Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Cleveland Indians: Stocking The Rosters of MLB Teams For (at least) 12 Years

(Note: This is an unfinished project of mine that I started back in April and just lost track of. I'm never going to finish it, but, since I did put a lot of work into it, I decided to just post what I had done. Also, Jeremy Guthrie has turned out a lot better for the Orioles than I expected (3rd in the AL in ERA). Oh, and most--if not all--of my stats came from

I have often said that the Cleveland Indians have produced more players playing somewhere in the majors than any other team, and I’ve never really counted to see if I am right (nor am I going to anytime soon). While I don’t know if I am right or not, I do know a lot of players, and more importantly, a lot of good players, have come through Cleveland. What follows is a comprehensive list of all active players who have spent some time with the Indians on the major league roster. I’ve decided to break it down by team to see who the biggest pilferer of Indians players is and to split up this gargantuan list.


Baltimore has an affinity for picking up former Indians golden boy pitchers, and they have the last three waves covered. Jaret Wright was the first, riding a wave of hope created by his unexpected 1997 playoff success for five years of pitching ranging from mediocre to atrocious. Danys Baez was next, a mysterious Cuban defector signed in hopes of being the next Livan or Orlando Hernandez, and then hoped to be the next Jose Mesa (pre-rape allegations), and finally discarded. Jeremy Guthrie is the latest, drafted amid hype (at least in terms of the baseball draft), starting fast at AA ball, and then failing to excel at any level beyond that. Good luck, Leo Mazzone.

  • Danys Baez, RHP

YEARS WITH INDIANS: 2001-03 (amateur free agent)

CAREER STATS: 502 IP, 31-37, 111 SV, 394 K, 3.78 ERA

AWARDS: 1 All-Star Game (2005)

CAREER YEAR: 2005, Tampa Bay, 72.1 IP, 5-4, 41 SV, 51K, 2.86 ERA

LOST: via FA to Tampa Bay

Baez was signed out of Cuba in a rare instance when the Indians outbid the Yankees. Danys was originally a starter, then shifted to relief, then shifted back to starting (10-11, 4.41 ERA for a bad 2002 team), before being shifted back to relief in 2003, this time as the closer. Baez had 25 saves for a 94-loss Indians team that year, but also blew 10 saves. This shaky performance persuaded the Indians to let Baez walk following the season, when Baez signed with Tampa Bay, where he saved 71 games in his two seasons. All in all, I don’t remember the Danys Baez era being a good one.

  • Jeremy Guthrie, RHP

YEARS WITH INDIANS: 2004-06 (via draft 1st RD 22nd pick)

CAREER STATS: 50 IP, 1-1, 34 K, 5.22 ERA

CAREER YEAR: Guthrie is young, and in his brief cameos in the majors, he has been pretty terrible. He is off to a decent start with the Orioles, however, posting 13 IP, 1-1, 10K, 2.77 ERA

LOST: Waived (Claimed by Baltimore)

Guthrie didn’t spend much time in Cleveland, making only 16 appearances over 3 seasons, one of them a start, and none of them good, posting a 5.87 career ERA with the Tribe. I didn’t even know he wasn’t with the team anymore to be honest. When Guthrie was drafted 22nd overall in 2002, he was somewhat of a risk because of his perceived unsignability (some had him in the top 5, but he dropped because of his high asking price, and he did in fact turn out to be a tough sign, failing to come to terms until October, 2002). I remember Guthrie dominating at AA Akron (62.2 IP, 6-2, 1.44 ERA, 35 K, 14 BB, 2 Shutouts) in his debut season, but then getting shelled at AAA Buffalo (96.2 IP, 4-9, 6.52 ERA, 62 K, 30 BB) after getting promoted. The reasons for Guthrie’s AAA struggles were cited as an inability to adjust to the better hitters he was seeing, and he apparently never gained the ability, posting a 7.91 ERA at Buffalo the next season. The fact that Guthrie was waived with absolutely no fanfare shows how far his star has fallen.

