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Pluto talks trades

With the season a wash, the trades Shapiro made were deals the Indians had to make and, according to ABJ writer Terry Pluto, the future of the Indians isn’t as bad as some Tribe fans think. Considering the ages and situation with the players that were traded, Pluto says the deals make sense. With the money the Indians will be saving, they will be in good position to go after some quality veterans this off-season to go with their good, young talent.

Do you think that Eduardo Perez, Ben Broussard or Bob Wickman were going to play major roles in 2007, assuming they came back at all? Wickman and Perez will be free agents. Broussard could be in line for a $4 million deal in arbitration, and he’s struggled hitting lefties (.190 in the past two seasons).

Take a realistic look at the players traded and their ages: Wickman (37), Perez (36) and Broussard (29). Only Broussard has a future during the next few years, and that will be as a platoon player.

General Manager Mark Shapiro has done an impressive job of bringing in young talent since taking over in 2002. Not every trade worked out, but the team is in much better shape now than it was at the end of that season. Especially since the $82 million payroll was about to be cut in half.

Some fans have been complaining about the deals for prospects, forgetting that these type of trades put the Indians in position to win 93 games in 2005. They have a chance to regroup and contend in the future with some key veteran acquisitions.

Pluto goes on to analyst each trade the Indians made this season and the impact they will have. The Indians will get a good look at their young talent for the rest of the season and will use this time to sort through what they have in them and where they will fit with the team. Pluto notes several platoon situations that could arise for next season.

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Offense, Carmona can’t help Lee

Cliff Lee pitched well enough to win but the Tribe were done in by a four-run ninth as they lost 7-3 in the final game of the series against Seattle. Lee gave up three in 7 2/3 innings and left the game with the Tribe and the Mariners tied at three. The game was tight throughout until the normally dominant Fausto Carmona lost it and gave up four in the ninth. Carmona walked the leadoff man, Ben Broussard, on four pitches and the inning went downhill from there. With the bases loaded and two outs, outfielder Jose Lopez delivered a two-run base hit off Carmona.

“The last thing you can do is walk the leadoff guy in the ninth, especially on four straight pitches,” Wedge said. “That was the story of that inning. Whenever you put that leadoff runner on, whether you’re up by one or [in] a tie ballgame, you’re going to create one hell of an inning for yourself.”

The Tribe had their chance in the bottom of the ninth, but Grady Sizemore grounded into a rare double play with the bases loaded to end the game. The Indians have now lost there last six series. Familiar feeling, isn’t it. With so many young players now getting their chance with the Tribe, expect more of the same as the season rolls along.

Belliard to the Cards, Luna returns

The wheeling and dealing for the Indians continued Sunday as the trading deadline approaches. GM Mark Shapiro sent free agent-to-be Ronnie Belliard to St. Louis for 26-year-old infielder Hector Luna.

The Cardinals needed a second-base solution for the stretch run, and the Indians needed middle-infield depth for the long haul.

Luna, if you remember, was originally drafted by the Indians back in 1999 and was lost twice because of the Rule V draft.

General manager Mark Shapiro had said Belliard was an option for his club at second base next season. But the 31-year-old Belliard is likely to command a multiyear deal in free agency, and the Indians aren’t expected to want to go that route with him.
The 26-year-old Luna, known for a solid bat but inconsistent glove, will join the Indians in Boston on Monday. With the Cards this season, he’s hit .291 with four homers and 21 RBIs in 75 games.

Belliard’s future with Cleveland was iffy since his contract was up at the end of the season. Ronnie has done some great things for this team over the past couple of years and has showed tremendous attitude and toughness. He would have been a quality asset to keep around another year or so because of what he brings to the team. Belliard displayed a consistent bat and solid defense. The trade saves the Indians money and they get younger in the process by acquiring Luna.

Luna doesn’t exactly blow me away. If he really is “inconsistent” with the glove, that’ll make our defense even worse. Our infield now has to be the worst in all of baseball and I don’t completely agree with the trade. It would have been nice to bring Belliard back but clearly the move was about the money for the Tribe.

Braylon on the fast track

Attention, Browns fans. There may be hope for this season after all. Wide receiver Braylon Edwards practiced with the team Saturday and noted that a return to action for the season opener is a “possibility”.

“I was running routes today and it was a great feeling,” Edwards said. “A lot of guys have been pulling for me and have been behind me the whole time. I just feel really good. I went out there today and I didn’t have any pain in the knee.

“I’m not afraid to cut, plant or run. I’m extremely excited about the possibility of playing in the first game.”

Braylon is way ahead of schedule and him just being out on the field practicing with the team is a huge lift for the Browns. Whether he plays on September 10 or not, it seems like he will be back much sooner than expected. Edwards acknowledges that his knee is something to be careful with and says he will not rush himself back. In his interview on ClevelandBrowns.com, he seems to have a very good head on his shoulders about where he stands with the injury and will definitely wait until the knee is 100 percent before playing in a game.

Edwards’ work ethic and attitude has been phenominal thus far and it’s such a great sign to see him on the field again. Although, I wasn’t too thrilled to see him in a Michigan hat in the interview! Oh well, he’s a Brownie now and that’s all that matters.

Bats can’t back up Westbrook

Jake Westbrook pitched a dandy but couldn’t get much help from the Tribe offense as the Indians lost 3-1 Saturday night. Jason Michaels had two of the Tribe’s five hits in the ballgame, including an RBI base hit in the third for their only run. Ben Broussard turned the tables on the Indians and helped beat his old club. In his first start against his former team, Broussard hit a solo home run in the ninth to extend the Mariners’ lead. The Indians did flash some skills on the defensive end, something rarely seen this season. Grady Sizemore and Michaels made two outstanding diving catches in the outfield.

Whether it has been poor offense or shoddy defense, Westbrook has seemed to be on the short end of the stick his last few starts. He went eight strong innings but failed to get any support from the bats.

“We didn’t make adjustments tonight,” Sizemore said. “Their pitching staff kept us off our game. We didn’t get runs on the board.”

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