Tribe's 'window of opportunity' a pane in the glass

Ever since Mark Shapiro became general manager of the Cleveland Indians, he and his successor, Chris Antonetti, have talked of the narrow "window of opportunity" in which a smaller market organization, such as the Indians, is forced to operate.

The gist of management's logic is that since they can only control the "core" players for a relatively limited period of time, they pretty much need to win – and win big – once that window opens, as it won't be open too long. Once free agency becomes an issue, it's not realistic for Tribe fans to think the Indians will be able to keep many, if indeed any, of those players under contract.

Personally, I think this schizophrenic, roller-coaster approach is a big reason the Indians don't draw as many fans as they'd like, but there are bigger fish to fry at the moment. I mean, if we can all agree that the Indians are now, without any doubt, in the process of prying that window open, I only have one question: What in the heck are they doing?

First, let me make sure I've got this straight:

Last year, the Indians surprised most everyone with their hot start, including the front office. By most accounts, the 2011 Indians were a year ahead of schedule. Though in dire need of a right-handed bat, management opted to trade for another starting pitcher – Ubaldo Jimenez – to give them a boost for the stretch last summer. Well, the boost was a bust, and the bubble burst when the Tigers decided to start playing baseball. Okay, okay, but we tasted contention and – theoretically, anyway – we were able to put together a shopping list of what was needed to take that next big step in 2012. 

This year, again in dire need of a right-handed bat, management opted to sign lefty swinger Johnny Damon at the end of spring training. Nice. Clearly, he was ready to play. Oh, and we also threw $5 mil towards Grady Sizemore, because we knew we could count on him contributing sometime in – oh, I don't know – maybe August? And Travis Hafner, spending more time on the disabled list? Seriously, who'da thunk it? I mean, it's not like you could see any of that stuff ahead of time, right?

So here we are at the All-Star break, in a situation very similar to last year. The good news is, once again first place is there for the taking. The bad news is that this year, it's not just the Indians and Tigers. This year, it's the Tribe, Tigers and the White Sox are the new kid on the block. And it wouldn't surprise me if the Royals – yes, the Kansas City Royals – make a run, providing they can convince themselves they are talented enough (which they are).

The Dolans have always maintained that they'd spend if and when the situation dictated such action. If this situation isn't screaming for perhaps a couple of right-handed bats and a middle reliever, I doubt it ever will. What are they waiting for?

And by the way, Larry and Paul Dolan, that sound you hear over by that window of opportunity which is wide open?

That's more of your fan base jumping.

Jeff Bing

Lifelong Westlake resident who dabbles in writing whenever the real world permits.

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Volume 4, Issue 14, Posted 12:52 PM, 07.10.2012