Antonetti: Acta's job safe despite 0-9 road trip
Tribe GM addresses starting pitching woes, focuses on turning it around
CLEVELAND -- Indians general manager Chris Antonetti does not listen to talk radio on his daily commute to Progressive Field. But he has not needed to tune in to understand how Cleveland's fans are feeling at the moment.
"I'm sure we're all exceptionally popular right now," Antonetti said sarcastically.
In a wide-ranging interview with local media on Monday afternoon, Antonetti sat inside the home dugout and addressed the Indians' recent collapse from contention. Over the previous 10 days, the Tribe went 0-9 through Minnesota, Kansas City and Detroit to complete the first winless road trip of nine or more games in the franchise's 112-year history.
Antonetti said the ballclub is in the process of evaluating what went wrong in its preseason roster decisions and over the course of the past four-plus months of baseball. He was emphatic about his belief, however, that manager Manny Acta is not to blame for the club's struggles, or the recent losing streak.
"I'm very happy with the job Manny has done," Antonetti said. "Obviously, it's been a tough road trip, but I think he's continued to provide very good leadership not only throughout the road trip, but throughout his tenure here. I certainly think he's part of the solution, not part of our issues."
Antonetti was asked if he could say with certainty that Acta's job was safe for 2013.
"I have no reason to think otherwise," replied the GM.
Entering Monday's game with Minnesota, the third-place Indians were 50-58 and sat 9 1/2 games behind the American League Central-leading White Sox. Since July 6, when Cleveland was in second place and only three games back of the division pace, the ballclub has posted a 7-19 record.
Since May 17, the Indians have gone 28-42, which is the worst mark in the AL over that span. Before that stretch, the Tribe went 22-16 and had a four-game lead in the AL Central race.
It has been a similar slide as experienced by the Indians a year ago, when injuries took an incredible toll on the roster. Cleveland stormed out of the gates with a 30-15 mark in 2011, running to a seven-game lead in the division. The Tribe then went 50-67 down the stretch and ended 15 games behind the Central champion Tigers.
If a manager is not on the hot seat following such a poor showing, especially for a team that felt it could contend for a division title, then typically the coaching staff might be under fire. Antonetti sidestepped a question about whether pitching coach Scott Radinsky or hitting coach Bruce Fields might be at risk of losing their jobs.
"That's not where we're focused right now," Antonetti said. "We're focused on how do we get the guys here performing better. We're committed to giving those guys every resource at our disposal to be successful."
A main source of frustration this season has been the underwhelming performance by the rotation. Heading into Monday's game, Cleveland's starters had the most losses (49) in the AL and ranked 12th in ERA (5.15) and 13th in WHIP (1.51) in the AL.
On the nine-game road trip, the rotation went 0-7 with an 11.69 ERA.
"We're concerned, yeah," Antonetti said. "I think the inconsistency of our starting pitching has been a challenge for us for most of the year. Until we can right our starting pitching, it's going to be difficult for us to sustain any momentum or success."
Antonetti did admit that the organization may have misjudged the team going into the season.
"That's certainly possible," he said. "Those are all things we're going to have to explore. As a team, we have not performed to our expectations. We're in the process of kind of reviewing what may have caused that and why we haven't performed the way we've expected. I think that's something we can really assess at the end of the year.
"Right now, our collective focus is, 'How do we play better? How do we get the guys here to perform to their potential?' All of our resources are committed to doing that."