Move by Shapiro Could Lead to Chain Reaction

Despite it at first seeming that this would be a season where the Indians didn’t make many major shifts, the changes have been more plentiful than many fans could have predicted. From the trading of Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher to the rotating fifth spot in the rotation, the Indians have been often unrecognizable this season. And the changes, it seems, are not slowing down.

While the largest change in the Indians roster this season has absolutely been the Bourn/Swisher trade that sent the two to the Atlanta Braves and brought Chris Johnson to Cleveland, another quite notable shift in recent weeks has been the makeup of the Indians outfield. Just this week, the outfield lineup was comprised of Lonnie Chisenhall, Jose Ramirez, and Abraham Almonte. Michael Brantley has been serving as the team’s DH since taking some time to rest with shoulder inflammation, thus necessitating his replacement in left field. With the trades of Bourn and Murphy, the rest of the outfield has opened up for other players to get a shot, despite not being players one would have expected to see there earlier this season.

However, one of the biggest changes this season could be something yet to come. Though it may not even happen, Mark Shapiro is reportedly a strong candidate for the position of president/CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays organization come the end of the season. Toronto will be saying goodbye to Paul Beeston, who will retire from the position of president/CEO after being with the Blue Jays since 1976, save a period from 1997 to 2002 when he served as president and chief operating officer of Major League Baseball. Beeston was set to retire after the 2014 season, but mismanagement during the Blue Jays search for his replacement led to Beeston signing a one-year contract to stay on with the organization through the end of this year.

Originally reported by Ken Rosenthal, Shapiro is apparently one of the big considerations for the Blue Jays job. Shapiro has been with the Indians since 1992, serving as the director of their farm teams and assistant general manager before becoming the team’s GM in 2001. He served in that role until 2010, when he was named President of the organization.

The Blue Jays reportedly also interviewed ex-Tigers president Dave Dombrowski for the position of president, but Dombrowski chose instead to head to the Boston Red Sox.

Shapiro’s allure for Toronto could come from a number of different avenues, as Rosenthal mentions, including his role in Progressive Field’s recent renovations, as the Blue Jays are looking to upgrade Rogers Center at some point in the future. Should Shapiro end up in Toronto, he could also have his selection of general managers, as current GM Alex Anthopoulos’s contract expires in October.

As for the impact this move would have on the Indians, it’s safe to say that the ramifications would be felt. In one option, GM Chris Antonetti could move into the role of president, with Assistant GM Mike Chernoff taking over Antonetti’s old role. Many Indians fans who have been critical of Shapiro’s tenure could have some solace in seeing him leave, but would find themselves still saddled with Antonetti, whom many have a similar disdain. However, with Antonetti at the helm of the more business-based side of the organization, and Chernoff possibly taking over the GM responsibilities that are linked more closely to the one-the-field product, the Indians organization could see some changes to the roster.

In another option, the Dolan’s could search for someone completely different to take over as the Indians’ president, which could lead to even more significant changes in the structure and operations of the Indians. While the team would still be saddled with the limitations imposed on them monetarily by the Dolans, a new individual in charge of the organization could have a different take on the organization’s situation. There’s no way to predict exactly what could happen with a fresh mind taking charge.

Perhaps, though, one of the most impactful ramifications of Shapiro leaving could come from Terry Francona. When Francona first came on board with the Indians organization, it was reported that the contract contained an out clause, in which he could leave the organization if either Shapiro or Antonetti were released by the organization. Antonetti never confirmed those terms, but it is believed to be true. If Francona left, the appeal for players to come to Cleveland would likely plummet. Francona is a player’s-manager and, while the team’s successes have been few and far between the last two seasons, Francona’s leadership is likely a big reason why many players do enjoy playing for the Indians. Losing him would be a bigger blow than anything.

Nothing is set in stone or has been commented on by the Indians organization. Should Shapiro chose to move away from the Indians, however, a chain reaction will follow, with the eventual ending unable to be seen.

