field product be expected to occur?

This organization needs a change in its attitude, and needs to inculcate a newfound commitment to achievement and contending. Cleveland’s roster also needs a makeover: The Indians ranked 23rd in the major leagues in team batting average, and 25th in team ERA. Is Antonetti up to the task of improving this organization? Can he help to restore the faith of the fans?

These questions will be answered in the coming seasons, but for now, it seems that the hiring of Antonetti can be viewed with measured optimism. The Indians of the past two seasons have been decidedly stagnant, on the field and off. A change in leadership was needed. Antonetti will at the least bring with him his own ideas and an injection of energy.

The question going forward is if Antonetti’s leadership will represent a significant shift in team strategy, and if it will be effective enough to change the state of Cleveland baseball.


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