Saturday, November 10, 2007

Shapiro Named Exec of the Year

General Manager Mark Shapiro was named the 2007 Baseball Executive of the Year by the Sporting News. Shapiro was awarded the honor during the GM winter meetings in Orlando on Monday. Rockies GM Dan O’Dowd (another Cleveland protégé) trailed Shapiro in votes, 13 to 11. The award is Shapiro’s second in three years. What makes Shapiro’s win all the more impressive is the fact it was voted on by his peers. Forty seven baseball executives were eligible to vote this year.

How awesome is the Tribe’s front office and coaching staff? In addition to fielding one of the best major league clubs, Cleveland boasts an outstanding farm system and some of the best minds in MLB right now. The organization’s success and numerous job offers flying at Tribe employees are evidence enough. John Farrell, former Director of Player Development, was hired as Boston’s pitching coach last season. Joel Skinner was apparently in the running for Pittsburgh’s next managing gig, while Neal Huntington moved up from special assistant to Shapiro to Pittsburgh’s GM.

Assistant GM Chris Antonetti fielded not one, but two GM job offers from other teams this season, but turned down both so he could stay in Cleveland. Now, one of those offers was from Pittsburgh, but the other was from the St. Louis Pujols’. That’s a serious statement about the respect Cleveland commands. According to a persistent rumor, owner Paul Dolan was willing to guarantee Antonetti the GM job down the road, making him the heir to Shapiro. Shapiro would become the Club President, but the time table for all this is still unknown. Like I said, it was just a rumor. Either way, it looks like Cleveland’s Dynamic Duo isn’t going anywhere, which is great news.

Plus, we have Louis Issac, who might as well be the team’s mascot at this point. Analyze that, Billy Beane.

Maintaining an elite front office team like Shapiro and Antonetti is as significant as keeping the one-two punch of Vic and Pronk together, or extending Wedge’s contract. All three provide a stable foundation for the team to continue to build on, rather than having to take a big step back every time key personnel leave. Keeping the front office intact from the top-down ensures the outstanding pattern of player development and acquisition Jon Hart created will go unbroken for years to come. Hart, Shapiro, Antonetti: all have played key roles in the franchise’s success from the 90’s to the present, with Shapiro working as Hart’s Assistant GM.

Hopefully I can get a handle on the Tribe's Hot Stove ventures this week. I hear Jason Bay is available....

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