Well, it didn't work the first time and it's not the owner's fault, it's not the General Manager's fault. Who's to blame? Well, who really knows. All I know is that Cleveland fans are p'ed off more than ever as the Indians have shipped off Rafael Betancourt (one of the most consistent set-up men for the club and in baseball since 2003), Ryan Garko (a streaky clutch hitter/first baseman who is loved and hated in Cleveland), Cliff Lee (the 2008 Cy Young Award Winner and comeback player of the decade in Cleveland), Victor Martinez (the beloved catcher/first baseman who was the core for the latino players and the unofficial team captain and arguably the best overall consistent hitter on the team). Oh, and there was this other pitcher named C.C. (sorry, CC) Sabathia that was traded last year as well for some good prospects.
Times have changed. Jacob's field is now Progressive Field. We went from back-to-back Cy Young award winning seasons and our first 20 game winner since 1974 to a list of questionables for the starting rotation for the next year. What the hell happened? Why the salary and player dump? Is it all about finances?
Basically, like many relationships, things just didn't work out. The team looked horrible this year starting back in spring training when the Indians had a hard time beating anyone. The starting pitching looked bad and continued to look bad as more and more pressure was placed on the bullpen. The same situation happened last year as Joe Borowski caved in and seemingly everyone else followed. This year nothing went right for the pitching staff (and the streaky offense) and by early May everyone in Cleveland knew what was coming in July. The wheels fell off and the dead weight had to be removed for the bus to roll on. The process that started in 2008 continued as more players who would be demanding more money in the next few years were moved out for prospects who will hopefully help push the Indians to the higher levels they felt in 2007. Hopefully it won't take five years. Hopefully the team will continue to grow instead of waiting for it to happen.
Many fans are threatening to leave this team behind. Please, you are Cleveland fans. You can piss and moan all day, but we all know you will be back next year with a close eye on what is happening. It's true that Cleveland is a football town, but when the Indians heat up there's no doubt that the fans will flock back to cheer them on and buy more jerseys of players that will eventually be traded or lost to free agency.
We might not like the names we received for our beloved players, but no one knew who the hell Grady Sizemore was and many had little hope that this Cliff Lee guy would turn out alright. It sucks that we already know that the "Maybe next year" sign will be hanging on the front door next year (we like the drama of wondering when it will be put out), but watching a team go from bottom to top is always exciting. Hopefully this will the last "non-salary dumping, non-rebuilding" salary dump and rebuild that we go through for a while, but it seems that the record is broken. "Sell the team!" Be careful what you wish for, not to mention we have seen what this brings as well.
It's a shame that we couldn't continue to add better pieces to the puzzle slowly instead of hitting this brick wall once again like 2002, but hopefully the owner and GM can learn from this and continue to build while the team gains experience instead of topping out and flushing payroll and players again.
Hang tight and don't walk away. Be a true fan and root for the new talent and keep a watchful eye on the minor leagues. Above all, be there for the team that fights to prove they are not losers. Help give the Cleveland Indians the aura of being a championship caliber team that they should and could be. Our support might just be enough that they can hold their heads high and provide the swagger that many other teams have.
In further blogs we'll look at the development of the youth that we got that many fans are disappointed in. Remember what you said about those trades and look back at it in a couple of years...