General manager Chris Antonetti knows it is going to take more than a new manager and a few added players to get Indians fans fired up.
If nothing else, though, the franchise is taking the proper steps.
“We still have work to do,” Antonetti said Wednesday, less than 24 hours after completing a three-team trade that involved nine players.
Antonetti acknowledged the addition of outfielder Drew Stubbs from Cincinnati and three pitchers, including promising Trevor Bauer, from Arizona doesn’t quite get the fans’ pulse beating. But the Indians are getting there.
“This is another step forward in our offseason,” said Antonetti, vowing to try and complete more moves to enhance what he hopes will be a quick makeover for a team that lost 94 games in 2012. “We still would like to improve our starting pitching and add a corner outfielder.”
Dealing Shin-Soo Choo only added to the void in left field, where several players failed to provide enough run production as the Indians flopped miserably in the second half. Michael Brantley or Stubbs, both considered top-notch center fielders, could move to left. Antonetti has had discussions with free agent Nick Swisher, as well, who could fill Choo’s old spot in right.
“We have at-bats available,” Antonetti noted, adding that the Indians still don’t have a designated hitter after buying out the final year of oft-injured Travis Hafner’s contract.
Mark Reynolds, signed to a one-year, $6 million deal, is expected to be new manager Terry Francona’s first baseman. Both Reynolds and Stubbs are high risk-reward players. In 2011, Stubbs led the NL in strikeouts with 205, nine more than Reynolds’ AL-leading total for Baltimore. In the three previous years with Arizona, Reynolds averaged 213 strikeouts.
“The best way to improve your team,” Antonetti said, succinctly, “is to score more runs and allow fewer runs.”
He pointed out that Cleveland cut the strikeout total in 2012, but ranked low in run production. A few seasons ago, the Indians led the AL in strikeouts, but were in the top three in scoring.
“I’m not as concerned at how we do it,” he said. “But our focus is to score more and allow fewer.”
Antonetti also is not worried about Bauer’s devotion to a sometimes controversial long-toss program or the 21-year-old’s insistence on hitting the weight room hard.
“Trevor works exceptionally hard and is very committed to being the best pitcher he can be,” Antonetti said.