Ah, the 2007 Indians. So close to winning a World Series. If only CC and Fausto hadn’t wet themselves in Games five and six. If only Joel Skinner didn’t hold up the stop sign on Kenny Lofton. If only Casey Blake hadn’t hit the next pitch for a 5-4-3 tailor made double play….
I promise I will get over it one of these days, but that team seemed to be the one who was finally going to put us out of our decades of misery here in Cleveland. Looking back to the core of that team, its become a who’s who of the free agent market over the past few seasons. Lets check in on the best of the best from a team one game away from the World Series.
CC Sabathia – This one you already know. He was traded to Milwaukee in 2008, led them to the playoffs, and then signed a seven year, $161 million deal with the New York Yankees. In his first year in pinstripes, CC won 19 games and led the Yankees to a World Championship. In 2010, CC won 21 games. Nobody is worthy of that kind of salary, but two years in, the hefty lefty has been worth every penny to the Steinbrenner family.
Cliff Lee – Now granted, Cliff was an after-thought on the ’07 Tribe, failing to make the playoff roster, which seems infallible today. Yes, Aaron Laffey pitched in October and Cliff didn’t. Well who would you rather be today?
Three years later, Lee is the premiere left-handed starter in the game (sorry CC), and added to his legend by being absolutely nails in the playoffs over the past two seasons. He won the Cy Young with the Tribe in 2008 and pitched the Phillies to the World Series in 2009. In 2010, he was at it again, leading the Rangers into the World Series in his free agent year.
Talk about being at your best at the right time. Now the Yankees are hot after him and are expected to throw CC money at him. The Rangers are dying to keep him, but if the Yankees want someone bad enough, nine times out of ten they are going to get him. I fully expect Cliff to be in pinstripes pitching behind his old friend CC this Spring.
Victor Martinez – Unlike the previous two players, I feel as though Victor should still be here. Traded two summers ago for reasons still unknown (other than money), Vic The Stik was our guy. From the day he came up to the day he was traded, he wanted to be in Cleveland. He left with tears in his eyes.
In Boston, he continued to hit and be clutch, and reached free agency this winter at the age of 33. Most teams who are looking at Victor, view him as a first base/DH type rather than a catcher. Sure, he can still catch, but his arm is not what it used to be. The Red Sox would love to have him back for the right price, but word is he won’t be back. Believe it or not, the front runner for his services now seems to be the Tigers, who love to give aging veterans more money and more years than they are worth. It seems like a match – Vic can flip flop between catcher, DH, and first base with Miguel Cabrera and Alex Avila. Plus, if he ends up in “The D” he comes back to his Midwest baseball roots and can hang with…..
Jhonny Peralta – In that 2007 playoff run, Jhon was the Indians hottest bat, hitting 333 and driving in a team high 10 runs in 11 games. I for one thought this was the time that he was going to take off. Instead, he went the other way. He struggled in the field with his lack of range and clashed with manager Eric Wedge over his move to third.
2010 was a stay of execution for Peralta. He stayed at third base begrudgingly under new manager Manny Acta, but he never hit. Knowing he was not a part of the team’s future with an $8 million club option for 2011, the Tribe shipped him to Detroit for a prospect. In Detroit, the media fawned all over him, despite the fact that he was average at best at the plate and in the field. With a gaping hole at short, the Tigers began to play him there, while everyone in Cleveland laughed.
In the end, it was Jhonny who laughed last. Only Tigers GM Dave DUMBrowski wouldn’t be able to see through a guy playing well in September in a contract year. Last week, Peralta re-signed for two years with the Tigers for a whopping $11.25 million to play shortstop. First off, he wouldn’t have sniffed half of that money on the open market. Also, he will be back to playing shortstop everyday, a position he should have stopped playing three plus years ago.