Transactions: February 18-24, 2010

Announced that General Manager Mark Shapiro will become team President after the 2010 season

Announced that Assistant General Manager Chris Antonetti will become General Manager after the 2010 season

After Chris Antonetti interviewed for the St. Louis Cardinals GM position, he was given greater responsibilities in the Indians front office and a new title, but more importantly, was named the successor to Mark Shapiro as Indians General Manager. Which made sense, since Shapiro wasn't planning on leaving the organization, but moving up to the top of club operations. I think these moves had already been planned since the winter of 2008, waiting for the right moment to be put in place.This allows both Shapiro and Antonetti to remain in the organization together. 

During the Shapiro-Antonetti era, the on-field results have been largely poor. There was a unexpected near-miss in 2005 and an ALCS team in 2007, but also three major disappointments in 2006, 2008, and especially in 2009. The rebuilding process (2003-2005) was well executed, but once the rebuilding was over, the organization didn't transition well to a contending process. In other words, maintaining the roster so that the team would be in contention on a consistent basis. The player development pipeline dried up, not allowing the Indians to replace their departing stars with prospects that could eventually be their equals. Although the draft is only one part of amateur acquisition, the Indians' failure to hit even doubles with their high picks contributed in part to the trades of Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez last summer. So Paul Dolan's effusive praise of the two in last week's press conference rings hollow, for executive awards and stellar business plans don't directly translate into success on the baseball field, as we have most painfully seen.

The timing for this move does make sense. Antonetti will have a lot of flexibility (at least as much as a mid-market team can have) in building the Indians back into a contender. The minor-league system has been restocked thanks to last season's trades, and after this season the only real major contract left on the roster will be Travis Hafner's deal. Shapiro will be the titular GM through what looks to be a painful rebuilding season, though obviously Chris will have a major say in what happens between now and October. Certainly Chris will have even more of a say in any move with reverberations into the 2011 season and beyond. If the team progresses as hoped, Antonetti should be taking over a club that can win the AL Central.

Signed 1B Russell Branyan to a 1 Year, $2M Contract (2011 Mutial Option)

Branyan can also receive up to $1M in performance-based incentives. It seems like he's going to be the starting first baseman, which means Matt LaPorta would move to left field. So the lineup will have a lot more power, but at the expense of speed at the top of the lineup (Michael Brantley, who would most likely be pushed to AAA). Keep in mind that LaPorta, Branyan, and Hafner are all injury risks to varying extents, so I'd count on Brantley getting considerable at-bats no matter what the Opening Day configuration is.

Outrighted IF Chris Gimenez to Columbus (AAA)

Purchased the Contract of RHP Anthony Reyes; Placed him on the 60-Day Disabled List

Gimenez wasn't going to make the Opening Day Roster, so the Indians didn't sacrifice anything in adding Branyan to the 40-man roster. Reyes needed to be added to the roster in order for the Indians to retain control of him, so they purchased his contract and then immediately placed him on the 60-day DL, thus they didn't have to remove a healthy player from the roster.

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