Photo: Chuck Crow/The Plain Dealer

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. People yell about Shapiro but he is very well thought around baseball. Most of the people who don’t like Shapiro can’t get over the 94-2001 club and can’t understand baseball is not like that anymore. This could very well be a case of not appreciating what you have until you don’t have it any more.

  2. As arno52 points out, baseball isn’t like that anymore, except in St Louis, Missouri where the magicians in charge of the baseball team seem to be competitive every year.

    Rather than loosen the chains of Pinch-Ian vitriol here this AM, I thought I’d make a few observations about the state of things at the moment.

    Call it

    TOM PINCH’s Labor Day Round up, random observations about the Indians, currently engaged in. Three way (?) with their homies, the White Sox and Tigers, for last place. (the irony is that many ‘baseball people, perhaps the same ones who are alluded to as ‘thinking highly of Mr Shapiro by the aforementioned arno52, though the Indians white sox and tigers would fight it out for FIRST place in the central, which of course never materialized).

    Observation #1- How would you like to be the worst player on a last place team?
    Ask Jose Ramirez, who, when freed from the Indians has an excellent chance of becoming the next Luis Valbuena, Astros de Luxe, no average or skills except swinging for ‘the downs’ or ‘the print,’ Home runs to the uninitiated. I predict he lands somewhere comfortable and first place worthy, potentially Yanks or Balto.

    #2 Predicition: if Abraham Almonte is the opening day center fielder for the Indians, they will have a sub .500 season. Take it to the bank, or anywhere else you’d like.

    Observation #3 about 25 minutes after the season ends posters and resident experts alike will begin dealing the erstwhile Lonnie Chisenhall elsewhere- MLB, Japan, Korea, etc. AMD I alone will come to his defense, as he has the best offensive numbers upon being recalled by the Tribe since his demotion to the AAA Siberia known as “Cow-lumbus.”. He can hit, and he is learning RF. WAY better offensive upside than A Almonte for example, or the ubiquitous Jerry Sands. All we are saying, is give Lonnie a(nother) chance.

    Observation #4. Some adult person associated with the team needs to TELL Urshela to avoid winter ball this year. He’ll feel better next August, no matter where he’s playing. His swing has slowed considerably since his call-up, and year-round baseball is to blame.

    Observation #5 some adult person associated with the team needs to advise Linder to stop throwing his arms around and screaming each time he reaches base-it’s embarrassing, and he’s gonna get one in the ear hole if he doesn’t knock it off. THOUSANDS of players have reached first, second, and third bases prior to his momentous achievements in this regard; many have also scored by touching home plate without the sort of hysterics displayed routinely by Linder. If he wants to be histrionic he should try out for (both) the browns and Cavs- both teams could use an athlete.

    Question #6. How would you like to lose 5 of 7 to the Cleveland Indians this season? Ask the new York Yankees, fake team in a micro stadium with right field about 255 feet away. That team’s hilarious-their manager turned down a chance to coach the Cubs because he knew expectations for the yanx (LOW!) would make his job easier.

    Related Observation #7: The above-named yanx will try to obtain Carlos Santana to hit HRs over the 255 Ft fence next year-count on it.

    Observation #8: Bruce Drennan talking with a ‘caller’ about the Indians getting Hanley Ramirez- for real! (“He’d hafta play first, you’d think…”)

    Observation #9- to co-opt another poster, the Indians can jettison Mr Francona any minute. It was amusing to hear one of the TV ‘analysts’ describing Francona’s ‘desire to teach and develop younger players…”. Just like he did in Boston, by allowing veterans to munch and drink during games, in the locker room. No miracles here, for sure.

    Observation #10. Jason Kipnis=finest player to wear an Indians’ uniform in many years, position player-wise. Could be elsewhere next year, for obvious reasons.

    Enjoy the rest o the season, and we’ll see ya for post-season action Oct 5!

  3. Just to be clear

    If the Indians “get” Hanley Ramirez, I will steadfastly boycott my fandom until that particular faux player is gone.

    There are limits to everything, even my interest in and devotion to the Indians. The acquisition of HR (?) would suspend that interest, to the shock and dismay of no one, but still…

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