  • Jaret Wright, RHP

YEARS WITH INDIANS: 1997-2002 (via draft 1st RD 10th pick)

CAREER STATS: 969.2 IP, 68-59, 2 SV, 693 K, 5.08 ERA

AWARDS: 5th place 1997 AL Rookie of the Year

CAREER YEAR: 2004, Atlanta, 186.1 IP, 15-8, 159 K, 3.28 ERA

LOST: via FA to San Diego

This one hurts, not because of what he is now, nor because of what he was with the Tribe (save for one magical October), but because of what he could have been. In the 1997 playoffs, the relatively unknown 21 year-old Wright helped get the Indians within one out of a championship, posting a 3-0 record, including two wins over the Yankees and a win in the World Series (which should have been two World Series wins if Jose Mesa could have closed Game 7 vs. Florida). Following that October, no one was as revered in Cleveland as Jaret Wright. Rumor has it that the Indians could have had Pedro Martinez for a package including Wright or Randy Johnson straight up for him and passed, and no one in Cleveland could really blame them. Ouch. Wright imploded almost immediately the next season, beginning with a spring training beaning of Derek Jeter that led to Wright being labeled a headhunter, which invariably led to Wright fearing the inside part of the plate. The result was a constant shelling of Wright’s pitching on the rare occasions he wasn't injured. After beginning a meltdown in Game 3 of the 1999 ALDS versus the Red Sox that would cost the Indians a series and Mike Hargrove his job, Wright pretty much cemented his exit from the Tribe and killed the hope of Indians fans everywhere. Wright has gone on to show glimpses of his 1997 self, but injuries keep getting in his way. Here’s hoping he never regains his form, if only because the Indians could have had Pedro freaking Martinez for him and passed. Ugh.


  • Julian Tavarez, RHP

YEARS WITH INDIANS: 1993-96 (amateur free agent)

CAREER STATS: 1194 IP, 77-61, 22 SV, 691 K, 4.39 ERA

AWARDS: 6th place 1995 AL Rookie of the Year

CAREER YEAR: 1995, Cleveland, 85 IP, 10-2, 68 K, 2.44 ERA

LOST: Traded with Joe Roa, Jeff Kent, and Jose Vizcaino to the San Francisco for Matt Williams and Trenidad Hubbard.

I don’t remember Tavarez’s 1995 season being so good, but I do remember the 1996 Sports Illustrated MLB Preview Yearbook (which sadly only lasted 2 years, I think) ranked him as the best reliever in baseball, so I guess Julian’s 1995 was that good. The biggest thing I remember about Tavarez, however, is his face looking like a golf ball. What the hell happened to that guy? Also, how about that trade? While Tavarez pitched for the Giants for three seasons (two of them good), the real story is Jeff Kent, who of course became Jeff Kent while with the Giants. Matt Williams had the most frustrating 30 HR season ever (.263 AVG, 32 HR, 105 RBI, 12 SB (!), an amazingly putrid .307 OBP, and anger, anger, ANGER over some sort of custody battle with his ex-wife) for the Indians in 1997, and was eventually traded for Travis Fryman following the season. What would you be happier with: six years of unremarkable third base play (offensively, as Williams was above average and Fryman was excellent in the field) from Matt Williams/Travis Fryman (six year averages of .267 AVG, 17 HR, 74 RBI, .327 OBP, .433 SLG, .761 OPS) or six years of Hall of Fame second base play from Jeff Kent (six year averages of .297 AVG, 29 HR, 114 RBI, .367 OBP, .534 SLG, .901 OPS)?

