I don't think the plan is working. This is not a rant or some off the cuff reactionary diatribe. I am just like most of you guys, since 2001 I have bought into the Mark Shapiro "program". I have watched the Indians place a premium on certain type players. Cast aside so-called headcases/problem-child players for lower level "Shapiro-kind-of-guys". The Indians have styled their drafts for these kind of players. He has taken the lower ceiling, more of a sure thing, type players over the boom or bust type players. We as a fan base have been told this is because the Indians, like other small/mid-market teams can't miss on early picks.
The only problem has been that the Indians drafts since 2001 have been lacking. Granted injuries have played a part (Michael Aubry, Matt Whitney, Adam Miller) but is that really an excuse? Doesn't every team face injuries? This front office draft history has been horrible. In the 2005 MLB draft, one that has been called one of the best draft classes ever, the Indians had two picks in the first round and left with Trevor Crowe and John Drennen. It wasn't a case of bonus money, Crowe signed for 1.675 million and Drennen signed for a cool million. Both of those seem in line for where they were taken. They were just serious cases of poor drafting.
I know that the draft is an inexact science. You are trying to gauge how much growth a high-school kid will do in the next four years. There is a long list of kids with can't miss ability that did just that. But I am wondering how many other teams have missed this badly over the same amount of time? It would be pretty amazing to see if there was any other team that has gone 8 years without drafting an above average major leaguer. I know that the young kids from the last couple of draft classes haven't had sufficient time to dis-prove this, but other than Weglarz and Huff, is the hope very high for any others?
I don't want anyone to think that I am a draft guru of any magnitude. I am sure that there is a player that I am missing out on. But I am having a hard time remembering the last time that I was truly excited about an Indians drafted, homegrown prospect. I believe there are only 11 Cleveland Indian drafted players on this teams 40 man roster, that includes a couple of guys who haven't even gotten their first sip of coffee at the MLB level.
I do acknowledge that the Indians have done a great job of signing young Latin American players. Without this influx of talent, this team would be lost. Imagine this team with Vic, Droobs, Peralta, R.Perez and Fausto. The minors have some nice Latin flavor with Rondon and De La Cruz. I do know that in 2007 we had 20% of our roster was from Venezuela alone. This is something that Shapiro and company has excelled in.
Trading has been Shapiro's calling card. Personally I think that Shapiro is given too much credit for this. Yes he struck gold with the Bartolo Colon deal. It was the perfect storm of opportunity, panic, and carelessness. Bravo for Shapiro. The Hafner deal also was a steal. Hafner was blocked and the Rangers need pitching (Still do! Zing!) and Shapiro gave them a middle of the road starter and a catcher that was blocking our own top prospect, Victor. Is two great deals enough to cover for the lack of draft success?
Since these deals, Shapiro has been active on the trade market, with much less results (Granted the bar was pretty high at the time). The Barfield deal looks like a dud. Shoppach needs to cut down the K's dramatically if he ever wants to be a everyday MLB catcher. Marte was Marte. Ryan Church and Luke Scott were give aways that look bad now, albeit in a minor way. Jeremy Guthrie would look nice in the 3 hole on this team(Yes I know he was a DFA). No one is perfect.
Brandon Phillips and Milton Bradley were their own cases and have been discussed, kicked to death, and rehashed on this Website more than I care to remember. I was in favor of trading Milton. This team was young and Bradley was 26 YO kid who wasn't going to change his spots. He clashed with Wedge and he needed to go.
I don't want to restart a dead issue, but I believe that Shapiro let Wedge ruin Phillips in Cleveland. Shapiro should take some of the blame for the whole situation. I have never seen another franchise run a 22 YO kid through the grinder and let him waste such immense talent.
Slowly but surely I have watched Shapiro become a so-called genius. In 2007 he won the GM of the year. All was good. His plan was working. Yet I have seen how his plan is lacking. If Fausto never comes back (something I fear more and more everyday), our staring pitching isn't lacking, it is down right scary. We all believe that Cliff will be gone either by trade or FA. Fausto, Laffey, Westbrook, Huff and Rondon? Is that a rotation that can compete? Is our line-up to be feared? Our hopes are high for LaPorta, but he can't seem to crack through the Dellucci/Francisco outmaking wall and into the starting line-up. Vic is money, and Droobs seems to be bouncing back from his Soph slump. Is Peralta a long-term building block? Sizemore is having his worst season since he came up in 2001.
Is Shapiro's plan working? Is one trip to the playoffs in 8 years a plan (I'm not giving Shapiro credit for 2001, because that team was put together mostly by Hart)? An obvious lack of evaluating draft classes and bullpen arms has been an on-going problem. Is this front office's idea of "sticking to the plan" going to be good enough in the future? Is it good enough now? I think that a good amount of Cleveland Indian fans want Eric Wedge fired. But should we also be looking at the front office?