#98 – 1B Pat Tabler (1983-1988)

A light-hitting first baseman, Pat Tabler had a couple of pretty good seasons during the mid-80s. His .326 average in 1986 was good for 4th place in the AL, and he was Cleveland’s lone representitive in the 1987 All-Star Game.

However, his lack of power, especially for his position, prompted the Indians to trade him to Kansas City during the 1988 season. He finished his career with Toronto, winning a World Series with them in 1992.

Tabler’s biggest claim to fame is his career average with the bases loaded. He hit .489 in 88 at-bats with the bags juiced.

#99 – C Luke Sewell

The biggest weakness in my ranking system is its inability to quantify defensive excellence. Defense is such a subjective measure that it’s really impossible for one person to compare players defensively from different eras unless you were actually able to watch each of the players on this list. I’ve included Fielding Percentage and Range Factor in the calculations, but still it doesn’t accurately portray the worth of player defensively.

So Luke Sewell is ranked #99 in my rankings. He was a very good defensive catcher in Cleveland for over a decade. He finished 9th in MVP voting in 1927. He did lead catchers in assists four years, and lasted 20 years at the catching position, quite an accomplishment. But he was not much of an offensive player; his career high in OPS+ was 92.

Later in his career, he managed, first as a player coach in 1939, and won the AL pennant with the St. Louis Browns in 1944. His brother, Hall of Famer Joe Sewell, will appear later on in the list.

Winter Plans

With the off-season predictably quiet, this blog would be boring as heck if I just concentrated on Ron Belliard, Cliff Bartosh, and whoever the Indians sign to be the 4th starter.

Therefore I’m going to use January and February to look back on the previous 103 seasons in franchise history. I’m in the process of revamping my Indians history section, which is currently on my geocities site. Eventually (and I mean eventually), I’d like to have on file a profile of every player who’s played for the Indians. While that isn’t happening this year (or even this decade), I’d like to start it. A very good place to start this massive undertaking is to profile the 100 Greatest Indians, announced during the 2001 season. With roughly 100 days before the 2004 season starts, I’m going rank them and count down one each day, with #1 announced in early April, just before the season starts. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to tweak the site. As you may have noticed, I’ve switched the sidebar to the left side. Some of the links may not work just yet, but I’ll get to those shortly.

Don’t worry..if something happens (anything, please!), I’ll cover it. During February, I’ll start gearing up for the season with previews of the Indians and the rest of the American League. But for now, it’s time to look back instead of forward.

Number #100 on the list will appear on January 1st, 2004

Merry Christmas!

This is as good a time as any to expound a bit on what you’ll be seeing on this site in the next couple of weeks:

First, to the left, you’ll notice virtually every player in the Indians’ organization, all the way down to Rookie ball. Each player has his own profile, and is organized by alphabetical order. If you find a missing/broken link, don’t hesitate to e-mail me. The address is in the top left-hand corner of the screen.

Shortly after the first of the year, my geocities site will cease to exist as it is currently constituted. I feel that a blog format is much easier to update and keep up with. The geocities site was relatively easy to maintain when I started it after the 2002 season, but as I started to add more and more features, it’s become too difficult to keep up with. Don’t worry; all the profiles will remain, but you’ll have to access them through this site.

During the next couple weeks, I’ll finish adding the features links to this page. I’m also messing around with different templates, so don’t be surprised if the site may look different one day.

I’d appreciate any feedback you might have, especially on what you specifically want from the site. You, rapid Tribe fan, are the reason I’m doing this, so any suggestions will be welcomed.

2B Free Agent Update

1) Todd Walker signed with the Chicago Cubs for around $1.75M for a one-year contract. He’ll split time with incumbent Mark Grudzielanek.

2) Pokey Reese signed a one-year deal worth $1M with the Boston Red Sox


Three players with direct ties to the Indians were non-tendered on Saturday; Danys Baez and Carl Sadler from the Indians, and Derek Thompson from the Dodgers. I’ll get to Thompson and his situation in a little bit.

I’m sure most of you have heard at least snippets of the various moves involving Baez, so I’ll try to summarize things. Danys Baez was signed out of Cuba in November of 1999, and was given a four-year, major-league contract. This meant that he was placed on the 40-man roster; his contract was very similar to the contract given to 2002 draft pick Jeremy Guthrie in years, but not dollars.

