In 2010, Indians CEO Paul Dolan said that “it was not time to spend” on big-ticket acquisitions coming off of consecutive seasons of more than ninety losses under respective Eric Wedge and Manny Acta regimes.
At the time, the painful slog of player development and good, old-fashioned games of chance and hope seemed like a safe and prudent way of conducting and operating a baseball franchise that had no real hope of contending anyway, as much as we fans as armchair GMs hated seeing stars and potential “cheat-code players” head elsewhere for the big paydays, and how we hated to admit that their penny-pinching way is probably the right call at the time.
Fast-forward six years, and the Indians came within a momentum-killing rain delay of shocking the baseball world and toppling the Chicago Cubs. The same Cubs who are one of baseball’s financial blue bloods; easily spending more than $200 million on a roster that, probably should have lost to an Indians’ team, who’s payroll doesn’t even hit $90 million.
If we’re really being honest here, the main reason why TBS and FOX bent over backwards in their reverence to Boston, Toronto (who, under Mark Shapiro’s hand, are in for a big shock as he’s going to pare their payroll down and we’ll just sit here saying, “Yup, seen this before!”) and Chicago is the networks love the big markets. Cleveland just sticks out like a sore thumb to executives, which opens the narrative floodgates to the fawning of Kyle Schwarber and so on, or how they let TBS get away with cheap pop jokes about the city. They wanted anybody but us. But here they were, staring down their own multiple generations of heartbreak at more than half of what the Cubs paid out. Networks love the “haves.”
Yet, the unspoken reality is that the Indians are the absolute dream for an owner: All the potential of a championship run for essentially clearance rack prices.
The shrewdness of trades and smart free-agency signings have solidified the core of this baseball team. Now is the time for the Dolans to lay to rest the “DOLANZ CHEEP” Twitter meme and make a play for a really big fish.
Yeah, Cleveland will always have the financial constraints, as it’s the reality of a league that doesn’t have an mandated salary cap. They might strike out on the targets that would be the ultimate missing piece who kept Michael Martinez on the bench for an at-bat that he had no business actually attempting.
Who might that be? A fan’s wish list as we head towards the holiday season would certainly include the Jays’ Edwin Encarnacion or the Mets’ Yoenis Cespedes, but even if we are to expect that the Dolans would be aggressive, you can pretty much expect both players’ asking price would be out of the Indians’ budget. On top of that, it would take a serious sell on the assurance that this is a team built for the long haul with multiple championships coming. And aside from Jedi Mind Tricks, even that might not be enough.
Heck, Mike Napoli will want to cash in on one last big payday before he retires. The season of parties could conceivably be a one-year phenomenon.
But if the Indians front office wants us to believe in them, and they want to keep our fans happy, they have to try to land a proven star to augment what figures to be a healthy and an even better team having gone through the longest season they could have had.
The Dolans asked us to wait, and it almost paid off. Now is the time to strike as a reward for the fans.