Red Right 88

Cleveland sports fan and sports writer

Location: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

quit my job decided to drive west

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Woe is us! White Sox trade for Thome

Many of Indians general manager Mark Shapiro’s best moves were the ones he didn’t make. And those brilliant decisions are some of the main reasons the bandwagon fans are still mad.

Letting Manny Ramirez, Jim Thome and Omar Vizquel leave via free agency were what made this team a contender last season. It freed up not only large amounts of cash, it gave young players a chance to shine. If those stars of another era had been on the club not only would Grady Sizemore, Travis Hafner and Jhonny Peralta not be playing - the bullpen and bench would be bare because those three would be tying up the payroll. And the team’s record would not have been any better.

I think Manny is the best hitter in baseball, but Boston has been trying to dump his outrageous salary ever since they signed him. Thome is getting old and he has a bad back. His production has been in a constant decline, but his price tag has not been reduced. Jhonny may not have Omar’s glove, but instead of a 40-year-old shortstop, you have a 23-year old three hitter still years away from his prime. Hafner is looking like Thome in his prime for a fraction of the cost and Grady Sizemore has multiple all-star games in his future.

But there is still whining about the moves. Those “fans” are obviously just complainers and not real day-to-day bleeding heart fans. Manny is Manny, that I get. But why are Thome and Omar still so beloved? Thome turned his back on you for more money. And as slick as Omar was in the field, he is the only player I can think of who ran the bases like Manny. Because he was charming, his blunders were often forgiven. I even heard one radio caller want the Indians to bring back Sandy Alomar. Yes, we need a 40-year old back-up catcher for Victor Martinez, who is poised to become, if he isn’t already, the best hitting catcher in baseball. Rather than overpaying for senior citizens and a mad genius who may or may not show up everyday for work, the Indians have assembled the best young talent in the league at bargain basement prices.

And for those who think the Indians should have traded for Thome, look at what the White Sox gave up. Aaron Rowland- who might be the best fielding center fielder in baseball, a top pitching prospect in Daniel Haigwood, another player to be named later and $22 million in cash.

Holy Train Robbery Batman!

If Jimmy is healthy OK maybe, but only a general manager drunk on knowing he can screw-up for the next 86 years and still be the best GM in team history can take a chance like that.

Reports have it the Phillies wanted the Indians to pony up the money plus send Coco Crisp, minor league pitcher Charles Lofgren (a lefty with a bright future) and another player. So while we would have two designated hitters, who exactly would you have play left field?

The salary of those three former stars last season was over $38 million. The Tribe’s entire payroll was $41 and a half million.

The Indians did not get to where they are now by making rash decisions. It is the same reason they did not over pay for Bob Howery and his surgically repaired arm and let him go to the Cubs. It is probably why Kevin Millwood will not be resigned.

Am I concerned about the pitching for next season? Yes. But has Shapiro earned some slack? Certainly. He has always had a plan and it worked rather well last season. Pitchers and catchers don’t even report for 75 more days. Let the man do his job before we rush to judgment.

I am trying this positive thinking stuff. How I am doing?