Baez spent all of 2000 in the minors, and parts of 2001. So at the end of this season, he had not accumulated enough service time to be eligible for arbitration. The Indians declined the option for a fifth year, which was worth $5M if picked up. Therefore, Baez was without a contract, and since he was not eligible for arbitratration, the Indians could sign him to any amount of their choosing, as long as it was at least 80% of his 2003 salary, which would have been $4.1M. Since his past performances didn’t warrent that amount of money, the Indians were looking at non-tendering him on December 20th. However, the front office came across a possible loophole that would allow them to keep Baez at less than $4.1M. On November 15th, they placed Baez on waivers. Because no one wanted him at his present salary, and because he was going to be non-tendered anyway, no team claimed him. The Indians then re-purchased his contract on November 20th, which they thought would nullify his previous salary and allow the Indians to sign him at a lower price. Obviously, Baez, his agent, and especially the players’ union, did not agree with this reasoning and threatened a grievance if the Indians tendered Baez a contract less than $4.1M/year. If the Indians would have lost the grievance, they may have been fined for the period of time Baez was not able to pursue offers on the open market. These damages could have approached $5M, much more than Baez would have gotten on the open market, so the Indians finally decided to back away from any protracted legal issues and cut ties with Baez.

The Indians can still sign him, but it’s not likely the Baez will return. All this goes back to the fact that Baez was given a lot of guarenteed money at an early age, and with the CBA, he would have gotten salary increases each of the next three years. Baez is still a great talent, but with his performances as a closer, he simply wasn’t worth the money. He’ll probably get no more than what the Indians offered him (2 year, $4M) on the open market, but that didn’t prevent him from declining the offer.

Carl Sadler is a lot more simpler. He’ll probably be re-signed to a minor-league contract this week or next. This non-tender was done mainly to make room for a free agent signing. With Baez and Sadler off the roster, the Indians should have enough room to sign a 2B (most likely Ron Belliard) and a free agent starter. The Indians did almost the same thing with Chris Magruder last year. If more room is needed, the obvious choices would be Tim Laker or Chad Durbin. Another middle reliever may be signed to replace Baez, but someone should emerge from an NRI (Howry, David Lee, Carrara, or a minor-leaguer).

The Dodgers non-tendered 2002 Rule 5 pick Derek Thompson on Saturday as well. I don’t know if this means he has to returned to the Indians, but unless this is another loophole, the Indians should be getting him back. Although it’s been a year since Thompson was selected, an arm injury prevented him from spending any time on the active roster. The rules stipualate that a player must spend a minimum of 90 days on a 25-man roster to be kept permanently, and this rule has not been met.


Signed LHP Tim Young to a minor-league contract; Invited him to Spring Training

Signed LHP Mike Porzio to a minor-league contract; Invited him to Spring Training

Signed OF Ernie Young to a minor-league contract; Invited him to Spring Training

Signed RHP Giovanni Carrara to a minor-league contract; Invited him to Spring Training

Belliard the Choice

According to Jim Ingraham of the News-Herald and Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Indians have signed Ron Belliard to a one-year contract plus a team option pending a physical.

If you scroll down a bit, you can see a profile of Belliard plus my comments. Historically, Belliard has hit left-handers well, which helps a bit in the lineup, especially if Eric Wedge is penciling Ben Broussard, Jody Gerut, and Travis Hafner into the lineup. I’d still like the Indians to bring in a platoon parter to face some right-handers. Todd Walker is still out there, thanks to the collapse of the Alex Rodriguez trade, but he’s not realistic right now. Angel Santos, a switch-hitter with some power, is a minor-league free agent, and I’d really like the Indians to bring him back and spot him against right-handed pitchers.

Santos, who the Indians picked up from Boston for Jamie Brown last year, would make a nice bench player. He’s a much better hitter off the bench than John McDonald, can switch-hit, and can play 2B and 3B. And in contrast to Bill Selby or Zach Sorensen, Eric Wedge could actually use Santos late in the game as a pinch hitter.

I’ll get more into specific position battles as Spring Training approaches.


Signed Bob Howry to a minor-league contract; Invited him to Spring Training

The “Failed” Physical

Well, late last night, word came down that Omar Vizquel failed his physical, nullifying the trade which would had sent him to Seattle for Carlos Guillen. More specifically, Omar’s surgically-repaired knee nixed the trade. While this does hurt the Indians in the short-term, as $3M-$4M just disappeared from their budget, this doesn’t really change anything past next year. Vizquel isn’t going to be brought back at his current salary (a mutual option), and he probably isn’t going to be traded during the season.

Seattle GM Bill Bavasi just dodged a huge bullet, and I’m sure some of the more experienced conspiracy theorists will have a field day with this. This probably helps the Indians sell more tickets, along with the 8,756,456 different Omar! products flooding Indians team shops. When Omar finally leaves after the season, fans will still bemoan the Indians for not keeping a fan-favorite around until his retirement. However, once the Indians start winning again, fans will find new favorite players, or (gasp) they’ll just root for the teams, not individual players.