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The Lake County Captains play tonight against the Lansing Lugnuts in Lansing, Michigan at 7:05 p.m...... The Cleveland Indians play tonight against the Chicago White Sox in Chicago , Illinois at US Cellular Field at 8:10 p.m.... The Lake Erie Crushers play tonight against the Normal CornBelters in Normal, Illinois at 8:00 p.m.... The Cleveland Browns play the September 7th against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at Heinz Field at 1:00 p.m.

The Cleveland Indians must get rid of their "three headed monster"
Opinion by Timothy W. Shirer 

I just want to let everyone who reads this commentary know from the start that there are words I would like use in the writing of this column but I don’t think they would be appropriate.  For example one of the words begins with the sixth letter of the alphabet.

Now to the commentary, I am not going to sit here and say the Dolan’s are cheap and that they need to sell the team.  At this point talking about that is like the saying the Browns will be a playoff team this year, it’s very unlikely.  They may be cheap, but they are not going to sell the team, so stop complaining about that, you simply sound like you are not very knowledgeable when you think you have any bearing on whether an owner sells a professional sports team or not. 

Now to what I want to talk about, the “three headed monster” with limited baseball knowledge and saying limited knowledge may be giving credit the monster credit where credit is not due.  Who may you ask is the “three headed monster”?  The “three headed monster” is made up of Mark Shapiro, Chris Antonetti and Ross Atkins.

I have to think that most people reading this article know that Mark Shapiro is the President of the Indians and Chris Antonetti is the Indians Executive Vice President and General Manager.  A lot of though may not know who Ross Atkins is.  Atkins is the Vice President of Player Development (Minor League Director).  These three guys make up what I call the “three headed monster”.

Besides from the fact that the Dolan’s seem to be intensely loyal to the monster, the blame the shape the Indians are currently in falls squarely on the shoulders of Shapiro, Antonetti and Atkins.  None of the blame, absolutely none of the blame should fall on Manager Manny Acta or his coaching staff, including former pitching coach Scott Radinsky.

I think most of the blame actually falls on Shapiro and Atkins.  Antonetti to a certain extent is a victim.  Antonetti in my opinion is a victim of Shapiro still running things even though he no longer has the GM title.  Shapiro should be completely and totally ashamed of himself.  He should be ashamed at that product he put on the field.  He should be ashamed that he has so little respect for Indians fans that he actually thinks they believe the complete garbage that comes out of his mouth.  Does Shapiro really think that his plan is working?  The only thing I can think of that is more dysfunctional right now than his Cleveland Indians is the U.S. Congress.  Both things are a mess.  But just like a politician, Shapiro continues to blame other factors.  Of course his not going to blame himself, just like a politician his will never admit it was his fault.  He will continue to collect his salary and do an absolutely horrible job.  The worst part about it is he actually thinks he is fooling people.  I think this guy actually believes he knows what he’s doing.  I think Shapiro actually believes after 11 years of complete failure that he has done a good job.  Shapiro needs to resign his position or be fired as soon as possible and enter politics.  He would fit in so well in today’s political atmosphere with Sara Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Nancy Pelosi and Eric Kantor.  He could be dishonest with the public, twist the facts, stonewall and think he is doing a good job.  It would be like he never left the Indians.

Now to Ross Atkins, it’s a similar situation to Shapiro in one way, we will get that in a minute.  I want to start first by saying that I know Ross Atkins and he’s a good guy.  I have told many people many times that he’s a nice person and as a person I like him.  If I met him in a social setting I think I might have even been friends with him.  But that isn’t what we are talking about here.  This commentary is about what is wrong with the Cleveland Indians organization and one of the things wrong is that Atkins is the minor league director.

Atkins is simply really bad at his job.  I have covered the Cleveland Indians minor league system, particularly the Lake County Captains for ten years now and I see ZERO, let me repeat ZERO evidence that he is good at his job.

Atkins has been in charge of the Indians minor league system since 2007 when he took over for John Farrell who left to be the Red Sox pitching coach.  I beg anyone reading this article to name one impact player who has come out of the Indians minor league system since 2007.  One, I’m not asking for five or six, or even two, I’m just asking for one.

Yes, the Indians have had some bullpen pitchers come up through the system in the last five years, but if that is all they tout and say that they have accomplished something, then that right there is prove that Atkins needs to be fired.  I ask this, where are the position players?  Name for me one position player that has been a true impact player?  There isn’t one.  Yes Jason Kipnis is a nice player, but he is not an impact player.  Lonnie Chisenhall is a nice player.  Are Kipnis and Chisenhall consistent super stars?  NO!!

The Indians minor league staff and I’m not talking about the managers and coaches, I’m talking about Atkins and his clone assistants, who walk around like they invented the game of baseball, but consistently misjudge talent and fail to move players at the appropriate times.

In the course of a 140 game minor league season I would say I have in depth conversations with probably 20 to 30 scouts.  They are always scouts from other organizations.  One thing I can count on every season is whatever they tell me about a player and where they think the player will end up, the Indians will do the exact opposite.

The running joke in the press box at Classic Park is, if Bryce Harper and Mike Trout were in the Indians organization they would both be at double-AA Akron right now.  I know you’re probably thinking, “They can’t be that bad at judging talent.”  Yes they can, have you watched the Indians play the last three weeks?

I will say this, the Lake County Captains (Low-A) and Mahoning Valley Scrappers (Short Season-A) as well as the Carolina Mudcats (High-A) seem to have a lot of talent right now.  The Captains in particular have in my opinion four or five guys who could play at the Major League level and be impact players.  But if Atkins retains his job after the 2012 season, I doubt that more then one of the five makes the Major Leagues as an Indian.

I would like someone in the Indians front office to explain why Tim Fedroff and Jared Goedert have not been given a chance in left field for the Indians this season. Do they not project well?  How much worse can those two (who by the way have been tearing it up at Triple-A Columbus) do then Shelley Duncan and Jason Donald have done in left field.

Another move that completely and totally boggles my mind was their recent trade to acquire Lars Anderson, a career minor leaguer from the Red Sox organization and give up Steven Wright a knuckleballer who the Indians spent three years developing.  Mark my words, Anderson will have ZERO, positively ZERO impact on the Indians.  Wright on the other hand will eventually be in the Red Sox rotation and win 100+ games in the Major League.  This is just another example of Atkins and his staff having absolutely positively no clue on how to judge talent.

Another philosophy of the Indians minor league system that comes from the top and is a complete and total joke is that development comes first and that winning doesn’t really matter.  Again I don’t blame the managers and coaches for this philosophy.  The blame for this philosophy comes down to Atkins.  I guess the philosophy is working pretty well the Indians are 4-18 in their last 22 games, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

tshirer@lakecounty-sentinel.com or follow Tim on Twitter @TimothyShirer

POSTED 08/19/2012 23:27
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