Notes: Team sticks to blueprint
Franchise never wavers from what it believes is right
CLEVELAND -- Rebuilding came with its share of criticism for Indians owner Larry Dolan. But just because the rebuilding is over and the Tribe is once again a playoff team doesn't mean criticism is far behind."There's nothing sophisticated about it," Dolan said. "If we win, I'm smart. If we lose, I'm dumb again." Dolan doesn't do a great deal of interviews, but he took some time with reporters Wednesday after receiving a humanitarian award from Our Lady of the Wayside to discuss the '07 season and what lies ahead for the Tribe. He was asked whether he thinks the Indians can re-sign C.C. Sabathia before he becomes a free agent after '08. "There's no question we'd like to keep him," Dolan said. "C.C. would have to take a large role in that. I really don't know where it's going. But we're going to make every effort we possibly can to get him to stay." At the general managers meetings in Orlando this week, general manager Mark Shapiro said that he will present a contract proposal for Sabathia to the Dolan ownership family before going to Sabathia's agents this winter. That's standard practice for the way the Indians do business. "If [Shapiro] thinks he's got something that really would help but it's above anything we've talked about [financially], then we sit down and talk it over," Dolan said. "Sometimes we make a movement. Sometimes we say, 'Mark, we love it, but it just doesn't make sense for who we are and where we are.'" To that end, the Indians won't submit an offer for Sabathia that hinders the club financially in the long run. "You can't put X number of dollars into one player," Dolan said. "It's foolish. And there's multiple examples around the league where that has occurred." While retaining Sabathia is one goal of the offseason, the Indians already accomplished another in retaining Shapiro's assistant, Chris Antonetti. Though Dolan did not divulge details of the arrangement, it's believed that the Indians gave Antonetti a raise and an assurance that he'll succeed Shapiro as Tribe GM, in order to sway him to not take the GM job in St. Louis. "We have taken the steps necessary to ensure Mark Shapiro and Chris Antonetti aren't going anywhere," Dolan said. "This guy is probably the most coveted assistant GM in baseball. We want him to stay. The two make a great team. We are, in my judgment, as successful as we are now because of their teamwork and their judgment. I don't want to break it up." Play it again: Shapiro was one of 25 GMs to vote for exploring the possibility of using instant replay to help decide disputed home run calls. "Technologically, we have the ability to get calls right and get them right officially and correctly," Shapiro said. "We owe it to our fans and people who work in the game to do so. We shouldn't let outcomes of games and championships be affected by not taking advantage of that." Dolan said that he is also in favor of instant replay in such situations. "I find it totally silly to see all the umpires grouped together trying to decide if a ball was fair or foul when everybody watching on TV knows if it was fair or foul," Dolan said. "I want to use the technology. We can all talk about it, but ultimately, it's up to the Commissioner." Keeping K-Lo? Shapiro is not ruling out the possibility of bringing left fielder Kenny Lofton back next season, but it would take the movement of another outfielder. The Indians already have David Dellucci and Jason Michaels in-house, and prospect Shin-Soo Choo is out of Minor League options. Prospect Ben Francisco is also an option for the left-field job. "We haven't closed the door on Kenny," Shapiro said. "But we obviously can't bring all those guys back." As with Lofton, the Indians have exclusive negotiating rights with their other free agents -- outfielder Trot Nixon and utility infielder Chris Gomez -- until Tuesday. On the move: The Pirates continue to raid the Indians' front office. Neal Huntington, who was hired as the Bucs' GM after 10 seasons in various roles in the front office of the Tribe, named Kyle Stark his director of player development. The 29-year-old Stark had served as an assistant farm director for the Indians the last two seasons. "He impacted the organization in so many ways," Shapiro said of Stark. "I think his strengths lie in his work ethic, his passion for the game and his knowledge of the game. I think evaluation-wise, he has a very unique perspective. He's definitely had the opportunity to have his hand in many different areas." The name's the same: The Jacobs Field naming rights have been up for grabs since the end of the '06 season, but the Indians have yet to find a taker. "There's progress, but it's hardly measurable," Dolan said. "The economy changes so rapidly around here. You get someone excited about it, then their circumstances change. But we're working on it." The Indians announced in September that they have partnered with sports firm IMG to find a naming-rights partner. Big week: First base prospect Mike Aubrey, playing for the Surprise Rafters, tore up Arizona Fall League pitching this week, batting .556 (10-for-18) with three doubles, two homers and three RBIs in five games. Aubrey is batting .289 this fall. Place your bid: The Class A Lake County Captains are auctioning off game-worn 2007 jerseys. The jerseys available were worn by popular players like first-round pick Beau Mills, Nick Weglarz, Jared Goedert and Carlton Smith. Bidding on the jerseys ends Wednesday, Dec. 5. Man your credit card: The day after Thanksgiving is traditionally a prime day for shopping, and the Indians will be offering up some prime tickets for the '08 season that day. Tickets for the 2008 opening series (March 31-April 3 against the White Sox) and Six Packs will go on sale Friday, Nov. 23 at 10 a.m. Fans can make a season ticket deposit for the '08 season online or call (216) 420-HITS.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.