Indians owner not planning immediate change
The Indians have collapsed. Owner Paul Dolan isn't ready to begin rebuilding them just yet.
Perplexed as anyone by the Indians' stunning losing streak, Dolan said Thursday night that he has no immediate plans to fire manager Manny Acta and that he's not considering an overhaul of Cleveland's front office.
Dolan, appearing at a charity bowling event for Acta's foundation, said he has no plans to dismiss president Mark Shapiro, general manager Chris Antonetti or his manager.
''We all have a lot of work to do, but their jobs aren't at stake with this,'' Dolan said.
Asked to clarify that he is not considering a managerial change, Dolan said, ''No. I am not.''
Dolan is at a loss to explain how the Indians, who were just 3 1/2 games out of first place on July 26 after rallying to beat Detroit ace Justin Verlander, could stumble so dramatically. The Indians lost 11 in a row after that win, are currently riding an eight-game losing streak and are just 4-17 in August - with the New York Yankees on deck for three games starting Friday.
''This has been the most difficult stretch we've had as owners,'' said Dolan, whose father, Larry, bought the Indians from Richard Jacobs in 2000. ''At the end of July, we were in the playoffs or on the verge of the playoffs, having just beaten Verlander, and then it all fell apart. We have to understand what happened and I'm not going to make judgments on that right now.
''It has been a very, very difficult stretch for us. In our entire tenure of ownership we have not seen a contending team deep in the season collapse like this.''
Dolan hopes to assess the challenging season once it's over, and only then will he consider any moves.
''As I sit here today, I have no intent to make any changes,'' he said. ''I have to understand what's happened and I'm not going to have that understanding today. Hopefully, sometime this offseason we'll be able to assess and move from there.''
Acta's future with the club has become a prominent issue during the losing streak. He's in his third season with Cleveland and is under contract for next year. Despite the uncertainty, Acta said he's not worried about his job security and remains focused on getting the Indians turned around in the season's final month.
''You know what? I'm never afraid of the unknown or the things that I can't control,'' he said. ''What's on my mind is to be able to get my guys to play better baseball and win a ballgame and then go from there. I can control the way I prepare myself. I can control my attitude. I can control how I show up every day to the field, and after that I don't waste any energy.''
Acta said the chance to get away from the field for a day was good for him, his staff and some players. Pitcher Justin Masterson and third baseman Jack Hannahan were among the early arrivals to the charity event, which included the awkward dynamic of Acta, Dolan, Shapiro and Antonetti milling around the bar area as guests came in.
The Indians were unable to make a significant move at the trade deadline, when they were 50-53 and just six games back in the AL Central. Dolan dismissed the idea that the inability to add players had a negative impact on a team that is currently 54-70 and only 2 1/2 games out of last place.
''I doubt that it was demoralizing,'' he said. ''Most teams I know are glad when they are kept together. We were very aggressive in looking for something that could help the team. I'm not convinced, given what has happened, that anything we might have done would have made a material difference. But that suggests that I understand what's happened, and I don't - other than we haven't performed at virtually every level of the game in the last month.''
The Indians have made two playoff appearances under the Dolans' ownership but haven't been in the postseason since 2007. Even though there hasn't been a World Series visit, Dolan dismissed the notion that the club hasn't achieved anything.
''Over the last five years we've had some teams that have had some success, including the best team in baseball,'' said Dolan, referring to the Indians having the best regular-season mark in '07. ''The fact that we haven't won consistently is frustrating to all of us. But we have been on balance a team that has accomplished some things in contrast to some teams who have done nothing.
''Our challenge is to take teams and get them to the next level. We thought we were on the verge of doing that this year, which is why it's so much more frustrating.''