  • Alex Cora, SS

YEARS WITH INDIANS: 2005 (free agent signing, LA Dodgers)

CAREER STATS: .245 AVG, 32 HR, 219 RBI, 263 R, .311 OBP, .347 SLG, .658 OPS

CAREER YEAR: 2002, LA Dodgers, .291 AVG, 5 HR, 28 RBI, 37 R, .371 OBP, .434 SLG, .805 OPS

LOST: Traded to Boston for Ramon Vazquez

Cora was signed to be a defensive replacement for Johnny Peralta at shortstop, and filled the role adequately for half of 2005 before being traded to Boston for Vazquez, a younger, lighter hitting, worse fielding version of Cora. I don’t have much more about him except that he is Joey Cora’s brother (who also briefly played for Cleveland after John Hart stupidly traded David Bell to Seattle) and that prior to the 2005 season Sports Illustrated called him the best number 8 hitter in baseball (and the only reason he hit 8 is because he played for the Dodgers in 2004).

  • Coco Crisp, OF

YEARS WITH INDIANS: 2002-05 (player to be named later in Chuck Finley-Luis Garcia trade, St. Louis)

CAREER STATS: .281 AVG, 43 HR, 218 RBI, 299 R, 78 SB, .327 OBP, .413 SLG, .740 OPS

CAREER YEAR: 2005, Cleveland, .300 AVG, 16 HR, 69 RBI, 86 R, 15 SB, .345 OBP, .465 SLG, .810 OPS, 1 RAP ALBUM

LOST: Traded with Josh Bard and David Riske to Boston for Andy Marte, Kelly Shoppach, Guillermo Mota, and cash

Coco was a somewhat exciting player with a more exciting name (which led to the best sign I’ve ever seen at Jacobs Field: “My Grandma is CooCoo for Coco Crisp!”). He has speed, but lacks the instincts necessary to consistently steal bases. He doesn’t get on base enough to lead off, but lacks the power to be a middle of the lineup presence. He is a borderline superb corner outfielder, but is overmatched in center. I am still shocked that the Red Sox thought Crisp was the answer after Johnny Damon bolted for New York. It looks like the best part of that deal is the cash (although Andy Marte is still young and Kelly Shoppach looks like he’s going to be a solid starting catcher for some team real soon).

  • Manny Ramirez, OF

YEARS WITH INDIANS: 1993-2000 (via draft 1st RD 13th pick)

CAREER STATS: .313 AVG, 472 HR, 1527 RBI, 1267 R, .410 OBP, .597 SLG, 1.007 OPS

AWARDS: 2nd place finish 1994 AL Rookie of the Year; 8 Top 10 MVP Finishes (1998-2005); 9 Silver Sluggers (1995, 1999-2006); 10 All-Star Games (1995, 1998-2006); 2004 World Series MVP

CAREER YEAR: 1999, Cleveland, .333 AVG, 44 HR, 165 RBI, 131 R, .442 OBP, .663 SLG, 1.105 OPS

LOST: via FA to Boston

Manny is the one that got away. I disagreed with overspending to re-sign Jim Thome, because while Thome is a tremendous slugger and has a personality tailor-made for Cleveland, Manny is one of a kind and one of the two or three best right-handed hitters ever. While everyone agrees that Ramirez is an elite hitter, rarely is he ever described as one of THE elite hitters of all-time. A lot of it has to do with his personality, which is a shame. If anyone needed to stay in Cleveland--and, more importantly, out of Boston—it was Manny. Here, Manny Ramirez antics are legendary and loved. My friends and I still laugh at the crazy stuff he pulled (climbing the wall at Jacobs Field only to see the ball land a good 25 feet in front of it; the Chad Ogea story; etc.) and marvel at his greatness (grand slams that everyone knew was coming; that 1999 season). Boston fans and the media tolerate Manny’s quirks as long as he produces, and acknowledge that he is a great player who they demand be better (the only time this wasn't the case was after Ramirez won the World Series MVP). Cleveland fans embraced Manny’s quirks regardless of production and marveled at the steady pace this Dominican savant pounded the baseball day after day, month after month, season after season. I guess I just miss my friend.


The Blue Jays have a couple of castoffs from the 2002-2004 rebuilding years of the Tribe, and have actually made useful players out of them.

