Aaaaanyway. So Big Dadddy got me to thinking with his comments on this post about building the Mariners back into contenders the way Cleveland did it. To quote the Large Father:
"This team needs changes and I for one am a believer in the Cleveland model of dumping all the big names in turn for prospects. Cleveland went through like 2-3 down years and then broke out with all their young guys."
I have to agree that I'd much rather be a Cleveland fan right now, with young stars like Travis Hafner, Victor Martinez, and Grady Sizemore providing exciting baseball, and the team is winning again. But I thought I'd take a look at how they did it, if the Mariners are on a similar track, and see if they really are a good model to follow.
The last time the Indians were in the playoffs, they lost in 5 games to YOUR RECORD BREAKING 2001 SEATTLE MARINERS!!!! I was at the 17-2 Game 3 debacle in Cleveland. I'm pretty sure I haven't left a game that early in my life. They finished 91-71 that year, they're seventh in a row with at least 86 wins. The next four years?
I think it's fair to say they've made their way back to being at very least a contender again.
Since we're comparing the Indians and Mariners, let's say 2001 is to Cleveland as 2003 is to the Mariners (stupid verbal SAT). The M's won 93 games that year, they're fourth straight with at least 91 wins. Since then? 63-99 in 2004 and 69-93 last year. If we were to continue the parallel to Cleveland, we would want to see a near .500 record this year, and be in a pennant race in 2007. Well, what did the Indians do since 2001 to get back to where they are? Since the inspiration for this post was the dump and reload philosophy, this doesn't include such major moves as signing Todd Dunwoody on 11/2/01. Thank you retrosheet for the following information:
-Traded Roberto Alomar and others to the Mets for Matt Lawton, Alex Escobar, Jerrod Riggan, Earl Snyder, and Billy Traber
-Traded Dave Roberts to the Dodgers for Christian Bridenbaugh and Nial Hughes
-Traded Russ Branyan to the Reds for Ben Broussard
-Traded Bartolo Colon to the Expos for Lee Stevens, Brandon Phillips, Cliff Lee and Grady Sizemore
-Traded Chuck Finley to the Cardinals for Luis Garcia. Coco Crisp was the played to be named later
-Traded Paul Shuey to Los Angeles Dodgers for Ricardo
Rodriguez, Terry Mulholland and Francisco Cruceta
-Traded Ricardo Rincon to the A's for Marshall McDougall.
-Traded Einar Diaz and Ryan Drese to Texas Rangers for
Travis Hafner and Aaron Myette.
-Signed Casey Blake
Those were basically the big ones. They also let Jim Thome go in free agency.
So, that's pretty impressive. Hafner, Sizemore, Cliff Lee, and Crisp (who they just traded for Andy Marte-a very highly touted prospect) all came through those trades.
How are the Mariners different? Well, the biggest difference is that after the 2001 season, the Indians realized they needed to rebuild. The Mariners, on the other hand, kept trying to win after 2003. And they didn't feel the need to overspend so they missed out on Miguel Tejada and Vladimir Guerrero that offseason. Then they went down the crapper in 2004 and had to make desperate moves, and then overpaid for Sexson and Beltre. I haven't given up on Beltre yet, but I'd much rather have Miggy or Vlad right now.
The M's trades have gotten them Reed, Morse, Olivo, Bazardo, and Foppert. Reed could still be good, Morse is at best a decent bench player, and we'll see about Bazardo and Foppert.
The M's dug themselves a huge whole after the 2003 season, and they are now digging out of it. Based on the Cleveland model, let's hope for 80-82.