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Antonetti Deserves the Benefit of the Doubt

March 5, 2011
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(Photo: AP)
Isn’t the old axiom good pitching beats good hitting?
Just a question considering the Cleveland Indians recently traded pitcher Aaron Laffey for hitter Matt Lawson.
Sure Laffey is not considered a “good” pitcher by any means.  And what kind of player is Lawson?  Most experts will say he is a fringe prospect at best; organizational filler. 
So, shouldn’t average to below average pitching still be able to beat average to below average hitting?  Shouldn’t Laffey, who still has a minor league option left, who has had some success as a Major League starter and reliever, have more value to the Indians organization than Lawson? 
Perhaps Laffey is more valuable, if you go by conventional wisdom and outside opinions. 
But to hear Tribe General Manager Chris Antonetti tell it, the Indians did not feel Laffey had a place in the starting rotation or bullpen this year.  On the other hand, because of his makeup they feel Lawson has a chance to make the big leagues at some point.  Despite what others may think.
And it is, afterall, now Antonetti’s team.  And in this, his first year as General Manager, he deserves the right to make the team over as he sees fit.  As for the pundits who think this is just the Indians doing business as usual, lets give Antonetti a little leeway to make his own mark on the industry.
The failure of the Indians to develop a strong organization over the last couple of years happened on Mark Shapiro’s watch.  The recent turn around of the farm system also began on Shapiro’s watch.  Yes, Antonetti was on the staff, but he did not pull any triggers.  Shapiro may still be in the organization, but this organization is going to be made over to reflect Antonetti’s vision; he is nobody’s lap dog.  The St. Louis Cardinals, one of the best run organizations in all of baseball, would not have been interested in Antonetti as their General Manager a couple of years ago had they believed him capable to be nothing more than Shapiro’s puppet.
Maybe Antonetti and his staff see something in Lawson that others don’t.  Maybe he’s just an Antonetti’s kind of guy and along the same lines of Travis Buck, Nick Johnson, Orlando Cabrera, and Chad Durbin.
One, or two, or all of those players might prove to be a prudent signing.  Or not.  There’s just no way to tell as of yet.  But Antonetti has been trained by Shapiro, a General Manager who will be judged by history much better than his current reputation would suggest.  Antonetti has been recruited by other clubs to be their top man, including one of the best organizations in all of the sport.  And Larry Dolan is putting more money in player development than the Indians have ever done before.

Doesn’t Antonetti deserve the benefit of the doubt his first year?  Let’s let him remake this organization in his image, give him a year or two, and then let’s debate the wisdom of all his player moves.

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