Traded OF Ryan Church and SS Maicer Izturis to the Montreal Expos for LHRP Scott Stewart

Re-signed LHRP Carl Sadler to a minor-league contract; Invited him to Spring Training

Signed RHSP Jeff D’Amico, RHRP Luther Hackman RHRP Matt Miller, and 3B Kevin Orie to minor-league contracts; Invited them to Spring Training

A very busy day for the Indians, and they addressed a couple of their needs.

Scott Stewart instantly solves the LOOGY problem. Actually, Stewart is a bit better than your standard LOOGY, and is capable of closing games if need be. For example, if three left-handers are due up in the 9th inning, why not bring in a left-hander to at least turn them around? Along with Riske and Wickman, Stewart makes the back end of the bullpen much better than last year, when the Indians had Carl Sadler, Danys Baez, and an unproven David Riske in those roles.

The Indians gave up Ryan Church and Maicer Izturis in the trade. Church, who was on the 40-man roster, had an injury-filled 2003 season, and the jury’s still out on him. A couple of years ago, he was the best outfielder in the system, but in the past year or two, with the addition of outfielder Ryan Ludwick, Grady Sizemore, Coco Crisp, Alex Escobar, among others, Church slipped down the ranks. He has a much better shot in Montreal, and if he can stay healthy, he’s capable of sticking around as at least a reserve outfielder.

Maicer Iztuis’ ceiling is a little lower. He’s the brother of Cesar Izturis, who plays shortstop for the Dodgers, and also is known for his glove. However, his offense probably isn’t good enough to warrent starting every day in the majors. His future is likely going to be a utility infielder.

Stewart’s stats:

2001 47.2 IP, 39 SO, 13 BB, .243 BAA, 3 SV

2002 64.0 IP, 67 SO, 22 BB, .207 BAA, 17 SV

2003 51.0 IP, 29 SO, 13 BB, .306 BAA, 0 SV

vs. Left 59.0 IP, 65 SO, 11 BB, .234 BAA, 1.05 WHIP

vs. Right 95.2 IP, 70 SO, 37 BB, .254 BAA, 1.36 WHIP

The other move of importance is the signing of Jeff D’Amico, who pitched with the Pirates last year. Between him and Jason Bere, you should have your 4th or 5th starter. D’Amico certainly won’t win any Cy Youngs, but he should give the Indians around 150 generic innings, exactly what you need from the bottom of your rotation. The fact that both Bere and D’Amico are signed to mino-league deals makes it much better, as the Indians can afford to be objective in Spring Training.

Most of the other signings will likely spend their summer in Buffalo. Matt Miller and Luther Hackman are marginal bullpen arms, and Kevin Orie is likely to a part-time infielder in Buffalo.

#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.

The Countdown Begins

Before I begin counting down the 100 Greatest Cleveland Indians, a few word about how I ranked the players:

These rankings are based on the time the player spent with the Indians franchise, and does not count years played for other franchises. I didn’t count MVPs, Cy Young Awards, or Gold Gloves, because they weren’t around in the early days, and it would be impossible (not to mention time-consuming) to “give out” the awards myself. So I just didn’t count any awards. Now this hurt some players (as you will see), but I feel it’s the only fair way to rank players over a 100 year period.

Here’s what I used for the rankings:

-For pitchers, I used their average ERA+ for the years pitched with Cleveland, and assigned points in reverse order of top 10 finishes among the AL (10 pts for finishing 1st in a category, and so on).

-For position players, I used their average OPS+ for the years played in Cleveland, and again assigned points for top 10 finishes in categories. I also took the difference in their Fielding Percent vs. the League Average Fielding Percent, and either added or subtracted the result from the total. I also added “bonus” points for certain positions:

+30 points for C and SS

+20 points for 2B and CF

+10 points for 3B

So there you have it. It’s not a perfect system by any means, but it’s the fairest and most concise way I could come up with to compare players from vastly different eras. Judging by the results, I didn’t see too many outliers; most of the Hall of Famers (or soon-to-be Hall of Famers) are at the top of this list. In the next couple weeks, I’ll transfer this list to its separate blog, along with the entire roster of All-Time Indians at this address:

Now without further ado, #100 on the Top 100 Indians off all time….

#100 – OF “Super” Joe Charboneau

The Indians put several players on the list more for their notoriety than for their playing ability. Joe Charboneau was the biggest example of this, and it’s earned him last place on the list.

Charboneau was drafted by the Minnesota Twins unceremonially in the 2nd phase of the 1976 draft. They traded him to the Indians in December 1978. After a year in AAA, Charboneau burst onto the scene by winning the 1980 Rookie of the Year, hitting a very promising .289/.358/488, along with 23 HR. There were “Super Joe” songs recorded, and he was compared to Rocky Colavito. But he never was the same again. He was sent down to AAA the next year after starting the year batting .210/.247/.342 and never regained his hitting stroke. By 1984, he was out of baseball altogether, a staggering collapse.

One of Charboneau’s non-baseball accomplishments included being able to open beer cans with his eye socket.

Charboneau’s collapse was a grim foretelling of things to come in the 1980s. The team wouldn’t finish any higher than 6th place in the AL East the entire decade.

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.