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The People v. Mark Shapiro

Written by: Matt Alaburda

In the past month and a half, Indians fans have seen the front office trade away 6 players including reigning AL Cy-Young Cliff Lee and 3-time All-Star Victor Martinez for RHP Justin Masterson and 10 prospects.

It is hard to defend Mark Shapiro, especially after trading away Victor Martinez, captain, and heart and soul of the Indians.

But this is America, and everyone has the right to a good defense.

Shapiro was faced with two decisions, keep the current team together and try and make a run next year, or make the trades now to try and contend in 2 years.

As we have learned, owner Larry Dolan, informed Shapiro that they would not be a player in the up coming free agent market.

That meant that they would have to win next year by only adding Jake Westbrook and probably some of the AAA talent.

Shapiro decided not to take the risk of trying to compete with a team that finished .500 in 2008 and was 18 games below .500 at the time of the deal.

Small market clubs in baseball have to play for windows of opportunity or face large rebuilding efforts like the one we witnessed in 2002. It was pretty clear that the window was shut on the team that was one win away from a World Series in 2007.

So Shapiro made the moves now, when the 2010 free agents Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez had their highest value.

In a much needed effort to re-tool their pitching staff the Indians received 11 players overall and 9 pitchers. Eight of those players are under the age of 23 and six of them were either 1st or 2nd round draft picks.

The Indians now have a core of players that will include the young talent of LaPorta, Brantley, Santana, Rondon, and Brown added with Sizemore, Choo, Cabrera, Valbuena, and Peralta.

That means that if around half of the 11 players received can end up contributing on the big league level, this franchise will be a legitimate contender in 2011 and for many years beyond.

If Mark Shapiro is guilty, he is guilty of not wanting the fans to sit through another 3 year Matt Lawton and Jody Gerut project.