  • Brian Tallet, RHP

YEARS WITH INDIANS: 2002-03, 2005 (via draft 2nd RD)

CAREER STATS: 92.1 IP, 4-3, 55 K, 3.90 ERA

CAREER YEAR: 2006, Toronto, 54.1 IP, 3-0, 37 K, 3.81 ERA

LOST: Traded to Blue Jays for Eddie Buzachero

Tallet was part of the wave of players tried out from 2002-03 as the Indians tried to find a new core following the end of their AL Central dominance. Tallet showed flashes (2 starts, 1.50 ERA 2002), but couldn’t stay healthy (if I recall correctly). I have no idea who Eddie Buzachero is, so I’m sure that Toronto got the best of that trade.

  • John McDonald, SS

YEARS WITH INDIANS: 1999-2004 (via draft 12th RD)

CAREER STATS: .244 AVG, 7 HR, 75 RBI, 134 R, .285 OBP, .321 SLG, .606 OPS

CAREER YEAR: 2006, Toronto, .223 AVG, 3 HR, 23 RBI, 35 R, 7 SB, .271 OBP, .308 SLG, .579 OPS (McDonald played the most games this season, so I’m assuming his glove was in the field the most this season; therefore, this is his career year.)

LOST: Traded to Toronto for Tom Mastny

John McDonald was supposed to be the heir apparent to Omar Vizquel, and Johnny Mac certainly had the leatherwork to back up that assumption. I remember when at AA Akron McDonald was widely considered the best defensive player in the minors. Unfortunately, the hits never came for McDonald, and he just couldn’t justify an everyday spot in the lineup. As the Indians built a powerhouse lineup, McDonald was squeezed out, eventually turning into Mastny, who has proven to be an effective reliever in a little over half a season for Cleveland. As for McDonald, I hear he is in a platoon at 3B with Jason Smith while Troy Glaus is on the DL.


Chicago has only one former Indian, but it just happens to be the all-time Cleveland home run leader (334 HR). Oddly enough, the White Sox also once employed the Tribe’s number two home run slugger, Albert Belle (242).

  • Jim Thome, DH

YEARS WITH INDIANS: 1991-2002 (via draft, 13th RD)

CAREER STATS: .282 AVG, 477 HR, 1312 RBI, 1271 R, .410 OBP, .566 SLG, .976 OPS

AWARDS: 4 Top 10 MVP Finishes (1997, 2001-03), 1 Silver Slugger (1996), 5 All-Star Games (1997-99, 2004, 2006)

CAREER YEAR: 2002, Cleveland, .304 AVG, 52 HR, 118 RBI, 101 R, .445 OBP, .677 SLG, 1.122 OPS

LOST: via FA to Philadelphia

To many Cleveland fans, Jim Thome’s defection to Philadelphia in the winter of 2002 represents the end of the glory days of the 1990s and caused most of the casual fans to abandon the team for a few years (many, in fact, have yet to return). Losing Thome hurt many fans on a strangely personal level, due mostly to his low-key, ah-shucks, Midwestern personality, which lent to the belief that he would take a lesser deal to stay in a town so suited to him. The man was a staple of the community. In fact, he frequented two establishments I myself worked at (a golf course he lived on and a trout resort). For me, while Thome’s departure hurt, Ramirez’s stung more. Thome was wise to leave a club that was about to enter a major rebuilding period, while the Indians were wise to not match Philadelphia’s offer (although the Indians did offer Thome a statue at Jacobs Field, which would have been hard for me to pass up). The huge chunk of payroll Thome would have eaten up would have prevented Tribe GM Mark Shapiro from locking up his young nucleus (Victor Martinez, Grady Sizemore, Travis Hafner, Jake Westbrook, C.C. Sabathia), not to mention blocking the development of Hafner. Ramirez left when the Indians were still contenders, when Ramirez was younger, and, as cited earlier, when Ramirez was in the prime of a once-in-a-generation career. Thome’s Indians career will always be remembered fondly in Cleveland; his departure, however, will never be completely forgiven in the hearts of most Tribe fans.

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