Antonetti: 'We need to improve upon a higher standard'
JUL 13, 2014 5:59p ET
CLEVELAND -- With the Indians at .500 at the All-Star Break, they are still in that limbo state between being a buyer or seller at the trade deadline.
With many wondering what the Tribe might do the next couple weeks, general manager Chris Antonetti didn't provide much clarity during a 25-minute session with reporters before Sunday's game against the White Sox.
"We're exploring a lot of different things, opportunities to improve our team for the balance of this season and then position us better moving forward, too," Antonietti said. "We've spent a lot of energy on fits for acquiring guys that we'd have control over beyond this year, not just guys that would just be here for the balance of the year.
"I think there are teams out there that have glaring holes at particular spots, that it's clear, 'Hey, go out and get a right fielder, or go out and get a third baseman, or a shortstop.' I think with us, we're in a little bit of a different position in that we've got guys in those roles that are capable of contributing. So, for us to improve, we need to improve upon a higher standard. And, in some cases, we're counting on guys that we've already made commitments to rebounding. So, it's a little bit of a different dynamic for us as we look to try to improve our roster."
Cleveland made a couple of minor deals this week, acquiring outfielder Chris Dickerson from the Pirates and pitcher Nick Maronde from the Angels. Dickerson had a hit in his first five games but has not played the past two after having tightness in his left hamstring. Maronde will be assigned to one of the minor-league affiliates.
If the Indians were to make a trade near the deadline, all eyes would be focused on the rotation. They have been near the bottom of the American League for much of the season and went until Sunday with the third-highest ERA. Corey Kluber entered Sunday tied for fourth in the league in strikeouts and third in innings pitched but Justin Masterson has struggled mightily and is on the disabled list.
Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin have struggled at times while the fifth spot has been split between T.J. House and Zach McAllister.
Antonetti described the rotation as being in flux and then added "We feel we have a good, talented group of guys who are capable of excelling at the major-league level. We just need to get a little more consistency out of them. Individually, we've seen a lot of progress from a lot of the guys.
"We're exploring all avenues to improve. Anytime you acquire a guy, you have to think about who it displaces from the team and the rotation, in that case. You have to have a high degree of confidence that it's an improvement."
Antonetti did say that Masterson, who is on the DL with right knee inflammation, is slightly ahead in coming back with the possibility of returning to the rotation during the road trip after the break. Masterson could also make a rehab start. Outfielder Michael Bourn (left hamstring) is still at least three weeks away from coming back.
"I think what we'd like Justin to do is get to a point where he feels 100-percent healthy so he can get back to executing his delivery the way he was last year and not have anything lingering that could negatively affect that," Antonetti said.
Here are some other topics Antonetti touched on:
On Maronde: "He is a big, physical left-handed pitcher that we've liked for quite a while. Recently, he's had some trouble throwing strikes, but we think that there's significant upside there and a guy worth taking a chance on. We're in the process of working with him to put a plan in place and get him back to the guy he was a couple years ago. At one point, I think he was the second-rated prospect in their organization from Baseball America."
On Bourn and his hamstring: "It's a concern in the fact that he's had two injuries to the same hamstring. In talking to our medical staff, they aren't necessarily interrelated. At the time he had his hamstring issue last year, we walked through whether that predisposes him to future hamstring issues and everybody concurred that it doesn't. Obviously, he's had another one and we now need to manage it and figure out what some of the underlying causes are, if any.
"When Michael has had injuries, especially to his legs, we've tried to make sure he gets back as close to 100-percent as possible, because his legs are such an important part of his game. I would anticipate we'll take a similar approach this time."
On an area that needs improvement in the second half: "Consistency, overall. First and foremost, with our defense. That's been our one area that has been most challenging for us in the first half. If you were to ask anyone in the clubhouse, that's the area we feel we have the most opportunity to improve, because we feel we're a better defensive team than we've (shown)."
On Dickerson: "He's a left-handed hitter with some success against right-handed pitching. A versatile outfielder who can play all three (positions). We talked about him as a free agent this winter. Ultimately, the way things came together, we didn't have those at-bats to commit to him in Triple-A or as a major league opportunity, because the way our outfield was set up."
On Nyjer Morgan and his knee injury: "He got a second opinion last week. We're still in the process of gathering information from that. All accounts are that they concur with the opinion of our medical personnel. It's going to be a while. Whether that ends up being at some point in August or September or the end of the season, we really don't know yet. The recovery from his knee has been a little bit on the slower end of what was expected, but we don't have a clear timetable at this point."
On Francisco Lindor possibly being moved up to Triple-A: "It's something that we're thinking through right now. I think our focus is trying to really understand and think through what the best developmental environment for Francisco, and there are a lot of things that go into that. A promotion to Triple-A could be something we consider in the second half. Every step along the way, Francisco continues to get better. It's especially impressive when you consider he's always been and continues to be one of the youngest players at his level. That continues to be the case, but he's a guy that, again, puts in the work and tries to get better in every facet of his game."