We have great respect for Terry Pluto, if only because he seems to be one of the hardest working writers in the business. Right now he's probably polishing off his 8,754th book about how he and his Dad watched Sam McDowell drink himself out of the major leagues while simultaneously finishing six different columns for this week's Beacon Journal. So from our standpoint, he gets a wide berth.
That being said, what was with his softball interview with Indians co-owner Paul Dolan in this morning's Beacon Journal. Dolan admits the obvious, that this season has been a disappointment. But Pluto doesn't challenge Dolan's assertion that the disappointment mostly stems from his claim that "we thought we had put a championship-caliber team in place" at the beginning of the season. To which Pluto should have asked, "based on what?" Isn't Dolan the one who dictated an uncompetitive budget in the first place. Wasn't this cheapskate budget responsible for us the systematic weakening of the bullpen, the loss of Kevin Millwood, and the failure to sign any A level free agent? Tell us exactly, Mr. Dolan, what planet you are living on where this year's team looked championship caliber?
While that may be the most egregious example of letting Dolan squirm off the hook, that wasn't the only example. When Dolan said, apparently proudly, that next year's payroll will be north of $60 million, it begged for the obvious follow-up as to why the increasingly delusional Dolan thinks this will make the Indians any more competitive. Pluto notes that our current budget falls well below the Twins at $63 million but fails to put into context that even if Dolan goes north of $60 million, nearly every other team in the league, let alone in our division, would have to either stand still or cut payroll for the Indians to start closing the gap. If the Twins already are north of $63 million and our 19th in the league in total payroll, at best the Indians will remain a bottom tier club still being outspent by the likes of the Twins. And anyone who thinks that either Chicago or Detroit will stand pat on payroll is living every bit the fantasy life that ensconces brother Dolan and his daddy.
This is a franchise in trouble and nothing in Pluto's "interview" with Dolan should give anyone comfort that any sort of change is on the way. We can only hope that Browns owner Randy Lerner loses in his bid to buy the soccer club and licks his wounds by buying out the Dolans.