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Written by Cris Sykes

Cris Sykes
Keith Foulke. Oldberto Hernandez. Trot Nixon. David Dellucci. Joe Borowski. Aaron Fultz. These are the players Indians General Manager Mark Shapiro signed in free agency this off-season. This is a fact not lost upon Cris Sykes, who insists the Indians are winning in spite of Shapiro, and argues that the generally popular Tribe GM is the guy that will hold this franchise back from true title contention.

Yesterday the Cleveland Indians designated Roberto Hernandez for assignment.

At least we are getting quicker at recognizing the crap that exists on our roster.

This comes one day before the anniversary of convincing the Boston Red Sox to take Jason Johnson off our hands last year. Roberto Hernandez managed to be worse, by one day than the worst pitcher the Indians have sent to the mound, possibly ever.

(I realize Johnson was probably designated for assignment before June 20 last year, but it really hurts the above paragraph, so allow me some leeway if you will.)

What does this really mean for the Indians and their fans? It means we have a general manager who is not all that good at his job. Given some flexibility this winter to add some pieces to the team to get them over the hump, this is what we got:

Trot Nixon

David Delucci

Roberto Hernandez

Aaron Fultz

Joe Borowski

Keith Foulke

If you ask me, that is not a very good hit rate. Six players signed. One has been released; another one has retired without even stepping on the field.

The two corner outfielders signed, and the good one is slugging .389. The other is slugging a Jason Kendall-esque .325. For those of you not sure, those are atrocious numbers.

Aaron Fultz has been fine, but the moronic manager still does not know how to use him. Joe Borowski has converted save chances; just don’t pitch him in a tie game or any non-save situation.

The best-case scenario for Mark Shapiro has him connecting on 33% of his off-season acquisitions. The only thing that can be said about that is, it is better than Trot Nixon’s slugging percentage.

As a matter of fact, if you were to take away the luck of being forced into using Fausto Carmona, this team is not unlike the Indians of the past couple of seasons. We are currently 12 games over the .500 mark. C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona currently rank 10th and 12th in the American Legue in ERA, and are a combined 17-4. On the days when those two guys do not start, we are essentially a mediocre team, and it took TWO injuries to find out Fausto could pitch, even though someone like Peter Gammons knew it during Spring Training. Why can’t Mark Shapiro notice this?

The Indians offense is still in search of a right-handed bat. They were in search of that right-handed bat over the winter, but Shapiro decided to add the sludge mentioned earlier was more important. Mark Shapiro, you have not done your job. If you took all of those free agent signings away, save Joe Borowski, and gave those jobs to the youngsters in the organization, and signed a marquee free agent, wouldn’t we be better off?

I know it will be difficult for most Indians fans to accept this criticism of Mark Shapiro. The Indians are tied for first place in the toughest division in baseball. They are 12 games over .500. That does not mean he is doing a good job. For the same money we are paying those five mediocre free agents (another lucky stroke was Foulke not taking us for $3M) we could have signed two quality players.

You can drop Aaron Fultz and replace him with Rafael Perez. You could drop David Dellucci and replace him with any number of Indian minor leaguers. You could drop Trot Nixon and replace him with Ramon Vasquez and the Tribe would be better off for it.

I think Mark Shapiro is still living off one good trade, where he netted Grady Sizemore and Cliff Lee for Bartolo Colon. Other than that, it has been status quo. We don’t trust our own kids, so we go out and sign marginal talents with experience. That is until they are forced, through injury or suckitude to try out the yoots.

Just one time, I would like for this organization to do something different. Go out and sign the best free agent on the market. Reward a lifelong member of the organization with a legitimate contract extension. Anything other than what we have done for the previous Shapiro Years would be a step in the right direction.

Maybe it is not the contracts that Shapiro is offering that is the problem with the Indians. Maybe it is the one Mr. Dolan gave out to Mark prior to the start of this season.

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